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Cougar 700K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Today Chad dives in and tells us all about Cougar's newest gaming keyboard, the 700K mechanical. Should it find a place under your tree this year?

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, Dec 1 2014 7:10 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 99%Manufacturer: Cougar

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 42 IMAGES

To most, Cougar may still be a PSU, fan, and chassis company, but after what we saw with the 700M, we found Cougar is also trying to get to the top of the heap in peripherals as well. If you happened to have missed that review, we strongly urge you to go have a look, as it was there that we saw the high level of construction, the use of top-tier components, and software that just wouldn't quit. The way the market is today, it seems to take devices that are a step above the rest just to stand out, let alone get someone to actually buy it. However, with what we saw, the 700M was worth every penny required to own it.

Today, rather than addressing that highly regarded 700M from Cougar, we shift slightly left on our desktop to their latest mechanical keyboard. This time around, we get a culmination of many successful designs that proceed this keyboard. To give you a basic idea of what we mean, imagine something like the Corsair K Series keyboards with the black caps, LED lights, and that sleek aluminum plate; then, mix in a fair bit of the Logitech G710+. If that hasn't quite raised an eyebrow, we still need to add in a splash of ROCCAT Ryos LED lighting. Now, take all of that, stir it in a pot, and you have a very good sense of how Cougar is taking the best of the best, and dropping it into one sleek, and very unique looking mechanical keyboard.

If you haven't already guessed, today we are going to look at the latest peripheral from Cougar, the 700K mechanical keyboard. Of course, the 700K incorporates everything we addressed, but things are never just that simple. Cougar has taken liberties to individualize this keyboard outside of just slapping the Cougar name on the basic Corsair, Logitech, or ROCCAT design. Instead, they have taken their own route and have delivered something that could very well be the nail in the coffin to all of the aforementioned designs. Cougar seems to have found the perfect blend of all three, and delivers a product anyone would be proud to own and have on their desktop.

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Cougar has no issues putting forth all of the information they think would be worthy of the customers attention, and does a nice job putting it all out front. The Cougar 700K is based on Cherry MX switches, but you do have choice of reds, blues, browns, and the blacks that we find in our 700K. Next, they note that this keyboard has a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 MCU onboard. The 700K supports six-key and NKRO, and is made for just about every game type. We then move back inside, as it shows there is 512KB of onboard memory, a 1000Hz / 1ms polling rate, and there is an adjustable repeat rate as well.

Next, we see that this keyboard is made of aluminum and plastic, and all plastic bits are molded in black, except for the key caps, which have been painted black. The aluminum is left in its natural state, and is brushed. The 700K also uses the UIX software to take control of the six G-keys, and LED lighting modes, both when in use and during "sleep" mode. The software also allows you to make and organize profiles and Macros. The rest of the specifications cover the additional palm rest, the extra audio jacks and USB port, the 1.8 meters of braided cable with gold plated connections, and finishes with the weight and dimensions.

When it comes to pricing, the 700K is not cheap, but let us add some perspective with comparative release day pricing first. The K90 listed at $139, the G710+ was $119, and the Ryos MK Pro was a whopping $169 when it released. Considering it is a mix of the best of the best of all three of these keyboards, we would almost certainly expect it to cost more than all three of these boards. However, when we were shopping around, we found that isn't the truth at all. In fact, Cougar has priced the 700K right in the middle at $149.99. Now, that is still up there in pricing, but for what you get in the 700K, we feel the price is more than justified, and with all things considered, it is a downright great deal.

PRICING: You can find the Cougar 700K for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Cougar 700K (BLACK switches) retails for $141.42 at Amazon, and the Cougar 700K (RED switches) retails for $149.99 at Amazon

Packaging

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The outer packaging is really a sleeve that goes over a thick cardboard box, but the front of the sleeve shows a huge image of the 700K running down the middle. At the top, they offer the Cougar logo, and explain that this is an iF award winner. At the bottom, next to the 700K, we see a list of eight features, as well as notations for the UIX software and Fusion it offers.

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This long, skinny panel would be the bottom in the last image, and off to the left is the cougar logo, and 700K naming. We found this end to be more important, as it shows the four switch options, and which of those is inside the box.

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Even on the smaller ends of the box, they took the time to make sure the naming is on there. They were also sure to show off that keyboard, and the orange LED backlighting.

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There is a ton to take in on the back of the package. At the left there is a view of the keyboard with all of the switch groups and important features marked out around it. To the right, we see a list of ten things worthy of explaining with an image, leaving the bottom for multi-lingual feature lists.

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Cougar places some additional information on the other, longer side panel on the right end. There is a pair of QR codes for their Facebook and official website, the specifications, package contents, system requirements, and along with the serial number, we see this is a U.S. layout keyboard.

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Inside of the box, you really cannot ask for better packaging. Cougar conceals the 700K in dense foam on all sides, and even has a pad glued to the lid to keep the 700K in one place through its travels. There is also a section cut out to hold the palm rest separately from the keyboard. The cable is tucked in the cardboard at the back. With all of this attention to detail here, the 700K could have fallen out of the truck a few times, and still arrived in perfect condition. Our sample certainly arrived in perfect condition.

Cougar 700K Mechanical Keyboard

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Glancing at the left edge of the 700K, we see that Cougar is not afraid to play with angles. As you move away from the front, there are five parts that make up the side, and on each angled section, they are carved back at the top to meet the aluminum plate across the keyboard.

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While we had a view of the side in the last image, it is now much easier to see and explain that the left side of the keyboard offers five of the six G-keys.

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At the top edge, we first run into the Macro Record button, and the three profile buttons. The profile buttons will also reset the profile to default if used with the function key. Of to the right, there are four LEDs denoting the speed of the repeat when holding a key down, controlled by the F-keys below.

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After taking a step back, we can now see the layout of the left side. The front of the board is angled, the caps are cylindrical, and the font is easy to read, with nothing too unusual to mention.

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At least, that is until you get to the space bar. In the 700K, the space bar is split to allow users to use the left side for space functionality, and set the right half to do just about anything they want.

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To the right of the golden Cougar logo at the top, we find the lighting key, the windows lock out key, and the lock LEDs. The four on the right are the start of the multimedia keys, with three of them being lower in the aluminium section.

Cougar 700K Continued

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Stepping back to look at the thirty three keys on the aluminium, we find everything we would typically find, plus the mute and volume buttons from the multimedia set. At the top are the six-key and NKRO keys, and we also find arrows on the number keys.

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Now we are at the right side of the keyboard, where we have elevated the back to get the preferred angle of the key caps. There is much more aluminium on this end than we saw on the other.

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Moving to the back edge, very near that right side, we first run into the USB 2.0 port buried deep in the frame. To the right we find the audio pass through jack for headphones and a microphone.

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The cabling is braided, and thick. There 1.8 meters of cable offered, and the gold plating on the connections is a nice touch, but with four wires all bundled together, getting this wire to conform to tight turns may be an issue.

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Under the keyboard, we find a very flat bottom to this design. We also see that the front of the keyboard uses pads at the corners, and at the back, they use just one side of the flip out feet for support.

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As for those feet that flip out at the back, they are very solid, and do lock into the open position fairly well. Also, the tips of these feet are wrapped in rubber, so whether in or out, they will help to keep the 700K in one place.

Accessories and Documentation

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Back inside the box, underneath the 700K, there is yet another cutout that houses the black envelope you see at the top left. Inside of it you will find a sheet of stickers, and the user manual that covers how to connect the 700K, where to get the software, and how to use it.

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Then, of course, we also have the palm rest. While the front of the 700K is already angled to soften the leading edge, this rest will elevate your hands, and take the strain off your wrists. The naming is painted in white, and there are a few screws to match the one we saw on the right side.

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The left end of the palm rest has a rubber pad applied to it that offers round dimples to help keep your hand on the keyboard, even when things get hot and sweaty.

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The construction of this rest is pretty simple; there is the outer shell that you see, a center support going side to side, and a couple of attachment points.

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We find more rubber pads on the front to help the 700K stay in place. The real work comes down to the pins on the ends of the tabs, and the magnets; one of them is between the tabs in this image to keep this palm rest in place.

Inside the 700K

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By removing the key caps, we confirm our 700K does indeed have Cherry MX black switches mounted directly to the aluminum plate, and, of course, each is LED backlit. For those not familiar with black switches, the action is smooth and quiet like a red switch, just with stiffer springs.

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Just like about ninety percent of all backlit keyboards, the caps are first molded in white, and then have an application of black put over them, leaving the icons blank.

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Due to some odd locks on the ribbon cables, this is as far as disassembly went. We had to remove about thirty screws, remove the back rail, then the front rail, and then weasel the plate free of the base. Speaking of the base, there is plenty of support for the PCB to rest on it securely.

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Not all of the keyboard features mechanical switches. This is the panel found under the Macro Record button and profile switches. These are blue pad style switches that are easy to press, and make just the slightest noise when pressed.

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We also find more of the same switches used under the right side paddle switches. In reality, to keep the low profile of all of these keys, there is just no way to incorporate a mechanical switch here.

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Digging just a bit deeper, we run into the USB and audio control board. Here, the main two connections at the left allow transmission to the main PCB for both functions, and this is pretty much just a slave PCB, as the controller is on the main section.

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Peeking at the bulk of the main PCB, we see that Cougar is on it from the word go. Even if the customer will likely never see this, Cougar fully cleaned the PCB after the soldering process, and left nothing to be seen other than clean solder work.

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Here we have the Holtek HT1632C, which has the sole job of being in control of the LED system in this keyboard. With that said, the 700K offers quite few more options than just on and off for their LEDs.

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The specifications stated that there is a 32-bit ARM Cortex Mo MCU in this keyboard, and here it is: the NXP LPC11U14F. With this, and the LED driver in control of everything, there is plenty of power to get the job done, and still have 512MB of onboard storage.

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Putting it all back together was no simple task, but after replacing many screws, we added some power to the 700K. When first powered, the keyboard is fully illuminated, and we noticed that it went to sleep after a few images, and offered some sort of an EQ-like display of lights, at least until we pressed a key. This is only just the tip of the iceberg though.

Software

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These first two images are more of a heads up, so you don't freak out when installing the UIX software with the 700K. After agreeing to install UIX, it will automatically check and flash the new firmware to the keyboard, without any provocation or way to stop it.

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We did freak out a fair bit when we saw that ten minutes had passes and we were still at only 81% of the flash. At that point, we were about ready to start trying things we shouldn't. While it seemed like we may have had an issue, the firmware did finally finish, and we were able to get into the software.

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With UIX now open, the widow offers naming at the top, and to the left are the management, profiles, and other tabs used for various windows to access all of the features and functions that the 700K delivers. Here we are in the Performance window on profile one, and we can now set the polling rate, roll-over support, repeat delay time, rate acceleration, the mode of the backlight in normal use and while sleeping, and the time it takes for that to happen. It also shows how to clear the profiles in the last section.

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Key assignment offers anything you need pertaining to both the G-keys, as well as any of the keys on the keyboard. Of course, there are preset functions to apply, and you can drag from the right to the boxes at the left, or reassign keys to suit your needs.

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If you click on the Macro tab from the last image, the right side expands to deliver those options. Simply name the macro and get recording. You can always edit them later by adding in delays, repeats, and you can even import and export from PC file storage.

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In the lighting controls, things get pretty deep as well. Not only can you pick through all of the options at the right for the bulk of the keyboard, but by tinkering around, you can set each individual key in any way you see fit. You can customize both live use as well as what happens in sleep mode.

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There is a limited amount of storage on the keyboard, if you call 512KB a limit. In the management section, you can load three profiles to the keyboard at any given time, but this is also where you can swap through various profiles to use what you need at the time, and take it with you without the need for drivers after programming it to the 700K.

Final Thoughts

The aspect that images really did not help with has to be the lighting. At stock, the 700K comes with the ability to run without LEDs, and the first option is to use the keyboard with the LEDS moving in an EQ-like pattern. The next option has the keyboard lighting up a row at a time in fast succession, and repeats a rolling motion. The next option is like Knight Rider, with three columns lit at once as they flash left to right, and back again, repeating forever. The last preset option is full illumination. Of course, all of these options can be applied to both modes of lighting. To take it even further, if you have the time, you can set individual keys or groups of keys to flash, turn off, or whatever makes you happy to see under your fingers.

Of course, that same UIX software that allows for that LED control also affords the same level of controls to all other aspects. Whether programming Macros, setting profiles, or remapping the keyboard, the options allow you total control in the finest level of detail. Also, if you have other Cougar devices, you can take advantage of the Fusion system, and send keyboard functions to a mouse or headset, or the other way around. Everything you need is right there out in the open, and if you get confused or screw something up, either hold the function key and the M-button corresponding to the profile to clear it, or go to software management, select it, and clear it. So, go ahead and play around with it, because you can always get back to your starting point to try it all again.

While black Cherry MX switches are not our favorite, we did notice a slight speed boost from our normal use of blues or greens, although there were a few more errors, as we find multiple key strokes more common. The fact that the six-key and NKRO support works so well does not help either, as it is sure not to miss a single press of any key to its actuation point. The only thing about the 700K that has us pausing every once in a while is the feel of the space bar. While we typically only use the side of the key anyway, the fact it is split changes the feel entirely, and is just one of the things that will take a little more time to adjust to, but it is in no way a deal breaker.

The 700K has all the power it needs, the components are top-tier, and you can definitely see where we got the idea that this is a melding of the best of the best when it comes to a mechanical keyboard in the $150 range. The 700K looks like a love child of the K90 and a G710+, and appears to operate under the supervision of ROCCAT as its software nanny.

Not only it is completely functional and a pleasure to use, but just when you think you have figured it all out, you realize there is still more that the software and the 700K can do to aesthetically spice up your day. To top it off, you still have a great functioning keyboard underneath it all. While the competing keyboards are very good at what they do, we feel that Cougar holding back a bit has definitely given them the advantage, as this 700K mechanical keyboard outpaces the competition, yet is unique enough to not be confused with any of them.

PRICING: You can find the Cougar 700K for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Cougar 700K (BLACK switches) retails for $141.42 at Amazon, and the Cougar 700K (RED switches) retails for $149.99 at Amazon.

TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality including Design and Build99%
General Features100%
Bundle and Packaging98%
Value for Money99%
Overall99%

The Bottom Line: Its built like a brick outhouse, the software is pretty intense with what it offers, the orange LED is unique, and for the cost, we simply can find no reason not to own the Cougar 700K.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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