Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Chad spends some time checking out Cougar's 600K mechanical gaming keyboard. But should have they even ever sent it to him in the first place?

@chad_sebring
Published Wed, Jun 24 2015 3:09 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 84%Manufacturer: COUGAR

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing + Update

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 29 IMAGES

A while back, we took a look at the Cougar flagship mechanical keyboard when we saw the 700K. While it is very unique looking, and easily discernible as a Cougar product, it offered just about everything anyone could possibly want in a keyboard. Whether it was lighting, Macros, unique shaping, sleek looks, top tier mechanical switches, a built in wrist rest, or the software to let you take full control of the keyboard, there was indeed something for everyone to appreciate with that design.

Since then, they have also offered another pair of keyboards we were sent to have a look at, one of which is mechanical, and is what we are looking at today, and soon to follow is their membrane switch version for those who like what these keyboards have to offer, but have yet to appreciate the benefits of mechanical switches. The major changes to these latter two devices are pretty simple. This time around they decided to make the keyboards run driverless, as to simplify things, and along with the fact that there are no drivers, we also lose the Macro keys.

In our opinion, unless you are a hardcore gamer, or a production guru, where Macros can be taken advantage of, there is really nothing about the Cougar 600K that we are looking at today that should sway you into needing something more. Thing is, and as you are about to see, just because they dropped the driver suite, they still figured out ways to incorporate other things that many users desire in a keyboard, like repeat rates and multimedia functionality. Without giving it all away right out of the gate, let's have a look at the specifications, see how much this keyboard will set you back, and deliver our opinion on what the 600K has to offer.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

The Cougar 600K mechanical keyboard is based on Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches, well all but a few are mechanical, much like how Corsair did things years ago. It has a 32-bit ARM Core processor at the helm, allowing the functionality. This includes things like on-the-fly repeat rate adjustments, 6-key or full NKRO support over USB, and has a default polling rate of 1ms.

The keyboard is not the standard rectangular design either, and on top of that, while the lower section of the keyboard is plastic, the top, and what you see is an exposed brushed aluminum plate that supports the switches. There is a palm rest that is removable, and even further, there is a rubber pad on said rest that is also removable if the feel is not right for you. The 600K even offers a USB pass-through connection in the back so that you can keep the desk tidy and have the mouse or headset plugged into the keyboard rather than the rear I/O of the PC. At the end of the 1.8 meters of braided cable, you will find two gold plated USB 2.0 connections to support the keyboard functionality and the pass-through port, and all told, this keyboard weighs in at 1.1kg.

Looking around at the normal locations that we purchase our gear from, it seem no matter where you decide to go, the pricing is all the same for the keyboard, and even is currently offered with free shipping. What we are finding, is that while losing the drivers and the Macros keys, and also getting a slightly smaller keyboard than what the 700K was, you will be saving $20 moving to this option instead. While the MSRP was set to $139.99 we are seeing it now listed at $129.99, and if everything works as intended, we feel this pricing is not out of bounds compared to the many other offerings out there in the market today.

So, let's get to it, have a look around the 600K, see what they packed into it, and give our final word on it.

After the Review

After the Cougar 600K review went live, you know it, Cougar was none too happy with our final thought and 66 percent we awarded them for a keyboard that definitely had its issues. However, we were asked to take on a second sample and see if Cougar could not redeem themselves with a second chance. Thankfully all indeed went very well with our second sample that was so new off the presses that it even came with the latest firmware already flashed to this keyboard.

After taking the new Cougar 600K for a spin over a couple of weeks, we found no issues with it, and everything worked and delivered exactly what it was designed to do. The lighting levels and pulsation worked, most importantly the underscore key didn't sabotage us this time around. As we got more and more used to the feel of the full keyboard and number pad, as we prefer TKLs for day to day use, we found ourselves really liking the board and having no major complaints at this time.

The performance value has certainly gone up, and we cannot fault them for quality and design this time around either. The features haven't changed and neither has the bundle and packaging, but for sure their value in the Cougar 600K has certainly gone up. We are glad that Cougar got back to us and did their best to correct everything that happened, and we can only hope that if they caught wind of a customer's keyboard having issues, they will be just as swift correcting your issues too! As of now, our faith in Cougar is definitely restored, and the 600K we have now has a lot of what everyone wants, style, nice switches, functionality, and in this instance, a driverless design that is just as capable as a lot of others out there!

Packaging, Accessories and Documentation

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com

The packaging is sleek done up in black and grey, offering a large image of the keyboard right in the middle. At the bottom, we find the product naming, along with seven key features that this 600K has to offer.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 03 | TweakTown.com

There is much more real estate on this side panel than is shown, but rather than show a ton of black cardboard to include the Cougar logo, we zoomed in to where they show us which of the four switch types can be found inside of this specific keyboard, of which the blue is marked.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 04 | TweakTown.com

Both of the smaller ends are identical, but outside of the web address at the top right corner, all we see is the Cougar logo and another image of the keyboard.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 05 | TweakTown.com

The other longer side of the box is also a great expanse of black cardboard, and the point of interest here is that this is where Cougar offers the specifications chart for those who are picking this up at a big box store.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 06 | TweakTown.com

When it comes to the back of the box, Cougar packed as much on here as possible. They show the keyboard and point out the secondary keys and what they do, and to the right it lists eight features that can be found in this keyboard. The bottom again covers the features, but this time offers them in multiple languages to the right as well.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 07 | TweakTown.com

The inner packaging is top notch with the 600K. The use of dense foam to surround the keyboard should keep it scratch and damage free in transit as it has done for us. They also keep the palm rest separate from the keyboard, and the wiring for it is tucked into the cardboard at the back.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 08 | TweakTown.com

After lifting the keyboard out of the box, there is the black envelope you see at the left tucked into a cutout in the bottom of the box. Inside of it, you will find a manual that helps to explain connectivity as well as button functionality. For those that dig stickers, Cougar also includes a set of them to tag anything you feel they will look good on.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Keyboard

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 09 | TweakTown.com

As we peer down on the left side of the 600K, we can see the textured plastic lower section that wraps around the top and bottom edges of the keyboard. In the middle of that, we also see the angled, brushed aluminum plate, that offers a brass screw near the back.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 10 | TweakTown.com

At the top left edge of the board, we find the repeat rate buttons, and they can be set to one press every time a key is pressed, on up to eight key presses for each individual key input. To the right of the buttons are slits exposing the LEDs that denote which of the modes is currently active.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

The main section of the keyboard offers the typical layout of keys. Another thing about the exposed plate design holing all of these switches, is that when you fill it full or Pringles and Doritos, all you really need to do is lift the keyboard and shake it a bit to clean anything that may have gotten dropped between the keys.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 12 | TweakTown.com

At the top right hand side of the 600K, we start off with the lighting button that allows the arrows and WASD keys to illuminate if desired, and next to that is a Windows lockout key. Moving more to the right, we find the play/pause, stop, rewind, and fast forward keys. Below that on the aluminum plate, they continue the multimedia keys offering the mute, volume down, and volume up buttons.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 13 | TweakTown.com

As for the rest of the keys on the keyboard, again it is very typical, except for two of the keys. The Scroll Lock and Pause Break keys are dual function, and is how you would swap between 6K (6-key rollover) or NK ( full n-key rollover) support.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 14 | TweakTown.com

As we move to the right side, we find a mirror image of what the left side offered, even down to the brass screw that also matches the Cougar name plate on the top edge of the keyboard.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 15 | TweakTown.com

Spinning the keyboard just slightly more to the left, as we reach the back edge of the keyboard, we almost immediately run into the USB 2.0 pass-through port.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 16 | TweakTown.com

This braided cable comes out of the keyboard with a huge rubber support grommet dead center of the back. The single fat cable then breaks down into two plugs. Both are gold plated, both say Cougar on the connection, but on the flip side, one had a keyboard printed on it, and the other has a USB symbol to denote which is for what.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 17 | TweakTown.com

The underside of the keyboard is very smooth across its surface without much shaping or design to strengthen the aluminum top plate that rides above this. The front corners of the board offer small rubber pads, and at the back, the only pad to be found is on the extendable feet.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 18 | TweakTown.com

We get that many do use the flip out feet to increase the angle of the keys, but we do wish that these feet ran side to side, as in our use we collapsed these quite a few times.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 19 | TweakTown.com

Stepping back a bit, and clicking in the wrist rest, we find the left side has a rubber palm rest, and along with the product naming in the middle, we find the use of more brass colored bits to match the rest of the design.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 20 | TweakTown.com

The rubber pad is removable as it is held in place with magnets, and while the shape is definitely wrong, it can indeed be used on the right hand side of the keyboard for those who just prefer to use the arrow keys while gaming.

Inside the Cougar 600K

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 21 | TweakTown.com

The keycaps are single shot in an opaque white plastic, and are then painted to give it the black finish we see here. Very typical of the industry, and is used to allow LEDs to pass through where intended.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Under the caps, we indeed find a full layout of Cherry MX blue switches, except for the repeat rate and multimedia keys, as you will soon see, they use pad switches and domes.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 23 | TweakTown.com

This PCB is what we found under the repeat rate keys, where each of them is backed by a blue pad switch. To be blunt, for the limited use of these keys, we can see where the use of a mechanical switch just is not justified.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 24 | TweakTown.com

Moving over to the right side, we find six more of the pad switches for the lighting, lockout, and top row of multimedia keys. While they are obviously rubber dome switches for the volume keys, we honestly don't see the reasoning for it, and wished they would have kept continuity throughout the secondary switches.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 25 | TweakTown.com

While most of the PCB was tended to and cleaned of any residue from soldering in all of the switches, as we got closer to the controller, we see they got a little lax on the cleaning. Not a huge deal in itself, but it does lead us to what will be discussed in the final thoughts.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 26 | TweakTown.com

While we definitely feel that the 32-bit ARM Cortex MCU is overkill for the keyboard, the NXP LPC11U114F is what they have used in the 600K. Assuming they had easy access to them from the 700K, it does sort of make sense to find it here as well.

Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 27 | TweakTown.com

The last image we have for you is with the 600K all reassembled, and is now powered up with all the lighting the keyboard offers. There are a lot of LEDs across the top edge for the various keys and Lock LEDs, and as for the main section, only the WASD keys and the arrow keys illuminate in this design.

Final Thoughts + Update

Final Thoughts

While we were unboxing and taking the images, we felt this keyboard was a real contender for your hard earned dollar. Even while using various switch types, the feel is not lost with the limited usage of the softer switches used along the top. While not fully illuminated, it still gives any gamer easy positioning for gaming in absolute darkness. The look is simple and clean, yet almost elegant if not for the angular design that Cougar uses for their keyboards. Also since I am still using my "pirate keyboard" the Tessoro with a repeating R key, we had plans to put this keyboard into full time use as a daily driver.

That is where things started to go south for us, though. Of course, a little residue on the PCB isn't going to kill anything, it does sort of prelude into the fact that someone, or many someone's in the assembly line were not having the best of days, or forgot to care when it came to this keyboard. After reassembly, and taking the keyboard to the main PC for testing, it lasted all of five minutes on our desk until we literally stood up, unplugged the keyboard and tossed it across the room.

The reason for that is simple; the keyboard was dysfunctional, and after tearing it down and verifying everything is indeed correct, we found no excuse for the major issue we found. In this sample, any time you hit the dash key, it would deliver to the screen every button across the top row, meaning it shows `1234567890,a nd when the underscore was pressed, you would get ~.@#$%^&*(). As if that wasn't bad enough, and without any way to use that key correctly, when you pressed the key, it also changed the repeat rate, so that you would start thinking you were good to go, then all of a sudden realize that you are getting eight of everything you typed.

If this is the kind of thing they send out as a review sample, we strongly urge you to be aware of what we found. While it is easy enough to find a one-off fluke in a design, sending us something like this is just a bit over the top in our opinion. No matter how good it looked, no matter how comfortable the keyboard was before we found the issue, we use the "-/_" way too much to overlook it.

To us, not only did Quality Control fail at testing this, but either there is a major design fault or a crazy short going on in that row of keys, and for $129.99 dollars, we would definitely either spend a bit more to get the 700K, or move to almost any other manufacturer offering Cherry MX keys.

After the Review

After the Cougar 600K review went live, you know it, Cougar was none too happy with our final thought and 66 percent we awarded them for a keyboard that definitely had its issues. However, we were asked to take on a second sample and see if Cougar could not redeem themselves with a second chance. Thankfully all indeed went very well with our second sample that was so new off the presses that it even came with the latest firmware already flashed to this keyboard.

After taking the new Cougar 600K for a spin over a couple of weeks, we found no issues with it, and everything worked and delivered exactly what it was designed to do. The lighting levels and pulsation worked, most importantly the underscore key didn't sabotage us this time around. As we got more and more used to the feel of the full keyboard and number pad, as we prefer TKLs for day to day use, we found ourselves really liking the board and having no major complaints at this time.

The performance value has certainly gone up, and we cannot fault them for quality and design this time around either. The features haven't changed and neither has the bundle and packaging, but for sure their value in the Cougar 600K has certainly gone up. We are glad that Cougar got back to us and did their best to correct everything that happened, and we can only hope that if they caught wind of a customer's keyboard having issues, they will be just as swift correcting your issues too! As of now, our faith in Cougar is definitely restored, and the 600K we have now has a lot of what everyone wants, style, nice switches, functionality, and in this instance, a driverless design that is just as capable as a lot of others out there!

Performance88%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features80%
Bundle and Packaging80%
Value for Money83%
Overall84%

The Bottom Line: It did take two tries, but the Cougar 600K we have now is perfect. It may be a tad pricy, but does offer quite a bit for a driverless mechanical keyboard.

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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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