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 [email protected]#$%^&*(). 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!
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||80%|
|Value for Money||83%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||84%|
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 the Cougar 600K Aluminum Mechanical 32 Bit ARM Keyboard with Cherry MX Black Switch (KBC600-2IS) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The Cougar 600K retails for $129.99 at Amazon.
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at PLE Computer's website.
Canada: The Cougar 600K retails for CDN$168.99 at Amazon Canada.