Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Anyone who has read the keyboard reviews here knows that we tend to prefer the TKL options on the market. While many say it is too small, and that they need the number pad, there is another group of keyboards which would drive those users' nuts. When it comes to those who want standard-sized functionality within a more compact size, there are what are called 60% keyboards, where not just the number pad is gone, but so are the command and arrow key sets. Truly a bare-bones setup as far as keyboards are concerned, we finally got one of them in our hands to see how well this group of keyboards stacks up.
Cooler Master is a company that has done very well for themselves in the area of peripherals, more specifically, with their mechanical keyboards. Even in what we have seen over the years, we do have fond memories of our Trigger with MX Green switches, and the Rapid-I with MX Blue switches, as they were our go-to keyboards for many of the reviews, we have written. With an ear to the consumers always being a massive part of what made Cooler Master successful in this area, once again they opt to please requests and develop something which is not so new, but doing so with their own spin on it, using mechanical switches, but keeping them low-profile this time, which makes this new keyboard lighter, more compact, and easier to travel with.
When the email came in to have a look at the SK621, we jumped at the chance, as this was the first time we had been offered a 60% keyboard design, and we just had to get our mitts on it. Looking at some of the specifications after accepting the offer, we see that not only does this product have some of the features we mentioned above, but it is also wireless, with Bluetooth support. Not only can you go about your business with much less of the desk space taken up, connected with a wire to the PC, but with the flip of a switch, you can also use the SK621 to type on your phone, tablet, or anything with Bluetooth compatibility that could benefit from use of a keyboard.
With all of this in mind, we think we may have found a new toy to play with around the house, connected to the HTPC, or useful when searching for things on a mobile device, but let's hold off on the accolades this early in the review, as we have much testing and use to do before we can make these sort of statements. If like us, you find little use for the right third of most keyboards, you may want to have a look at the Cooler Master SK621, as it is the most compact offering we have ever had under our fingers.
Following the chart we found on the SK621 product page, we see that the model we have is the SK-621-GKLR1-US, but the last pair of letters will change based on geographic locations. The type of switches used on this exposed key layout is Cherry MX (Red) RGB Low-profile switches, with transparent bodies and red plungers. The next thing in line is that the SK621 is made of plastic and aluminum, where the bottom portion of the frame and the keycaps are plastic, and the exposed brushed metal top panel is indeed made of aluminum, which is anodized gunmetal gray.
Dropping to the bottom of the chart, we can see the size of this keyboard, where it measures only 293mm from left to right, 103mm from the front edge to the back, and all told, the keyboard stands 29.2mm tall. Weight is also kept down with this product and is shown to weigh in at 424 grams, or just under a pound.
As to the other points about the SK621, since there are RGB switches used, it only makes sense that the backlighting is RGB as well. The polling rate is set to 1000Hz, the response rate is 1ms, and all of this is controlled with a 32-bit ARM processor. On the chip is 512KB of onboard storage for all of your profiles and Macros, and the processor is also in control of the on-the-fly programming for such things, as well as audio and lighting controls.
Most of the secondary functionality is handled through the Function key. And almost every key has dual functionality, and many offer triple functionality to compensate for the lack of keys in the 60% design. Connectivity to its intended usage device can be done over USB 2.0 with a 1.8-meter braided removable cable which uses USB Type-C as the connection on the keyboard end, or it can be done with Bluetooth 4.0. The only thing left in the chart to cover at this point is that the SK621 is backed with a two-year warranty, just in case an issue does pop up down the road.
Looking to find a place to purchase the SK621 from, we see something we did not quite expect; a hefty price tag. While a lot is going on with the SK621, and we appreciate the effort it takes, as well as the feature set, we did not expect to see a price north of $100. That being said, both Amazon and Newegg have the SK621 listed as ready to sell, but only Amazon lists Cooler Master as the seller and is not done through a third party like at Newegg. The listing at Newegg is higher, where we see a $128.99, but the Amazon listing shows a $119.99 cost.
In the end, we realize that making a new product costs more upfront, and while we were hoping the SK621 would land south of $100, for those with the specific need or desire for such a product, with limited options on the market for a 60% keyboard, the cost becomes less relevant to those buyers. While we feel it is pricey for so little keyboard, maybe the features, benefits of not having to need software, and portability change our minds by the end of this review.
Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9 7920X - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair H150i Pro - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: G.Skill TridentZ RGB 3600MHz 32GB - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Hybrid SLI - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB - Buy from Amazon
- Case: Cooler Master Cosmos C700P - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G 1050W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon