Cooler Master are one of the biggest and best in the industry, not only for their high-end chassis such as the Master Case Pro 5, but also their power supplies, coolers and most importantly today, their peripherals. Dropping the CM Storm branding, their latest keyboard, the Masterkeys Pro S TKL, falls in line with their “maker” series of products. Last year so very little new products from CM and we knew they were cooking up something big. They came back after a long period of silence with a completely redesigned and focused product line, and their “make it yours” philosophy.
All the new products we’ve seen from Cooler Master have been beyond impressive, so I’m really eager to see what their new premium-grade mechanical keyboard has to offer. There are two models available, the full-size MasterKeys Pro L and the TKL MasterKeys Pro S, which is the one we have in the eTeknix office today.
“Get the best of both worlds with the MasterKeys Pro L and Pro S: the brightest LEDs and the best tactile feeling that gamers have come to love. We completely redesigned the interior to fit both Cherry MX switches and big, fat, LEDs that can radiate 16.7 million colors. You also get on-the-fly macros, profile support, and easy-to-use software – all in a sleek, minimalistic design.” – Cooler Master
The new keyboards come with all the premium features you would expect, such as customisable RGB lighting, Cherry MX switches, macro support, anti-ghosting and N-key rollover and more. Most importantly, at least in terms of the RGB lighting, is that cooler master customised the PCB, allowing for larger and brighter LEDs, without compromising on the use of Cherry MX switches.
• Brilliant RGB lighting with 16.7 million colors
• Exclusive Cooler Master design makes each LED pop out and shine
• Multiple lighting modes
• Change and customize colors with or without software
• Presets include Color Wave, Breathing, and responsive effects
• Cherry MX switches
• Guaranteed to endure at least 50 million keystrokes
• On-the-fly macro and profile support
• On-board processor and profile keys let you save macros and backlighting settings without hassle
• 100% anti-ghosting with N-key rollover
• Ensure each keypress is correctly detected regardless how many other keys are being pressed
• Detachable cable
• Cables won’t get in your way or clutter your desktop
• Hidden underside positioning grooves gives you 180° cable management (only for Pro L)
The packaging is very nicely designed, showing off the RGB lighting in all its glory, as well as touting the use of Cherry MX switches.
Around the back, a little breakdown of the build, showing the PCB, switches, casing and key caps.
In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get you started. This includes a high-quality micro-USB braided cable, which fully detachable from the keyboard, a key cap removal tool and a nice and colourful user’s guide.
A Closer Look
As you can see, it is a pretty straight-forward design, nothing too over the top, just a slim bezel chassis and a matte black finish. The keys have a UV coating on them, giving them a slightly glossy look and feel, but this also helps improve their overall durability and gives them a nice high-quality look and feel. The keyboard is immediately recognisable as Cooler Master to me too, as it feels incredibly strong and rigid, which is always a good sign.
The left Windows key has been replaced with a Cooler Master cap, still functions however you need it to, but it adds a nicely bit of subtle branding. There are some functions tucked away on the underside of the 1-4 number keys too, allowing you to use FN-Shift to toggle through the onboard (and customisable) profiles.
F1-F4 has built-in controls for the RGB lighting, allowing you quick access to some of the basic customisation features, although more are available through the downloadable software.
F5-F8 has the adjustable repeat rate settings.
Things get pretty cool on F9-F12 too, with access to Windows key lock, always a nice feature to have for a gaming keyboard, LED recording to allow custom lighting macro editing on-the-fly, and keystroke macro recording and removal controls. This means that you can get everything you need configures quickly when you need it, without even having to quit out of your game. There’s also Macro looping and repeat functions further along and a set of multimedia shortcuts below that, giving you even more cool features to play around with.
Overall, the build quality is second to none, really robust, and while there are no dedicated keys for macros or multimedia, Cooler Master have done a great job of packing in as many features as you’ll ever need via FN-Shift functions.
The keyboard is at a slight angle with a gentle curve from front to back, giving a good typing angle. While it is quite thick, the keys are nicely set into the chassis, so the action doesn’t feel too high overall.
As I said before, the slim chassis is a nice bonus, and it’ll help free up a lot of extra space on your desktop, especially since it’s a TKL design.
Behind the key caps, you’ll notice a glossy white finish; this will help better reflect the RGB lighting, giving a cool under lighting effect.
Around the back, the micro-USB cable hooks in easily enough and because it’s a standard fitting, you can always swap it out for your own cable if needed.
Using the handy tool provided in the box, we can take a quick look under those caps and see we’ve got some very nice Cherry MX RGB switches. It’s worth noting that CM have mounted them just right, so the key caps don’t bottom out on the chassis, and this helps greatly reduce the overall noise from the keys.
On the underside, four thick rubber grips help keep the keyboard firmly planted on your desk.
And finally, there are two durable kickstands, each with rubber feet to help maintain grip even when they’re deployed.
Setting up the keyboard couldn’t be easier, it’s plug and play ready and while you can customise the colours and a few settings from the software, it’s barely required for the majority of tasks. Everything is built right into the keyboard, with shortcuts for all the major features being within easy reach and very easy to use. There’s a lot of pre-made colour profiles built-in to the keyboards onboard memory, and they’re all pretty fantastic, but if you wanted to customise them further, it’s just a couple of key presses away.
Hold the FN shift, and the colour setting keys light up at the top; a nice little touch I thought.
You can set per-key effects too, helping map out zones of important keys on a per-game basis.
There’s all kinds of crazy effects too, showing moving patterns throughout the keys.
This had to be my favourite, though, due to the fact I have a yellow PC case and a yellow motherboard, the slow-moving lightening effect just suited my desktop perfectly. Moving on from the bright, colourful and heavily customisable RGB LED lighting, as great as it is, let’s talk about performance. To speed things along nicely, enjoy the rest of the images of the lighting at work as we pick through what’s left.
As I said before, the board is kitted out with Cherry MX switches, so you know the premium quality performance you’re going to get on every single key and you know it’s going to last. What really makes a difference here, however, is the incredibly sturdy chassis of the keyboard. It has virtually no movement of vibration transfer through it, and the keys feel snappier and smoother because of it. The key caps don’t bottom out hard at all either, and it’s certainly on the quieter side of MX Red switched keyboards.
The fast and light keys are helped in no small part by the lovely UV coated keycaps. They feel great under your finger tips, lightweight, yet durable. Mashing away at the keyboard will be of no concern for its durability. In fact, it’s true of virtually any CM mechanical keyboard that they’re very durable.
The keys bounce back nice and quick, as you would expect from MX reds, and that makes them a blast for gaming. Firing off rapid keystrokes is a lot of fun here, and that’s going to prove a big advantage for MOBA and FPS game types. The macro recording features help a great deal too, I’m not one for permanent macro settings for games, but being able to record them on the fly for a specific scenario is a huge help and something I’m grateful is included here.
Every functions perfectly on this board and sure, more dedicated keys would be great, but they would come at a cost of that slick TKL design. Having so many features only an FN-shift away is no bad thing though; especially the multimedia shortcuts.
The Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro S isn’t quite on the market just yet, but should be hitting stores any day now! We had a chat with Cooler Master and the MSRP is expected to be around 139EUR, while the full-size model will be 169EUR. In the UK, that’s likely to be around £129 and £109, but it may vary. This isn’t particularly cheap, obviously, but these are premium grade keyboards, packed full of features and RGB lighting, so you do get what you pay for and it’s competitive with similar specification keyboards.
Cooler Master have taken their already fantastic gaming keyboards and made them even better! Every little aspect feels tweaked and improved, making this one of the best performing keyboards we’ve ever tested. That’s no small feat either, given that at the very core of it, most keyboards have a lot in common, but the devil is in the details.
The build quality is second to none, with a durable and heavy chassis that is sure to last a lifetime. This is further enhanced by the addition of the ever-reliable Cherry MX switches and those high-quality coated keycaps. Cooler Master went the extra mile with their RGB configuration too, creating a custom PCB that lets them use bigger and brighter LED lighting and it’s certainly paid off. As you saw in the pictures today, the colours are the brightest and most vivid we’ve seen from any RGB keyboard to date, and short of a huge innovation in lighting technology, it’ll be a while before we see anything better.
Gaming and working on this keyboard is a lot of fun. The keys are fast, light and responsive. The keyboard has great ergonomics overall, and the slim bezel of the chassis means it takes up no more desktop space than it needs to. Add to this the detachable cable, and you’ll find the TKL version is not only great at home, but just right to pack into your backpack and take with you on your travels; perfect for LAN gaming events.
With so many onboard features, you’ll find you rarely, if ever, needs to load up any software for the keyboard. Onboard memory also means you can save your profiles, lighting effects, macros and more directly to the keyboard, and take them with you, meaning it’s compliant with eSports tournament rules.
Overall, one of the best keyboards out there right now, we couldn’t find anything wrong with the performance, aesthetics or the design. It’s a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.
- Great build quality
- Vibrant per-key RGB lighting
- Onboard memory
- Detachable cable
- Great aesthetics
- Lots of on-the-fly controls
- Great for work and gaming
- The price is high, but expect to pay a premium for this many features
“If you’re looking for a durable, stylish and easily customisable RGB gaming keyboard, the Masterkeys Pro S is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Highly recommended for any work or gaming setup.”
Thank you Cooler Master for providing us with this sample.