Cooler Master CK351 test. Are you looking for an interesting optical keyboard?

Cooler Master CK351 test.  Are you looking for an interesting optical keyboard?

The Cooler Master theoretically took the safe side when designing its CK351 mechanical keyboard model when it comes to overall appearance. However, he went crazy on other fronts and thus significantly distinguished his latest offer on the market.

Box and accessories included

In the cardboard box that is traditional for the manufacturer, we can find something extra, because next to the keyboard, keycap key (unfortunately not switches) and the user manual, we find a wide and solid wrist rest. However, it is nice of the Cooler Master that it allows us to check how the switches used are clicking before buying, thanks to a small window in the lower right corner.

Highlights of the CK351

  • Full-size keyboard
  • Material: brushed aluminum and plastic
  • Optical switches
  • Dimensions: 440 x 140 x 45 mm
  • Weight: 904 grams
  • Resistance: IP58
  • 180 cm rubber USB cable
  • RGB backlight
  • Application support
  • Multimedia, backlight and macro buttons
  • Built-in memory
  • Warranty: 2 years

Materials, design and workmanship

The CK351 is by no means a revolutionary keyboard when it comes to looks. It is a combination of bright, brushed aluminum in a horizontal form, which is embedded in a plastic housing on the sides so that you can see the black frames of this plastic casting from above. The only difference is that the aluminum panel is lighter in color than the usual dark finish and that it extends to the base at the front. The general profile is standard (it tapers from the top to the bottom), and apart from the keycaps on the top, we can only see three traditional LEDs informing about the activity of the numlock, capslock and scrolllock keys.

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On the bottom, the manufacturer has used four non-slip rubber pads that keep the keyboard firmly on the table, drain holes and a pair of traditional feet with a rubber lining. In addition, he also took care of channels to lead a 180 cm USB cable from a total of three sides. The cable itself may only be covered with rubber, not braided, but it is far from low quality – on the contrary, because it is adequately thick, matte and fits seamlessly on the desk.

Although the keys themselves can definitely be called well-made, because of the dual-injection technology and a clear font, some keys are misleading. For example, F6 and F7 have additional stickers suggesting activation and deactivation of the LEDs around the keyboard with an appropriate combination, but the problem is that the CK351 does not actually have such a backlight. Explanation? Cooler Master evidently carries out a lot of recycling from other models here.

An additional element of the set is a wide and thick black pad with the manufacturer’s logo in the lower right corner. While I must admit that it is very useful, it does not bode well for its longevity as it is an ordinary piece of foam with a sunken piece of cloth on top, which does not even have a properly “rounded” edge, so if you have a tendency to have fun while playing or working , your fingernails will most likely get the pad torn off quickly.

Cooler MasterPlus software

Cooler Master followed in the footsteps of producers like Logitech, providing its customers with one of the best solutions, namely a universal HUB application for all compatible products. In it, we find the currently connected hardware, which may and does not require software, but nothing prevents you from downloading them, of course.

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In the application, we can choose one of the many lighting modes and affect its color or the additional effect of some of them. We can also record and assign a macro to a key, replace the function of a given key with another and finally manage four profiles. It may not be the best app on the market, but it will certainly provide you with enough configuration functions.

The biggest problem? It is not possible to program a button so that, for example, it runs a given application, i.e. no more complex assignments for the keys. The interface itself, however, is clear and easy to understand, although I sincerely doubt whether you will visit the application often. Nothing stands in the way of making some changes (backlight or macros) from the keyboard level, and more precisely, the combinations described, for example, in the manual.

Backlight system

The CK351 cultivates the traditional approach to backlighting. The RGB power hidden under each button is even powerful thanks to the high-quality LED, which is “pulled” high (up to the beginning of the switch), thanks to which it can perfectly illuminate the phenomenal font. On the effects side it is also very good, among them my favorite was the slow tornado (Circle Spectrum), which illuminates the sets of keys with different colors.

Optical switches test

And we finally got to what is most important in the CK351 – Cooler Master’s proprietary optical switches, which promise higher durability and a more consistent signal together with a better way of working compared to traditional mechanical counterparts. Importantly, these switches are snap-mounted, so you can easily replace compatible switches. These are also resistant to possible “water incidents” at the station, as well as the entire keyboard (hence the IP58 marking).

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The CK351 version with linear switches (Redami) has come to our editorial office, which boast a durability of up to 100 million activations, a pressure of barely 40 grams, a work distance of 4 mm and an activation level of 1.8 mm, which means they are much “faster” from its mechanical counterparts and you just feel it. Similarly to their high responsiveness, but as it happens with switches, you have to check for yourself whether these optical Cooler Master models will appeal to you.

Cooler Master CK351 test – summary

In Poland, the purchase of CK351 costs about PLN 320. In our opinion, this is a decent price for a keyboard of this class, where the biggest problem for many may be the optical switches themselves, because not everyone has to like them. However, if you like these, you will be able to enjoy a keyboard with high ergonomics, good workmanship, eye-pleasing backlight and the IP58 durability standard.

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