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Innovation is something difficult and dangerous in the world of peripherals. There is a very thin line that separates really good new ideas from those bizarre or strange. With the MK850 (Check on Amazon.com), Cooler Master takes a risk and aims to bridge the gap between the keyboard and the Gamepad.
Cooler Master MK850 – Design
The Cooler Master MK850 is an elongated keyboard (48×16×5.5cm or 48×25×5.5cm with the wrist rest) that weighs 1092 grams, somewhat light for a mechanical keyboard with a brushed aluminum surface.
The first feature that stands out is its 5 M-keys located on the left side, which allow you to switch between the 5 analog modes.
The Cooler Master MK850 comes with 8 analog keys (QWERASDF) with Aimpad technology. While these still use the Cherry MX Red switches like the rest of the keyboard, they also integrate an infrared light sensor that can detect how deep a key is being pressed. This way they can function as analog triggers, like the ones you find in an Xbox 360 controller.
We also have 5 multimedia keys that control playback and two wheels that control light and volume intensity.
On the rear, we find two USB 3.0 ports perfect for connecting both a peripheral (mouse) or an external drive.
Cooler Master MK850 – Digital and analog switches
The Cooler Master MK850 uses Cherry MX RGB Red switches. This is a linear switch with an activation force of just 45 grams, a 1.2mm actuation point, and 4mm of total travel. As long as we use the default “M1″ mode this keyboard will work like any other mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches.
The Cooler Master MK850’s analog functionality is fantastic. It is very accurate and the different “M” profiles streamline the experience.
Just eight keys might seem few, but keep in mind that that’s more than you can activate with just one hand (your other hand should be on the mouse).
Cooler Master MK850 – In practice
We have used the Cooler Master MK850 for typing and gaming. It requires an adaptation period due to the M-keys on the left margin, which are way too close to the rest.
There is little to say about the Cherry MX Red switches (they are perfect) so we will focus on the 8 analog keys. First of all, you will not notice any difference while in standard mode; they feel just like all other keys.
When in M2-M5 mode they become analog and although it seems counter-intuitive at first not to bottom them out you will quickly begin to notice the difference and start to press them progressively less and less until you master the feeling.
They have a shorter travel (just 4mm) than the analog triggers you find on a gamepad., so you will have to be delicate in order to achieve the same result, but it is easier than what we make it sound.
The multimedia keys are somewhat small and somewhat hidden behind the F5-F8 keys. Perhaps if they were illuminated, it would be easier to tell them apart, but again you will quickly learn which is which. On the other hand, both wheels feel and work great.
Last but not least the included wrist rest is one of the most comfortable we have ever tried thanks to the generous padding and the perfect height.
Cooler Master MK850 – Verdict
The Cooler Master MK850 is a unique keyboard since it offers something that you can’t find in any other premium keyboard today: the 8 analog keys with Aimpad technology.
It also sports Cherry MX Red switches with RGB LED lighting, dedicated multimedia keys and two wheels for lighting and volume, 18 alternate keys in purple, an amazing wrist rest, a detachable USB 3.0 cable and two USB 3.0 ports!
Sadly, it also comes at a premium price (Check on Amazon.com) that reflects its uniqueness.