Cooler Master MasterKeys MK850 keyboard review
A new flagship keyboard with eight analog keys, a bit of a w00t?
We take a look at the new MK850 keyboard from Cooler Master. The unit is their new high-end slash premium keyboard series with Cherry MX RED RGB switches. The MK850, however, has something that the competition does not offer, a set of analog keys which we have previously only seen with the Wooting series of keyboards offering analog controller functionality to eight keys. It is also a keyboard that offers any high-end features you might be interested in, including RGB backlit LED activity.
Cooler Master recently opened up a new chapter in their product line offering updated gaming peripheral products including headsets, mice and keyboards. The MK850, as we review today, is a high-end designed keyboard. The keys and switches are a bit weird to explain though as the majority of keys are armed with Cherry MX switches, Red in our case. This is combined with backlit RGB LEDs offering awesome lighting animations. When you look at the keyboard it goes back to a basic design, with a small number of game mode keys and the traditional set of media and lighting keys. Being Cherry MX based it has swappable keys caps (PBT). The keyboard comes with two additional USB connectors and offers a pleasing aesthetic feel. Perfectly fine for normal daily usage, and a great FPS and RTS gaming keyboard.
Analog control (Aimpad)
In the first paragraph of this review we already mentioned it, the keyboard comes with a set of analog input keys on top of the digital switches. While that might sound confusing, it really isn’t. But I need to explain that, with digital keys, a key press is on or off. Push it in and it is active (on). You press it repeatedly and rapidly to apply, say, your racing acceleration moderately. With analog functionality we move away from all that is binary (0 and 1), you can now give that key a hard or softer pressure basically turning the keys into a Xbox 360 controller.
Much like when you break or push the gas pedal in your car, you can moderate and control your pace (acceleration). Advancing a bit more on that, let’s take the WASD keys for example and imagine a racing game. With the A and D keys, you would steer to the left or right, with digital keys being on or off you must keep pressing them repeatedly. With the analog keys on this MK850 you can carefully steer hard or soft to the left or right by pressing down a key a bit more or less. It’s the same for utilizing W to accelerate a tiny bit by pressing the key a little bit or put the pedal to the metal by pressing that W key down all the way. This brings in a new analog controller level of functionality to the keyboard and thus the way to control a game becomes more suited to your gaming experience. The technology behind this is all coming from Aimpad, which is a startup that has closed a two year exclusive deal with Cooler Master. The new analog Aimpad technology will be exclusive for and from Cooler Master until 2020. Not all keys on the MK850 keyboard from Cooler Master get analog functionality, the eight most important keys will get this feature. The analog technology that was developed in collaboration with Aimpad is only present on the ‘wasd’ and ‘qerf’ keys. They do not replace the Cherry MX switches, but complement them as the Aimpad technology (we’ll talk about that later in the article) is located alongside the normal (Cherry MX) switches.
The MK850 keyboard, as such, is premium, comes with a configurable software suite, has Cherry MX red switches, RGB (per key) lighting and thus the eight keys that can be utilized in an analog controller like manner. Combined with a rather angular looking design and soft padded rubber wrist rest, the price is premium as well at roughly 220 EUR, with a similar price in USD incl tax. Let’s browse our way into the review.