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Cooler Master SK653 keyboard launches for $149 USD, is lighter and smaller than most other full-size mechanical keyboards

Cooler Master SK653 launches for $149 USD, is lighter and smaller than most other full-size mechanical keyboards
Cooler Master SK653 launches for $149 USD, is lighter and smaller than most other full-size mechanical keyboards
Just because a keyboard is "full-size" doesn't mean it can't be compact. Aside from a couple of annoyances, the SK653 knocks it out of the park in terms of usability and color options.

We've reviewed quite a few keyboards over the past year including up to the recent Cooler Master SK622. Unfortunately, that particular Cooler Master model left a sour taste in our mouth with its tilting corners, spongy Enter key, stuck LED indicators, and a recessed USB-C port that made it difficult for thicker USB-C cables to fully engage. Thankfully, the larger SK653 addresses many of these drawbacks. Amazon is currently selling the unit for $149 USD with a two-year manufacturer warranty. The non-wireless SK652 is also available for a lower price.

Cooler Master sent us an SK653 test unit for our impressions and we can safely say that this model has quickly become one of our favorite low-profile mechanical keyboards thus far. It's surprisingly lightweight for a full-size (100 percent) mechanical keyboard at just 723 g compared to 862 g for the Razer Huntsman. The noticeable weight difference had us concerned about the feedback of the keys and the build quality of the underlying keyboard deck, but both are thankfully excellent in terms of uniformity and rigidity.

Switch TypeTTC Low Profile Mechanical Switch (Red/Blue/Brown)
Keyboard MaterialAluminum and Plastic
Color optionsGray or White
Polling Rate1000 Hz (wired), 125 Hz (Bluetooth)
Response Rate1 ms
On-Board MemoryYes
WirelessBluetooth 4.0
Battery4000 mAh (2000 x2)
Compatible OSWindows 8+, Mac OS X 10.10+, Android, iOS
ConnectorUSB-C receptacle
Dimensions430 x 125 x 25 mm

 

 

A full-size keyboard that's lighter and smaller than most
A full-size keyboard that's lighter and smaller than most
USB-C to USB-A is included and can be detached
USB-C to USB-A is included and can be detached
Flat aluminum deck with no borders for easy cleaning between keys
Flat aluminum deck with no borders for easy cleaning between keys
Smooth brushed aluminum surface with chrome-cut edges and corners
Smooth brushed aluminum surface with chrome-cut edges and corners
Bottom of keyboard is roughened ABS plastic. Note the wireless toggle switch along the edge
Bottom of keyboard is roughened ABS plastic. Note the wireless toggle switch along the edge
Two rear feet for elevating the keyboard
Two rear feet for elevating the keyboard

Users will have to install the Cooler Master MasterPlus software to exploit most features of the keyboard. The software is a bit bloated especially when compared to the simpler and more straightforward software from Rosewill, but its options are useful nonetheless. There are around 20 different preset LED cycles to choose from and even a 90-degree color rotation feature for certain patterns that most other per-key RGB keyboards lack. We particularly like the separate brightness toggles for wired and wireless in case if users want to extend battery life by limiting the brightness in Bluetooth mode.

Speaking of Bluetooth, the keyboard can save up to three different devices and then cycle between them much like on the Vissles V84. Polling rate drops significantly, however, meaning you might want to stick to wired mode when playing games for the fastest response times. It also uses Bluetooth 4.0 instead of the newer, longer-range, and more power-efficient Bluetooth 5 standard for wireless.

Key clatter noise of the Cooler Master SK653 Brown switch (Blue) vs. the Razer BlackWidow V3 Green switch (Green). The red curve is silent background. The Cooler Master keys are both quieter and lower-pitched.
Key clatter noise of the Cooler Master SK653 Brown switch (Blue) vs. the Razer BlackWidow V3 Green switch (Green). The red curve is silent background. The Cooler Master keys are both quieter and lower-pitched.

Our main gripes with the keyboard are mainly superficial regarding the lighting. More specifically, the Caps Lock LED indicator for charging is always on and it cannot be customized unlike the rest of the keyboard. As a result, it's visually irking to have a stuck LED when the rest of the keyboard is cycling through a pattern of colors. The smaller SK622 has the exact same problem.

Related to the Caps Lock LED indicator are the three LED indicators near the top right corner for Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock. These three LEDs share the same settings as the rest of the keyboard and so any brightness or color changes will reflect on these lights as well. The problem occurs when the brightness is tuned very low to the point where the three LED indicators become too dim to be any useful. It's strange that there are no options to isolate these specific LED indicators from the brightness settings on the rest of the keyboard.

Annoyingly, the Caps Lock LED indicator is always Red or Green (to signify charging status) and it cannot be changed or disabled
Annoyingly, the Caps Lock LED indicator is always Red or Green (to signify charging status) and it cannot be changed or disabled
The Li-ion battery is integrated and so users don't need to install any batteries. All keys and symbols are illuminated
The Li-ion battery is integrated and so users don't need to install any batteries. All keys and symbols are illuminated
Feet opened to angle the keyboard
Feet opened to angle the keyboard
Low-profile brown switches
Low-profile brown switches
Thicker USB-C cables may have trouble fully engaging the recessed USB-C port
Thicker USB-C cables may have trouble fully engaging the recessed USB-C port
The Num Lock key is actually enabled, but it is hard to see since we have set the brightness to low
The Num Lock key is actually enabled, but it is hard to see since we have set the brightness to low

The minor complains don't detract from the fact that the SK653 is a sleek and relatively quiet low-profile mechanical keyboard that's comfortable to use, easy to connect and easy to clean. The SK653 checks more than enough boxes to make it worth considering despite the somewhat pricey MSRP.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 09 > Cooler Master K653 keyboard launches for $149 USD, is lighter and smaller than most other full-size mechanical keyboards
Allen Ngo, 2021-09- 6 (Update: 2021-09- 7)