CES 2018: Cooler Master’s new mechanical keyboard has analogue keys

Cooler Master has never been a company to shy away from new ideas, and they’ve been making some great peripherals for several years now. Going into 2018, they’re switching things up with the M800 series of products – a set of clean-sheet designs for the high-end market. This year, Cooler Master will launch the MK 850/851 analogue mechanical keyboards, the MH850 wired headset, the MM830 wired gaming mouse, and the MP860, an RGB-enabled mouse pad. RGB up the wazoo!

The first of the M800 series is the MK851, a mechanical keyboard with analogue switches on some of the keys. Cooler Master says they’ve partnered with Aimpad to work on the key design and structure, and as a result the WASD cluster and eight surrounding keys all have analogue input thanks to the use of Aimpad’s switches. Aimpad’s switch uses infrared LEDs to measure how far a key has been pressed based on the amount of reflecting light that a tiny infrared sensor picks up. The result is approximated analogue input, which is a pretty inexpensive way to do it compared to the current designs from other analogue switch vendors that use lasers to do the same thing.

The keyboard features full RGB backlighting, media control keys with two programmable “Precision Wheel” scroll wheels (to control things like volume levels and adjust DPI settings, or they can be used as scrubbing controls for video production), moulded keycaps, and a cobalt blue aluminium top plate instead of a plastic one. There’s also a wrist rest in the box, to make it more complete.

The MK850, meanwhile, ships with Cherry MX Blue or Brown switch choices and lacks the analogue switches, while the MK851 offers Cherry MX Reds with the Aimpad switches. The MX Reds are a better match for the Aimpad switches because their action is more linear, so that there’s no weird disconnect when you’re trying to type up something for school or work and some of the keys seem to be behaving funny.

Next up is the MM830 mouse. This is a zoned RGB design that uses the popular Pixart 3360 sensor to allow DPI levels up to 24,000 for crazy people who can handle that level of twitch. Along with the buttons you’d commonly expect to find on a mouse, there are four additional thumb buttons hidden in the palm grip that’ll be useful for anyone using a claw grip on a mouse like this. Alongside that is a 96×94-pixel OLED panel that you can customise with logos, a short message, or a Nyancat gif to match the RGB theme.

Then there’s the MH850, which also carries this new understated RGB aesthetic that I’m beginning to like very much. The MH850 supports USB Type-C or regular 3.5mm audio jacks for analogue input. It comes with Dolby 7.1 compatibility and Cooler Master’s Focus FX feature, which enhances certain in-game audio effects, like footsteps.

Like the MK850/851, the MH850 has a Precision Wheel that can be used to manage various functions, and is programmable if you’re using the USB port. The microphone is adjustable and removable. Pretty neat!

RGB mouse pads, guys. These things are everywhere! The MP860 is an RGB mouse pad with the option of two distinct surfaces, which allows you to pick what you’re more comfortable with – a softer surface for daily use, or the harder finish for fast-paced gaming sessions. It’s probably going to be a seriously expensive mouse pad.

On the chassis side, Cooler Master has launched a successor to the MasterBox 5, the MasterBox MB500. This is a neat take on the all-mesh front of the previous case with a new half-mesh, half-plastic front face, along with a full-sized tempered glass side panel. Inside, there’s enough space for a full-sized ATX motherboard, graphics cards up to 400mm long, up to six 120mm fans, your choice of 140mm fans or a 360mm radiator in the front, and a maximum of two 2.5-inch hard drives and two 3.5-inch hard drives. As a budget-minded case this looks perfectly suitable, and it means that NZXT’s Source 430 Elite is going to get a run for its money.

The Q300P is a new design that features rugged handles that double as legs for standing the case upright. It’s a very basic design, offering only enough space for the bare essentials and keeping clutter to a minimum. It features plastic front and top covers, with the front-panel I/O on the side of the case on a modular platform, allowing you to put it in nearly any location. There’s also a full tempered glass side panel to show off your hardware. There’s easily enough space for the longest GPUs on the market even with a radiator in front, and there’s enough space for a second radiator on the top as well.

You can optionally remove the front and top panels to make it look much more rugged, and the handles can be removed as well. Pretty neat! I think this will be one of the more versatile cases out there.

The final thing that caught my eye from Cooler Master’s CES news is the HM500M/P. This is a mid-sized ATX tower that comes in black-and-grey or white-and-black colour schemes, and comes with two different panel options. If you prefer higher airflow, you can use the full-mesh front face and enjoy all the extra airflow from two 200mm RGB fans in front. If you’re more aesthetically minded, there’s an optional panel that has a tempered glass front with mesh vents, and looks more stylish.

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