This month consumers can pick-up a new mechanical keyboard from Cougar, offering a rugged exterior and a few key-features that gamers have come to appreciate over the years. I say rugged exterior for two reasons; the first being that Cougar has ventured away from any sort of sleek or subtle design, the second because of the materials used in the construction.
Keyboards often bear the full weight of our frustrations and/or excitement while gaming. No matter how beautiful or modern a keyboard looks, it has to be able to withstand hundreds of hours of use, and millions of frantic keystrokes. That is probably why mechanical keys have been such a long-standing standard in professional keyboards, and the Cougar’s 700k offers some of the best parts in the business.
Living alongside the aluminum structure, outfitted with a brushed surface treatment, are the durable CHERRY MX key switches. These are considered the best in the business by almost every critic out there, so if you are looking to move to mechanical keyboards (or need a new upgrade) make sure your option includes them.
The FPS palm rest offers a magnetic attachment, removable if you don’t like it but wonderful for the most part. Hours of gaming is rough on your wrists, fingers and eyes, and having the right tools to make the grueling hours more enjoyable is key for a better gaming-session (not to mention your health in general).
One of the premium features that all new keyboards should offer outside of the professional circuit is customizable buttons (most professional E-Sports won’t let you use a keyboard with customizable buttons) and this option gets everything right. The Cougar 700k offers 6 programmable G-KEYS, and it also features the G6 thumb key.
Alot of keyboards offer programable keys but make sure you like where they are, if you are right handed for example, the left-aligned structure of the Cougar 700k will most likely be the perfect fit for you. The six programmable G keys (5 on the left, one to the right of the space bar) are in a great location. All of them are fully configurable and make perfect sense while you’re playing.
One feature that I think should become a standard nowadays is the USB paththrough, which allows you to connect a device via USB straight to the keyboard, saving you a slot on your desktop. The Cougar 700k went the extra-mile and offered an audio-port as well for your headset or microphone, saving you from snaking more wires to your desktop on set-up. It’s an excellent little touch that I really appreciated trying out.
Beneath all of these wonderful features lives the 32-BIT ARM processor, which is what allows so many simple functions to outperform its rivals. The on-board memory will allow you save up to 3 profiles on the keyboard, perfect if you move to a different PC, laptop or friend’s house.
The Cougar UIX interface is still one of my favorite to use, and if you haven’t used it in the past it’s one of the easiest software options you can use. If you own more than one Cougar product, say a gaming mouse for example, you can use COUGAR FUSION to allow the peripherals to work together easier.
You can set all of your macros and profiles in the UI, but you can also set them as you are playing, thanks to the macro recording key. You can also easily switch between your profiles using just the keyboard as well.
You have your standard multi-media keys, though I am using these less and less through the years, but the Windows lock-key, which disables the jump to the Windows start screen, is vital and should be on any keyboard that you purchase for gaming.
The braided cables and golden-plated connectors are just fine-touches on the device, but they are an extension of the overall quality that went into designing the 700k. This was a keyboard built to survive, and as the price of keyboards keeps rising with new features, it’s comforting that the Cougar 700k was built to last.
One great extra is the ability to individually configure the backlight on all of the keys. You can highlight your WASD keys, or highlight your most-often used shortcuts to make things a little easier, and I guess look a little cooler in the process.
The keyboard was designed to work with Windows, I didn’t test it on Mac but I would like to see the company expand more into multi-platform designs, especially since they have such an easy to use UI and on-board profile setup.
The look of the 700k may be a little too rugged for some users, but if you are looking for a high-functioning and long-lasting keyboard, you would be hard-pressed to find one. ALthough a little higher than I would like, the $180 pricetag is actually pretty standard for the parts and functions that are included. There are several color variants that you can choose from as well. More options on colors, tech-specs and other details can be found at amazon.com.