You can’t always have it all, we suppose, and that’s the idea behind Cooler Master’s Masterkeys Lite L mouse and keyboard combo. The kit gives you a svelte, compact keyboard with Cooler Master’s “mem-chanical” switches in lieu of real mechanical switches.
But they are Cherry-compatible. What that means is although the performance of the switches is less satisfactory than on a mechanical keyboard, you can at least swap out the key caps for some aftermarket ones that have the Cherry-compatible cross stem. It also has a standard bottom-row layout (unlike some other Cooler Master keyboards), which key cap swappers will be pleased to see.
Cooler Master also saw fit to offer RGB lighting, and the translucent plastic backplate creates a beautiful, dispersed lighting effect.
Typing: Click, Clack, Buzz
Ideally, these almost-mechanical switches are meant to offer a “pretty good” typing experience, but I would rate it as “pretty bad.” The keys are somehow at once mushy but require a surprising amount of force to depress--so much so that I could feel the stress in my wrists almost immediately. The specs state that the mem-chanical switches require 50g of force, but I felt a lot of resistance that seemed to require more. (For context, I put the Masterkeys Lite L combo under my fingers right after spending a long time with a Topre RealForce keyboard.)
These keys have have no click, but they do have a tactile bump (like Brown switches). They have a “clack” when the switch bottoms out, but it’s an inconsistent sound and feel switch-to-switch.
Worst of all, the Costar-style stabilizers on the wider keys have an additional buzzing rattle.
There’s a metal backplate under the plastic backplate, and you can feel the support it provides, but the plastic (waterproof!) portion adds some slop to the feel.
Some Pros, Though
One aspect of the stabilizers I did like, though, is that unlike most Costar-style stabs that are a pain to get on and off, you can pop these switches back on with no trouble. The backplate holds the wires in such a way that the plastic clips snap right back onto them.
The Masterkeys Lite L has a compact, simple keyboard design with a touch of flair: It’s a simple black rectangle with the RGB lighting popping out from under the keys. There are no passthrough ports or extra media buttons to take away from the sleek look.
To keep things additionally simple, all of the lighting controls are on the keyboard itself, so you don’t need to mess with Cooler Master’s software. Using various key combinations, you can cycle through a number of different lighting modes, change the lighting direction, change the speed at which features change, adjust the repeat rate, and employ Windows lock or full keyboard lock. You can incrementally dial red, green or blue up or down to achieve a numerous different colors.
Key combinations also give you media controls including play/pause, stop, forward/back, and volume up/down.
The mouse part of the Masterkeys Lite L combo has six buttons (L/R, forward/back on the left side, clickwheel [with a TTC encoder], single DPI button). It offers an Avago 3050 optical sensor (up to 2,000 DPI) and Omron switches, and it weighs just 91g. It has a simple black chassis that’s accented by LED lighting under the clickwheel and along the bottom of the palm rest. Three Teflon feet reside underneath.
You can’t tell which DPI settings you get when you click the DPI button, but there are four levels. Presumably, the highest of the four is the max 2,000 DPI the sensor supports. The lowest setting feels like 500 DPI or so.
One clever feature of the mouse is that you can adjust the lighting with mouse button combinations. For example, you can turn the lights off or back on by pressing the DPI button plus the right-click button, and you can cycle through the lighting effects with DPI+clickwheel.
The mouse is right-handed, but otherwise it seems acceptable for palm, fingertip or palm grips. The tapered sides give you a nice grip, too.
The Masterkeys Lite L RGB combo costs $59.99, so you can get a pair of peripherals with fun lighting effects and attractive design for not too much dough. However, the performance of the keyboard is poor, in my opinion, and the mouse DPI is somewhat limited at just 2,000 DPI.