Cooler Master CK530 v2: Solid Budget TKL

While the typing experience is slightly marred by the rattly space bar, this board has a sleek exterior with extensive RGB control

Get the CK530 v2 on Amazon

The Cooler Master CK530 v2 is a refresh of the original model released back in January of 2019. The v2 sees the addition of a wrist rest and the Gateron switches have been replaced by TTCs. This version has the same design, featuring the characteristic brushed aluminium plate that is curved at the sides. Cooler Master describes this as a no nonsense, no compromise keyboard focused on functionality, and the simplistic design certainly underpins that sentiment. At $90 the CK530 is meant to be an affordable entry-level mech that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

CK530 vs CK530 v2

I would consider these TTC switches as a bit of a downgrade from the original version’s Gaterons. Nevertheless they are decent budget switches rated for 50M keypresses, and you can get this board with Reds, Browns or Blues. I chose my favoured linear Reds, and these have an actuation force of 45g. They basically feel like a slightly smoother version of Outemu Reds, although not quite on the level of a Gateron linear. The bigger keys are decent with the exception of a rattly space bar. I was expecting better stock performance here, especially considering the v1 had exactly the same issue. Sadly there is no improvement in this area. There were a few keys that produced metal ping, but overall it wasn’t too off-putting. Barring the space bar, the CK530 v2 offered a satisfactory typing experience.

TTC Red switches

The v2 has a soft foam pillow wrist rest with a rubberised anti-slip base. The surface is made of low friction cloth and it felt pleasantly soft on the skin. I’m not really a wrist rest user, but this one was very comfortable to use. You can actually buy this separately, so if you’re looking for a wrist wrest this is a good option at only $10.

Foam pillow wrist rest

The switches feature a clear top housing with through-hole LEDs, and these LEDs are potent, making for some vibrant RGB. A minor nitpick would be that some legends have uneven shine-through, caused by an imperfection on the inside of the keycaps, but apart from that the RGB looked absolutely stunning. There is an exhaustive list of RGB modes, some of which I’ve never actually seen before. What’s really cool is that you can set the foreground and background colour separately on some modes, so there are endless possibilities. You can also create your own multilayer or multizone colour modes with the software. There is even a mode that allows you to play snake. The brushed aluminium chassis in combination with the vibrant RGB makes for an attractive keyboard, and I think many people will find this aesthetic appealing. The medium font is a good fit for this board, and the Fn icons don’t look too messy.

Comprehensive Fn layer RGB controls

The CK530 is meant to be a plug-and-play keyboard, and I like the fact that everything can be done with the keyboard’s Fn layer. You have your RGB controls, on-the-fly macro recording and a complete set of media controls. Downloading the software isn’t essential, but it will give you more in-depth customisation. The CK530 v2 has a standard bottom row, so you get compatibility with a wide range of third-party keycap sets. I was very curious to see my white puddings on the gunmetal black chassis, and I wasn’t disappointed!

HyperX White Pudding keycaps

The v2 is slightly lighter than its predecessor at 728g. Even though it is light, the case has a really sturdy feel with almost no bend. I was very impressed with the build quality here. Unfortunately the cable is not detachable, but this is still a highly portable board that will work great for travelling or LANs. The bottom features two fold-out feet that have a rubbery surface for extra grip. The keycaps are double shot ABS, and these actually have double walls with a thickness of 1.5mm. At $90 I was hoping for PBT, but at least it is good quality ABS.

Brushed aluminium chassis

The MasterPlus software gives you more in-depth customisation as far as lighting and macros. You have complete control of the RGB, and you can do a few things here that isn’t possible with the Fn layer, for example you get the RGB colour picker and more precise brightness control. Here you can also record your own multilayer and multizone colour modes. The RGB really takes center stage with the CK530 v2, and there aren’t many TKLs that offer this level of customisation. Then you have thorough key remapping, with the usual options like single key, macros and media.

Double shot ABS keycaps

The software seemed to cause an issue with the Caps Lock LED, where it would only light up when Caps Lock was activated, so during normal operation the LED would be off. I did not experience this issue until installing the software, and it can only be fixed with a keyboard reset (hold Fn + E). Hopefully Cooler Master release an update to address this vexing glitch.

In summary, the CK530 v2 is a solid budget offering from Cooler Master. While the typing experience is slightly marred by the space bar, this board has a sleek exterior with extensive RGB control.

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