We turn our eyes to computer gear today with the new SK621 keyboard by Cooler Master. Just released last week, this one of their three new keyboards featuring the new Cherry MX low-profile switches – the other two being the SK650 and SK630, full-size and full-size tenkeyless versions. The SK621 sets itself apart on size and portability, with a 60% layout and is for sale now for $119.99.
“We created the SK621 with design and functionality in mind. Especially for those who are on the go, workers by day and gamers at night” says Bryant Nguyen, Cooler Master’s Peripheral General Manager. And they definitely delivered precisely that. Because guess what I used it for? Literally working during the day and gaming at night. It hits as advertised and for both work and play, before I get into the details below, it was a joy using.
The SK621 measures in at 4″ inches wide by 11.5″ long and 1″ thick (293 x 103 x 29.2mm to be precise), with barely any bezel around the outside. They really focused on not having any additional or wasted material on this keyboard to make sure that it stayed ultra-portable. Featuring a brushed aluminum top plate and RGB lighting, the overall lighting effect has an additional soft glow effect around the edge of the keyboard from the reflections. Utilizing their PORTAL software, the lighting is several levels of customizable, from passive lighting patterns to light activities that respond on key presses, to full out key-by-key custom layouts. PORTAL lets you store up to 4 lighting profiles that you can cycle through to fit your mood, even when away from your base PC or laptop – and that’s not including the on-the-fly color changes you can make for fine tuning.
A great build quality also helps it feel durable during use, making the 60% size not feel like just a flimsy paperweight. It’s a solid little keyboard, and the contoured floating caps on the low-profile Cherry MX switches give it a stylish chiclet-style aesthetic. You can see a comparison here between the SK621 and my Logitech K800 to see the difference.
And let’s not forget the velvet travel bag that comes with Cooler Master’s premium gear, making sure I can throw this in my work bag with the cable and not get messed up during travel.
This keyboard is not just flash without function. The SK621 has a hybrid design, giving the option to use it in either wired or wireless scenarios. When wired, the keyboard uses is a detachable braided USB-C cable. For wireless, it runs on Bluetooth 4.0 – super convenient for folks running new slim ultrabooks that can’t waste precious USB ports for a dongle. The SK621 allows you to pair with up to 3 devices that are switchable using shortcut keys as part of CM’s on-the-fly system. The USB-C cable also charges the keyboard’s 4000mAh battery, which has gotten me a couple days of use both on site and at home with the lighting turned off. If you want a comparison, my Samsung Galaxy Note9 also has a 4000mAh battery, and I do a lot more on that than just typing.
And that brings us to the switches. Despite its reduced footprint, the Cherry MX low-profile switches offer the same functionality as Cherry’s conventional switches, but the travel for that same level of actuation has been reduced from 4.0 to 3.2 millimeters. While that may not sound like a lot that’s a full 20% reduction in travel, which I could definitely feel in comparison to something like Razer’s Green switches on their BlackWidow. All without the mechanical mega-click that could potentially keep the neighbors up at night
There’s also some more use to the PORTAL software, and that’s functionality customization. Instead of just mapping colors, you can map macros or functions to most if not all of the keys on the board.
Like I said earlier I’m pretty much the bang on target for this keyboard. I need something portable I can take with me on site in my daily exploits as an IT superstar, and at the same time have something I can game with. I love it when I can have a single device that handles these multiple things. It’s part of the reason my laptops have all traditionally had full sized keyboards, because sometimes it’s tough to type on cramped key settings with the trend of smaller, thinner, lighter. I don’t want to have to carry a keyboard with me wherever I go. The SK621 solves this problem for me, being tiny enough for me to put in my bag with a slim PC ultrabook or MacBook and cut some weight in the process so I’m not “overburdened,” as the MMO kids say these days.
The 60% size was helpful when working on servers and workstations that weren’t stationed on a desk. I could hold the keyboard like a gamepad and still hit most of what I needed to be able to get things done. Once I brought it home clicking it into Bluetooth mode for my desktop was a smooth transition. I got some bonus use out of it with my phone too – it worked flawlessly with my Samsung DeX station when my Note9 was docked, and for kicks I even typed out a deployment plan on it using Microsoft Word on my phone from the comfort of my couch.
On the gaming front, excellent response time and a good feel when striding through the realms of Azeroth or trying to pilot Lara Croft through dangers without having a coronary in the process.
What a great little keyboard – Cooler Master really did a good job pairing form with function here. The SK621 has earned a place in my work bag when I go to client sites for its portability and Bluetooth functionality, and it’s something I can easily travel with to not be confined to a tiny laptop keyboard if I want to game on the road. It checks off a lot of boxes for both work and play, and personally I like the feel of the keycaps while using the keyboard. This really makes me want to try out the full size SK650, because based on the performance of the SK621, that would be a great desktop keyboard.
I have to be honest, I can’t find anything wrong with this item. I tried, but it fits into my life pretty perfectly. The SK621 is available for purchase now, and you can get it on Amazon here.
The Technical Fowl rating? 10/10. Well done.