The Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro L RGB was the first mechanical keyboard that I ever purchased. After days of researching and trying to find the best board that would fit my needs, I finally pulled the trigger.
In this review, I’ll be talking about my first impressions of the board and its main features. I was also able to get hands on with the MasterKeys Pro S RGB (The TKL or Tenkeyless version), so I’ll be referring to this board and its differences too.
The Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro line of keyboards feature both RGB and white LED backlit models. Here are some of the main selling points of the Cooler Master boards:
- Minimalist design with no obnoxious styling or “in your face” branding
- Controllable lighting configured via the board itself or through the downloadable software
- White back plate to make the LED lighting pop
- N-key rollover where any number of keys can be pressed at the same time and still register
- Authentic German engineered Cherry MX switches guaranteed to work for 50 million keystrokes
- 3 different layouts to pick from (Full Size, TKL, and a variation of the TKL where the arrow keys are built into the number pad which has replaced the navigation cluster)
- Ability to record and program macros
With this being said, let’s get into the review!
Packaging and Contents:
The design on the front of the package is simple but effective. The Cooler Master logo and slogan are displayed on the top left corner directly above the main image. A picture of the keyboard model spans across the center of the box with information regarding the switch, LEDs, and layout type on the bottom.
I selected Cherry MX brown switches (tactile) for the Pro L and Cherry MX red switches (linear) for the Pro S.
Flipping the box over reveals various feature descriptions of the keyboard. An image of the board’s construction is also shown.
As I’ve mentioned before, the MasterKeys Pro L RGB is the full-sized board and the MasterKeys Pro S RGB is the TKL version with no number pad. They are nearly identical aside from a few minor differences that I’ll bring up in the review. These differences are marked by the following note:
Example difference between the Cooler Master Pro L & S models!
Example difference between the Cooler Master Pro L & S models!
Because of this, I will focus mainly on the Pro L and describe the disparities between the two boards when I reach a feature that is unique to one or the other.
Opening the box reveals the keyboard wrapped snugly in a dust and scratch resistant cover with two compartments behind it. A standard plastic keycap puller with metal wires and a nicely braided detachable 1.5m (4.9 ft.) micro USB cable rest underneath these compartments. A manual for the keyboard model is also included.
The Pro L comes with a straight plug USB cable while the Pro S comes with a right-angled plug USB cable.
I personally prefer the Pro L’s straight plug cable since the right-angle plug of the Pro S has the potential to come out at an odd angle depending on if your setup is on the left or right side of your desk (the right-angle plug guides the cord left).
The manual that comes with the board contains the following information:
- Function controls enabled by holding down FN and pressing another key
- Package contents
- A full list of keyboard features in various languages (16.7 million RGB color combinations, ability to make macros, authentic Cherry MX switches, etc.)
- Warranty description
The MasterKeys Pro L’s case feels very solid. It’s made up of a sturdy plastic that provides minimal flex and has a good weight to it. The bezel is very thin which contributes to that minimalistic look Cooler Master is going for.
The MasterKeys Pro S case feels the same regarding the characteristics listed above. In terms of each keyboard’s weight: the Pro L weighs 2.4 pounds while the Pro S weighs 2 pounds (both weighed without the cable.)
The sides of the case are flat until you reach the bottom part of the case, at which point the bottom is angled inwards, effectively giving the board a more stylish aesthetic.
Take a look at the images below to understand what I’m talking about:
Turning the board on its back reveals 4 rectangular rubber grips on the corners which stop the board from moving around.
2 rubber-coated flip up feet are located on the two upper edges to allow for an elevated typing experience if you wish.
Safe to say, this keyboard won’t be going anywhere, even during your most intense gaming or work sessions!
One important difference is that the Pro L comes with cable routing paths built into the underside of the board while the Pro S does not. Take a look at the images below for your reference:
The stock keycaps that come with the board are standard shine-through ABS keycaps which effectively allow the RGB lighting to illuminate your keys. The colors are incredibly vibrant so there is no doubt that you’ll be able to appreciate the effects day or night.
One detail worth mentioning is that the keycaps are thin and very smooth with little to no texture. So if you who prefer a more premium or grittier feel, I would suggest swapping out the stock keycaps for a different set later down the line.
The great thing about the Pro L’s (and Pro S’s) standard layout is that you won’t have a problem finding compatible keycap sets.
*Keep in mind that the MasterKeys Pro L has an additional 4 keys (108 keys in all) right above the number pad that other full sizes generally don’t have. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you will have enough keys to cover the entire keyboard.*
Currently, the MasterKeys Pro line comes with the option to select from 3 different types of Cherry switches:
- Cherry MX Red (Linear)
- Cherry MX Brown (Tactile)
- Cherry MX Blue (Clicky)
I ordered Cherry MX brown switches for the MasterKeys Pro L and Cherry MX Red switches for the Pro S.
These Cherry MX switches are proven to last a lifetime at 50 million key presses each, so you’ll never have to worry about durability. Typing on both switches felt great (although I prefer tactile over linear switches) and are much quieter in comparison to their MX blue counterpart. Even after several months of typing, they still feel like new without any noticeable pings or other sounds.
You can always add some O-rings or use some other sound dampening materials if you think the keyboard is a little louder than you’d like.
Take a look at what the switch looks like when the LEDs are on:
As you can see, the north facing LEDs (located on the upper half of the switch instead of the bottom) are seated within the clear housing of the switch. This is a plus since the transparent housings allow the light to shine brighter.
Both the Pro L and S models come with generic Cherry style stabilizers which are nice for the most part, but I’ve found that they can rattle a bit after some time. A little lube is an easy way to help fix this common problem!
Lighting and Software:
There are 10 lighting modes (11 if you include the “Off” setting) that you can configure via the board itself. They are:
- Static color
- Color Wave
- Cross Mode
- Single Key
- Star Effect
- Rain Drop
- Color Cycle
- Snake (the game)
Watch the video below to see all of them in action and more:
You get even more options within the lighting software provided by Cooler Master which can be downloaded on their website. You can click the link below and select the Pro L or S RGB keyboard from the list.
After you do that, navigate to the purple ribbon at the top of the page and click Download. Download Cooler Master Portal and SDK Download.
Once you download the software, you can configure additional settings with your device plugged in. Here is a screenshot of the GUI (Graphical User Interface) once it opens:
From here you can further customize the lighting settings in ways that you couldn’t just using the keyboard.
For example, you can select Customize within the LED Modes at the bottom left of the screen to enable more than one lighting mode, click and drag different areas on the board to apply different colors, or even enable the lighting to act as an equalizer synced up to your audio.
What’s really cool about using this software is that your keyboard will reflect the changes you make on screen in real time. So if you select a lighting mode or highlight a row and make it bright red, the keyboard will display these changes right away.
In addition, you can also save your color profiles to multiple files that you can access and change with a few clicks of your mouse.
Another great feature that owners of the Pro series keyboards (specifically the Pro L RGB, Pro S RGB, Pro L White, and Pro S White) can access is the SDK portal found on the Cooler Master website. Here is the link:
This is what the site looks like:
Once here, you can click on the board you own in the Keyboard dropdown list and view a decent sized gallery of lighting modes that other users have designed themselves.
After you’ve found one that you like, you just have to click it, extract the zip files, and double click the application file to open a dialog box to start or stop the effect.
The only downside of this is that you must keep the file running in the background to take advantage of this custom lighting mode.
If your desire for flashy lighting still hasn’t been satisfied, you can check out Aurora by visiting this link and clicking the Download button located at the top of the page:
Aurora has a more reactive and customizable equalizer effect, can sync your keyboard with certain games, and even mirror your screen with the keyboard lighting in real time among other cool lighting effects. You should definitely check it out!
- Standard layout to ensure keycap swapping compatibility
- Sturdy plastic case
- Easy to use and bright RGB lighting controllable through the downloadable software or the board itself
- Minimalist look
- Stabilizers may rattle a bit after some use (Lube comes in handy here)
- Stock keycaps are not the best quality
- The Pro S comes with a right-angled USB plug which may not be the ideal setup for everyone.
The MasterKeys Pro L & S RGB are great boards with some cool features packed into it. The builds are solid, the lighting pops, and they come with authentic Cherry MX switches that people can trust. The minimalist style is also plus since it isn’t distracting in comparison to other gamer-oriented models that companies like Corsair or Razer offer.
This being said, I would definitely recommend the MasterKeys Pro L & S RGB from Cooler Master. They won’t let you down!