Cooler Master CK721 Review: Tiny but mighty

About the Cooler Master CK721

Here are the specs of the keyboard we tested:

  • Connectivity: Wireless 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 5.1 & USB Type-C cable (included)
  • Dimensions: 13.15 x 4.65 x 1.46 inches (without palm rest)
  • Weight: 1.68 pounds (without palm rest)
  • Material: Sandblasted aluminum (top plate), plastic
  • Special features: Full RGB support, on-the-fly key controls, universal compatibility

The Cooler Master CK721 comes with a choice between three Cherry MX key switches: Red, Brown, and Blue. The keyboard I tested had Cherry MX switches, which are rated for up to 50 million keystrokes. Talk about longevity! They are also linear and silent, so if you like your keys quiet Cherry Reds are a good pick.

You also have a choice between Gunmetal and Silver White for color schemes. All variations offer full support for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android devices, and unofficially, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles. Coupled with the PBT keycaps, you are looking at a keyboard that will last you for years to come and still look good.

What We Like

Full-size keyboard within a compact body

Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Prunty

This 65% mechanical keyboard leaves a decent amount of open space on your desk to make it feel less cramped.

To recreate the full-size keyboard experience in a 65% keyboard (a keyboard that is 65% the size of a full-sized one), Cooler Master added special controls that let you change what certain keys can do—no additional software required. You can control the RGB backlighting, media controls, system and keyboard brightness, device swapping and so much more via a few key presses. There are two ways of accessing the media controls on the CK721: the dial and on-the-fly-controls.

The silver dial in the upper right-hand corner consists of four profile settings. Profile one controls the computer volume, profile two for media controls, profile three for display brightness, and profile four controls the keyboard’s RGB lighting. Seems like a complex task in the beginning, but you will easily get used to profile-swapping.

To switch profiles simply press the FN (function) key and the Z, X, C, or V key together. These are the CK721’s on-the-fly controls, and they were my saving grace. While I was in the middle of a game or writing an in-depth review, I could easily adjust per-key backlighting, switch between lighting modes, and record macros without having to stop what I was working on.

Simply holding down the FN key and pressing the corresponding side-printed secondary functions key will allow you to adjust brightness, volume, skip audio tracks, RGB backlighting, etc.

Simple utilitarian design

A close up view of the side of a white keyboard with glowing blue keys

Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Prunty

On the left side of the keyboard near the top is a removable panel with a USB-A port behind it.

Cooler Master designed the CK721 to be compatible with many different devices, which is exactly how I like my keyboards. Whether it’s gaming on the go via PlayStation Remote Play and my PS5 or relaxing at home in a stationary setting, this keyboard provides a truly flexible and adaptable experience, even down to the swappable faceplate.

The CK721 supports Bluetooth, wireless, and wired connections. Using Bluetooth allows you to connect the keyboard to up to three devices at the same time and switch between them via the FN key and the DEL, PGUP, or PGDN keys.

Embedded in the left side of the keyboard behind a removable panel is a USB-A adapter that allows you to connect the keyboard wirelessly to one supporting device. (2.4GHz wireless connection.) Lastly, there is the USB-C to USB-A cable that will allow you to connect the keyboard to any supporting device.

Rounding out the CK721 is the inclusion of a removable aluminum top plate that comes in two colors: Gunmetal and Silver White. There are plans to offer additional colors to further customize the look and experience of the keyboard, which is great, as I wish they were available already.

Compatiable with multiple devices

A close up view of the side of a white keyboard

Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Prunty

The CK721 has three connectivity modes: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz, and wired.

As I mentioned above, this keyboard works with your computer, handheld devices, and unofficially for PlayStation and Xbox Series consoles.

When gaming on my Mac and PC, I opted for a wired connection as it provided the best response time with 1ms (millisecond). However, for those who opt to go wireless, 8ms is not too shabby. I do recommend going wired if you are doing any kind of competitive gaming, since having the lowest possible latency can sometimes mean life or death in the middle of a heated match. Most people would not notice that small difference in response time, though.

I didn’t have any issues using this keyboard with various mobile phones like the Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. If you have a Samsung phone, you can take advantage of its DeX mode, or Samsung’s desktop mode, which allows you to navigate your phone via your computer through emulation. Pairing Cooler Master’s CK721 with DeX allows you to have a full desktop computing experience whether you are at the office, at home, or on the road.

Even though Cooler Master’s CK721 doesn’t have official support for the PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S consoles, the consoles do officially support mouse and keyboard accessories. The keyboard can be used to navigate menus and works with certain games (which is a boon for me!)

The keyboard also works without issues with games like Final Fantasy XIV and Planet Coaster: Console Edition for PS4/PS5, and games like Halo Infinite and Bright Memory for Xbox Series consoles. I do want to note that the keyboard must be plugged into the system directly—sorry, no wireless support.

As it stands, there is reportedly support for 27 PS4 games and 14 PS5 games. Xbox Series X|S consoles have a greater level of support with over 50 games but research if the game(s) you want to buy next is compatible with your keyboard and mouse before parting with your hard-earned cash.

What We don’t like

Battery life

A keyboard with yellow glowing keys on top of a light brown desk

Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Prunty

Cooler Master’s CK721 lets you adjust the RGB backlighting—and so much more.

The CK721’s 73 hours of battery life might seem like a long time, but it’s on the shorter side compared to similar mechanical wireless keyboards from Asus, Razer, and others. Asus’ ROG Falchion, another 65% mechanical gaming keyboard, can last on battery power for up to 450 hours (RGB off), and Razer’s BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed can last up to 200 hours (RGB off). While we have yet to test those two keyboards, other reviews point to those estimates being very accurate. So, yes, 73 hours is not much by comparison.

Both of those keyboards do cost $30 to $60 more than Cooler Master’s CK721, though. The Falchion runs around $149.99 and the BlackWidow V3 Mini around $179.00, usually. So depending on what other mechanical keyboard features are your must-haves, paying $30 extra for more than four times the battery life seems worth it.

However, the CK721’s battery life does live up to Cooler Master’s claims. While primarily using the CK721 for my 9-5 job as a coordinator, I found the keyboard gets around 70-72 hours of battery life with the RGB backlighting turned off. With RGB backlighting on, I averaged around 55-60 hours of use while doing the same job-related tasks.

When it came to gaming, I averaged between 40 and 45 hours of use depending on the games I was playing. With RGB on, I averaged around 40 hours of wireless use while playing more intense games like Destiny 2 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, or games that require heavy use of the keyboard. For more laid-back experiences like The Wolf Among Us, Tell Me Why, or other games that are light on the key presses, I averaged closer to 45 hours.

Should you buy it?

Yes, despite battery life the keyboard delivers a lot

A white keyboard with a white mouse on top of a light brown desk

Credit: Reviewed / Matthew Prunty

Compared to some other 65% mechanical keyboards, Cooler Master’s CK721 has more features, device compatibility, and connectivity options for a similar or lower price.

While I love myself a full-size keyboard, there is something about compact keyboards that I always come back to. Few compact mechanical gaming keyboards provide an experience similar to the likes of a Corsair K70 RGB Pro, but Cooler Master’s CK721 not only gets the job done, but it also goes above expectations.

Its starting price point of $119.99 puts it in competition with products like the HyperX Alloy Origins 65 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the Razer Huntsman Mini 60% Gaming Keyboard. All three keyboards have a lot of the same features and build quality, but CK721 offers features like swappable aluminum faceplate(s), PlayStation and Xbox support, and the ability to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or over a 2.4GHz connection.

But if you really need a wireless keyboard with a much longer battery life, there’s the Asus ROG Falchion and the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed as I previously mentioned. However, the Falchion does not have Bluetooth, and even though the BlackWidow can do nearly everything the CK721 can do, it is significantly more expensive.

In a technological era where we want our devices to do any and everything, the Cooler Master CK721 is a go-to compact keyboard to help you balance your work/life/gaming lifestyle. If you want the most bang for your buck and don’t mind charging your keyboard every two to three days when used wirelessly, check out the CK721.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Matthew Prunty

Matthew Prunty

Contributor


@Mprunty83

Matthew Prunty is a freelance gaming and tech journalist with over a decade of writing experience covering everything from video games hard and software to smartphones and PC hardware.

See all of Matthew Prunty’s reviews

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