We first had the chance to have a brief hands-on of the Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 during Computex 2017 over at Taipei, Taiwan. It is meant to replace the older MasterKeys Lite L by updating the mem-chanical key switches with an actual spring and clicky mechanism.
Earlier this month we received the MasterSet MS120 from Cooler Master and after testing it out now is the time for us to share with you guys our thoughts on Cooler Master’s latest entry-level gaming keyboard & mouse combo.
Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 Specifications
- Mem-chanical Clicky Switch
- RGB per-key full backlight
- 125 Hz polling rate
- USB 1.1
- Multimedia function
- 4 levels of DPI – 500, 750, 1500, 3500
- USB 2.0
What’s in the box
- MasterSet MS120 Keyboard
- MasterSet MS120 Mouse
- User manual
MasterSet MS120 Keyboard
The keyboard has the same minimalist design where you can’t find any Cooler Master’s branding other than on the Windows key.
Even the Num Lock / Caps Lock / Scroll Lock / Game Mode LED legends are represented by NCSG alphabets.
The new chassis has a lower profile and with hexagonal design language inspiring from Cooler Master’s Logo. While the overall construction of the keyboard is made of plastic, surprisingly, the chassis packs quite a weight to it.
The bottom chassis has a clean layout and the rubber feet is cleverly designed on the flip up feet.
The key feature of this keyboard is that the each and every one of the switches is a membrane and mechanical hybrid.
Some basics before we dive deeper into the hybrid switch. Key actuation on a regular membrane keyboard is registered when the conductive surface under the rubber dome makes contact with the electrical circuit. Meanwhile, mechanical switches are spring loaded and key actuation is registered when the two piece of metal in the switch housing makes contact.
The hybrid mem-chanical switch on the Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 keyboard is developed in-house and is basically a combination of both membrane and mechanical. It uses the mechanical key switch’s concept with the tactile plunger and spring inside a support housing. Instead of using metal contacts, actuation of the key is still done with a layer of membrane circuit board underneath the switches. As a result, this variant of mem-chanical switch feels darn close to a mechanical switch, unlike the previous MasterKeys Lite.
How does it feel?
As of the time of writing, Cooler Master is only releasing the tactile + clicky variant which is the most common switch out there. I personally use both tactile + clicky as well as linear switches for different purposes. Typing reviews and articles with tactile + clicky switches while gaming with linear switches.
The Cooler Master’s new mem-chanical key switch, without a doubt, is the clickiest switch I have ever used, period. The physical feedback from each key press is intense and it gives quite a unique typing & gaming experience. Besides, I don’t really think a tactile switch is 100% suitable for vigorous and rapid input, such as button mashing games to be honest. Still, the keyboard should keep up with your reactions on MOBA titles.
Since the keyboard still uses the membrane layer, so you still have to bottom out the keys to register the key press. Unless you are used to mechanical switches otherwise I don’t think it will be a big issue if you upgrade from your older membrane keyboards.
Cherry MX Compatible Keycaps
The plunger employs Cherry MX compatible stem as well as US ANSI keyboard layout. That means you can customise the keycaps to your heart’s content. Just take note that the stem has a box design which might cause some compatibility issue with certain artisan keycaps if you know about them in the first place.
For longer keys, you get wire type stabilisers, but not the Filco style.
The original keycaps are made of ABS plastic. The white transparent key caps are coated with a black coating and the characters are then etched for backlight illumination. Not the most durable setup but you can get plenty of replacement keycaps out there.
The switch housing is transparent for maximum light diffusion cause the keyboard has RGB illumination.
The lighting configuration can only be done on the keyboard and there is no software available for it. While they do have 1 LED for each key, but custom per-key illumination configuration is out of the question here as the RGB controller does not support it. Nonetheless, you still get 10 different lighting presets and a few of them allows you to choose the colour by adjusting intensitive of each Red, Green and Blue colour channel.
- Static colour
- Spectrum mode (horizontal)
- Spectrum mode (vertical)
- Key press mode (single key lights up)
- Row mode (single row lights up, spread out)
- Spectrum breathing mode
- Wave mode
- Equalizer mode (random & non-synced)
- Per-row Spectrum mode
It was printed on the box that it supports 16.7 million colours, only if you’re in the automatic spectrum mode. For custom colour configuration, each colour channel supports 6 different brightness including OFF, so that means 6 x 6 x 6 = 216 custom colour configurations.
Check out this video to find out more about the keyboard lighting modes.
Key Rollover Test
To begin with rhythm games, the keyboard did not fare well against the simultaneous multi-key input. For instance, the “K” key failed to register. This is kind of a disappointment because the MasterKeys Lite L could achieve ASDFGHJKL; + Space without any issue.
Instead, the anti-ghosting matrix is retained at the WASD cluster for FPS games.
MasterSet MS120 Mouse
The MasterSet MS120 Mouse has the exact same design as the premium MasterMouse MM520, minus the higher quality rubber pads around the mouse sides. Hey, don’t fix what isn’t broken right?
That being said, the ergonomics of the mouse is mentioned to be suitable for right-handed claw grip users. The added bulge at the right side is to support your ring finger and provide an extra surface for your pinky finger to grip on.
The main left and right click buttons have Omron switches which are stated on Cooler Master’s site as capable of surviving up to 10 million precise key presses. If only if you spam click your mouse that much.
The side buttons are well positioned and feels kind of springy. The switch has a different feel from the left and right clicks, not in a negative way, of course. I particularly like the most used back button is 50% larger than the forward button.
The mouse has an Avago optical sensor and the lift-off distance is extremely short. Perfect for all sorts of games especially FPS. The mouse glides smoothly over various types of mouse pads except for tables. So, get a mousepad.
The scroll wheel doesn’t support tilting which is fine as the use case is extremely limited unless you want to macro everything out of the mouse. Scrolling is smooth and each groove felt precise and lands softly.
Since the MasterSet MS120 doesn’t require any software to work, you are basically tied to the preset DPI settings – 500, 750, 1500 and 3500. Changing the DPI is achieved by pressing the middle button under the scroll wheel.
So, how do you differentiate the DPI? Apparently Cooler Master opted for using the LED colour on the scroll wheel and the Cooler Master’s logo:
- Red – 500 DPI
- Blue – 750 DPI
- Purple – 1500 DPI
- Green – 3500 DPI
If you want to set 1500 DPI but wanted to have Red LED for your peripherals, the mouse will standout because the logo will be in Purple.
That leads us to the RGB configuration of the mouse. YES, the mouse supports RGB lighting but only for the less significant light strip at the bottom part of the mouse.
Since there’s no software for customising the LED colour, you’ll have to use the button combination on the mouse to change the lighting mode. There are 2 colour modes to be exact:
- Static colour mode
- Colour cycle mode
There is a total of 8 colours and 3 levels of colour cycle speed. I don’t see the lack of software is a big issue here, but Cooler Master has messed up the mouse’s lighting for not allowing users to customise the logo’s LED colour.
Apart from a few minor qualms over the lighting configuration on the mouse, the MasterSet MS120 basically is a good keyboard and mouse combo to get started. Comparing to the previous generation MasterKeys Lite L, the new MasterSet MS120 has way better typing feel instead of the mushy first gen mem-chanical switch. The price is slightly more expensive from the previous generation which I think is still reasonable for it.
Cooler Master is offering the MasterSet MS120 on Lazada for RM 319. If you were to compare it to other gaming keyboards and mice from Logitech, Razer, Steel Series & etc, the price is hard to beat. Mind you this is a combo set, unlike many other keyboards alone already priced that much, unless you go towards the China brand’s direction.