RGB, macro keys, premium switches, programmability… these are the things hardcore gamers demand. The Cougar 700K EVO offers them all, but is it worth $119 in a crowded market? We take a closer look and find out. Join us as we dive deeper.
- Price: $119.90 USD (Normally $139.99 USD) on Amazon.com
- Switches: Cherry RGB Mechanical
- Processor: 32-bit
- N-key Rollover: YES
- Full Key Backlight: Yes
- Game Type: FPS/MMORPG/MOBA/RTS
- Polling Rate: 1000Hz / 1ms
- Polling rate Adjust: 1X/2X/4X/8X
- On-board Memory: Yes
- Material: Aluminum/Plastic
- Software: Cougar UIX System
- Additional Programmable G-Keys: 5
- Wrist Rest: Yes
- Audio Jacks: Yes
- USB Pass-Through: Yes
- Interface: Golden-plated USB Plug
- Cable Length: 1.8m Braided
- Dimensions: 250 (L) X 487(W) X 40(H) mm
- Weight: 1.3kg (2.86 lb)
When a company makes a keyboard they have to carefully consider who it’s aimed at. With the 700K EVO, Cougar lined hardcore gamers up in their sights. Rightfully so, given that it takes the place as the company’s flagship keyboard. It’s feature-rich, including macro keys, full RGB and macro/remap programming, and a unique aesthetic in keeping with the rest of their line-up.
The 700K EVO features a brushed aluminum top plate for an industrial look. It also adopts the “floating key” design which allows the transparent switch housings to light up and increase the RGB effect. The back of the keyboard is plastic, like most gaming keyboards, and it features a braided cable complete with extra headers for the USB passthrough and embedded audio jacks (more on that later). It also includes a plush wrist rest to help keep you comfortable over long gaming sessions. It works well, but I’m concerned about sweat during the hot months due to the material.
The keycaps are only okay. They are singleshot ABS plastic and are thin-walled. This is good for allowing the backlighting to pass through at full brightness, but typing on them is higher pitched and feels cheaper than keycaps with thicker walls. At the same time, they show shine from finger oils quickly.
Switches make all the difference in a mechanical keyboard, and Cherry MX are some of my favorites. The model I was sent uses Cherry MX Reds switches. They are linear switch without the tactile bump of some of Browns or the click of Blues. This allows the keyboard to be the keyboard to be quieter too, so long as you’re not hammering away and bottoming out.
Typing on the EVO 700K was a joy. The lightweight keys allowed me to flow quickly from one key to the next. This is a boon not just for gamers but anyone who does a lot of writing as well. The actuation force is only 45g, which is airy and has a bit of a learning curve to prevent typos. Once you get used to it, however, it becomes second nature.
The keyboard is also extremely responsive. It features a gaming-standard polling rate of 1000Hz, which means it’s communicating with your PC one thousand times a second to eliminate lag. It also features N-Key rollover to ensure that every key is registered, no matter how many you’re holding down. This works especially well with MMOs where you have to push keys for attacks and movement all at the same time.
Similar to the Vantar MX (Link here) that we reviewed recently, the 700K EVO uses the Cougar UIX system for its RGB programming, as well as key remapping, macros, and multiple profiles. Like most keyboards of its kind, it supports more than 16 million colors for each key, so you should have no trouble programming in exactly the hue you’re looking for.
UIX features a healthy array of presets to get your keyboard looking great fast, such as the standard rainbow wave, breathing, and reactive typing effects. Many settings allow you to change color patterns, directions, speed, but they aren’t as customizable as offerings from Corsair, and Logitech. If you don’t care about deep customization, this may not bother you, but it’s simply not as tailorable as much of the competition available to say — though, what’s there is bright, vibrant, and continues to look good. You can, of course, turn it all off if you like the keyboard but hate RGB. The keyboard also supports multiple profiles, so you can change your settings without needing to open the software. Changing modes on the keyboard is as easy with the built-in profile buttons along the top rim: M1, M2, M3.
What’s interesting is that you can achieve more advanced effects by turning to Razer. The two companies must have struck up a partnership because UIX offers a Razer preset which allows you to use Razer Synapse to program your lighting. This is a major benefit because it opens the door to much more detailed RGB settings.
One of the real selling points is the presence of macro keys along the left-hand side. Like the Corsair K95 Platinum, the 700K EVO features five dedicated macro buttons for easy access in games. You can easily record your key sequence inside the UIX software, map it to a key, and be ready to roll into your favorite game. If the five keys aren’t enough, you can map these to any button, but I like having dedicated buttons so I’m not stuck losing other keys. It’s also nice to have the buttons right on my left hand.
The other cool features are the dedicated media keys and additional ports. Along the top rim of the keyboard, you have track controls and above the number pad are your volume buttons. You also have USB passthrough and headphone and mic jacks for connecting your headset. These additional jacks are increasingly less common, so it’s great to see.
The Cougar 700K EVO is the company’s flagship and that couldn’t be more clear. It’s feature-rich, with lots of functions that are helpful for MMO and MOBA players especially. The ability to change modes on the fly, to store your profiles on-board, and to change RGB settings without moving your hand from the playing surface will help gamers a lot. Dedicated macro keys, media controls, and passthrough ports are also high points. The only downside is really that the footprint of the board is rather large, so if space is a concern for you, this won’t be a good fit. Still, for $119, this is a solid buy.The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.