Cougar 450K Review

Written by Antony Leather

March 23, 2016 // 12:04 p.m.

Tags: #best-cheap-keyboard #best-membrane-keyboard #cougar #cougar-450k-review #gaming-keyboard

Cougar 450K Review

Manufacturer: Cougar
UK price (as reviewed):
£34.80 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): N/A

If you want to get into gaming for as little cash as possible or just want an upgrade from your bog-standard membrane keyboard, there are quite a few options out there. As you dip below £50, mechanical Cherry MX switch-based keyboards become a less likely option due to their expensive switches. At the budget end of the market you have all kinds of alternatives from the Cherry-equivalent Kailh switches, to standard membranes and even scissor switches. The Cougar 450K uses what it called a hybrid mechanical switch.

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On paper, it claims to offer higher activation speed, more tactile and audio feedback and up to 40 times longer lifespan than a standard membrane switch. Lets face it, anything is an improvement over a standard membrane switch and for less than £35, the 450K has everything to gain here if does turn out to be better.

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In our minds it has two competitors: the super-cheap i-Rocks K10, which features plunged key structure POM switches and the K50 (Cougar's own 300K appears to be clone of this too), which uses raised scissor switches. There are also plenty of standard shallow scissor switch keyboards out there as well, including Cougar's own 200K. All feel better than a standard membrane keyboard and cost less than £40.

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The audio feedback is certainly there, especially on the rebound where the keys do sound a lot like mechanical switches. The movement is a little more linear too, but there's still the characteristic membrane 'bump' that's obviously absent on mechanical keyboards, and this also deadens the audio feedback.

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The keys also feel a little heavier than the likes of the raised scissor switches in the K50, but feel more mechanical. This proved to be the case across most of the key set, but the sound and feel did vary with some keys. The return key, for instance, often produced a metallic rattle, but the only way you'll get a more uniform noise is to opt for real mechanical switches.

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The keyboard itself is solid, but fairly basic - there are no dedicated media keys (the K50 did at least have separate keys for volume control) or USB ports and only single-level height adjustment. However, it does include the all-important backlighting, albeit there's no per-key adjustment here and only yellow, red and green are available.
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