MasterKeys Lite L Combo by Cooler Master review
+ Complete starter pack of gaming peripherals
+ Simple no-nonsense design
+ Plug and play; no driver software to install
+ Reasonable pricing
+ Solid build quality with metal backplate
+ Interesting feet design
+ RGB illumination is well spread by translucent backplate
+ Clear plungers compatible with Cherry MX keycaps
+ Anti-ghosting ensures accurate keypresses in most games
+ Durable matte plastic finishing
+ Ambidextrous shape
+ RGB illumination is well designed
- Cables for both mouse and keyboard are not sleeved
- RGB customization is limited without a driver software
- No macro programming feature
- Mem-chanical switches still feel quite similar to membrane switches
- Key backlighting leaves some to be desired
- Sensor is jittery at 3500 DPI
- Only features two illumination modes
Keyboards and mice are the essentials of peripherals. They basically define the user experience of any PC, and a good set can definitely improve the comfort when using your PC. That’s when talking about the standard ones. When we talk about gaming peripherals, they actually might improve your gaming performance, if you are any good in the first place. Sure, we consider mechanical keyboards to be the gold standard, but they can be out of range of some gamers. The MasterKeys Lite L combo by Cooler Master comes with a mem-chanical keyboard and an optical mouse, which should more than suffice as a “starter pack” for gamers. Oh and both feature RGB illumination too! Let’s take a look.
The package is really wide, which is understandable considering that there is a full-length keyboard and mouse in it. On the front, the product image takes center stage. Cooler Master is quick to highlight the RGB capability that the MasterKeys Lite L combo features, not only in the product image but also in a little emblem on the lower edge. The exclusive mem-chanical switches also gets a mention here, as well as the fact that they are compatible with Cherry keycaps.
Flipping the packaging, we get some of the highlight features of the MasterKeys Lite L combo set printed in really tiny font in 8 different languages, no less. An exploded view of the keyboard sits over on the right, with more features being highlighted.
Opening up the packaging, the keyboard and mouse are wrapped in soft clear plastic and are plain to the sight.
And here is everything you get in the box with the MasterKeys Lite L. Aside from the mouse and keyboard, you also get a user manual. This user manual, you must read, and not lose.
The MasterKeys Lite L keyboard actually shares a pretty similar look with its brethren, the MasterKeys Pro L, which feature real Cherry MX RGB switches. In other words, it looks just like any other mechanical keyboard out there. The sharp-eyed among you might notice that the legends here look darker than on the MasterKeys Pro L. That’s because the legends are actually clear, unlike most mechanical keyboards which feature translucent legends.
The underside of the MasterKeys Lite L keyboard is pretty plain, with the Cooler Master logo right in the center, and rubber feet along the four edges. The MasterKeys Lite L keyboard does not feature cable routing channels, which is quite a downer for me. Desktop users may not be affected but laptop users will definitely prefer their cables routed to the sides. The two rubber feet at the top also flip out for tilt, which is quite a nifty design, actually. In fact, this is the first time I have seen a keyboard that has the flippy feet serve a function when closed too.
The MasterKeys Lite L keyboard is just as thick as regular mechanical keyboards. Well, it does actually offer a similar amount of travel and also has a nice solid metal plate embedded in the chassis, so the thickness isn’t just for show. While thick, it does look pretty good from the side with the lower edge tapered off.
Moving on to the mouse, the MasterKeys Lite L mouse looks pretty simple. No fancy rubber coatings that wear off and leave a sticky mess here, which is great. The entire shell is made of smooth matte black plastic that doesn’t collect fingerprints. Size wise, it is a little on the small side. Along with the standard trio of left, right clickers and the scroll wheel, you get a DPI button on the top.
The sides are furnished with two buttons. While the mouse features an ambidextrous look, it is designed for right-handers only. Unless you are a leftie with extraordinary control over your pinky, you will not be able to use the side buttons.
Under the mouse, you get three rather generously sized Teflon feet and the sensor in the middle. Pretty standard stuff.
|Body material||Plastic, with embedded metal plate|
|Keycap||Laser engraved ABS keycaps with UV coating|
|USB report rate||125 Hz|
|Switch type||Cooler Master Mem-chanical RGB|
|Cable||1.8m, non-detachable, rubber coated|
|Included accessories||Quick start guide|
|Body material||Matte hard plastic shell|
|Sensor||Avago 3050 optical sensor|
|USB report rate||1000 Hz|
|Switch type||Omron switches, rated for 10 million clicks|
|Cable||1.8 m, rubber coated|
|Included accessories||Quick start guide|
Both the keyboard and mouse in the MasterKeys Lite L combo does not come with any driver software, so it is entirely plug and play. Remember why I mentioned you do not want to lose the manual? Well that’s because it is necessary to read it to configure the peripherals to your liking. More on that later.
Let’s start from the flippy feet. As I have mentioned in the Appearance section, the flippy feet are quite interesting. They offer grip both when closed and opened. You only get a choice of tilt or no tilt, but I find that it is comfortable enough.
There are no dedicated media keys, but they are available on the cluster of keys above the arrow keys. But you do need to press the Fn key together with the key you want to use them, which can be quite troublesome. It is also positioned on the far right, which means that you will most probably remove your hands from your mouse to use the media keys, which is quite counter-intuitive for a gamer.
Customizing the RGB illumination is a matter of pressing hotkeys, which are already labelled clearly on the keycaps. You can select from the various different modes, customize the colors, adjust the speed and even pick the direction of the effects.
You get 8 modes of illumination, not including off. The RGB lighting is one of the highlights of the MasterKeys Lite L keyboard, and it does look great. The backplate is translucent, which spreads the light really well. However the same can’t be said for the legends, which are not that well illuminated despite the design of the mem-chanical switches which are built to channel the light to the keycaps. The main difference here when compared to RGB mechanical keyboards is that instead of LEDs in the switches on mechanical keyboards, the LEDs here are actually under the backplate. The video was taken almost perpendicular to the keyboard, but when you are using it, you will be at an angle,where the keycap backlighting will be less visible.
Lifting off the UV coated keycaps, we see a clear plunger, with a Cherry MX stab for compatibility with third-party keycaps. The white housing around the plunger ensures that the keycaps and plunger are steady. The clear plungers help channel the light to the keycaps, you still get less light at the legends compared to true mechanical keyboards which usually have the LEDs directly under the legends.
Let me make a confession here. I did not expect the MasterKeys Lite L keyboard to feel as good as it does. “Mem-chanical switches” are still membrane keyboards with a fancy plunger, right? For starters, I was surprised they do feel a lot better than your standard membrane gaming keyboards. Sure, you still get all the resistance right at the top of the travel, and the actuation point all the way at the bottom, but they are easier to press and also the tactility is a lot better with these mem-chanical switches by Cooler Master. One really differentiating factor is the noise. While mechanical keyboards often have noise either when you bottom out, these keys are quieter to bottom out. But on the other hand, when the keys bounce back up, they produce a pretty plasticky noise. And oh, these keys are rated for 12 million presses, which is double that of standard membrane keyboards. And as I personally have not worn out a standard membrane keyboard before, I think you will have a long way to go before needing to replace the MasterKeys Lite L keyboard. With the embedded metal plate in the chassis, the keyboard feels very solid, unlike the Logitech G310 Atlas Dawn which was so plasticky.
The MasterKeys Lite L keyboard offers 26-key anti-ghosting, which is more than the number of fingers I have. Gaming wise, I have not come upon a combination where it failed to register my keypresses properly. Knowing how membrane keyboards work, it is impossible to have NKRO, which means that Cooler Master did a good job here optimizing for important gaming clusters to not ghost.
A major downer with the MasterKeys Lite L mouse is you have no way of reassigning the buttons. Configuring the RGB setting is quite simple on the MasterKeys Lite L mouse. The DPI button plays an important role here, as you can see in the following guide. The included manual actually features a tiny mistake, as it mentions pressing the DPI + Forward button to change effect speed (in color cycle mode) or change color (in static mode). Still, as the online product page features the correct method which is by pressing the DPI + Back button, I was able to configure it easily.
The RGB illumination will come from the scroll wheel and along the rear end of of the mouse. This is a good call by Cooler Master for illuminating these specific areas instead of illuminating the logo — which is printed in black on the black shell here — and having it shine in all its RGB glory into your palm which has no way of perceiving light. Color selection is not as fine-tuned as on the keyboard, as you only get to pick from a list of preset colors. Illuminating the surface it is on, the rear lighting is really eye-catching, especially if you aren’t holding the mouse. Too eye-catching, actually. I find the RGB lighting a little too bright to use when I have the lights off. There are no settings for brightness, so you can only turn if off if you find it too glaring.
There are no macro programming to speak off, and you get 4 DPI levels to pick from. Ranging from 500 to 3500, most gamers should be well served. The mouse will flash in different colors to indicate the DPI level. Red for 500, blue for 1000, purple for 2000 and white for 3500.
Testing the DPI settings of the mouse, I found that at 3500 DPI jitter is quite noticeable. Considering that the sensor is the same Avago 3050 optical sensor found in the ARMAGGEDDON SRO-5 HAVOC III Ver2.0, this result is pretty much expected.
The MasterKeys Lite L mouse has a pretty nice size. It still allows me to use a palm grip or a fingertip grip comfortably. Both sides are curved inwards to give your thumb and pinky a resting place. The lack of rubber coating should ensure that this mouse lasts a long time, while the smooth sandblasted finishing feels great to hold. A matte finishing also gives it the added advantage of not collecting fingerprints, which can be a pain to wipe off after gaming sessions. Right and left clickers have Omron switches, which offer great tactile feedback. Coupled with the 10 million clicks rating, they should last for some time. The side buttons have a little too much travel to them, and I wish they were a tad bigger. Especially the back button, which is a bit too far behind to reach comfortably with my thumb. Tracking performance is great, and the wide Teflon feet allow the MasterKeys Lite L mouse to glide over my Razer Goliathus mousepad effortlessly.
The MasterKeys Lite L combo is pretty great. If you want a full set of RGB peripherals, this is a great way to start. You will be hard-pressed to get a decent RGB keyboard and a nice RGB mouse for the RM299 Cooler Master is asking for. While there are shortcomings of this combo, like the lack of a intuitive driver software for full customization, it does make up for them with unique features like compatibility with Cherry MX keycaps to #MakeItYours. Overall, it is a decent RGB keyboard and mouse combo, feels better than standard membrane gaming keyboards, while going for even less money than most standalone RGB keyboards. It deserves our Bronze Pokdeward for its combination of form and function at a reasonable pricing.