Founded in Germany by a group of computer peripherals engineers in 2007, Cougar started out mostly offering budget computer cases and power supplies. Today the company offers dozens of products including last year's arrival of the LED-backlit, Cherry MX Red-based Cougar Attack.
Since launching its first mechanical gaming keyboard, Cougar has continued releasing PC gaming devices ranging from the ultra affordable to the relatively expensive. Its most affordable keyboard is the 200K at just $30, though the company's mechanical options begin at $85 with the Attack 2.
On the upper end of things, Cougar's flagship 700K has been commended for everything from its sturdy aluminum construction to its heavily customizable software, and while $150 might not be outrageous for a mechanical keyboard with so many features, it's too expensive for most gamers.
Hoping to reach a wider audience, Cougar has developed the 500K and 600K for folks who can't quite justify the 700K's price. As of writing, the 500K has yet to be released while we have the higher-end 600K in house for review.
Along for the ride is Cougar's 600M gaming mouse, which is surprisingly well-equipped for $60, though for just $10 more we feel most gamers will be tempted to opt for Cougar's own 700M flagship mouse because of its adjustability.
Cougar 600K Mechanical Keyboard
While similar, there are key differences that separate the 700K and the 600K we are reviewing today. The 600K is slightly shorter as it forgoes the programmable G-keys found on the left of the keyboard. Also the 600K only illuminates the WASD and arrow keys versus the full backlighting offered in the more expensive model.
The 700K features on-board memory for storing up to three profiles and audio outputs for your headphones and mic, absent in the 600K.
Depending on your priorities, this doesn't seem like a bad compromise, as the 600K still gets that sleek design featuring the brushed aluminum cover and detachable palm rest with an "FPS attachment" that raises your left hand a little more than usual for better support and grip when gaming. Moreover, the 600K is still armed with a 32-bit ARM processor for an instant 1ms response.
The 600K is designed to be a no-nonsense mechanical keyboard. There are no macro keys, no remapping options and therefore no setup. Gamers simply plug it in and start playing, which is certainly what many gamers want. The beautiful thing about the 600K is that you get the look and feel of a high-end mechanical keyboard without as much clutter.
In the top right hand corner of the 600K are four buttons that look a bit like macro keys as they are not part of a standard layout. They are labelled x1, x2, x4, x8 and they are part of the repeat rate feature which lets users decide how quick they want the 600K to respond to a command.
This is an interesting feature, at least in theory, but it isn't without some shortcomings. At first I found the 600K far too slow for typing when using the x1 setting. Bumping up to x4 or x8 felt much better when typing and I instantly began to enjoy the keyboard.
However once I jumped into some games a few problems began to appear. When playing Call of Duty Advanced Warfare for example the Exo movements were sporadic and I was accidently jumping all over the place. The only way to correct this seemed to be to use the x1 mode -- perhaps I am just slow in this game.
Another game that showed definite signs of trouble was The Crew. Granted this is a car racing game and best played using a controller or steering wheel, but I don't have time for that. Using the 600K the car's engine would rev all over the place using anything other than the x1 mode.
It is worth pointing out that when reviewing the Aorus Thunder K7 recently the response rate was perfect when typing and gaming despite being fixed.
Obviously the key (forgive the pun) to any mechanical keyboard is its mechanical keys, which vary between boards and can impact feedback response and actuation pressure. There are three main types of mechanical keys: linear, or those that simply move vertically without any feedback or clicking noise such as Cherry MX Blacks; tactile, which provide physical feedback when a key is actuated, such as Cherry MX Browns; and tactile with an audible click accompanying the physical bump, as offered by Cherry MX Blues.
Cougar gives gamers the option of buying the 600K with either Black, Red, Brown or Blue Cherry MX switches, so make sure you check which version you are purchasing. Our review sample came with the blue switches, it would have been nice to sample another version as well to compare the feel. The switches are rated for 50 million clicks which is a typical rating.
The 600K measures 230mm deep, 467mm wide and just 40mm tall. It weighs 1.1kg which is a typical weight for a mechanical keyboard. Connecting it to the PC is a 1.8m long braided USB cable complete with a gold-plated connector.
Grabbing our attention immediately is that stunning brushed aluminium cover plate from the more premium 700K model. For me, this makes the 600K one of the best looking keyboards I have ever seen. Cougar says it helps to increase typing efficiency and makes the keyboard sturdier while also providing a distinctive look.
We're not sure how it helps with typing efficiency, but it certainly makes the keyboard feel solid and it looks fantastic. Another advantage we have found is that because it is recessed quite a bit below the keys it makes cleaning the 600K much easier than other mechanical keyboards we have used.
The detachable palm rest is a great feature however be aware once attached it isn’t that easy to remove, though we can't imagine you would want to use the 600K without it. Improving the palm rest is the rubber attachment for first-person shooter gamers which offers better leverage and support for accessing the WASD and surrounding keys.
Although the FPS palm rest is designed to be installed on the left hand side of the keyboard where it is locked into place using magnets, it can also be installed on the right side as well though there aren't any magnets to keep it secured here.
Along with the repeat rate buttons at the top of the keyboard we also have a brightness button for the illuminated keys, a Windows key lock button and assorted media buttons which include volume controls, play, pause along with next and previous.
The buttons and keys are all easy to access and well labeled which is something we really like about the 600K. Although I very seldom look down at the keys, when I do it is very quick and easy to find what I am after when using the 600K. This is because Cougar has used a very large font that is considerably larger than what I am used too and I like it.
Flipping the 600K over reveals a basic underside with no real features other than two small feet. The keyboard can only be adjusted to a single height and although I would have appreciated a little more angle, it works well enough. There isn't any room for routing cables under here so you can't hide that extra-long mouse cable easily.
When pushing the 600K backwards over my desk the legs don't fold away, making it easy to move the keyboard out of the way when need be.