Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

The top view of the Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 keyboard suggests this product is likely to be designed by people with only a ruler. From the above picture, we can clearly see the keyboard is composed of only straight lines. There are no round lines I can find on it. With the matte black color, the keyboard has a very obvious stealth look. For a gaming keyboard, there is nothing wrong with such a low-key and conventional design, since winning a battle is everything, and everything else is unnecessary, right? The bezel on all sides of the keyboard is very thin, such that the keyboard will not take too much space. At least we can say this keyboard does not waste any space on your table, and most importantly, you get all the keys a full size keyboard should have. You will not find Cooler Master's logo anywhere on the frame of the keyboard, which is very cool. However, you do get the company logo on both Windows keys.

The dimensions for the MasterSet MS120 keyboard are 441 mm in width, 38 mm in height, and 132.5 mm in depth. It is a compact keyboard for sure, thus it will not take too much space on your desk thanks to the narrow bezel design. This keyboard weighs about 1.04 kg, which I think is a little bit heavy. It is not a surprise to me, since this is a mem-chanical keyboard, and I believe there must be some mechanical components that make the keyboard heavy. As we all know, pure mechanical keyboards are pretty heavy. It is generally sturdily built, but it still has some sort of flex if you really try to twist it. The keyboard will also creak if you try to hold it at the edges.

As it is the same as the Cooler Master MasterKeys Lite L Combo RGB keyboard, the MasterSet MS120 keyboard also features a standard 104-key QWERTY ANSI layout. It is worth noting the Enter key is single row, which is good news for people who like a full size right Shift key. The very important Fn key is on the right side of the space bar after the right Windows key. All the UV coated keycaps are designed ergonomically, therefore they are nice to press. The letters on the keycaps are translucent, so the backlight LED light can shine through. All of the information on the keys are easy to read if you are in a bright place. However, if you are in a dark place, and you are happen to be not very familiar with the layout of keys on this keyboard, then it is better for you to turn on the RGB lighting.

Since the MasterSet MS120 keyboard is advertised to be a gaming keyboard, it is expected to be optimized for gaming performance. There are two major functions that can boost the gaming experience. First, the backlight of this keyboard can be changed to quite a few preset modes. Although by just changing the backlight mode may not help you win the game, it can at least prepare your mind for specific battles you will get into. The second gaming performance booster is the Windows key disable function. I like this function a lot, since I used to accidentally press the Windows key when trying to use the left Ctrl key. There are no macro recording functions on the MS120.

Speaking of non-gaming usage, the MasterSet MS120 keyboard is capable of delivering a high quality typing experience. However, in terms of boosting up the productivity, this product is not perfect. There are no Fn-modifier secondary function keys related with productivity work. Functions such as quick email access, calculator access, and web browser access are missing. As a student in engineering, I would really appreciate a calculator quick access function. Anyway, I guess this keyboard is really optimized for RGB, since the majority of the function keys, such as F1 to F7, are dedicated to RGB related functions like changing colors and lighting modes. Fortunately, you can still control your media player pretty easily.

The MasterSet MS120 keyboard has 26-key anti-ghosting feature, which means there can be 26 keys registered simultaneously by the keyboard. If the number of keystrokes at one time, say m keys, exceeds the number of n, those (m - n) keystrokes will not be recorded by the system, and ghosting may happen such that some of your actions in the game will be ignored. I remember when I played Need for Speed Underground 2 on my laptop a few years ago, I could not use NOS while turning. This is because the laptop only supports two key rollover. The NOS, turning, and acceleration required three keys to be registered simultaneously. With the MasterSet MS120 keyboard, this will not be an issue any more.

As I have mentioned in the introduction, the switch choice of the MasterSet MS120 keyboard is Cooler Master's mem-chanical switch, which is the combination of membrane and mechanical switches. If you are not familiar with mechanical keyboard and switches, there are three major types of keyboards we can buy today. Type one is the membrane keyboard, which features low manufacturing cost, but rather poor typing experience. Mostly because of the low cost, low noise level, and possibility of using it in low profile applications, the membrane keyboard is the most common one in the market. The second type is an improved version of membrane keyboard. The improvement lies in the use of a scissor-like structure between the caps and the membrane dome, which can improve the typing experience in the switch. This type of switch is mostly used for laptops. The third type of keyboard features mechanical switches that provide the best tactile response and typing experience, and they are referred to as mechanical keyboards. In this case, Cooler Master wants to improve the typing experience of the membrane switch by a adding spring and tactile plunger to it. The result is the mem-chanical keyboard with a clicky sound. By looking at the design diagram, the mem-chanical mechanism is very similar to a real mechanical switch design, since they both use springs. In theory, it should feel very close to a real mechanical keyboard. As for how it actually feels, I will introduce later.

The MasterSet MS120 set features a wired keyboard, therefore, it requires a USB cable to connect to the computer. This time, Cooler Master does not provide the braided USB cable. Instead, a rubber coated cable is used. The cable is non-detachable. I personally prefer to not have detachable USB cable on my keyboard, since the more connectors you have, the higher chance you will get bad connections. The USB connector of the MasterSet MS120 keyboard is not gold plated. Note that a gold plated connector is only there to make the keyboard look good. There is no actual performance improvement regarding data transmission. At the bottom of the keyboard, there are two pieces of rubber feet at the front. Both rubber feet can provide enough grip to allow the keyboard to be stable in where it is. Two risers at the back are also rubberized. It is worth noting the risers are sturdily built, hence there is no need to worry about the stability of the keyboard.

Let us now move on to the mouse. One thing I love about Cooler Master's design of a claw grip mouse is the large ring finger resting place. I became a big fan of this kind of design ever since I reviewed the CM Storm Xornet II nearly two years ago. Like the Xornet II, the MasterSet MS120 mouse comes in black. However, this time, the designer really brought the black theme to a whole other level; you can barely find any other color on the mouse. As you can see from the pictures, even the company's logo is in matte black. The logo is pretty hard to see unless your room lighting is bright enough; this is due to the fact contrast is realized by having different degrees of reflectivity on the surface where the logo is printed, which reminds me of the stealth design of the F-35 Lighting II. The company logo is not backlit, although it is surrounded by an RGB illuminated perimeter. The featured stealth design shows simplicity and clean looking attributes are heavily used in its design language. I would like to say Cooler Master must be very confident in their product to show the company logo in this way. But it also makes sense, since most of the time, the majority portion of the mouse is covered by user’s right hand, and people may not want to pay too much attention to the factory logo.

The MasterSet MS120 mouse features all high quality Omron switches rated for ten million clicks each. Three of the most important buttons of the mouse, the left click button, right click button, and scroll wheel are also well-designed on the mouse in terms of the texture and layout. The left and right buttons have the same texture as the rest of body. This makes sense, since the buttons can blend with the rest of the mouse. In the middle of the two buttons is the half-translucent rubber scroll wheel with notches and one small DPI adjusting button underneath the scroll wheel. The DPI button allows you to cycle between four presets, which is 500, 750, 1500, and 3500 DPI. if you do not like any of these presets, that is too bad. The MasterSet MS120 mouse has an RGB LED light under the scroll wheel. The light can give the scroll wheel 16.8 million different colors. In order to deliver good handling and control, the MasterSet MS120 mouse has rubberized side grip on the right side of the mouse. Unlike those mice that have no rubber panels, the MasterSet MS120 mouse’s side grip can provide enough grip, but not too sticky at the same time. It is worth mentioning there is no rubberized grip on the left side of the mouse, which slightly reduces the maneuverability of the mouse.

From the above picture, you can see there are two buttons on the left side of the MasterSet MS120 mouse. By default, those buttons are for forward and backward navigation, which should not come as a surprise to you. As a wired mouse, the channel that allows the mouse and the computer to talk to each other is the USB cable. The MasterSet MS120 mouse is not equipped with a braided cable; instead, a lightweight rubber cable is used. The cable is decently soft and the quality is good. It should be as durable as any other cable. In my personal opinion, using the rubber cable is not a deal breaker, since I have never seen a worn out mouse cable in person so far, nor do I normally feel any extra dragging force caused by one. It is a cost cutting measure though. The mouse comes with a 1.8m cable, and it is long enough for most of applications. There is no Velcro strap included with the mouse, which may be a little bit inconvenient if you like to keep your table organized.

Flipping over the mouse, you will see another nice feature to it: Three pieces of large Teflon feet. Teflon feet can significantly minimize the friction between the contacting surfaces, which makes the handling of the mouse smoother. The area of each Teflon foot is larger than that of the previous generation. In fact, it has some of the largest gliding feet I have ever seen on a mouse. In between the two pieces of the gliding feet, there is an optical Avago 3050 sensor located right in the middle of the mouse. This is a popular value oriented sensor that allows the mouse to have up to 3500 DPI sensitivity.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Subjective Performance Tests
4. Conclusion