The Epomaker SK61 is a compact keyboard in 60% format. It offers a “Hot-Swap” design allowing it to change its optical switches in the blink of an eye. It also comes with PBT keycaps, customizable RGB backlighting, and very comprehensive software. For around $82, it is an exciting alternative to compact models from more famous brands and a good reference for discovering custom keyboards . It is only offered in Qwerty.
The Cooler Master CK530 V2 has one of the best value for money if you want a TKL keyboard. Despite its affordable price, it offers a solid design, a refined design, and convincing performance. This is an excellent candidate for gamers on a budget to equip themselves with a compact and efficient mechanical keyboard.
Available below $82, the Epomaker SK61 is one of the industry’s 60% most affordable keyboards. In addition to its attractive price, it has the advantage of offering a ” Hot-Swap” design allowing you to remove and replace its Gateron optical switches.
The model further features fully customizable RGB backlighting and comes with software to adjust multiple layers of actions. Several colors are available, with more or less colorful keycaps.
Cooler Master CK530 V2- All these qualities could overshadow some compact keyboards offered by major brands, like the recent Corsair K65 RGB Mini, Fnatic Streak65, and other Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini. The only real downside? An ANSI / Qwerty layout that will not necessarily be to the liking of all players.
With a price displayed below $105, the Cooler Master CK530 V2 has positioned itself as one of the cheapest TKL keyboards in the sector. It takes here the basics of the first generation, with however a move to TTC mechanical switches and a palm rest.
There is always a reinforced aluminum frame, customizable RGB lighting, or even “floating” design keys.
|Epomaker SK61||Cooler Master CK530 V2|
|$||CHECK PRICE||CHECK PRICE|
|Released||May 11, 2020||September 25, 2020|
|Dimensions||11.81 x 4.25 x 1.57 inches||14.96 x 5.31 x 1.57 inches|
|Weight||1.32 pounds||1.63 pounds|
|Compatibility||Windows||Windows, Mac OS|
The Epomaker SK61 is a 60% format keyboard, thus ignoring the numeric keypad, directional arrows, or even the F1 to F12 keys. With its contained dimensions, it is rather compact and is particularly suitable for the narrowest offices. Its size is also interesting for players who are used to rotating their keyboard to save space for moving their mice.
On the look side, the brand offers several variants, and it is rather a good point compared to the “mainstream” keyboards that we are used to presenting to you. If you want to opt for a version with a white frame, you will choose between three sets of keycaps. All offer white tones for the main keycaps, but the secondary keys can benefit from light gray, pink, or dark gray accents like our “Panda” model. The keyboard is also offered with a black chassis and keycaps with dark gray accents.
Since we are talking about keycaps, the keyboard opts here for models in PBT of excellent quality. At around 1.4 mm, they seem perfectly solid and should ensure perfect longevity against more traditional ABS models.
These are keys with the GSA profile, a category-specific to the brand, and placed between the XDA and DSA profiles. The important thing to remember here is that all have the same height, unlike conventional OEM keys. The keyboard is only offered in Qwerty, allowing us to transform it into a Azerty more easily.
Despite an affordable price, the general finishes of the keyboard are rather convincing. If the chassis is designed in plastic, the whole collect without flinching from significant pressures or twists. The model displays a little more than 580 g on the scale, and we find on its rear part four rubber pads ensuring good stability when placed on a desk or a mouse pad. On the other hand, it is not possible to adjust its inclination via retractable feet.
The connection is made via a braided USB-A to USB-C cable of about 2 meters. The USB-C port is positioned on the back edge of the SK61, on the left side, so as not to cross that of your gaming mouse.
To finish with the design of this Epomaker SK61, note that the keyboard comes with an RGB backlight that can be personalized from the brand’s software.
The Cooler Master keyboard has a rather neat design, and at first glance, the whole does not necessarily have much to envy to some much more expensive models.
Without a numeric keypad, the CK530 V2 displays a relatively compact size with dimensions of 380 x 135 x 40 mm for a total weight of approximately 740 g. Without buttons directly dedicated to media or sound volume, it is less bulky than the Corsair K70 RGB TKL that we presented to you recently and is, therefore, more discreet when placed on a desk.
As for the finishes, the keyboard is based on a black plastic frame surmounted by a brushed aluminum plate reinforcing its structure. The set resists well under significant pressure or torsion, where other models positioned at a similar price show their limit more quickly.
The model also stands out from the competition by the format of its chassis, with flared side facades bringing a little distinctive touch to this CK530. Visually it is quite successful, although the brushed aluminum surface may not be to the liking of all players.
At the back of the keyboard, there are 4 rubber pads to provide correct stability to the whole. Can be unfolded two retractable legs to adjust their height and inclination. Only one position is available, and it seems a bit high to be really comfortable over time.
On the key side, the CK530 opts for a floating, borderless design. This offers an “airy” side to the keyboard while promoting the diffusion of its backlighting.
The keycaps, here we must be satisfied with models in ABS and not in PBT as on the keyboards a little more upscale. Not necessarily ideal in the long term, but it’s up to you to replace them with better quality models.
Keyboard TKL requires, many keys are accompanied by secondary actions accessible in combination with the Fn key. We can, in particular, manage the RGB lighting effects from the F1 to F8 keys, record Macros with the F11 and F12 keys, switch from one profile to another using the 1 to 4 keys, or even manage the sound volume and its media via the keys positioned above the directional arrows.
On the connection side, the CK530 V2 comes with a sheathed cable with a length of 1.8 m, unfortunately, fixed on its upper edge.
Finally, the last point to note concerning the design of the keyboard: the presence of a palm rest. Unlike the Fnatic MiniStreak or the Corsair K63 Wireless, it does not attach to the keyboard but only positions itself in front of it. If its foam design is relatively simple, it can provide additional comfort, clearly a little more appreciable.
The Epomaker SK61 is equipped with Gateron Blue optical switches. These are “Clicky” switches, with a total stroke of 4.0 mm, an activation of 2.3 mm, and an activation force of 55 g. Their durability is announced at 100 million activations.
In use, they offer comfortable and responsive typing, but also very noisy, as is often the case with “Clicky” switches. To get a better idea of the rendering, you can find a demonstration in our keyboard presentation video.
As explained in the introduction, the SK61 is a so-called “Hot-Swap” keyboard. Clearly, the switches are not soldered directly to the PCB, and it is possible to easily remove and replace them using pliers provided in the box.
However, in the case of the SK61, the choices are quite limited because it will not be possible to install traditional mechanical switches but only other optical models from Gateron. If you want to go for a mechanical model, the brand offers GK61 kits, also exciting for around $70.
Without necessarily replacing your switches, the simple fact of removing them allows you, for example, to lubricate them to benefit from an even better quality of typing.
To accompany this V2, the CK530 abandons mechanical switches from Gateron mechanical switch in favor of models from TTC. The keyboard is offered with a choice of Red, Brown, or Blue models, but only the first variant seems to be available in France for the moment.
As on Cherry MX Red, we are, therefore, here on linear switches, with a total stroke of 4 mm, activation at 2 mm, and a force of 45 g. The lifespan is, for its part, announced at 50 million activations.
In use and despite our doubts about switching to these TTC switches, the keyboard offers a rather convincing typing quality. Faced with the Cherry MX that we find on the Corsair K63 Wireless, the Cooler Master CK530 has frankly nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, we even prefer the feeling of this model, with a softer activation.
The various stabilizers are also all well lubricated and contribute to the general comfort of the strike.
Our only regret is the noise level, especially on the hits, which is a little more supported where the chassis resonates a little. Unfortunately, this is often and can largely be alleviated by sliding a foam board or even a piece of cloth under the PCB. Do not hesitate to consult our video at the top of the page or via our YouTube channel to get a better idea.
As explained above, the keyboard can be accompanied by software to download from the Epomaker site. The software is intended to be complete but requires, on the other hand, to look into it a little to really master its different options. In particular, we recommend that you refer to the user guide (in English) also available on the brand’s website.
From the tool, it is possible to create different configuration “layers” by customizing all the keys on the keyboard. It is complete, and it allows access to many shortcuts despite the compact comfort of the SK61.
The tool also allows you to adjust the RGB backlighting effects, and again it is complete but not necessarily very intuitive to use.
Finally, the software allows you to create your own macros for your games or software.
While many options can be configured directly from the keyboard shortcuts, the Cooler Master CK530 V2 remains compatible with, the Cooler Master MasterPlus software. It is available for download from the manufacturer’s website.
From the first tab, you can configure the RGB lighting of the keyboard. There are many predefined effects here, most of which have the ability to manage direction and speed.
It is also possible to customize the color of each of the keys individually, but the option seems to be prone to a few issues.
The second “Mapping” tab allows you to modify the actions of the different keys on the keyboard. The constructor offers several lists of actions, but it is also possible to create more complex macros. On the other hand, it is impossible to record secondary actions in combination with the Fn key, which is a bit of a shame.
The third tab of the software lists the different recorded macros and allows you to edit them. Finally, the fourth and last tab allows you to manage up to 4 profiles and assign a .exe to load them automatically according to their games or applications.
Overall, the Cooler Master software would, in our opinion, deserve a good facelift and some fixes. The interface is not really intuitive and the features offered are not as complete as with some competitors, especially on Razer, Corsair, or Logitech.
The Epomaker SK61 is clearly a pleasant surprise. It displays serious advantages to seduce players looking for a compact and functional mechanical keyboard.
If its general design is rather simple, it is nonetheless solid, and we appreciate the different colors available on the chassis or keycaps. It comes with fully customizable RGB backlighting, and its software allows you to create different layers of mapping to take advantage of many shortcuts.
On the performance side, Gateron optical switches ensure excellent typing quality, and the “Hot-Swap” design allows you to discover the world of custom keyboards without breaking the bank.
Finally, if the Qwerty layout may bother some players, the GSA profile keycaps allow you to interchange certain keys to approximate an Azerty format easily.
If you’re in the market for a TKL keyboard and you’re on a budget, the Cooler Master CK530 V2 is clearly a great candidate.
Offered under the $106 mark, it should meet the needs of a large majority of players with a well-crafted design, a solid design, and a more than correct typing quality.
Obviously, all is not perfect at this price, and the manufacturer makes some concessions, particularly with a fixed cable or keycaps in ABS. The software is also not very convincing, but most options can be configured from the keyboard.
It is definitely recommended for gamers looking for a compact keyboard with unbeatable value for money if you can get past these small flaws.