What are Hybrid Mechanical keyboards?
A half mechanical keyboard is basically a membrane keyboard that uses rubber domes and has this “Activation Mechanism” similar to a mechanical keyboard which give a tactile and audible feedback thus inducing the feeling of a true mechanical switch.
As for the Hybrid ones, cougar just choose to label theirs as “Hybrid” instead.
Further inspection for these switches lead us to Topre Switches. A topre switch has the internals that is based on rubber dome switches and a PCB that registers each keystroke made. What makes it a “Hybrid Switch” per se are the plunger or the activation mechanism between the keycap and the rubber dome. This design induces the feeling of a genuine mechanical switch. The “click” and “clack” of these switches depends on how its made to simulate the feeling of having a red or brown mechanical switch.
- Hybrid Mechanical Keyboard
- Splashproof design
- Anti-Ghosting Technology
- 1000Hz polling rate / 1ms Response time
- On-Board Memory
- 3 Color Backlight – RED(Default)/Green/Blue
- 10 Programmable Keys
Unboxing and First Impression
Cougar is very straightforward with the design of the box with the best angle of the keyboard taking most of the front part and its features listed below. Moving on to the back of the keyboard you’ll find more infographics of its features and a well labeled FN shortcuts and where to find them.
Now most of you might be wondering why do we even give a damn about the packaging, its because most of the things listed are just marketing gimmicks. The pictures will make you think that the body is made of brushed aluminum where in fact its just plastic with a brushed finish.
The size of the keyboard is fairly standard with inclined edges and will fit most desk setups. The keyboard sports an exposed body similar to the Razer Blackwidow X and Corsair K series keyboards. This design also enables the keyboard to be spill proof. Moving on to the back you’ve got a nice matte maroon finish together with 7 rubber pads; 5 are strategically placed around the corners and 2 on flip stand.
The stand doesn’t help much in terms of elevating the keyboard as it is already angled because of its design. Although one thing to keep the cost low is using a whole plastic body, Cougar did a great job in the aesthetics of the keyboard with it having a brush aluminum finish.
While Cougar’s website says that the 450K’s cable is braided, ours is just the standard one. As the spec sheet suggest, the cable is 1.8m, enough length to reach the back of your rig.
With the aforementioned reason why Cougar calls their half mechanical keyboard as “hybrid” seems to be clear now since cougar designed their own switches but its still similar to the “Topre Switches” with it having a rubber dome at its core and an activation mechanism to make it a so called “Hybrid Mechanical Switch”.
This move has pros and cons. The pros is that Cougar being able to deliver a more durable and effective switch. The cons being that most half mechanical keyboards have the outer form of the genuine ones in order for them to still fit 3rd party key caps, Cougar on the other hand has 0% compatibility with these 3rd party because of its custom design.
Cougar decided to omit the left windows key and replaced it with the FN key instead. There’s still a windows key on the right however. A smart move by Cougar considering the number of in-game deaths caused by the Windows button misclick and that most gamers still forget to disable the windows key either by issuing a keystroke or disabling it in the software.
Without using the software, you are only able to tinker with the windows lock function and the rest of the FN keys located at the top row.
F1-F3 are your on-the-fly mode switch. Essentially, you’re only able to change the keyboard lighting to red, green and yellow if you don’t use the UIX Software to save your settings in its on-board memory. The F4 is responsible for the keyboard’s brightness. There are 3 levels of brightness and pressing the button for the 4th time will change the lighting from static to a breathing effect. F5-F8 keys control the polling rate of the keyboard all the way up to 1000Hz. And lastly, F9 to PauseBreak are your Multimedia keys.
The software has 3 Main tabs. The Performance Tab handles the polling rate and it looks like someone developer forgot to include the proper translation for the english version. The Key Assignment tab manages your macros with the option to disable a certain key. The profiles created will be saved in the keyboard’s onboard memory which can be accessed by FN + F1 to F3 keys. Having these profiles saved removes the hassle of remapping ang configuring the keyboard everytime you plug to a new PC.
USER EXPERIENCE & CONCLUSION
Performance. I’d never thought that adding an “Activation Mechanism” to a rubber dome keyboard would greatly improve the performance as well as the level of comfort that the keyboard is able to bring. Although its still not close to genuine mechanical keyboards, the Cougar 450K brings the keyboard game to a whole new level.
Build Quality. The Build Quality of the keyboard is fairly impressive and compromises made only concerns the aesthetics department and not affecting performance in any way such as the lighting effects. Instead of having an RGB(not the 16.8m color) lightning, Cougar decided to have yellow as their 3rd backlight color by turning on the red and green LED.
Functionality. Cougar includes some pretty sleek features. Features that gamers of the price tier will surely need. The Software works absolutely fine other than the earlier language complain. The 26 Anti Ghosting keys are strategically mapped and it would be much better if cougar also included a tleast the 1-5 number keys.
Bundle. There are no other items or accessories included aside from the keyboard’s features. Cougar include features that gamers will certainly need.
Aside from the lack of anti-ghosting for the numbers 1-5 and the yellow backlighting issue, the keyboard offers some pretty decent price to performance. The keyboard is competitively priced at PHP 2,500. Its rivals are the SteelSeries Apex 300 and the Razer Deathstalker which are both cheaper than the Cougar 450K. While its still isn’t close to a genuine mechanical keyboard, I’d take this over any other keyboard below PHP 2,600. However, adding Php 200 more will give you Magicforce’s Smart 68 TKL mechanical keyboard and adding PHP 500 would give you Dragon war’s full mechanical keyboard.
Should you buy it? The answer depends. If you are saving up for a mechanical keyboard priced at 6,000 and above then buying this keyboard first and saving up for later should suffice your gaming needs and will definitely bring your gaming experience to a new level. The keyboard’s 1-year warranty period If you just want a mechanical keyboard at a cheap price then I’d suggest to go for Magicforce’s TKL offering instead.
With that said, we’re backing this keyboard with our B2G Recommended Award!