Experience and Final Thoughts
Cougar may not have a lot of keyboards under their banner so far but what they do have is very impressive with the sleek scissor-switch Cougar 200K, the Cougar Attack X/Attack 2 (shares OEM with Skydigital’s Mechanic 2 from Korea) and now the Cougar 700K continuing that excellence. Authentic LED backlit Cherry MX switches are available with red, black, blue and brown switch options as it should be. Users do not need to fall for that marketing nonsense of requiring only red or black for gaming that was prevalent a few years ago and it is good for consumers that manufacturers are competing to provide variety of options for this.
Build quality is excellent inside and out, finding a balance between non-standard aggressive “gaming” styling and practical as well as functional layout. Many will be taken aback by the split spacebar design but the simple and easy to use UIX system allows users to easily remap the keys to almost anything they want, including mapping that G6 key into a regular spacebar or another function of their choosing, so there really is no point in complaining about the non-standard split. The only valid gripe I can think of with the split spacebar is the replaceability of this particular key for those who want to customize their Cougar 700K keycaps. Let me rephrase the part before that again in case readers missed it. All other keys in the 104-key setup plus the six G-keys can be remapped and reassigned a value or even a macro. This is a level of flexibility that is not only rare but also smart for a keyboard that is being marketed as a gaming keyboard. This is an actual practical function that has an extremely wide application and allows users to quickly adapt to using the Cougar 700K no matter what their play style is. It does not matter if you are left handed or right handed.
As a motherboard reviewer, I have lamented many times about the absolute garbage state of design when it comes to software but I have to compliment Cougar on their UIX. First of all, it is a unified system so if you have other Cougar peripherals, the UI layout is the same. I never understood why manufacturers keep on having separate programs for each software with different layouts (I am looking at you Cooler Master). It is also very straightforward with a very powerful macro engine. It is quite snappy and saves directly to the hardware faster than any mouse or keyboard software I have used before. There is not even a typo to be found anywhere, which, if you have seen as much motherboard/mouse/keyboard software as I have, then you’ll know there is at least one per program. My only complaint about the software is the lower-case a and s on the navigation buttons not aligned with the rest of the font height (yes, I am just being nitpicky at this point about the software because I have to, I am a reviewer after all not an unboxer).
Those are all the great attributes of the Cougar 700K so far but as for weaknesses, the most glaring are the caps on the top edge multimedia/win disable/backlight/MR/profile keys. The switches themselves underneath are of higher quality than one would normally expect but the caps on these buttons seem too fragile for an otherwise durable build everywhere else. The membrane volume control buttons are also not the snappiest to actuate that I practically mash it down just to mute the button when I need to. It is far from ideal in terms of volume control implementation and it is the least responsive (not surprisingly considering it is not mechanical) out of all the buttons. The keycap legends could be better as well with the ones having secondary functions having a top down layout instead of side-to-side. This is not exclusive to Cougar as most other major manufacturers bundle their backlit keyboard with this kind of legend positioning but it smacks of afterthought whenever I see it. The font choice is preferential depending on the person but the legend positioning boggles my mind because it is so basic and obvious yet every single mainstream backlit keyboard I come across does not use side to side legends for Cherry MX keys.
Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and for $149.99, the Cougar 700K is a great alternative to Corsair’s Vengeance gaming keyboards at a competitive price. It is also a lot better looking than Cooler Master’s Aluminum keyboard offering (that one is so ugly I forgot the name). Sure the Cougar 700K has plenty of LED options to light up the room but where it really shines is in the fact that Cougar actually implemented functional gaming features, a useable non-distracting layout and a standout software implementation (imagine that!) earning it the Modders-Inc Must Have award.[sc:must_have_award ]