Photos and Features
So the Masterkeys S PBT is going to look very similar to all of the TKL keyboards Cooler Master has made in the last 6-7 years. It has the same simple bezel design that all of their TKL keyboards have had and it has the dark gray rubbery finish that they moved to later in the life of the Quickfire so there isn’t too much that is new here. The S designation in the name means this is the small or TKL model but the PBT is also available in the L or full sized form factor as well. The S basically is just missing the number pad so you get the normal F row, direction pad, and normal alphas and modifiers. The PBT keycaps do look a little different than past models, the color/finish looks a little different and I will get into that later and the font is much better than some of the “gaming” fonts that get used.
A little closer look at the keyboard shows us that the Masterkeys S PBT does have a completely standard layout meaning it has the traditional 1.25u keys on the bottom row and you would be able to find replacement keycaps in the future if needed but doing that would completely get rid of what makes this PBT model different. The one area that was different on this model is they have moved the three status lights normally above the number pad over to be above the direction pad. On previous models with backlighting, they used built-in backlighting but the PBT model doesn’t have backlighting so they had to get a little creative. Beyond the normal key functions, Cooler Master also slipped in a function layer that gives you media controls in the home button area as well as the ability to record macros just like the Masterkeys Pro with F11 through Pause.
For comparison, I did dig out a few of my other Cooler Master TKL keyboards. Specifically two Masterkey Pro S’s. The bezel finish looks a touch lighter when they are next to each other but that could just be variances in the finish. Here you can see the LED indicators and most importantly we can see that the keycaps have a completely different finish that makes the PBT caps almost look dark gray. The PBT keyboard in the picture was an ISO layout that Cooler Master originally sent me, later replacing It with a proper model so ignore the changes in the enter key area. Things like the fonts are the same though, except when compared to the crazy one up top with custom keycaps lol.
So Cooler Master kept their branding to the small logo on the keycaps so looking around the keyboard there isn’t much going on around the edges. You can see that the removable cord can come out on either side or out the back of the keyboard depending on what your desk layout requires. Then for the side profile, the bottom sits flush on the desk but there is a slight angle to the keyboard, in addition to that the keys also have an OEM profile that adds more angle and a curved shape.
The bottom of the keyboard has four good sized rubber feet to keep everything in place. You can also flip out the rear feet to add more angle if you need it, those feet also have rubber on the ends as well. The three different cord routing areas all lead back to the center where the cord plugs into the micro-USB connection. This is always a tight plug if you aren’t using the included cord. Then in the center is the model sticker with the regulatory information, the model, and serial number.
So for keyswitches Cooler Master uses Cherry MX switches only. My sample has Cherry Greens with their clicky action and higher spring rate. This is more of a lower popularity switch, the look to also have Silver, Blue, Red, and Brown switches from looking at what is available for pre-sale on Amazon. Browns are my personal preferred switch but they basically have everything covered including the new silver speed switches. For the longer switches, Cooler Master went with Costar stabilizers, this was a little surprising because the Masterkeys Pro uses Cherry stabilizers. Costars tend to rattle less than Cherry’s so a lot of people prefer them, if you are replacing keycaps though the Cherry’s are a lot easier to work with.
Okay so here is where the PBT designation comes from. Traditionally most keyboards you buy have ABS keycaps. This is just fine but ABS wears quicker, this is why you see ABS keycaps get a glossy finish on top where your fingers touch them. So a lot of enthusiasts actually prefer to run PBT keycaps because it doesn’t wear like that and they last a lot longer. So the whole Masterkeys PBT is basically all about the upgraded PBT keycaps. In addition to the keycaps being PBT, they also went with a much thicker design. This gives a much nicer solid feel when typing. For legends they went with laser etched, I would have liked double shot but these are still a huge improvement over normal keycaps. In the second picture, you can see the thickness difference compared to the keycaps that come with the Masterkeys Pro.