Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Keyboard

Today, we’re looking at another keyboard, only the third profiled at this site. Today’s example comes to us from Cooler Master, the Novatouch TKL. Where most mechanical keyboards seem to be targeted at the gamers among us, this is intended more for people who cannot seem to stop typing words and sentences. Using electrostatic capacitive switches, this very costly keyboard promises to keep writers’ hands happy. We’re going to see if it really does.

SUPPLIED BY: Cooler Master
PROD LINK: NovaTouch TKL Product Page
PRICE: $199.99 @ NewEgg
Price is at the time of testing!

Good morning, peoples of the Internet. Today, I’m looking at my second ever keyboard, the Cooler Master Novatouch TKL. As you can probably discern, the “TKL” stands for Terrible Killer Llama, so I’m going to have to stay well away from it as I review it.

No, wait, that’s wrong. “TKL” actually stands for “tenkeyless,” which is the strange new word we’ve given to keyboards that don’t have a numpad on them.

Now, you may have heard me say a time or two that I’m a writer. I don’t know where you heard that, because I’m usually typing those words and not saying them aloud, but I do confess I’ve actually said those words as well so it’s possible you heard them. You have really good ears. Anyway, I pound on these things every day, sometimes for hours. I am absolutely unforgiving with them. Remember that Sentey keyboard I reviewed not too long ago? I don’t think it likes me that much anymore. I haven’t worn the key labels off it yet, but it’s got some miles on it now and has told me so by getting keys stuck on repeat at random. Oh, the Cherry Black switches don’t stick, it’s just like the keyboard says to itself, “for the love of God, why doesn’t he let me rest already” and just flakes out for a bit. But I still like that keyboard a lot because it’s all lit up and such to make it more of a well rounded general keyboard that can handle some gaming.

This particular keyboard is geared exclusively to writers, however. If you do a ton of typing, this is supposed to be the keyboard Cooler Master wants you to buy. And it is not a cheap one, as you will see on the last page. This is because of the switch type being used today. There are no cherries under these keys, no, this bad boy uses Topre switches. Just like the Type Heaven. Oh, there are some differences, mind you, but make no mistake… Topre is where these switches come from.

And it’s because of these switches that I was so excited about the idea of trying this puppy out. See, I didn’t get to lay hands on the Type Heaven, and I really wanted to.

Enough babble. There’s some marketing on the box, and because I need to use this keyboard to review it I’ll reprint all of it here now:

  • Electrostatic Capacitive Switches (45g actuation), made in Japan
  • Ultra smooth tactile key presses
  • Backwards compatible with Cherry MX Keycaps
  • N-Key rollover and anti-ghosting for pinpoint accuracy
  • On the fly repeat rate adjustments for the most responsive controls
  • Detachable cable with 18k gold plated USB connector
  • Tenkeyless form factor

Now, I spoke about that N-Key rollover stuff last time in the Sentey review. I won’t go on a long detailed explanation of what that is this time around, because of one thing: this is not a gaming keyboard. This is a hardcore typist’s keyboard, where you don’t need that functionality. Sure, you might be doing some gaming with it, but if you’re like me you either game on another system or have more than one keyboard. I personally don’t like to have my games on the rig I write on, because when I’m working on a novel I don’t want any bloody distractions like “ooh, I haven’t played Skyrim in a pig’s age.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done, too. The Sentey is right here on the desk above this keyboard, ready for me to game with it.

Let me just get the specs from Cooler Master’s site right now, and we’ll continue on.

NovaTouch TKL – Specifications
Key Switch Hybrid Capacitive Switch, Cherry MX Compatible Stem
Form Factor Tenkeyless (TKL)
Key Rollover NKRO (Windows Only)
Polling Rate 1000Hz/1ms
Interface Micro USB2.0 Full Speed
Windows Key Lock Yes
USB Cable 1.8m Braided, 18k Gold Plated, and Removable
Dimensions 39.5(L) x 13.8(W) x 3.9(H) cm
14.1(L) x 5.4(W) x 1.5(H) inch
Weight 895g/1.97lb

Cooler Master doesn’t outright tell you that the switches on this thing come from Topre, but… they come from Topre. It’s probably the world’s worst kept secret right now. They differ from the Cherry MX switches in that they still use a membrane with a spring inside the membrane. As such, they’re not quite mechanical switches in the traditional sense, but they’re quite a bit different from the membrane switches in that old Logitech you wore the printing off the keys of back in nineteen dickety-eight. It’s like Topre went at the membrane switch technology with the idea of classing them up and making them nice and reliable and such. I’ll have some observations about that a bit later on.

Meantime, I’d best quit rambling and show you some more pictures.

I like how classy looking this box is. Made of hard cardboard with a magnetic seal, it’s something you’d expect to house a keyboard as obscenely expensive as this one is.

Inside the box, we find a rather utilitarian looking keyboard under some foam. I’m betting there’s something hiding under there, too.