Introduction & Specifications
C-C-C-Combo….. Keyboard and Mouse desktop set review time.
Anyone reading my reviews of late may have noticed a brand theme emerging, Cougar a well-known manufacturer of everything from Cases and Headsets to Power Supplies and Chairs have recently released a plethora of new products, some of which have landed on my review desk. I have had lots of fun so far with Headsets, Mice and a Mouse Bungee and I can say Cougar have provided some solid offerings.
Today I am whipping up this review on a value orientated desktop set, the Cougar Deathfire EX. Aimed at people on a budget or relatives looking for a snazzy present for a young PC enthusiast, desktop sets are often an ideal money saving option once all the other PC parts have chewed away at the majority of the budget. I have myself in the past used desktop sets and recommended them to beginners and people looking to escape spending on high-end products.
This particular desktop set is not the cheapest, but it does come with some features that you would normally expect to pay more for. Here’s a rundown of the bits and bobs.
|COUGAR DEATHFIRE EX Gaming Keyboard
|Hybrid Mechanical (20 million keystrokes)
|8 backlight effects / 8 colors backlight
|140(L) X 448(W) X 43(H) mm
5.51(L) X 17.64(W) X 1.69(H) inch
|COUGAR DEATHFIRE EX Gaming Mouse
|ADNS-5050 Optical gaming sensor
|OMRON gaming switches
|1000 / 500 / 1500 / 2000 DPI
|1000Hz / 1ms
|120(L) X 65(W) X 38(H) mm
4.72(L) X 2.57(W) X 1.50(H) inch
|8 Colors Backlight
There are a lot more features than you normally get in a combo desktop bundle, time to swoop in for a closer look at what the Cougar Deathfire EX has to offer.
Arriving in a large colourful box, with the Cougar Deathfire EX combo keyboard, and mouse showing along with some specifications and 8 colour lighting tags. I am immediately struck by the large areas of light emission in the illustration, this thing looks like it’s going to be quite the centerpiece when up and running.
Heading underneath the box, a massive amount of information greets us, including some of the lighting keyboard shortcuts for the different lighting effects available. There are some interesting slightly higher end features here and there too such as Omron switches in the mouse, this Deathfire EX bundle is shaping up to be something quite special.
They’re out of the box. We have a Manual, a mouse and a keyboard, USB connectors are not gold but I personally don’t think it makes any difference. The keyboard cable is fairly thick and braided while the cable for the mouse is very rubbery, it is interesting that Cougar has gone for different cables in this package, this doesn’t bother me personally but some people like consistency. The mouse is a medium sized and fairly narrow affair, not unlike the stock mice you get with computer systems from the likes of Dell or HP. The keyboard is a full-size setup with the keys all raised from a base plate allowing you to see the stems, the keycaps are etched to allow light to pass through the lettering, the baseplate resembled brushed aluminium but is actually plastic, it does however look like a high-quality build, the edging around the baseplate is opaque along with the Cougar logo, this is to allow the colour effects to continue through the logo and around the outside of the keyboard.
Moving in to have a look at the keyboard we can see the keycaps have smooth surfaces, I am more of a fan of a little bit of texture on keycaps, just a bit of grip, slippery can mean extra typo’s for me especially with lateral finger movement. The braided cable is fixed and protrudes to the right of the centre of the keyboard just above the F12 key.
Flipping the keyboard over reveals an angled base, giving the keyboard a default tilt, so it cannot be laid completely flat, six rubber feet are included to stop the keyboard sliding around and they are pretty effective, you have to push the keyboard to move it around, typing and playing games garners no movement. If you require further forward tilting, raising the back, you can use two small flip out feet, these are styled like so many other keyboards and impressively include rubber ends to stop any sliding, I have seen more expensive keyboards not include slide prevention on feet.
Onto the mouse now and the top of the Cougar Deathfire EX mouse component does indeed remind me of a Dell or HP system mouse, buttons not very long but functional, a very narrow mouse wheel, a selector button on the very top and an etched Cougar logo which is transparently allowing the coloured light to pass through.
To the left-hand side, we can see that Cougar have included extra forward and back buttons, the pitted area is still the same smooth plastic as the rest of the mouse but does offer some extra grip, considering the amount of rubbery material used for the cable, it would have been better used here.
The right-hand side offers us no extra buttons, just the pitting to add grip.
The rear of the mouse is fairly plain, however, there is an opaque section at the base, this could lead to some nice underglow from the lights.
Facing Mr Mouse head on, the rubbery cable shoots out from the middle of the mouse, the sporty looking wheel is made of opaque plastic with a rubber tyre for grip, I have to say I would have liked the mouse wheel tyre to be just a little wider even if it sacrificed some of the lighting effects.
What do we have here then? Underneath the Cougar Deathfire EX mouse we have some switches, on the left there are four DPI options 1000, 600, 1500 and 2000, these are popular DPI settings and while may more expensive mice offer DPI on a slider to fine-tune, this is quite a welcome selection on what would on its own be a budget mouse. The switch on the right offers us further settings but this time for polling options. 125, 250, 500 and 1000 Hz are available which is excellent. The mouse features three slider pads and an opaque horseshoe feature which is for the lighting.
Plugging in the Cougar Deathfire EX keyboard we are greeted with a scrolling rainbow of light, there are a lot of light exit points, this keyboard will not have an understated look unless you switch the lighting off, the open nature of the switch stems bleeds light out between and around the keys and the edging displays the same colours although you can see gaps between the lighting sections.
Here you can see what I mean by raised switch stems, the keycaps are floating on top of a big cushion of light here, one big plus with this kind of casing is the ease of cleaning, a soft unused paint brush would make short work of any dust off crumbs that find their way in between the keys.
Grabbing my keycap puller, I prised away a keycap to get a good look at a lit up switch. The switch style is definitely Topre, although if they had used Topre switches in the keyboard the bundle would have been more than four times the price. Clear plastic allows the entire switch to light up, giving us that extreme glow.
Plugging in the Cougar Deathfire mouse we are given even more lights to play with, the colours scrolling through to give an RGBish effect there are several individual colour settings and an off mode all from the button above the scroll wheel. The light emits through the logo at the back, through and around the scroll wheel, and underneath, shining on the mousepad.
Well that was some photoshoot, time to give this Cougar desk set a proper run.
Quality & Performance
Doing the usual and hooking the Cougar Deathfire EX set up to my PC, I basked in the glow of the illuminations. Reflective surfaces on and around my desk expanding on the colour theme, there is so much light.
The Cougar Deathfire EX Keyboard feels well built, it has a fairly decent weight to it which helps the feet grip and stop it sliding around during use. A nice quality braided cable is included which is not too thin so it doesn’t get tangled up too easily. The keycaps are smooth, so for me a little slippery when typing. The hybrid switches have a ‘thunk’ sound to them when bottomed out, switch feels quite pleasant, I would place it somewhere between a Cherry Red and Black in resistance, with no tactile feedback, these are linear switches. There is a little bounce back from the switch spring which does take a little getting used to. Typing is very comfortable, the keyboard angles available are great and I can type on it for long periods of time without any aches and pains. The lighting through the key legends is clear and even with an animated lighting mode, I had no difficulty seeing what each key does.
Eight colour lighting brings us to some of the pretty amazing features included with this keyboard. Using the FN key and 1 to 8 on the top row of numbers selects various lighting effects like wave or breathe along with a custom option to create your own within the lighting zones, so lots of fun to be had there. Anti-Ghosting technology is in effect over the most important keys that are usually used for gaming, bringing me to a nifty feature I have not seen before, the ability to swap WASD with the Arrow keys, doing this in hardware can save issues configuring it in some games that might not support full customisation if you prefer to use the arrow keys for movement.
The Cougar Deathfire EX Mouse, is quite a small device, as mentioned above similar in size to a standard system mouse supplied with some big name PCs. This is fine for a standard two button mouse with no extra buttons, unfortunately, I found myself pressing the back button when not intended causing some browsing frustration. The mouse is very lightweight and plasticky, despite this, it doesn’t creak like many budget mice do, it has a solid assembly. The grip is pretty good despite the lack of any rubber coatings, rubber does coat the cable giving it a higher quality feel than the rest of the mouse. The main switches work well however if you lift the mouse and put down fairly heavy as can happen playing a game, the left switch can activate without being pressed, this did cause a few inconvenient grenade drops in Counter Strike.
The mouse includes four DPI settings via a switch underneath, the switch is inset and I found it a little fiddly to select the DPI I wanted, smaller hands may have an easier time with it a selection of 1000, 500, 1500, and 2000 DPI is available so a little outside my usual preferred settings of 600 and 1800, the sensor did however feel quite accurate and I had no issues with tracking. Polling options are also available in four settings, 125, 250, 500 and 1000, I tend to stick with 1000 for my own needs. I tried a few surfaces with the mouse and the sensor feels best when on a cloth mousemat which is to be considered if looking to buy the Cougar Deathfire EX set. The colour schemes on the mouse have eight usable colours, the button on top of the mouse selects from scrolling through all the colours to each of the eight individual colours and light off, so plenty of configurations to suit your desktop setup.
The mouse did not perform as well as the keyboard making the desk set experience a little below what I expected for the price.
As a beginner/budget desktop set, the Cougar Deathfire EX is a fairly good offering, it is however up against some stiff competition, Coolermaster offer a Masterkeys L set which I would wager is almost identical, but it is also possible to put together a separate keyboard and mouse where the mouse component is much better such as a Corsair Gaming Harpoon RGB 6000dpi mouse. This scenario takes me back to my HIFI days, where buying budget separates would easily outperform a more expensive single branded stack.
The keyboard is a really good looking component, solid build and lots of features such as the WASD swap and NKRO which make it a stable, comfortable experience to use with its Topre like switches, with a wealth of colour and lighting. If this Cougar Deathfire keyboard was sold on its own at a price comparable to the separate versions of this hybrid switch style, it would be highly recommended.
The mouse while having a wealth of features is just a little too small to be effective, while admirable that so much technology has been crammed into a small shell, catching buttons at the wrong time is an unfortunate side effect, DPI and Polling options along with a stable sensor and quality Omron switches means that internally it is spot on.
As a set I believe the value is ok but can be beaten, for this I am going to award the Cougar Deathfire EX set bronze, some mouse improvements would make this set really stand out from the competition and we do know Cougar can produce great mice.
ASt the time of writing the Cougar Deathfire EX desktop set is available for around £50 from Overclockers.
– Well built keyboard
– Lots of features on both the keyboard and mouse
– Comfortable Keyboard Hybrid Switches
– Good looks
– Mouse is small making accidental button activation an issue
– Better products can be had for around the same price especially if going for a separate keyboard and mouse
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