The Redragon KUMARA K552 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard was kindly provided to me by Redragon free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.
The Redragon KUMARA K552 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is available in the UK from Redragon Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £52.99 with free P&P. In the US the KUMARA K552 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is available from ChallengerUSA Fulfilled by Amazon.com at a cost of $89.99 with free P&P. (Prices correct at time of posting).
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– Extensive lighting options with 7 main different colours.
– Programmable lighting mode with memory retention.
– Full Anti Ghosting feature not limited to certain keys.
– Unlike red switches blues are excellent for MOBA, RTS and MMO games as well as for typing and productivity.
– Some of the best retractable feet I’ve seen on a keyboard.
– No wrist rest.
– Not as good as red switches (or even brown switches for that matter) for FPS games.
– Blue switches are loud, headphones are a must.
– Sadly only available in US layout (at least at the time of writing). Not much of an issue when playing games, but can be for productivity related tasks.
– Very noisy spacebar, far louder than other keys in operation.
– No rear non slip pads on rear of the keyboard (when the feet are not extended the keyboard can move about a bit as a result).
– Possible build quality issue regarding cable reinforcement. (Only of concern to those planning to use the keyboard on the go such as with a laptop).
PACKAGING & CONTENTS.
The Redragon KUMARA K552 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard comes supplied in flat cardboard retail packaging accompanied with an instruction booklet. The keyboard is wrapped in bubble wrap and the cable is coiled, secured with a Velcro cable tie, sadly that is the extent of the protection offered to the keyboard within the box.
The instructions included are in English, Chinese, Spanish, German and French. Despite the rather thick booklet there are simply two pages of use that provide information on the additional functions of the keyboard which I will cover within my review.
There are no software or drivers included in the box, however, such is not required. The manual indicates the keyboard is compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP, the product listing states the keyboard is also compatible with Windows 10 but neither the manual or product listing mention anything about Mac or Linux systems. (According to the manufacturer the keyboard is Mac compatible, however the programmable lighting function does not work with Mac systems).
Having personally tested on Windows 7 Pro 32-Bit and 8.1 systems the keyboard is plug and play, with the OS installing any necessary software as soon as it is plugged in and is usable within seconds of being plugged into either system with all features working without the need for additional software.
Measurements taken at their greatest point using a digital calliper accurate to within 0.1%.
The keyboard measures 35.4cm x 12.4cm x 2.6cm. The depth measurement is taken from the rear edge with the feet retracted and does not include the key caps. Including the key caps the measurement is 3.6cm and extending the retractable feet on the underside adds 1.1cm to the overall depth (of the back). The front edge measures 2.1cm deep excluding the key caps or 3cm deep including the key caps.
The keys on the keyboard are marginally but noticeably smaller than budget business class membrane keyboards offered by Microsoft and Logitech some key measurements are as follows
(Measurements taken of top surface of keys)
Space bar = 112.68mm x 14.08mm
Arrow & Letter Keys = 12.5mm x 14.7mm
Enter Key = 36.9mm x 14.7mm
Shift Keys = 46.1mm x 14.7mm
Backspace Key = 31.4mm x 14.7mm
The spacing between keys is 6mm
The keyboard weighs 858g (this reading unavoidably includes a small section of the cable).
The switches on the Redragon KUMARA K552 RGB are OUTEMU Cherry MX blue clones. Specific information about these types of switches is not exactly easy to find compared to other MX clones. One particular review I managed to find did imply that the resistance of the switches did somewhat vary implying an inconsistency in the quality of the switches. (The resistance varies between 55g and 60g for the actuation point).
The switches and key caps, however are most defiantly MX compatible with the key caps from both my Corsair K70 and MAX Blackbird fitting the KUMARA K552. The key caps of the KUMARA K552 are “double-shot injection moulded keycaps” double shot moulding describes the process of moulding plastic around a preformed metal or plastic insert. This makes the key cap far more durable, but the greatest benefit is that the character markings on the cap is entirely flush with the key surface and is undetectable to the touch.
The usual traits of a blue switch is a clicky, tactile and linear feedback, however unlike Cherry blues there is no detectable feeling of a bump when you hit the actuation point of the OUTEMU switches. (The actuation point is when the keystroke is registered on the computer). This means that the user does not have to press down fully to get the keystroke to register, leading to faster typing. The blue switch is widely regarded as the best switch for use playing MOBA, RTS, and MMO style games as well as the best type for productivity and fast typists.
The clicking sound that blue mechanical switches make is rather loud compared to the sound of other switches and much more so than rubber domed keyboards. In the case of the KUMARA K552 the sound generated is fairly reasonable, the spacebar however, generates a rather distinctive tinny, metallic sound when pressed that is much louder than any of the other keys.
With a background sound level of 54dba a single key press of the KUMARA K552 registered a sound level of 56dba (the spacebar registers a sound level of 65dBa) at a distance of 18” and repeated typing registered a sound level of 68dDa (excluding the spacebar) at a distance of 18”.
Blue switches are a bit harder to double tap than brown and red switches, as the release point is above the actuation point. As such red switches are widely regarded as the best choice for FPS games and browns are regarded as the middle ground between the two. (Or rather browns are the switch of choice for those who do not know what switch they actually want).
The KUMARA K552 frame is entirely made from black finely textured ABS plastic both back and front. The keyboard is tenkeyless in design (has no separate number pad on the right side) but it still retains the directional arrow keys with Ins, Home, Page up and down etc… cluster of keys above.
Located just above the directional arrows is a raised rectangular patch of plastic that bears “Redragon” branding in red lettering and just two LED key lock indicators on the outside edge. (Being a tenkeyless keyboard, there is obviously no NUM lock indicator). The only other feature of note on the front of the keyboard is the raised lip that runs around the edge of the board. I quite like this style / design, however it does mean that a keyboard vac will be required for cleaning as it can become a dust trap.
The edges of the keyboard are entirely smooth and without feature except for the cable coming out of the rear in a centralised position. Reinforcement is short and is a slight cause for concern, holding the keyboard in place and moving the cable you can clearly hear something moving within the keyboard which isn’t a good sign especially for those looking for a keyboard to accompany a laptop on their travels.
The cable measures 182cm long (excluding reinforcement and connector) and 4.47mm in diameter. The cable has a PVC jacket, but no braiding but there is a small EMI suppressor located 11cm down the cable from the gold plated USB A connector.
On the underside near the front edges there are small textured non slip pads measuring 4.5mm x 17mm, as effective as these are there is sadly none located on the rear edges. In their place there are just 2 small raised plastic bumps which have no non slip properties and also risk marking or scratching some surfaces such as stained or painted wood.
There are however two retractable feet that are simply fantastic. They lock securely into place, only retracting when intentionally done so (you would be surprised at the number of retractable feet that collapse when the keyboard is pushed backwards). The feet have a full silicone coating which, coupled with the front edge non slip pads are highly effective on every surface from glass to wood and even metal.
The lighting features of the KUMARA K552 are best described as extensive and slightly complicated and I will do my best to try and describe their use as best as possible.
Firstly, when the keyboard is powered up a white chaser effect plays out on the keyboard. Starting with the “Pause” key the light runs around the outside edge of the keyboard anticlockwise in a spiral pattern finishing in the centre of the keyboard. The keyboard then enters blending mode with the entire keyboard lighting up a single colour and then gradually blending from one colour to another displaying numerous shades along the way.
The key colours noted during this blending mode are yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, light blue, dark blue, turquoise and green. The time taken for one entire cycle from blue to blue was noted at 40 seconds. While the keyboard has a memory function for the programmable lighting feature this memory does not retain what lighting setting the keyboard was set to when your PC is switched off. As such the process noted above happens each and every time your PC is switched on and is the default lighting function.
Additional lighting functions on offer are…
FN + Home = The keyboard lights up a constant white light and every 3 seconds the central keyboard lights up a rainbow pattern that rolls out to the left and right like a wave.
Pressing FN + Home a second time and the keyboard backlight remains a constant solid white. When any key on the keyboard is pressed a wave of various coloured light emanates from the centre of the keyboard and disperse towards the edge of the keyboard (its a shame the wave always starts from the centre of the keyboard and not from the key pressed).
Pressing FN + Home for a third time and the keyboard lights up a solid constant colour. Then a second colour lights up in the centre of the keyboard and gradually flows towards the edges of the keyboard replacing the previous colour. Once the entire keyboard has changed colour a new colour starts the process again from the centre of the keyboard.
Pressing the FN + Home for a fourth time and the keyboard will remain a constant single colour with no effects. The colour that is displayed is the last colour shown from the previous mode. Sadly, there is no means to change the colour other than repeating the process and pressing the FN + Home key a fourth time when the colour you want is being displayed.
FN + Page up = The keyboard lights up a single constant colour and a different colour moves in from the left edge moving across the keyboard changing the colour of all the keys along the way. Once the entire keyboard has changed colour, another colour then moves in again from the left repeating the process.
Pressing FN + Page up a second time will pause the previous effect. This can be used to obtain a pattern of half the board one colour and the other half a different colour. Pressing the FN + Page up key again will resume the wave effect light pattern.
FN + Del = This produces a constant wave of seven coloured bands from the left to the right of the keyboard. Pressing FN + Del once more will pause the effect displayed which can be resumed by pressing FN + Del once more.
FN + End = With the first press of FN + End the keyboard simply has a constant white backlight. Press the FN + End keys again and now you can change the light of each and every key independently. There are 7 colours to choose from and lights can be disabled for each key as well. Simply tap each key until the colour you require is shown, then move on to the next.
Once you are done programming the lighting simply tap FN + End once more and your desired layout is retained in memory so each and every time you switch to the FN + End setting your layout is ready to use. (Even when switching your PC off). I really, really like this function and only wish it was possible to add more profiles. See my video for some examples.
FN + Page down = In this mode the keyboard backlight appears to be disabled. However press a key and the key pressed lights up and then fades out when released. Additional taps of FN + Page down switches the colour that the keys light up with.
FN + Insert = This returns the keyboard to the default blending light mode, tapping the FN + Insert key will pause the blend mode, tapping both keys again will resume the blending mode.
The brightness of all light settings can be changed with 4 levels on offer. Holding FN + tapping the up arrow increases the brightness or FN + tapping the down arrow decreases the brightness. Almost all keyboards I have reviewed only allow for brightness adjustment of constantly lighting functions, this is one of the few that allows adjustment with all modes.
From my testing I would say that the keyboard is suitable for use in any situation be it a very well lit room or entirely pitch black. The diffusion, brightness and colours are excellent and very well done with no sections that are poorly lit.
Only one real comment to make here… no included wrist rest.
When writing or using for productivity this is less of an issue, but for gaming one really is required. While one can easily be obtained separately it will never be attached to the keyboard so when moving the keyboard, you then have to move and align the wrist rest separately, which can be a little annoying. It does however mean that you can buy a nice comfortable foam pad like the Grifiti Fat Pad which is far more comfortable than any plastic bundled rest.
The KUMARA K552 is very nice to type on and it is far superior to any membrane or domed keyboard that I have ever owned or used. Compared to other mechanical keyboards that I have owned or used, it is defiantly far superior for productivity tasks to that of my MX red K70 and MX brown MAX Blackbird. However, compared to my Havit HV KB366L that uses Gaote blue switches or indeed any other blue switch keyboard I have used the OUTEMU switches are a little soft. (Rubber O-rings can easily and cheaply be added should you find the resistance a little too soft for your liking).
During my time reviewing keyboards on Amazon over the last 18 months I have largely become accustomed to keyboards with a US layout, for the most part it is simply a matter of remembering a few rearranged secondary keys. There is one key however that I have never managed to adapt to that is found on some, but not all US layout boards and that is a single spaced enter key.
The KUMARA K552 sadly uses a single spaced, wide enter / return key and as a touch typist I simply have never managed to adapt. If like me, you strike the enter key with your pinkie at the top edge, you will repeatedly hit the backslash key instead and that becomes very frustrating.
For productivity and entertainment the KUMARA K552 has a number of non dedicated shortcut keys that are activated using the FN (function) key. Those functions are as follows…
FN+F1 = Open media player.
FN+F2 = Volume up.
FN+F3 = Volume down.
FN+F4 = Mute.
FN+F5 = Stop.
FN+F6 = Previous track.
FN+F7 = Play / Pause.
FN+F8 = Next track.
FN+F9 = Open mailbox.
FN+F10 = Open browser homepage.
FN+F11 = Calculator.
FN+F12 = Search.
The KUMARA K552 has a couple of gaming specific functions. The first is the Windows key lock. Hold the FN key and tap the Windows key and it will deactivate the windows key, repeat to unlock.
The product listing on Amazon states “Switchable (W A S D) and arrow keys for specific applications and/or gaming”. The manual, however does not state anything about switching the functions of the WASD & arrow keys. Having tested holding the FN key down and pressing almost every key on the board I am unable to find how such a feature is activated, if indeed there is one.
The last gaming specific function of the KUMARA K552 is the “100% anti-ghosting and conflict-free keys” feature. Anti-ghosting usually means some sort of 3 to 6 key rollover. However, this can vary from keyboard to keyboard, since the term ghosting technically refers to phantom key presses, a relic of older keyboards. Testing with Passmark Keyboard Test repeated testing of 10 simultaneous alphanumeric key presses each and every time detected all keys pressed.
In short, this means that you can simultaneously move forward while holding a key down to crouch, reload and even turn a torch on or off and hold a key if required to use teamspeak with each and every key registering.
Coupled with the blue switches DOTA, Guild Wars 2, Elite Dangerous, COH 2, War Game : Red Dragon and R.U.S.E are a pleasure to play and far more so than on my K70 with its MX red switches.
FPS games such as Killing Floor, L4D2, Team Fortress 2, Serious Sam 3 BFE and COD Black Ops 2 and Platformers were defiantly better played using the red switches of my K70. Specifically Platformers that are probably best played on a joypad anyway were rather frustrating. Honestly trying to double jump with the spacebar of the Redragon KUMARA K552 will drive you bonkers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.
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