Cougar Vantar is an RGB membrane keyboard, which was launched by the brand some time ago. It pleased a lot of people for many aspects, mainly in the visual matter and also for containing a design that we call Low-Profile, which is used with keyboards that have a low height, usually for using very thin and flat keycaps, without curvature.
And so, the brand decided to launch the mechanical version, called Vantar MX, which comes equipped with Cougar's own switches: Red, Blue, Brown and Black. Our model came with the Red switches, which have a little more weight than the Cherry Red ones, and I have been using them for the past two months, since the keyboard arrived in our hands.
External Construction and Design
As usual, we started by analyzing the outside of the keyboard, starting with its structure. The upper plate is made of aluminum and has a brushed finish on its upper part, while the chamfers are chrome and well finished, there is no type of tip. Because of this aluminum plate, the keyboard is rigid and almost fold-free, even with a lot of force.
Its sides and bottom are made of matte ABS plastic, its finish follows the level of the top aluminum plate, where there are no visible edges or barbs. Taking advantage of this, the bottom part has 4 feet of fixing rubber, as well as 2 extras in the mecThekeyboard elevation mechanism.
I notice that this is the first mechanical keyboard that I feel more comfortable using straight on the table than with the rear raised, the position of the keys really resembles that of a notebook keyboard, and because they have a little lower height, they decrease the total height of the keyboard.
Speaking of keycaps, we have a font more pulled to the gamer side that may please or not, it will depend on your taste. They use the Laser-Cut method to make the characters, removing the ink where the character is, and thus allowing the illumination to pass through the middle of the keycap.
However, I can not fail to notice that in the method used in this keyboard, besides not being Double-Shot / Dye-Sub, which are the most durable, part of the ink "escaped" to the bottom of the key, decreasing the effectiveness of the keyboard lighting. Below I will leave an image comparing the lighting with keycaps that have no ink leaking to the bottom.
Here is a point that I criticize Cougar, Double-Shot Keycaps have already made their way into the Mainstream market for keyboards, and even though there are several low quality models even better than what we have here.
The keyboard cable is 1.5 meters long, which is a measure that I consider a little short, I think the ideal between 1.8 and 2m, but there are those who like it. The cable is thicker than normal, which you notice as soon as you try to position it on the table, as the cable always tries to return to the original position of the box, but I do not consider this a bad point, as you can hardly move the position on the keyboard.
Now let's talk about one of your key selling points: being Low-Profile.
Does the Vantar MX even be a Low-Profile keyboard or does it just try to pass itself off as many other manufacturers do? Let's compare it directly with HyperX Alloy Elite, Tecware Phantom Elite and the new Redragon Brahma Pro, all Full-Size keyboards that don't try to be "Low-Profile".
The image above helps a lot to see the dimensions of the Vantar MX and if its real height keeps it in the part of the short keyboards, and compared to the two models mentioned above, it takes the crown to the lower keyboard, and not only that like it also the one that takes up less space on your desk, after all its side edges are very thin, and this helps even more in the perception of a low keyboard.
An image from above helps to confirm the little space it occupies on the table, and this is very useful. Below you will be able to see better how Cougar managed to make it have its dimensions a little smaller.
Of external construction this, removing the factor of keycaps, which can be exchanged for others at any time because they have standard size and spacing, it has good materials and has no problems, after 2 months it still looks the same again.
Here we have a somewhat controversial point in the world of mechanical keyboards, the proprietary switches that are becoming more and more common, with Cougar and HyperX already using them. Knowing and having tested several switches (Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, TTC, Cherry, Topre), I confess that I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, even more than much information was not available the first time I had contact with these switches.
But, luckily Cougar listened to our feedback, and now we can talk a little more about them. As I mentioned before, we found the Cougar Switch-M Red model in our copy of the Vantar MX, it has a 45g activation, 3.5mm linear travel with 1.8mm activation, lasting about 50 million clicks and has reduced dimensions in compared to the normal model, with a 5.2mm high case (vs 6.2mm) and 0.5mm smaller travel (3.5mm vs 4mm), which helps maintain the low-profile aspect of the keyboard.
Regarding comfort, noise and typing speed, I had no problem at all, and I feel like I'm using a Cherry Brown switch but without the bump in the middle, since its activation weight is undoubtedly greater than Cherry Red, I mean with sure because we have a HyperX Alloy Elite with Cherry Red to compare.
The difference in height is only noticed when we put two different models side by side, after all it is very difficult to see 1.5mm difference without something to compare alongside.
About the durability of the supposed 50 million clicks, it is difficult to comment precisely, we do not have a machine that tests clicks, but I can say that it passed the test of 2 direct months 8 hours a day without difficulties. We can also see that there are no abnormal wobble or misaligned keycaps, which already gives good impressions of the switch.
The transparent case on the top, helping to block less light from the LEDs, which are soldered directly on the PCB. The switch does not contain protection against liquids or splashes, so it does not spill liquids on the keyboard, which is very important for its operation.
And ending this segment of the review, I leave a short video of typing on the keyboard, so that you can see and hear its performance during use.
Now let's go inside the keyboard and see how it is done inside, after all, here is a critical point that helps to define if the product will last a long or short time. In the case of Vantar MX, we have to remove the keycaps to access the screws located at the top of the keyboard. There are 15 screws in total, all located at the top of the keyboard, which means that you do not lose your warranty when opening the keyboard.
Now that we have removed all the screws, let's start the internal analysis of the peripheral.
As usual, the first thing we see if there is any cable connected between the PCB and the rest of the housing, and what we confirm. The USB cable is attached to the bottom housing, so just remove the Plug from the PCB so that you can handle both parts separately.
So, let's talk about welds, which have no apparent problem. After examining all of them, we saw that there is no case that it was necessary to be touched up, nor do we have too much or too little, they all seem to be in the right size and apparently they will last a long time.
Its controller is well known by keyboard reviewers and is present in models such as the Redragon Kumara, the model is a BYK816, which as we discovered before even opening the keyboard, supports more complex effects than the "Breathing" patterns and "Rainbow". Everything it offers will be better discussed in the Software part of this review.
The rigidity of the keyboard comes completely from its aluminum plate, the plastic base has a lot of contortion, and it is not necessary to do a lot of strength even to break it. But, as I said, it doesn't matter so much, because the aluminum plate can maintain its structure.
In general, the internal structure of the Vantar MX is good, there is no apparent problem whatsoever, and if something fails, it is probably not the fault of its internal construction, but another reason – I imagine that the Keycaps are the first part of the keyboard showing some wear.
As usual in our analyzes, we leave a photo gallery showing all the internal parts of the keyboard, there are few photos because there is not much to show, it is simple and functional.
The brand usually goes very well in this aspect, see the reviews of Minos XT and Surpassion ST that received several praises by us in this aspect. Does the Vantar MX do well too?
Well, he certainly won't. Compared to the Redragon Brahma Pro RGB, the Vantar MX has much more defined lighting and the colors of the LEDs are much more apparent. I use the keyboard in an extremely well-lit area, right next to a large window or curtain and with lights just above me and I can still distinguish all the colors that the keyboard displays, which is not the case with Brahma.
But what makes me not call the lighting excellent is actually the keycaps and the large amount of paint at the bottom blocks the light from the LEDs, making them lose efficiency and stop being as bright as they could. In the end, the "criticism" that I have the illumination is not in itself, but in the part that directly affects it.
You can control the brightness and some effects on the keyboard, using the combination FN + Insert you interleave between the effects, FN + Delete interleaves between colors and is only available in some modes, and FN + Arrow Up / Down increases and decreases the brightness of the LEDs.
And that, there is no feature that innovates on the keyboard, it is simple and will satisfy the vast majority of people who buy it.
Vantar MX has software dedicated to it, and you can download it directly from Cougar's website through this link.
The program is designed to be used in conjunction with the extremely simple keyboard, and there are two modification tabs: lighting and key assignment, and within the tabs there are also few options.
I will first talk about the lighting tab, which has 15 different effects that many of you probably already know. In the image below I leave the list of effects present in the software, some with specific color adjustment, others with speed adjustment. I emphasize that there is no effect where you can control the color of each key separately, so it is not possible to make the Brazilian flag on the Vantar MX, for example.
In the key assignment tab you can choose each key individually, you can assign an average function, a macro or another specific key. About macros, you also have a small macro creation menu on the same tab, where you can create a new macro with keys and keyboard functions. It does not track mouse movements or record clicks, just presses on the keyboard itself.
As I said before, the software is very simple and fulfills basic functions, but I would have liked to see more options available on it, such as being able to change the keyboard response time, controlling the lighting color of each key separately, creating specific effects, visualization audio, among other functions that a large part of its competition already has.
Throughout our analysis of the Cougar Vantar MX, it proved to be a simple keyboard but it does what it promises, the brand does not try to create false expectations about the model and it ends up being well done, without exaggeration or unnecessary functionality being added to the product .
He perfect? No, no product. His keycaps are his weak point, and there is no doubt about that. In addition, they have laser printing, which wears out easily and can make their characters impossible to read because of wear and tear.
Another thing that the keyboard can receive are some software updates, a point that can be done at any time, will depend on Cougar's willingness to improve the program made available, which I believe will happen over time. For the rest, the Vantar MX turns out to be a decent keyboard and one that probably won't have any problems.
The model has not yet been officially launched here in the country, so the model is not yet available in any store, but it should arrive in the coming weeks. According to Cougar himself, who provided us with the keyboard, his price will be less than R $ 300, which puts him in a good position, not being very expensive.
Another important point to consider that the Vantar MX is the only Low-Profile keyboard in the Brazilian market that costs less than R $ 300, so if your limit is this and you are looking for a model of this type, this is your option. If you don't want this type of profile, you can look at options like the Pichau P631K RGB and the Motospeed CK99 LK Optical, which are two very good options for the price.
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