Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Mechanical key switches offer a sublime typing experience, and the Cougar 600K drives that point home in a minimalistic fashion. The Cherry MX Blue key switches that shipped on our test model felt every bit as good as they have on other high-end keyboards, and the matte finish on the key caps add to the experience. There aren't a lot of gaming features, but the ones that exist performed their duties in our tests without hiccups.
The Cougar 600K Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is an interesting product. It's sturdy without being heavy, and it definitely has a unique look that's a bit industrial, though not gaudy. I don't see the same stealth warship theme that Cougar says it drew inspiration from, but the brushed aluminum plate does give the 600K an interesting look, especially with the keys hovering over top rather than being implanted into the frame.
Cougar deserves props for tapping into Cherry's bin of key switches so that you can choose between Blue, Black, Red, and Brown. Each one offers a distinct typing experience. I only tested the Cherry MX Blue, which happens to be my key switch of choice, but while I can't say how the others are implemented, I can say that Cougar did a fantastic job with the Blues.
Short and to the point, the Cougar 600K is a fantastic plank that will literally have your fingers dancing with joy whether you're typing up a TPS report or dodging bullets as you strafe on the battlefield. That's what makes the two major knocks against it so unfortunate -- price and availability.
At around $130 to $140 street, the 600K is priced alongside competitor keyboards that include more gaming features, like dedicated macro keys and full keyboard backlighting. Of course, if you don't care about those features, then so be it -- the premium for the 600K is still justifiable for the typing experience and excellent construction.
Of bigger concern is the availability. Finding a Cougar 600K with Cherry MX Red or Black key switches isn't too difficult, but good luck if you're in search of Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches. Hopefully that changes in the near future, as the 600K was only announced a few weeks ago.
Assuming you can find the model you're looking for and you like the design, Cougar's 600K deserves strong consideration in what's become a crowded field of contenders.