Cougar Puri TKL Keyboard Review

A precise, ergonomically sound beast.

“You have chosen…wisely.”

Who could possibly forget the immortal words of Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Despite the wealth of gilded treasures before him, it’s telling that Indiana selects the cup that is battered and plain.

It’s a similar story with keyboards. Sure, the ones with fancy trimmings, cushiony palm rests and dedicated macro keys plus beautiful rainbow LED are beautiful specimens, but they don’t always guarantee bang for your buck. The Cougar PURI TKL is the antithesis of glamorous. It’s simple and modest. A bit like the holy grail. For a mechanical keyboard, it’s also comparatively inexpensive. It delivers ultra sensitive responses to the lightest finger pressure, so whether you’re typing, jamming the E key, or punching in combos, the instant feedback is exquisitely gratifying.

Launching the PURI TKL in Windows 10 was a turbulence free ride with zero wait time. In contrast to the plug-and-play accessibility of Windows 10, Windows 8 and 7 (the other two editions the PURI TKL supports) may take some time for setup.

Brilliant simplicity

Backlight illumination in keyboards is a staple these days, and the PURI TKL’s lighting will serve you extremely well if your gaming is reserved for darker hours. The medium strength white-lighting is neither too bright, nor too faded, and helps you quickly identify keys without hassle. Compared to keyboards highlighted with other colours like red, blue or purple, the placid white is far less jarring.

As previously suggested, Cougar’s PURI TKL isn’t the flashiest piece of hardware out there. In fact, I’d say it’s unashamedly minimalist. The basic black is only really accented by a very dull grey used for keys and the Cougar logo when backlighting isn’t activated. It lacks RGB lighting found in more stylish models like the Corsair K95, K70, or Steelseries Apex M800, but if you’re into functionality over pretty colours, the neutral PURI TKL is the way to go. After my stint with the Tt eSPORTS Challenger Prime Gaming Keyboard (membrane key type) which featured dim red backlighting, I’d fully recommend the PURI TKL due to its enhanced key visibility.

There are four different sensitivities if maximum strength illumination becomes too intense or distracting, demonstrating both Cougar’s attention to detail, and a thorough awareness of issues like ‘blue light’ and the impact modern technology is having upon users. The PURI TKL truly puts the gamer’s needs first and guarantees high comfort levels for long-term wellbeing.

Light up the night: The Puri TKL offers four brightness levels that cater to different intensity preferences.

Noisier, heavier, sturdier

If you’ve only rubbed shoulders with membrane keyboards till now, you’ll notice a couple of strikingly obvious changes with mechanical key types. Firstly, keystrokes are much louder. Every movement produces a clickety-clack symphony that may not be the best option if you’re working or playing in a noise free environment. But within an office, bedroom or personal space, the intrusion is so minimal you’ll find yourself tuning it out within minutes. The only real provisos are that the PURI TKL isn’t wireless, which will inevitably create cord clutter on your desk, and it lacks any USB pass-throughs.

Taking its minimalist architecture into account, this isn’t really a flaw, but might not accommodate users who have multiple devices that need connections. On the plus side, the PURI TKL’s wire is braided for extra insulation, feels softer to the touch, and spans a generous 1.8 m length so your movement won’t be restricted even if you plug it into the back of your PC. You should also be aware the PURI TKL is noticeably heftier than a membrane model like the Tt eSPORTS Challenger Prime (869 g), and weighs in at 1.2 kg (2.64 lbs). Its sharp, sleek design barely allows a 1cm border around the keys, so the weight might surprise you initially, but given the PURI TKL is a composite of steel and plastic, be prepared.

A sensitive soul

In terms of the general sensation you have when typing or gaming with the PURI TKL, picture the differences between a round tip ballpoint pen versus an artist’s 0.5 mm graphic pen. You’ll notice the sensitivity and delicacy right away. This departure from bluntness is what leads to the PURI TKL’s superior precision, which is really a result of the Cherry MX mechanical switches that secure 1ms response times. Since the PURI TKL is marketed at Pro-FPS gaming, I tested it with Unloved, a gory DOOM II mod that released on Steam last September. Personally, I found it almost too responsive to even the most minute input, and I quickly had to adapt; with the weakest pressure, you can manoeuvre a character a significant margin, something I imagine is ideal for competitive players. On the other hand, it worked a charm for fighting platformers like Wishmere which requires quick key input to execute particular attacks, something I couldn’t achieve with a membrane keyboard.

Ergo, ergonomics

Another useful feature of the PURI TKL is the three-tier support, which gives you the option to select the typing angle of your choosing thanks to a tiny stand wedged underneath. It feels smooth when completely pressed out, but I’d recommend the elevated setting, which feels more natural—especially if you’re planning a long raid or gaming marathon. This baby doesn’t come with a palm rest, and its design is quite taut, so if you’re accustomed to broader designs like the Cherry MX 6.0, the PURI TKL might feel slightly claustrophobic.

The very slight trade off in comfort vanishes when measured up against the rest of the PURI TKL’s selling points. As a mechanical keyboard, its raised switches are easier to clean, but the magnetic plastic cover (a semi opaque, stylish protection bearing the Cougar logo) prevents dust accumulation and lends itself towards safe, easy transportation.

Conclusion

Smart, ergonomic design is what you want in a keyboard for the long haul. When beauty fades, and trends evaporate into the mist, you’ll be left behind with the PURI TKL’s superior functionality. There’s no escaping the fact that it’s the heavier counterpart to ubiquitous membrane keyboards, and generates higher amounts of noise. But the godly precision handling is akin to driving a manual rather than an automatic car; once you go mechanical, you can’t go back. If you’re looking for simplicity and minimalism at an affordable price, the PURI TKL is a wise choice.

PURI TKL will be available this month through select online retailers for $70 USD.

Full Disclosure: A unit was provided by the manufacturer for purposes of this review.

Pros:

  • Excellent tactile feedback
  • Keystroke precision
  • Soft after-hours illumination
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Heavier than most budget/membrane keyboards
  • Noisy
  • Minimalist style not for everyone