Cougar Deathfire EX Gaming Gear Combo Review
We’ve seen plenty of Keyboards and Mice here at pcGameware and we’ve seen a few Keyboard and Mouse combos. This latest combo is from Cougar a manufacturer that has performed well in almost all of our reviews thus far. But how will the Cougar Deathfire EX perform and is it worth the money? Well let’s take a look…
The Cougar Deathfire EX is the more expensive version of the Deathfire combo thanks to what is in effect RGB illumination on both the Keyboard and the Mouse. The Keyboard itself is a full sized Keyboard with hybrid mechanical switches. In addition to the keyboard’s eight colours and eight lighting effects it also sports a Windows lock key, media controls and anti-ghosting. The mouse features six buttons and its optical (ADNS-5050) sensor supports a maximum resolution of 2000DPI. Both peripherals are plug ‘n play and Driver free.
The Cougar Deathfire EX arrived at pcG in a small (for a combo) black box with an image of the illuminated keyboard and mouse on the front. Other than the brand, product name and the eight colour backlight & effects Cougar has chosen to highlight the following:
Looking at the back of the box we can clearly see the RGB nature of the keyboard. In fact that back of the box is covered in a wealth of information that acts more like and instruction manual than anything else. What we can also see is that the mouse features OMRON switches and a 1000Hz Polling Rate.
On opening the box we can see that the contents are packaged adequately and in keeping with a product in this price range. Although let’s be fair presentation isn’t great…
In the box other than the keyboard and the mouse we find nothing other than a simple User Manual.
At the time of review the Cougar Deathfire EX is available at Overclockers UK for approximately £50 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Cougar
First impressions of the Cougar Deathfire EX combo are good, but once out of the box to be fair what you’re looking at is simply a decent looking Keyboard and Mouse. Although I’ll tell you now both look far better once powered up. Both the Keyboard and the Mouse also appear to be well made, obviously there’s some lesser plastics here and there but on the whole there’s no cause for concern, especially when considering the price…
Looking at the keyboard first we can see that it’s a full size keyboard and here we have a UK layout too. The only real tell-tale sign that there’s more to the Keyboard tan meets the eye is the translucent strip running around the edge. The top surface of the keyboard features what looks like a brushed aluminium surface, although in fact it is plastic, but it still looks good.
In the top right corner we have the usual indicators for Number Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock as well as a Windows Lock key indicator enabled by pressing FN+WINLOCK keys. Above the indicators we have a transparent Cougar logo, transparent because yes that’s right it illuminates. Although that’s not the only thing that illuminates…
Looking at the back of the keyboard we can see that the Deathfire EX’s keyboard has six rubber feet and two extending feet at the rear. The latter lift the rear of the keyboard by approximately 10mm.
Looking at the side of the keyboard we get a better look at those switches that also support a basic form of RGB illumination. I say basic as there’s only really eight colours to choose from, but don’t let that put you off as there’s a raft of effects on offer too.
With one of the keycaps removed we can clearly see that this is no membrane keyboard, but it’s not mechanical either. The Deathfire EX’s keyboard utilizes a hybrid mechanical switch that’s actually nothing like a mechanical switch but far better than a mebrance switch in my opinion.
Turning our attention to the supplied six button optical mouse we see a simple right handed design that’s likely to compliment many grip types thanks to its simple (non-ergonomic) shape. The left side features two very well positioned thumb buttons that feel a little numb under thumb (ooh that rhymes), but work well enough. That lower section that looks like rubber is in fact plastic which is a shame. If you look closely at the base you’ll see another transparent strip that runs around the base of the mouse. More illumination perhaps!? The right side of the mouse is effectively the same, jut without the thumb buttons.
Up front we find a 1.6m rubberized cable that’s thin and flexible but due to the rubber nature it want’s to grab at everything in and around your desk. The honeycomb effect left and right of the cable mount is for aesthetic purposes only. Centrally mounted we find an illuminating scroll wheel that has a rubber tyre style grip and features a good motion with reasonably palpable graduations. Looking at the back of the mouse as you can see there’s very little to talk about, so I wont try… 😉
Left and right of the scroll wheel we have the main Left and Right buttons that both feature OMRON switches and very responsive they are too. Behind the scroll wheel we find an additional button that I assumed was for DPI selection, but no. This button actually cycles between the eight colours of illumination on offer. Note that both the scroll wheel, the Cougar logo and the base of the mouse illuminate. Colours include: cycling (all colours), orange, cyan, green, pink, red, blue, yellow, white and off.
At first glance the back of the Cougar Deathfire EX Mouse appears to be pretty standard, but it’s actually fair from it. Centrally mounted we have the main ADNS-5050 optical sensor surrounded by the three glides. But to one side there’s a DPI selector switch and to the other there’s a Polling Rate switch. Not seen that before! DPI levels are as follows: 500, 1000, 1500 & 2000 while Polling Rate can be selected from the following: 125, 250, 500 & 1000Hz.
The following Games were used during testing:
Let me first start by saying that the image below does not do this Keyboard or Mouse justice. Powering on the Deathfire EX Keyboard for the first time is a bit of a shock, yes I knew it had some illumination but… Describing the keyboard’s illumination as good would be unfair, it’s simply amazing, especially given the keyboard’s approximate cost of around £25. If you got this level of illumination (and effects) on a mechanical Keyboard costing four times the price you’d be happy I can assume you. But the fact that you have this level of illumination on a Keyboard at this price is simply stunning.
In fact I could bang on about how good it is all day long (but I’ll try and stop now). The illumination on the Mouse is good also as it cycles through the same colours as the Keyboard. There’s plenty of Modes (keyboard only) too from colour cycling, through to static colours (orange, cyan, green, pink, red, blue, yellow, white) and even a reactive mode. OK so the Cougar EX combo appears well made, and definitely looks good, but what about the performance?
Well let’s get one thing straight the Hybrid switches aboard the Deathfire’s Keyboard are in no way similar to a regular mechanical key like Cherry’s MX switch. Neither should you expect them to be at this price. They’re also not like a regular membrane keyboard either and they’re all the better for it in my honest opinion. In fact in Game if found the keys to be a joy to use, with a good feel and response. There’s also anti-ghosting too and although that’s somewhat difficult to prove I had no issues in Battlefield 1 when I was mashing the keys when in the middle of a firefight. Even for typing I found the Hybrid mechanical switches to be quite pleasant to use. Considering that what we are really looking at here is in effect a £25 keyboard, there really is nothing to complain or even whinge about…
What also surprised me was just how good the Deathfire’s mouse is too. In fact I tested the mouse with one of Cougar’s Bunker mouse bungees (shown above) that helped to keep that somewhat grippy (bad word) rubberized cable off of the desk surface.
Ok so the design of the Mouse is a little simple when it comes to ergonomics, but that helps it suit various grip types. I had no issues at all with my bastardized Claw grip, although it’s worth mentioning that the mouse is quite small (see dimensions above). The thumb buttons are also beautifully positioned (for me) which is something so many manufacturers still get wrong, but not Cougar.
It is a shame that there’s no real on-the-fly DPI adjustment, turning the mouse over mid firefight it not something you’re going to do. But set it up (I used 500DPI and 1000Hz) when playing Battlefield 1 and it works beautifully. Tracking was really sharp thanks to that ADNS-5050 optical sensor and the OMRON equipped Left/Right buttons were also really responsive. The mouse wheel works well, although it does feel a little cheap (but then it is cheap James) and while the graduations are palpable they don’t provide great feedback. Again I find myself thinking a similar thing though: Considering that we’re looking at what is in effect a £25 Mouse here, there really is nothing to complain about…
The Cougar Deathfire EX has left me a little shocked to say the least as it offers so much for so little. The illumination aboard the keyboard is simply stunning for a keyboard in this price range and both the Keyboard and Mouse perform extremely well. To be fair at £50 the Deathfire EX delivers everything you should expect and then some…
The Cougar Deathfire EX Gaming Gear Combo arrived at pcG in a smart, small box with the contents adequately packaged and presented. First impressions when you open the box are good but not great; but then it’s difficult to know what to expect when you’ve only spent £50 on both a Keyboard and a Mouse. Once out of the box the Deathfire’s Keyboard and Mouse seem to be like many other keyboard and mice in this price range, there’s nothing really to get excited about. But on the other hand there’s nothing to complain about either as both products seem well made and more than fit for purpose.
Now let’s take note of some of the finer features of this Gaming Gear Combo. The Keyboard itself is a full sized Keyboard with anti-ghosting technology and with full colour illumination. But the fact that it features a hybrid mechanical switch makes it far more interesting as in Game the switch feels far better than the more common membrane switch.
The Deathfire EX’s mouse may well be small and compact, but thanks to the lack of over the top ergonomics its shape will suit many a grip type. The mouse also features a rather impressive ADNS-5050 optical sensor along with OMRON switches for the Left/Right buttons. In Game precision was found to be excellent and using this combo I found myself at the top of the Battlefield 1 leader-board on more than one occasion.
But not only do both of these peripherals perform well in Game but they also both feature some pretty neat illumination. Although looking at my image above is not really going to help convey that I’m afraid. The three zone illumination on the mouse is good, with multiple colours supported, but the illumination offered up by the Deathfire EX’s keyboard is simply sublime. The array of options aboard is amazing, from simple colour modes, through to colour cycling modes and even reactive modes. Simply put it looks great, I’d be happy with this level of illumination and control on a Keyboard coasting four times as much!
It’s almost difficult to know what to say at the end of this review as the Cougar Deathfire EX is simply put, excellent. But let’s just quantify that before I get carried away: This is a £50 Keyboard and Mouse combo, so please don’t go looking for mechanical switches, excellent software and Macro recording as it’s not here. But what is here is a damn good Gaming Keyboard and Mouse, both are well made, perform extremely well and look awesome to boot!
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Many thanks to Cougar for providing this sample for review