Nowadays, mechanical keyboads are an essential part of many gamer’s desks. They come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and are being made by a multitude of manufacturers. So, Cougar deemed it time to release their own low-price offering with real Cherry switches and RGB backlighting. We had the Attack X3 RGB in for a test.
Fans of Courgar should be familiar with the Attack X3 keyboard which they released last year. Using it as a basis, Cougar recently introduced the Attack X3 RGB which, as the name suggests, now has RGB backlighting. That way, the popular Cherry MX Brown switches can be lit up in up to 16,8 million colors. This product currently retails for 120€, a 20€ price increase from the non-RGB model.
To make the technical introduction a little easier we will round up some specs right now. The Attack X3 RGB has 104 mechanical keys of using Cherry MX Brown switches. Only 45g of pressure are enough to facilitate a keypress. Features like N-Key Rollover are also included. The Polling-Rate lies at 100 Hz. The main attraction however, is the brushed aluminum body. Whether or not Cougar impressed us with the RGB variant of this keyboard will be shown in this review.
Cougar’s designers did some solid work here. The packaging is very elaborately designed and manages to tell you all the key features of the product. The back however, comes across as too cluttered. Upon opening the box you’ll find the product cushioned between two black cushions. Other than that, the contents of the box are minimalist: No key removal tool, no spare keys, and no other extras commonly found in the boxes of the competition. At 120€, this is something that will divide opinion.
Build Quality and Details
The focus of Cougar’s Attack X3 RGB is of course its RGB backlight that is supposed to impress with around 16 million different colors. However, we will discuss the lighting modes in the software section of this review. For now, we’ll be focusing on build quality. The body is made from brushed aluminum and the keyboard weighs 900 g. Still, it feels light and high-quality,
Between the keycaps and the metal faceplate there are a few millimeters of clearance making it aesthetically pleasing and easy to clean.
What we deemed less pretty is the font that has been used on the keys which caused us to make funny faces over the symbols. Especially the round brackets look similar to the rectangular ones at first sight. Yea we know, gaming and IT are often associated with Sci-Fi… But for applications like this we would’ve preferred a more ordinary font. This is purely a matter of taste though.
Now we’ve reached the point that caused us some grief. We managed to familiarize ourselves with Cougar’s “UIX System” software which took a lot longer than what it did with other manufacturer’s offerings. The keyboard’s biggest strength, the RGB backlight, is also its biggest downfall. Configuring this feature can be downright nerve-wrecking. But let’s start with the other settings first. The key-repeat delay as well as the N-Key-Rollover can be adjusted to your desire.
In the second section, you can adjust all the macro settings. MMO enthisasts can utilize along with N-Key-Rollover to assign entire skill-chains to simple shortcuts. This means your character can fire up several skills at the press of a button. Even this aspect managed to test our patience though. Even searching for profiles we already created didn’t prove successful. We’re always open for learning and like to experiment… but after an hour of trying to figure it out, we simply gave up. However, the real struggle was still ahead of us…
The Attack X3 RGB is supposed to offer you a palette of 16,8 million colors which can be presented effortlessly with its 9 preset lighting effects. But those rainbow-animations are the be-all-end-all setting here. In the lighting section, you can set up three options in a triangle arrangement where you can drag & drop different effects to one of the three corners. As soon as you have set up your three favorites, you can switch between them by pressing Fn + F4. Here, we’re facing the first problem: Out of the box, there aren’t any subtle lighting presets, let alone the option to light up the keyboard in a single color. So, we dove into the “advanced” section of the settings. After two hours of trial and error we concluded that we’d either have to assign a color to each key individually or live with a constant rainbow-colored backlight.
After 45 minutes of assigning the same color to every single key on the keyboard, we finally managed to show of a uniform backlight. Thus, we conclude our rambling about this product’s biggest weakness mentioned in the first paragraph. Setting up the backlight was annoying, a hassle, and very far removed from what we consider “fun”. Setting up custom profiles to be activated alongside specific games also aren’t an option here.
As mentioned above, this product uses Cherry MX switches. You can get the Cougar Attack X3 RGB with different kinds of switches. Our test model came with the Brown variety. Cherry’s MX Brown switches are known as the all-rounders of mechanical switches and are suitable for hardcore gaming and office work alike. It only takes very little pressure to make a keypress.
We tried the Attack X3 RGB with Battlefield 1, Final Fantasy: A Real Reborn, and Overwatch. We also used it for some of our office work like typing this article. In none of these tests were we ever disappointed with the product. The Cherry MX Brown switches are well suited for every task. All these tests have been accomplished with our unified backlight setting that we had put quite a bit of effort in. Those who think they could work for hours with a rainbow backlight are, quite frankly, wrong.
Now that we’re near the end of this review, it’s time to bundle all our impressions. We looked at the packaging, the included extras, and the features of the keyboard. Our focus was the RGB backlight since this product is similar to the non-RGB variant in every other respect. The included software however, made evaluating this keyboard a lot harder in many respects. Still, we made our best effort to deliver a detailed pros and cons comparison.
Pro: The Cougar Attack X3 RGB’s build quality is far beyond any of the competitors in this price segment. Brushed aluminum not only looks cool but also feels great. Whether you can really get 16 million colors from the backlight remains a question for someone else to answer. The intensity of the backlight however, is really good.
Con: The main, and really the only downfall of the Cougar Attack X3 RGB is the software it comes with. It has been a while since we’ve seen a piece of software so cumbersome. Even minute changes take a great deal of trial and error. Configuring the backlight is even more grinding and takes a lot of time to accomplish.
The Cougar Attack X3 RGB is a keyboard that is great to use but the UIX software it comes with is damn near insulting. The good news is that something like this can easily be fixed with a software update from the manufacturer. Flaws in the hardware department would’ve been a much bigger deal. Still, we cannot recommend this product until there is a software update dealing with the maladies of UIX. Till then, you should probably go with the non-RGB variant, since said feature is currently rendered pretty much useless by the software anyway.