We’re pretty keen on keyboards and mice around here. And by keen, I mean deeply obsessed. We type and click a LOT, so we have spoiled fingers.

But not everyone wants to spend more than a hundred dollars just so they can type, and I get that. Products like the Cougar Deathfire EX combo package are a nice middle ground, far fancier than your standard membrane, but much more affordable than the truly premium stuff. Cougar excels at providing products in this middle ground, and nowhere is that better articulated than in this LED-centric mouse and keyboard package.

You can pick up the Cougar Deathfire EX combo package for $60.

Size and Shape

Immediately after opening the box, there’s a few things about the keyboard that stood out. It’s plastic, and though I prefer metal, I was impressed with how solid it felt and how good it looked.The black chassis has a brushed aluminum look, and I like the key layout. The backspace key takes a bit of getting used to because it’s sized the same as the letters, but once I got my fingers on it I came to enjoy it. I also like that the WASD keys are printed with arrows, and the arrows are printed with WASD. It’s a small thing, but I like that attention to detail.

The full size keyboard has a remarkably solid feel despite the cheaper building materials. The dimensions are 5.51 L x 17.64 W x 1.69 H and it weighs 1.7 pounds, so it’s a nice standard size. On the backside are rubber feet so it won’t slide around, and there are a pair of plastic feet that flip out so you can get that perfect typing angle.

But the strangest thing, and what really sets the Deathstrike board apart, is the transparent line running around the circumference of the board. It’s quite striking even before you turn it on, and is probably going to be divisive. I like it, but not everyone will.

Light It Up

When you do plug it in, things get really interesting. This keyboard lights up like a freaking rave, with LEDs spilling out through seemingly every surface. If you like LEDs and want impressive looks for a lower price, this is the keyboard for you. It might be a bit much for some, but there’s no denying it’s remarkable and makes a dramatic statement.

The lighting is controlled by the keyboard itself, meaning there's no software, just plug it in and you’re good to go. While it’s great that setup is so simple, it does mean less control. The Deathfire EX has eight different LED color settings, toggled by holding the function key and pressing 1-8 on the keyboard. While this definitely keeps things simple, and the options are fairly extensive, it means no real customization.

If all you want is pretty lights and a few options this keyboard will more than suffice, but if you’re looking to individually map keys or have precise control over your colors, you’re going to need to look elsewhere. The advantage is simplicity, and at a price point this low, it’s difficult to complain.

The sheer amount of light alone will draw attention, and that band of LEDs around the chassis is unique and awesome. The fact it’s on a keyboard so reasonably priced is surprising. Good on you Cougar.

Hybrid Keys

But good looks alone don’t make a keyboard, at the end of the day it’s all about how it feels. And that means we need to talk about switches.

This board uses something Cougar calls Hybrid switches, which are being touted as somewhere between mechanical and membrane. Essentially it’s a switch mechanism between the keycap and the rubber dome, but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel very different from standard membrane. There is a little more tactile activation feedback, and it certainly doesn’t feel bad. I had no issues with accuracy, and I actually really like the feel of the switches, despite usally being a Cherry blue or Razer green switch guy.

The keys are rated at 20 million strokes, and while I obviously didn’t have time to get to that number, it certainly feels solid. It also employs fairly standard anti-ghosting tech.

Again, you have to think about price here. For $60 dollars for a keyboard and mouse, I’m really surprised by the quality of the keys here. They aren’t really mechanical despite Cougar’s airs, but they’re perfectly sufficient. This is a fantastic entry level gaming keyboard, especially for someone who is excited by LEDs.

Mouse in the House

The keyboard definitely impressed me, especially given the price. So how does the mouse stand up?

In short, it’s simply not as exciting or as unique as the board. That being said, it’s still a perfectly fine gaming mouse, even if it is no frills. It too breathes light, with LEDs in the mouse wheel, the logo on the front, and a band underneath that lights up your pad. Like the keyboard you can control the LED color manually with a button underneath the mouse wheel. Nothing as crazy as the board, though.

It does have a few tricks up its sleeve however, including manual control over DPI and polling rates controlled with a switch on the bottom. Polling can go from 126 to 1000, while DPI goes from 500 all the way up to 2000. The Omron micro switches are being billed as lasting up to 5 million clicks, and Omron switches are well regarded so this is a nice inclusion in a budget product. 

Cougar Attack

I was really impressed by this bundle, and to be honest I was not expecting to be. I was thinking this would be a generic budget combo, but I found a surprisingly compelling keyboard that would almost be worth the price of admission alone, bundled with a gaming mouse that isn’t super thrilling, but has more features than I was expecting.

The keyboard does lights like nobody’s business, and if LEDs are your thing, this is a super easy recommendation.

The Deathfire EX bundle is an absolute steal at $60, and as long as you’re not expecting premium mechanical switches or full RGB control you should be more than satisfied.