Arctic K381 Gaming Keyboard

Aron Schatz
July 29, 2010
Arctic Cooling
Product Page
Arctic K381 Gaming Keyboard
The Arctic K381 Gaming Keyboard represents a minimalistic design with a good overall feel. Combined with a good price, the keyboard is a recommended purchase, especially for LAN parties.

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Keyboards are one of the most important products you use working with a computer. It is important that the keyboard feels good and performs well. You only get one set of hands. The keyboard is always changing and Arctic Cooling is stepping up with a new gaming keyboard that features a minimalistic design. The Arctic K381 offers you the feeling of a laptop keyboard in a desktop size. Input devices are a brand new market entry for Arctic Cooling and the K381 is the first keyboard they have released.

About Arctic Cooling


Who we are?

ARCTIC COOLING is a privately owned company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Switzerland, offices in Hong Kong and the USA and production facilities in Asia. The ARCTIC COOLING team consists of international highly educated people with business, technical and communicational skills. The attitude to work is based on Swiss principles of innovative spirit and high standards of workmanship for which it is recognized internationally. This striving for excellence is integrated in all processes as a matter of course. ARCTIC COOLING´s core competencies are multifarious including systematic noise reduction,copper and aluminum heatsink development, customization of thermal solutions, as well as designing quiet fans. More recently quiet and cool PC Cases and Power Supplies have been developed.

What we do?

ARCTIC COOLING is a leader in creating thermal cooling solutions for personal computer systems that enable CPU (Central Processing Unit), GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) and PC case cooling whilst reducing the noise level. Increased heat generated by modern computer systems has overwhelmed most existing cooler manufacturers in their efforts to keep pace with the demands in terms of noise level and cooling. The noise pollution caused by today´s IT systems has increased, severely affecting productivity in open office environments. ARCTIC COOLING has been working closely with globally recognized companies such as Inno3D, ECS, Galaxy, Sapphire, Powercolor and ATI. Through these partnerships ARCTIC COOLING has been able to adapt to the changing market requirements and has quickly developed the optimal solutions. ARCTIC COOLING combines the Swiss art of engineering to realize innovative cooling ideas. Thanks to the low labor cost in Asia, ARCTIC COOLING has consistently produced innovative solutions which lead the market in price / performance. Cooling solutions are created from the demand of our customers. Due to the continuous product development at ARCTIC COOLING the demands of end-users will always be satisfied. As a result of the head-start ARCTIC COOLING has in knowing end-user´s requirements, manufacturing possibilities and ARCTIC COOLING´s strong R&D, ARCTIC´s products will continue to be market leaders in cooling solutions and provide assemblers, computer hardware distributors and IT-technicians with innovative, virtually silent, cost-effective cooling solutions for CPU, GPU and PC-case worldwide.



The Arctic Cooling packaging features the standard silver with white accents. Branding is important on store shelves. Some Apple fans may mistake this product as an Apple knock-off, which it's not. This keyboard is able to stand by itself.


The back of the box contains some extra specification information and additional features of the keyboard. One highlighted feature is the ultra-slim design.
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  • 12 office function keys – one-touch access to different features
  • Keys for volume control and standby
  • Low-profile layout and key structure – perfect for comfortable typing
  • Low resistance switches allow continuous typing without fatigue
  • Sharp and clear pressure point
  • Save space with ultra-slim design
  • Connectivity USB
  • Dimensions 430 (L) x 115 (W) x 18 (H) mm
  • Weight 555g

Marketing Summary


The keyboard, K381, has an ultra-slim design. This makes it to be very space-efficient. The simplicity design of this keyboard embraces style, quality and functionality.

Although the K381 is small and thin, it is embedded with 12 one-touch office function keys, including volume control, full-sized arrow keys, and numeric keypad.

At just 12mm height (at the back 20mm), this extremely flat design gives the possibility to seat the heels of hand on the desk, offering great ergonomics and comfort. The keys are crisp and responsive and this offer typists to type on sharp and clear pressure points.

The K381 is available in the following layouts: German, French, British, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Polish (US Standard); all in black and white. These characteristics make the K381 to be suitable for everyday usage.

Package Contents


Arctic Cooling gives you some literature along with the keyboard. Like we said earlier, this is very minimalistic. Since it is just a standard keyboard, it will work by plugging it into any USB port. It is a standard USB HID (Human Input Device).
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Arctic K381


The first thing that should strike you about this keyboard is that the keys are flat. In this regard, they mimic a newer laptop style of keys with the spacing and feeling. Don't let that scare you off, the keyboard is very much a full sized standard keyboard.


Compared to a standard CD, the K381 fits in the same area as a traditional keyboard with the number pad. You may notice some funny looking keys on this. Arctic sent the UK version of the keyboard. We had no trouble reviewing the sample, but Arctic insisted on sending the correct version. Using the UK version was no problem since we had the local set to US which made the keyboard act like any US keyboard, even though the labeling said otherwise.


Arctic Cooling also makes this keyboard in a white version. As you can see, this has the standard US style layout that we are accustomed to. The white version of the keyboard is very Apple-esque.


The US version has normal shift key sizes, check out the full sized image of the white keyboard or check the video review to see it. The keys are flat. This allows you to have more surface area per key. On most keyboards, the keys are angled and your fingers slide into each key. On the K381, the keys are the same "size" and go straight up instead of being angled. The effect works well. One interesting thing is that Arctic Cooling took out the branded Windows key in favor of an Arctic Cooling branding. We'll leave it to you to decide what that means. This is a multiple OS support keyboard, after all.


The layout is standard in the arrow keys area. Most FPS players won't be using this area for much since they've moved on to using the WASD setup. Still, numeric entry with this keyboard is a snap with the large keys and the space between the keys is good as well. There are some multimedia keys above the number pad such as volume control and sleep functions.


Both colors are extremely shiny. The black version has that classic piano black look and feel. There are four rubber feet to keep the K381 from sliding around while in use. The front of the keyboard contain a slight increase in height to give a slight angle to the keyboard.


Compared to my hand, this keyboard is extremely thin. It is very tiny compared to other gaming keyboards. While it may not have the macro keys that other have, it does have the edge in space. If you have limited space, this is a good design.
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The Arctic K381 is an excellent feeling keyboard. We had some hesitation at first thinking it would be a LAN gaming keyboard, we quickly became impressed with how typing felt on the K381. I personally used it for a week and once used to it, it was easy and seamless. Like any good keyboard, it should have a minimal angle so your wrists don't have to bend. Arctic put some thought into this since one of the selling points is the low angle of the keyboard.

Key presses are a bit more subdued in sound and force compared to a normal gaming type keyboard such as the G15 or G110. The K381 acts more like a laptop style keyboard in that the keys don't have to travel that far down to be pressed. Since this is an input device, we urge you to try it before you buy it. While we can give recommendations on a product, it is ultimately your hands that will be using the product.

That being said, we were happy with the performance of the K381. We pressed 6 keys in the WASD area before the keyboard stopped registering keystrokes. Some cheap keyboards tend to only register two or so keys at a time at once. The K381 looks and feels like a quality product.

We welcome feedback on our video reviews. Please leave us comments on Youtube or post a response right here in the article.


If you like Arctic Cooling, pair this keyboard up with the »M571 mouse to have an excellent combination for gaming. In addition to performing well, the K381 is small enough to take with you to LAN parties. While the minimalistic design may shun away some people that like macros, the overall design and feel are good. The K381 has a MSRP of $24.95. This is a great price on a good product. Arctic Cooling is pricing themselves into an excellent place in the market. While the brand may not have the clout that Logitech has, at these prices, people will try them out.

Once they start using the products and see the quality, it'll snowball into more competition. ASE Labs is a huge fan of competition in the marketplace and other gaming peripheral companies should look at what Arctic Cooling is doing with the pricing of their products. Quality doesn't have to be expensive. If you like laptop style keys, this is the keyboard for you. ASE Labs recommends it.

Let me mention again that input devices are subjective. While I liked the K381, you may not. It is important to try before you buy, but at $25, just go for it. If you do see it in a retail store, send us a comment.

ASE Labs would like to thank Arctic Cooling for making this review possible.


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