Cooler Master is a company that branches out into multiple facets of the computing experience. Their products include cases, power supplies, coolers, fans, and a peripheral line that includes keyboards and mice. In this article I will be reviewing the Cooler Master Storm Quickfire TK mechanical keyboard, which features Cherry MX Red switches. The company also offers the same keyboard with MX Brown and MX Blue switches, each with their own color schemes. For information on the switch specifications, please check my Mechcanical Keyboard Showdown.
Specifications and Features
|Cooler Master Storm Quickfire TK Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Product Name||CM Storm Quickfire TK|
|Key Switch||Cherry MX Red|
|Keycaps||ABS, grip coated, removable|
|Backlight||All keys backlit, 5 brightness levels, 3 modes (Breathing, WASD, or Full Backlight)|
|Key Rollover||NKRO (windows only)|
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz/1ms|
|Media Keys||Yes (replacing/using F-keys)|
|Interface||USB 2.0 full speed|
|USB Cable||1.8m, braided, gold plated, removable|
|Dimensions||14.9”(L)x5.4”(W)x1.3”(H) [377.5x138x33 mm]|
|Weight||544 g (1.2 lbs)|
Marketing Features from the CMStorm website
- Choose from 3 distinct versions
|Cherry Mx Switch|
|Key Backlight Color||Red||Blue||White|
- N-Key Rollover USB
- N-Key Rollover in USB mode means even the wildest key combos are registered perfectly.
- Easy Cable Management
- Detachable braided USB cable and cable routing grooves at the underside of the keyboard for easy cable management and better flexibility.
- Full LED Backlight, 3 modes, 5 brightness levels
- Stylish and provides optimum visibility even in dark rooms. Different backlight modes highlight different key groups.
- Compact Layout with Integrated NumPad Block
- The Quickfire TK’s unique NumPad block design merges both navigation and command keys. You get a compact gaming keyboard with NumPad block.
Testing and User Experience
- Intel i7 3770k (Overclockers Approved!)
- Asus Maximus V Extreme (Overclockers Approved!)
- 8GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2666 (Overclockers Approved!)
- MSI 7970 Lightning Edition
- Logitech G500 Mouse
- Windows 7 (x64)
- Battlefield 3 (Overclockers Approved!)
- Guild Wars 2
- General Productivity Typing (Word, Excel, Email, Posting on Forums)
Upon opening the box and plugging the keyboard into the computer, Windows 7 found and installed any necessary drivers automatically. No special software was needed to use any of the features the keyboard has to offer. I appreciated that the Quickfire TK takes up less space on my keyboard tray due to the combined NumPad shrinking the width of the keyboard into a tenkeyless form factor. For those that do not know, a keyboard with a tenkeyless design has truncated all of the keys to the right of the arrow keys. An example of this is the Filco Majestouch 2 Tenkeyless.
Following the hassle-free installation, I played around with the various function key controls, such as changing the backlight pattern and brightness levels. Once I was happy with the red light coming through only the W-A-S-D keys, I loaded Battlefield 3 to get a feel for the Cherry MX Red switch sensitivity. All of my controls felt responsive, and with the low (45 g) actuation force required with the Cherry MX Reds, I never felt any finger fatigue. This held true even when holding down keys to run or when using any of my other key binds. The lack of finger fatigue was a nice change in contrast to my previous testing with Cherry MX Black switches, which required 65 g of actuation force.
After I satisfied my First Person Shooter itch, I switched over to Guild Wars 2 – my current MMORPG of choice. Here again I had no issues with responsiveness. I was able to run around and dodge, and at the same time use any combination of abilities, and continue chatting with guildmates with no problem. All of the keys worked exactly how I would expect them to, with no missing actions.
Once I finished playing games I began using the keyboard for writing this review. I performed some data entry in Excel, and some general forum posting. After hours of typing, I still did not feel my fingers tire from typing. The only hindrance that I could find with the keyboard was in relation to the combined NumPad. Because the arrow keys are built into the NumPad, it required me to constantly turn NumLock on/off in order to switch between the functionality of being able to quickly move the cursor to where I want it, and then to go back to typing in numbers. Since the Quickfire TK is meant to be a gaming keyboard more so than a productivity keyboard, I can’t hold it at fault for having a feature that isn’t available in other tenkeyless keyboards. If you will be needing to do both, a tenkeyless sized keyboard may not be the best option for you. Instead, I would recommend looking at CMStorm’s other offerings, such as the Quickfire Pro or Trigger.
The Cooler Master Storm Quickfire TK is a excellent example of a mechanical keyboard made for the gaming population. It can be purchased with three different Cherry MX Switches (Red, Blue, Brown), with each switch having their own characteristics. Throughout my testing with the peripheral I never noticed any problems with the device not working the way it was intended. It behaved flawlessly in all of my gaming sessions, independent of the game and genre. The keyboard did have one caveat during productivity usage. While general typing was a breeze, working in spreadsheets could prove annoying if you consistently need NumPad for arrow keys and the numbers. All things considered, for under $100 the Quickfire TK is a great keyboard for its targeted gaming market, and for that it earns the Overclockers.com stamp of approval.
- Don Fisher (Janus67)