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Introduction
CM Storm is a sub division of the well known Cooler Master which make gamer oriented products along with the usual cheesy introductions. CM Storm make a range of products from the Scout and Trooper cases to peripherals like the Inferno and Sentinel mice, Sirus and Ceres headset and four keyboards at the moment.
Three of the four CM Storm keyboards sell around the £65-£75 price. This includes the Quickfire TK which has full lighting but sacrifices the section between the main keyboard and the numpad, the Quickfire Rapid which has no back lights or numpad , the Quickfire Pro which I am reviewing today. Then there is the Trigger which is the flagship which sells in the £85-£90 range and has the full keyboard with full back-light and a wrist rest. This is taken from CM Storm's website:

Owning the PC trenches for almost two decades, Cooler Master's veterans present their scars from battles past as claims over the competition. United with a new generation of eSports athletes and engineers, now marching under the flag of CM Storm, the time has come to reveal ground-breaking, military grade hardware for the gaming revolution.
Through long-standing research programs, Cm Storm is co-developed with the world's most prolific enthusiasts and eSports prodigies. Thanks to intensive testing and continuous feedback, the CM Storm division has been able to encompass and improve upon gamers' needs and their tough to handle scenarios.
By working directly with the gaming community we have injected our Storm Tactics into each and every product we make. Storm Tactics, with a heavily dedicated focus on Strength, Security and Control, will keep your most vital gear fortified and well tuned at all times.
2008 marks a new era for Cooler Master, as its fierce Storm Gear stands ready at bay to mobilize and back up your gaming skills.
CM Storm – Arming the Gaming Revolution



Specifications
Today I will be looking at the Quickfire Pro which is the mid range keyboard in the Quickfire range. This board is available in Cherry Black, Brown, Blue and Red switches (which I will be looking at). It has the ability to change between 6 Key Roll Over (6KRO) and N Key Roll Over (NKRO). It also has the option to change the polling rate between 125Hz (8ms), 250Hz (4ms), 500Hz (2ms) and 1000Hz (1ms). It has media keys on the F keys which seems pretty standard. It has a removable USB cable which can be routed out the back or either side for improved cable routing. And last but not least is the partial back lighting which I will show you later.

Packaging

The Quickfire Pro comes in a colourful box with a picture of the keyboard with red lightning behind it so you wouldn't miss this in a store. It shows that this is a mechanical keyboard in the English layout and in the bottom right is a little sticker showing which Cherry MX switchers it uses.


On the back it goes over the specifications in nine different languages as well as four pictures showing a cherry switch in pieces, the NKRO in USB mode, the partial red lighting and the removable mini USB wire on the back of the keyboard.



Opening up the box we see that the keyboard is in a bag and covered with a piece of plastic to protect the top of the keyboard. At the back is a compartment that holds the accessories. This feels sturdy enough to protect it from all the little bangs and scuffs in transit.

Accessories and Documentation

The keyboard only comes with a couple of accessories. First is the 1.8m USB cable which is used to power the keyboard and a couple of spare CM Storm keys with a key puller to remove the keys from the keyboard. Personally I replaced tthe Windows keys with the CM Storm keys because the Windows keys simply say Win rather than the Windows logo (subliminal message for a gaming keyboard maybe?).


The manual goes over the basics of the keyboard. It includes the Package contents, System requirements, basic Warranty information and the website for free technical support. Then it goes on to show how to activate the other features. First off, the Function key only needs to be pressed once to activate it rather than holding it down and then pressed again to turn it off. The media keys at the top of the keyboard are used by activating the Function key first. To change between 6KRO and NKRO, you simply need to activate the Function button, hold N and press the respective key (INS for 6KRO or DEL for NKRO). It's worth noting that the full NKRO won't work on Apple Macs so you will have to use 6KRO. However I have used both in gaming and can find no noticable difference so you'll be fine. Then there is the ability to adjust the polling rate which is done by activating the Function key again, then pressing P and respective buttons (Numlk for 8ms, / for 4ms, * for 2ms and – for 1ms). Then on the right hand page it shows which keys light up when activated. In Mode 1 (Gaming cluster), this is simply WASD and the Dpad. In mode 2 (Extended Gaming cluster), this is Esc to F4, 1 to 5, Q to R, A to F and Z to C along with the Dpad. Then last but not least, there is mode 3 (Breathing) which has the same keys lit up as mode 2 but it slowly lights and dims the lights between the five light settings hence breathing. The booklet explains this in the same nine languages as on the back of the box. Then at the back of the booklet, there is the warranty page which explains the usual stuff. This keyboard has a two year warranty by the way.


Now onto the actual keyboard. This is the only Quickfire keyboards that features a full button layout. Starting from the top left we find the F keys with the buttons to adjust the light and the media keys. When the Function key is activated (found by right CTRL), F1 turns the back lighting on and off. F2 turns the lighting down between the five settings while F3 turns the lighting up. F4 changes between the different lighting modes explained earlier. F5,6,7&8 are the usual play/pause, stop and next/last media buttons. F9,10&11 are your volume buttons i.e. mute, up and down. Then there is F12. This button when activated disables the windows keys. This is especially helpful in gaming if your the kind of person who accidentally hits it in the heat of battle. The rest of the keyboard is fairly standard plus the accented letters on vowels. These can be used when pressing the ALT button.
All of the keys can be taken off the switches but a couple have hinges on for some reason. This is literally only the right CTRL button and the three buttons above it plus the space bar and the + button and the enter button on the numpad. These can be taken off the hinges, it's just a little bit more fiddly. As for the switches themselves, I have tried it in Crysis 1 & 2, Borderlands 2, C&C ed Alert 3 Uprising and I have to say that it was a joy to use in all of the games. Even now I am righting this review using the keyboard. I'll admit I disliked the Cherry Red keys when I first got it but after a couple of days you get used to the lack of any resistance any it becomes a very easy to use keyboard. Because of there being no resistance, this keyboard won't tire your hands during long gaming runs.
The keyboard as a whole is very sturdy. I tried holding both ends and seeing if it would twist at all. Nope. Not one creak. Now I'm not going to start smashing against brick walls but I would definitely say that this will last a very long time no matter how much you use it. This keyboard is very high quality. The only minor gripe I haver is that due to the positioning of the lights under the buttons, only half of the button lights up properly. While this is fine for most buttons, it doesn't light up the bottom half of the F keys properly or the numbers above the main section.


The back is plain save for the four rubber pads which do a very good job of stopping the keyboard sliding around, the two feet which raise the back about ten mm. The big gap in the middle is where you plug the USB cable into with channels to hold the cable in place for cable routing. Now I have read of people having trouble inserting the USB cable but I personally didn't have any trouble. You just keep pushing until it clicks.



Conclusion
All things considered this is a very good keyboard that I would definitely recommend on a couple of conditions. The first being that they don't need or want full backlighting. It good for gaming (although T,G&V need to be backlit too (grenade and melee). But if you do a lot of typing while it starts to get dark then you have to turn off the lights lest they become distracting. Which brings me to my second condition. Cherry Red isn't the best switch for typing but I can only find red in the UK so if you do a lot of typing then I would advise getting the Quickfire TK for a little bit more which comes with blue, red or brown switches and is fully backlit. But if you want a keyboard purely for gaming then this is a brilliant keyboard.
Then there is the pricing which I have found to be £68 as the cheapest in the UK at Scan. And in the USA, Newegg have the keyboard in Brown and Red switches at $95 and $100. The Brown are considered the best switch for gaming and typing so this is a really good combination. At this price, the only competition for mechanical keyboards is the rest of the Quickfire range. The closest competitor is the Thermaltake G1 at £86. So if your looking for a new keyboard and you are looking for mechanical then I would recommend this without a moments thought. And if your not looking for a mechanical then you need to try one like this because it will change your mind.


Positive
+ Full keyboard
+ Mechanical Cherry MX Red switches
+ Very strong and sturdy keyboard
+ Being able to change rollover improves compatibility

Negative
- Not fully back lit
- Only commonly found in Cherry MX Red in UK

PS This is my first review so any feedback is much appreciated.
Blue Dragon
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i5-3570K Maximus V Extreme Asus GTX 680 Direct CUII OC MSI GTX 680 Lightning 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Kingston HyperX Genesis Samsung 840 Western Digital Caviar Green x2 Samsung SH-B123/RSBP BD-ROM 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
EK Supremacy Swiftech MCR-220 with MCP-35X Magicool XT45 Windows 7 Home Edition 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
UMC 1080p 22" TV Cooler Master CM Storm Quickfire Pro Corsair AX850 Corsair Air 540 
MouseAudio
Corsair M90 Razer Chimaira 5.1 
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Blue Dragon
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i5-3570K Maximus V Extreme Asus GTX 680 Direct CUII OC MSI GTX 680 Lightning 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Kingston HyperX Genesis Samsung 840 Western Digital Caviar Green x2 Samsung SH-B123/RSBP BD-ROM 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
EK Supremacy Swiftech MCR-220 with MCP-35X Magicool XT45 Windows 7 Home Edition 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
UMC 1080p 22" TV Cooler Master CM Storm Quickfire Pro Corsair AX850 Corsair Air 540 
MouseAudio
Corsair M90 Razer Chimaira 5.1 
  hide details  
Reply