Overclock.net banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
[Sponsored Review]

Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid-I



Welcome to my review of the Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid-I.

Before I get started, I'm going to point out some things regarding the review in general.

  • This board was provided as a review sample by Cooler Master for no charge.
  • I will not be keeping this board, it will be given away randomly at a later date to a member of OCN.
  • This review will only be discussing the board itself, not my opinions on the switches the board uses (in this case MX Browns), opinion on switches is subjective, and you'll have to make up your own mind about what switch is the one for you.

Quick navigation:

  • Introduction
  • Unboxing
  • External Overview
  • Internal Overview
  • Features
  • Cost and Coverage
  • Final Thoughts

Introduction

The Rapid-I is the spiritual successor to arguably one of the best value mechanical keyboards in recent history, the original QuickFire Rapid, which was loved by many for it's TKL form-factor, standard keycap layout, Costar stabilizers and great build quality. Many even went as far to say it was practically as good as a Filco Majestouch-2 for half the price.

Throughout my review, I'm going to be considering whether or not the Rapid-I can fill the big shoes left by it's predecessor, and whether or not it could be considered a good upgrade.

Unboxing

First we have the retail packaging, fairly standard fare for mechanical keyboards nowadays:




It offers all the basic information and features of the board as well as some good images of the board without being clustered. The packaging is also thick enough to sufficiently protect the board from any minor incidents.

Now to open up the packaging.



Inside the main area, we have the board packaged in a thin foam sleeve to protect any scratches or cosmetic damage during shipping, as well as two sheets, one that lists key commands for some of the features of the board, and one that lists features, specifications and warranty information for the product.

We also have a sectioned off area at the top where you can find the cable and ring-style keycap puller included with the board.

Full contents of the packaging:



  • Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid-I keyboard
  • Gold-plated sleeved male USB 2.0 - right angle male Micro USB cable
  • Ring-style keycap puller
  • Paper insert listing commands for various features.
  • Paper insert listing warranty information, features and specifications.

The paper insert with the various controls for the board:



Fairly minimal contents for the board, but it's nice to see the inclusion of a keycap puller (even if it's a ring-style).

Overall I consider the packaging to be adequate, it covers all of the essential information you'd want to know about the product before buying, and protects the product sufficiently.

External Overview

Design

Top side
I was glad to see that Cooler Master have decided to go for a very minimalistic theme for the Rapid-I. The board looks very sleek, especially with the backlight enabled and could look equally at home next to a gaming rig as it could next to a work PC.



The casing of the Rapid-I is very minimal, it doesn't extend too far beyond the area covered by the keycaps. I think this was a was decision, the TKL format is preferred by many due to the extra desk space it allows, there seems little point in making a small form factor board with an unnecessarily big case.

Similar to the KUL ES-87, the board also sits relatively low on the desk, has opted for sharper edges of the casing, and has angular cut-outs on the sides. this works well with the keycap font to give the board a futuristic look.

To contrast with the sleek appearance of the casing, the Rapid-I also has an attractive white mounting plate. I think this was a great choice by the design team, as it accentuates the white backlighting, makes the board look much more interesting and separates it from many other otherwise similar TKL boards.

The back of the board includes more of the angular cut-out shapes for aesthetics, as seen on the sides of the board, as well as the only branding found on the top side of the board, a silver CM Storm logo, and the female Micro USB connector.

This is an unusual choice of location for the connector, many competing TKL boards have the connector hidden on the underside of the board with cable routing to prevent accidental damage to the socket. To make the location of the port more viable for those with little space on their desk, the included USB cable has a right angle connector, so the cable doesn't stick out from the back of the board, making it easy for the port to get damaged. However, this means there isn't any flexibility for how the cable needs to be routed, the cable travels left down the width of the board. This may not be ideal for people like myself, who have their desktop on the right side of their desk.

All this combines to give a great looking top side of the board, simple, but with enough design features to stop it from looking boring.

Underside
The underside of the board is fairly plain, with just a sticker giving the usual branding and product information in the center.

Around the outside are the usual non-slip rubber pads, one in each corner, and the fold-out feet at the top to allow the board to be adjusted. The fold-out feet don't feel flimsy and cheap, they click into place securely, and have rubber tips to prevent the board from slipping even when the top is elevated. This is fairly standard for mechanical keyboards nowadays, although ideally I'd like to see larger rubber feet, especially on the fold-out feet.

Branding

The branding on the Rapid-I is very minimal, the only logo on the top side of the board is on the back, out of sight. I think this was a good choice by the design team, as a visible logo on the keycap side would ruin the sleek aesthetic of the board.

Keycap Layout

Following in the steps of the original QuickFire Rapid, the Rapid-I uses the popular layout with 1.25x bottom row keys and 6.25x spacebar, this will make finding aftermarket keycaps much easier should you ever want to replace the stock keycaps.

Keycap Quality

As expected, the Rapid-I uses the familiar style of keycaps as many other backlit boards, thin smooth ABS in an OEM profile. Fortunately due to the board being backlit, the legends wearing down won't be an issue, but I'd still prefer to see the keycaps be slightly thicker. You can also feel the legends on the keycaps very slightly.

Cooler Master has also opted to use a gamer-y/ futuristic looking font on their keycaps, some may like this, as the slightly wider letters are easier to read, but I imagine some potential buyers would prefer a more traditional font.

Stabilizers

Unlike it's spiritual predecessor, the Rapid-I uses Cherry stabilizers. This isn't unexpected given that the board is backlit, but some may consider this a step-down from the Costar stabilizers found in the original Rapid-I. I personally don't find the stabilized keys to be mushy as in some other boards with Cherry stabilizers, but some people may still not like them as much as Costar stabilizers.

Quality

The build quality of the Rapid-I is high. The board has very little flex, it feels very sturdy both while typing and if you try and flex the corners.

The rubber coating also makes it feel like a very premium product, although it's hard to say for certain how well it will hold up after extensive use.

Summary

Overall I think the Rapid-I is a very good looking board, the low profile, angular cut-outs and white backlighting all work well together to create, in my opinion, a great looking product.

Internal Overview

Disassembly of the Rapid-I can be a little awkward, to disassemble the board you must:

  1. Undo 4 screws on the underside of the board. Two are visible and two are hidden under stickers. One is under the main information label for the board, the other is under the 'Do Not Remove' sticker.
  2. Carefully pry the rubberised top part of the casing off. There are small clips which must by pried up to remove the top casing, 7 round the bottom, 6 round the top, equally spaced.
  3. Carefully remove the top casing.
  4. Remove the two screws between the number row and F row.
  5. Carefully remove the back of the casing. Warning: The casing is attached to the PCB by a cable (for the micro USB port), so be careful when removing the back casing.
This process isn't inherently difficult, there are only 6 screws required to completely disassemble the board, but I'm not a fan of hiding screws under stickers. Given how popular the original QuickFire Rapid was among keyboard modders, I would've liked to see Cooler Master taking this onboard and made it a little easier to disassemble.




As you can see above, the quality of the internals is ok, the PCB is fairly thick and the quality of the soldering is generally good (some spots at the bottom I'm not too sure about). There were two 'issues' with the particular sample I received however. The back of the PCB seems to have a chalky residue mainly around the outside (easily visible in the above picture), and there seems to be a damaged spot on the PCB as shown below:



Although these problems are almost certainly just one-off errors in production and not systematic, they are still concerning, particularly the damaged spot on the PCB.

A feature I would have liked to have seen on the PCB would have been the switch soldering spots being marked with the corresponding character the switch is used for. This would make home repair much easier if you ever encountered a problem with a single switch.

Overall, ignoring the problems seen on this particular sample, the internals are adequate, however if these issues are prevalent in many other boards, then I'd consider this to be a big issue.

Features

Backlighting

Cooler Master opted to go for white backlighting for the Rapid-I. This was a good choice by the design team as it fits the theme of the board well, and doesn't look as flashy as bright coloured backlight. It also means you can get LED covers if you'd like to change the colour of the backlighting later on, something that doesn't work nearly as well with coloured backlighting.

As we've come to expect with modern backlit boards, the board has various lighting profiles to provide a little more variety than just having the entire board lit up. The lighting profiles available out of box (firmware version 1.15) are:

  • All keys fully lit (independent of keypress)
  • All keys breathing effect (independent of keypress)
  • 'ActivLite', lights up, then turns off on release (on keypress)
  • 'ActivLite', lights up, then fades off on release (on keypress)
  • Individual key dims and gets brighter (on keypress)
  • Esc permanently lit, F1 lights up (on Esc keypress)

After updating to firmware version 1.20 a new mode is added, diagonal and horizontal stripes light up from a pressed key.

More custom lighting profiles can also be assigned to F9 through F12 using the inbuilt 'Backlighting Profile Management' option, as outlined in the included documentation. This allows you to choose which keys you want lit up in a given profile.

Media Keys

Another nice feature of the Rapid-I is the media key functionality of the board. As you'd expect, there are the usual media key controls:

  • Fn + Ins = Play/ Pause
  • Fn + Del = Stop
  • Fn + Home = Forward
  • Fn + End = Backward
  • Fn + Page Up = Volume Up
  • Fn + Page Down = Volume Down

I personally like to see media controls on the keyboard, and this format of having them in the function layer is arguably the best implementation for the TKL form factor. My reasoning for this is that it doesn't add any extra size to the board like you'd see if the board had dedicated media keys.

Repeat Rate

FN + F5 through F8 allows you to change the repeat rate of the keyboard, allowing rapid execution of a key from a single keypress.

Windows Lock Key

Fn + Prt Scr locks the Windows key to prevent accidental opening of the start menu in-game, this has almost become a standard feature on mechanical keyboards nowadays, but it's nice to see it on the Rapid-I nonetheless.

Summary

The Rapid-I has a decent albeit fairly standard set of features, pretty much what we've come to expect from this type of TKL backlit mechanical keyboard. The design and feature set reminds me very much of the now discontinued Ducky Shine 3, which is a good thing as many people (myself included) like to see a TKL board that's fairly simple in terms of it's design and features. Some people like RGB lighting, dozens of macro keys and dedicated media keys, but many people prefer a board with a smaller footprint on your desk and less extra stuff that they may not use very often.

Cost and Coverage

Cost: ~ $135

Coverage: 2 years limited warranty. Note: Damages caused from improperly removing keycaps aren't covered by the warranty.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a great keyboard, I think it takes the place of the discontinued Ducky Shine 3 as my favourite TKL backlit board. Even if the Shine 3 were still available, I think this board is better in a few ways, particularly the design and quality of the outer casing. I'd highly recommend this keyboard to anyone looking for a less flashy backlit TKL keyboard.

Pros:
  • Great overall design.
  • Build quality is great.
  • White backlighting, allowing for use of LED covers.
  • Standard layout.
  • White mounting plate.

Cons:
  • Micro USB port not in an ideal location.
  • Font might not be liked by some.
  • No new features that really impressed me.
  • Would like to see better keycaps.
Note: I haven't listed the issues with my particular review sample in the cons as I can't be sure this is a systematic problem.

If you feel there's anything I've missed out or if there's anything else you'd like to know about the keyboard, let me know!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,656 Posts
how is the PCB mounting on this keyboard?

I have a quickfire TK and if i press the F9-12 or keys within its proximity the cluster slightly harder the entire PCB creaks and the cluster sinks down into the keyboard due to the lack of PCB support in that area, found that out when i opened it up

PS i'd love to enter your giveaway but too bad ISO layout isnt for me
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
All the switches are mounted securely to the plate, so I can't feel any flex when pressing down on keycaps.
smile.gif


And yeah, unfortunately I can only get one layout for review.
tongue.gif
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
Did the damage on the PCB cause any functional issue, or were they just cosmetic?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by morencyam View Post

Did the damage on the PCB cause any functional issue, or were they just cosmetic?
I haven't noticed any issues with failed or repeated keypresses, or any backlight issues, so it seems just to be cosmetic.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,898 Posts
Thanks. I'm wanting a new board. My old logitech takes up way too much room on my desk. I had a Quickfire Rapid TKL and loved the size, but was not a fan of the blue switches at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
What concerns me about this keyboard is that you plug the micro USB cable directly into the back of the keyboard without any cable management to reduce strain. I don't know how sturdy these connectors are, but could this be asking for trouble in the long run once you pulled on that cable or moved the keyboard one to many times?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadGear View Post

What concerns me about this keyboard is that you plug the micro USB cable directly into the back of the keyboard without any cable management to reduce strain. I don't know how sturdy these connectors are, but could this be asking for trouble in the long run once you pulled on that cable or moved the keyboard one to many times?
Hi, you raise a good point, I didn't cover that properly in the review, so I've added my thoughts in:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm84 View Post

This is an unusual choice of location for the connector, many competing TKL boards have the connector hidden on the underside of the board with cable routing to prevent accidental damage to the socket. To make the location of the port more viable for those with little space on their desk, the included USB cable has a right angle connector, so the cable doesn't stick out from the back of the board, making it easy for the port to get damaged. However, this means there isn't any flexibility for how the cable needs to be routed, the cable travels left down the width of the board. This may not be ideal for people like myself, who have their desktop on the right side of their desk.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top