The guys from Coolermaster India have sent a Quick Fire Pro with Cherry Black keys for evaluation- a full-sized keyboard with partial lighting and the goodness that CM Storm’s Quick Fire Rapid has.
Things will be pretty interesting to see how good this keyboard is. As of now, I’ve tested few mechanical gaming keyboards- Razer’s Ultimate stealth elite edition (or was it Ultimate Stealth edition Elite?), Red and Black key version of Quick Fire Rapid.
To recap what I’ve said about Quick Fire Rapid with Cherry Black keys:
While these keys are great for gaming because of much stronger bump/feedback resistance/ “feel heavier” compared to others (Red, Blue and Brown), my fingers were tired when I started typing these. The squeak on some keys I’ve mentioned above made it more unpleasant.
I would like to really like if I don’t see this happening on this board, but an impression was made that it’s not going to happen.
Standard carton box with the usual CM Storm design. They have clearly stated Cherry black keys on the front and all the features with necessary illustrations on the other side of the box. Coolermaster could’ve mentioned the warranty period on the box.
I received the board, the threaded USB cable and a key puller with the usual quick start guide. You might want to take a look at the quick start guide to know how to switch between 6KRO and NKRO. There’s no USB-to-PS2 converter provided. Unlike Quick Fire Rapid, you don’t get the extra red coloured WASD keys. You wouldn’t need it because this is a partial backlit keyboard. You do get a key puller, but it would be preferable if manufacturers (and not just Coolermaster alone) give tips/cleaning instructions with the quick start guide too. This is the time when gamers will be tempted to slowly shift towards mechanical keyboards once they get enough cash (especially LAN gamers who participate in a lot of tournaments).
|Advertised Specs||CM Storm Quick Fire Pro|
|Key Switch||CHERRY Black / Blue/ Brown/ Red|
|N-Key Rollover||6/Full N Key|
|Windows Key Disable||Yes|
|Interface||USB 2.0 Full Speed|
|Cable Length||1.8 m|
|Dimensions||454(L) x 155(W) x 31(H) mm|
17.9(L) x 6.1 (W) x 1.2(H) inch
|Weight||1300 g / 2.86 lb..|
This board is pretty heavy but considering that this is a full-sized keyboard and the built quality I don’t really mind it.
The plastic shell of this keyboard is very strong, especially the underbelly of the keyboard. The top shell and the keys are most likely made of PBT Plastic. To those who do not know, PBT Plastic is used in keyboards that are at a premium cost. The benefit is that that they are resistant to solvents and the keycaps don’t develop a shine on the keycaps due to prolonged use.
To give a good idea of the shine, I am comparing the keys from CM Storm Quick Fire Pro with TVSe Gold keyboard that I use almost all the time. Do note that I’ve typed 3 reviews and few articles+ some games with this keyboard- but I’ve used TVS Gold Keyboard for more than 1 year and that board uses ABS plastic with pad printing. Do also note that I cleaned the keys on my board using isopropyl alcohol:
The keycaps are of cylindrical shape The keys have adequate space between them and the shape The fonts on the keyboard are later etched, but the plastic of the buttons are of premium quality and they have a good feel to it.
It does have a con.
I got this board with the cable attached so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is used/tested/reviewed by someone else. When I received it, the keyboard was not able to be detected. After informing CM India I got a replacement cable.
The board uses mini USB to a USB port. While it is a good idea to have a removable braided cable especially when you’re travelling to a LAN centre and/or simple change to another cable if the ones you have been spoilt- the cable management is something I would like to see some minor changes.
First the cable management:
The section doesn’t have enough space connect and route the cable properly. I wish there was an option to keep the cable straight as shown below:
If I keep the cable straight, the section highlighted in green doesn’t have a hole to route through. Rather you have to bend the cable and route through the hole highlighted in blue.
If you look at the cable, the port’s plastic jacket secures the connection to the keyboard, but the section where the cable is bent is awfully close to the connector. Too much tension might create some problem with the cabling, and if the user doesn’t make an effort to remove the cable- there is a chance that the cable might be damaged. Maybe the previous cable that I had was a lemon- or maybe it was not. Whether you route through the left, right or rear cable routing groove- that part of the cable is bend- and the braiding is very strong- all the more concern I am pointing towards an oversight that should not have been there.
You will need to use that groove to reroute the cable unless you don’t want the board to wobble because of the cable’s bump, but if you’re using the retractable feet on the board then you will not have the need to worry about that.
The rubber grip on the underbelly of the board does a good job of keeping the board in place.
As stated in the specs, it is only some of the keys have LED backlit.
The buttons that have illumination are as follows:
You can toggle the LED on/off, brightness level and backlit mode after to turn on the Function “FN” key. Also, note that it also toggles with the media playback options. The F12 key turns off the windows button.
I wasn’t sure that it would be a good idea to have a partially lit board but to be honest I prefer it if I am a guy who plays games most of the time. Mechanical boards are expensive, some need some illumination especially while playing. Complete illumination ends up with a higher premium. It makes sense to have the best key to gaming, well-built quality and a very good quality keycaps with laser etching and some backlit. It’s not going to be cheap as membrane counterparts, but the cost should significantly reduce. On the bright side, all keys have mechanical keys. I know that Corsair has a keyboard with some of the keys are membrane- most likely to reduce cost- but if Quick Rapid had partial lightning and didn’t have that issue in certain keys I would not have hesitated in giving at least 4 out of 10. I know many reviewers are taken it as a con that it does not have a Numpad, but they should have thought that cherry black would most unlikely be used by typists because the force feedback that you get while pressing will tire you out. It’s the best you can get for gaming but prepare for some sore fingers if you’re using cherry black keys for typing. I wouldn’t mind if there was no Numpad on the keyboard because Quick Fire Rapid made it very obvious that they were pitching it to those who have a personal PC for gaming and maybe go to LAN gaming. Just how many of those people would need numpads with mechanical keys?
But since mechanical keyboards have that thickness that gamers who shifting from the membrane to mechanical would take time to adjust due to lack of wrist support, I would be very happy if Coolermaster had a wrist rest add-on rather than including Numpad on this keyboard. If that happened on this board with same built quality and with the cable routing issue fixed- this is the best keyboard to buy provided the end user has the budget to buy it.
There are multimedia keys between F5 and F11. There are two additional functions on this board: 6KRO/NKRO button that toggles with Insert and Delete key- and options between polling: 8MS (125Hz), 4MS (250Hz), 2MS (500Hz)and 1MS (1000Hz). To change the rollover option, you need to press and hold Key “N” and press either Insert or Delete key. Similarly to switch between polling rates you need to press and hold “P. Do note that though you can change the setting out of the box, everytime you change them the keyboard reinstalls itself in the system.
Also, I found a minor misprint on the quick start guide:
6KRO/NKRO testing and Initial Impressions
Since I type a lot, I did not feel any difference in polling rate, even while gaming. Few companies have started emphasizing on 1000Hz/1ms polling rate. while its known to make a difference in a gaming mouse, I didn’t find anything special in having polling rates as an option. Its also well known that higher polling rates use more CPU time. Also, in USB mode typically you can use up to 6KRO. Its only in the PS/2 pin. I am partially disappointed that motherboard manufacturers in certain higher end boards – especially gaming motherboard manufacturers- are ditching the PS/2 pin, even the keyboard/mouse PS/2 pin connector. Even if one says that CPU usage is “minor”, PS/2 pin has the advantage of NKRO- and there’s no polling rate via PS/2 pin. You do lose a USB port, but on the bright side, USB lets you install the keyboard/hot-swap. PS/2, unfortunately, requires you to restart if you’re switching between keyboards.
SteelSeries, another company that makes gaming hardware, says so clearly in their 6G V2’s product page:
“We absolutely recommend using the PS/2 connector when possible. First, it will give you total freedom with no limit to the amount of simultaneous key presses. And, equally as important, using the PS/2 may just improve your overall gaming experience. The reason is that when you use a USB keyboard your computer is actually using CPU time polling your keyboard. The higher the polling rate the more CPU time is used to perform the polling. And because of the built-in debounce rate found on any quality keyboard, any polling rate above 200Hz is simply a waste of CPU time and really just a result of pointless marketing hype. Unlike USB keyboards a PS/2 keyboard isn’t polled at all. The keyboard simply sends a signal to the computer as key presses are made, which causes a hardware interrupt, forcing the CPU to register the signal.”
But going by the article above and after reading few guides that you find while Quick Pro doesn’t come with a USB-to-PS/2 adapter- so does Full NKRO REALLY work in USB mode after enabling it?
The following screenshots are taken at 4MS polling rate and with NKRO enabled:
NKRO does work in USB mode. Not that I’ve doubted from Coolermaster, and I was told being told that there’s probably one more mechanical keyboard that does the same, but this is the first time I am seeing a mechanical keyboard with Full NKRO support via USB. I’ve asked Coolermaster the usual “How did you do that?” question. I didn’t get a reply yet, but I’ll post the update here.
Since the 6+ keystrokes are getting registered at the same time, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the most common keystroke combos pass with flying colours:
Edit: Coolermaster said that Quick Fire Pro is able to support NKRO in USB mode because we did this via the Firmware.
Even after restarts and shutdowns, the board does remember the previous Key Rollover.
Other than that, Coolermaster should mention the warranty period on the box. It is not even on the Quickstart guide. I appreciate that they included a key remover. It will be great if maintenance instructions/cleaning guide comes with it, giving all the instructions an end user will need to keep the board clean.
USA, European Region and rest of the world come with 2 years warranty as mentioned in the product sheet in the product page’s PDF file.
If you really need a wrist- rest attachment, you can use a 3M Gel Wrist. This is a great keyboard to buy if you’re a gamer for the price and the warranty period. Just take care of unplugging it when you’re taking it around in a backpack and ensure that part of the cable isn’t bent.
Since a lot of end users are not gamers, there isn’t a board well within Rs. 3,000/- that’s great for typing and with all the Macro keys (and launch software) and backlit illumination. There was Sidewinder X6 from Microsoft, but few dealers told that they don’t get the stocks of that keyboard anymore, most likely phased out. The question now remains- who is going to grab this spot?