CM Havoc Gaming Mouse and QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard ReviewBluePanda -
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CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Closer Look:
Changing things up a bit from the original layout for this review – let us first dig into the QuickFire XT (don't worry, the Havoc is on the next page). Out of the box, the XT comes with a little more than the keyboard itself and that paperwork you always toss to the side to never be found again. The XT also has four red WASD replacement keys that sport arrows on top and the WASD lettering in stealth mode. A CM and CM Storm logo key are also supplied to replace the standard Windows keys. All are nice and subtle and if you didn’t use the red keys, it may even fit in for a new office keyboard; as long as your neighbors can handle the click clack of a true mechanical keyboard. A convenient key puller is in the packaging as well to help with the changing of the keys. The QuickFire XT plugs in via a double-ended USB A cable that can easily connect to the PS/2 dongle included allowing you to get all your PS/2 dreams resolved. Although it doesn't include the kitchen sink, you have plenty to work with right away.
The keyboard itself right out of the box is pretty clean; like advertised there isn't a lot of obvious branding. The extra keys can have some minimal branding, but the keyboard has minimal looks to scream what it is. I really like how simplistic it looks and how it leaves you wondering a bit where it's from. The back gives a hint at what it is with the S/N sticker with a big XT logo. So if you ever wonder what is on the backside – well nothing exciting (as expected).
The backside does have a little more worth mentioning. Just like even the crappiest of keyboards out there, this one has feet! Yes, feet! You can lift it up a tiny bit if you are one of those that like that weird balance I can't seem to understand (no matter how much I've tried). However, there are some awesome rubber feet back here on all four corners for grip with the feet up or down – so either which way, the back wins. There's no chasing this keyboard around your desk as you type; it sure as hell hardly budges on my glass desk. Flipping it over gets us to the wonderful simplistic front of this keyboard…
My first instinct with mechanical keyboards is to start pulling keys off. I always love looking at what glorious switches lie beneath the key caps (though I've seen them all at this point). The sweet mechanical nature of their design and their durability to continue their click clack sound is beautiful. Today's CM XT comes in blue switches; but you can also get my favorite Greens, as wells as the option of Reds or Browns (both lowest on my list of choices). So the point is, no matter what you like, you can pretty much order it with this board. I tend to like a little heavier key with more CLACK!
While the keys were off (obviously I plucked the WASD for a reason), I swapped in the extra gaming caps with their vibrant red color. The caps have directional arrows on the tops and stealth mode letters on the side. Since the stealth model came out, more and more of this awesome printing is being incorporated on their next of kin. One of the Cooler Master logo key caps can be seen here replacing the windows key and the other in the next shot – this one is the fancy CM Storm logo. You can put them in either place or not use them at all. It's the fun part of custom keys…do what you want.
If you didn't see it or hadn't figured it out yet, the CM XT comes with a full number pad. Most of you know how I feel about number pads – I love 'em. It's great to have the option to have one. It really doesn't make this keyboard much larger either, albeit wider, but still not a big keyboard. You should also notice the top row of the number keys is the 1x to 4x repeat options for your PS/2 connection (just use the FN key between the right CTRL and right Windows keys.
The function keys continue up to the actual function key row (F5-F12). The F5 through F8 sub-function keys provide you with the traditional audio keys: pause/play, stop, reverse (back), and forward. The following F9 through F12 give you the remaining audio options and the ever wonderful Windows lock option with a red lighted indicator. F9 provides you the Windows lock while F10, F11, and F12 leave you with volume mute, volume down, and volume up, respectively. Great options without adding too much cluster to the keyboard – but it does add a FN/shift sort of key to access them. I will tell you now – no drivers, and they work straight from the box. Kudos.
The last bits of the CM XT I want to leave you with before moving on to the Havoc mouse you've so patiently (not!) been waiting for. The back edge of the keyboard is the only location of branding beyond the added optional keycaps. A simple CM Storm logo and "CMSTORM" written out in white and red are all that gloats about what gear you're using. It's simple and really wouldn't be seen at most desks. I like the lack of branding personally. On the other corner of the same back edge (right above the num pad) is the plug location USB A to USB A. It's a simple braided cable that allows you to quickly plug and unplug for easy on-the-go gaming – well, as long as you don't misplace your cable.