CM Havoc Gaming Mouse and QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Review

BluePanda - 2013-08-03 21:24:50 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: September 25, 2013
Price: $54.99, $89.99

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse and QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Introduction:

Cooler Master's lineup of peripheral members has been ever growing. Yet, we haven't reviewed a CM Mouse here at OCC in a while; the last two being the CM Storm Recon and CM Sentinel Advance II. Today the mouse branch grows another leaf further with the CM Havoc Gaming Mouse. The CM Havoc is a gaming mouse designed with precision in mind, capable of 8200DPI. Equipped with Japanese Omron micro-switches, you won't be able to use up all five million plus clicks any time soon. For those of you in love with the palm grip, as opposed to the claw grip, you'll be happy to hear that this was designed with you in mind. Taking on the palm grip style, the Havoc has a longer and fat body for you large-handed folk.

CM's series of keyboards has had a long growing branch of mechanical options as well. Personally, I've handled the CM QuickFire Pro, CM QuickFire TK, CM QuickFire Stealth, and now the CM QuickFire XT. There doesn't seem to be a major change between each new version of the QuickFire, but the subtleties and options with each make each one unique in itself. The key factors making the XT its own board are the available switch types (red, blue, brown, green), USB A connector type, and the ability to get stealth keys on the full size, 104-key keyboard. The XT also has the option of a red, back, steel-plated option with the red switch type (we saw this type of coloring on the TK with the blue plate behind the keys). Ultimately the tree branches keep on growing, seemingly no matter the season; keep reading to find out what these new additions really have to offer.

 

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse and QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Closer Look:

Starting the review off right with the good old box pictures, the QuickFire XT and Havoc both look like they belong together, sporting their CM Storm branding. Both boxes are black with the red and white striping at the upper right and the full Cooler Master logo in the upper left. Each box makes it obvious what's inside by showing off full color images of the product itself. Ultimately it matters what is inside these boxes; nonetheless the pretty box does provide quite the attraction on the shelf, if you buy your product in a store. I won't begin my rant about "pretty" boxes here, as most of you know my opinion on that already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focusing on the CM QuickFire XT, the box for this mechanical keyboard makes it quite obvious as to what keys it's packing and where it was made as well. With a quick sticker, the box is easily changed from Cherry MX Red, Brown, Green, or in this case Blue. Another sticker shows the box coming from Taiwan or…well I'm not exactly sure where else. The back of the box goes on to list some features in ten different languages, with English being the most dominant in large, bold, red letters. There are no pictures to go with the features this time – I see CM is finally starting to take the more simple route in packaging.

 

 

A glance back at the CM Havoc gaming mouse box shows us a fiery mouse. The box shows off the mouse with flames burning below it; it's a mouse that is on fire – we hope not literally. "Havoc" is below the picture of the mouse with metal cut-out letters held in place with imaginary rivets. Written sideways on the front cover is "Professional Gaming Mouse" as to bring it into its own classification of the market – I'm guessing there's at least one pro gamer out there who has at least held one. The back returns to simple packaging and reads out the specifications in English. A few barcodes cover the bottom corner along with four regions of contact information including: Asia Pacific, China, Europe, and the USA.

Opening up the front Velcro cover lets us take a look at what is to come out of the box soon. In nice form-fitted plastic, the Havoc gaming mouse shows off its curves. The panel shows off some key features of the mouse presented in a few additional color images. Things to look forward to include: the four indicators for DPI, 128KB memory for profiles and macros, customizable color options, rubber side grips, Japanese Omron switches, and eight programmable buttons. There's a lot there to get excited for, so let's hope it shows up come testing time.

 

 

Cracking open both boxes, we can be a little excited for what is to come. Both boxes come with their own package details; both including a warranty pamphlet and quick operating instructions. Keep reading to get a closer look of both the CM Havoc and CM QuickFire XT!

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.

 

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Closer Look:

Switching gears a little while still remaining on the topic of input devices controlling your computer, we jump to the CM Havoc gaming mouse. Designed specifically for gaming and all of us palm grippers, it has a fat booty. Quite literally. This is quite a bit fatter than the general line of mice I've recently reviewed. It somewhat goes on to mimic Logitech in their golden day mice. But we'll talk more on it in use later. The CM Havoc comes packaged with itself and two little pamphlets – nothing else. Sweet and simple, exactly what you paid for…a mouse!

Starting with the top down profile, the mouse is quite nice looking. It does have a big rear end, but the top view doesn't really portray it – I think my hand adjusting to it at first from a smaller mouse really accentuates this. The top, as well as the scroll wheel, has the nice matte rubbery coating making it soft. This also keeps it dry in the hotter months of gaming when the A/C bill is just a little too much to maintain. The bottom of the mouse has two massive skates that run the entire left and right of the mouse. There is an additional skate at the bottom edge, about the size of your average mouse skate to help keep the glide smooth even with a heavy palm. There isn't one at the top, but it doesn't seem to create any drag with the balance of the mouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left side of the mouse continues the matte rubbery texture along with the addition of an actual rubber grip for the thumb. It's ribbed and surprisingly difficult to slide your thumb across the grooves with even a little pressure applied; seems perfect for gaming, or really just a solid grip. There are three buttons for your thumb to use, with some semi-odd default settings. I will say the button configuration isn't as weird as some we've seen in the past, with the front button being the explorer forward, middle button the back button, and the real odd one being the rear button as a default double-click option. So, it is a little weird, but there is some software you can download from the CM website that allows you to make these buttons about anything you desire.

 

 

The mouse continues its smooth looks from the front with a clean simple plug attachment, clean scroll wheel and a glimpse of the two up/down arrowed buttons. The back of the mouse really shows off its large rear end. If you look closely you can see a glimpse of the CM Storm logo. Just ahead you'll see that indeed it does light up there (even further ahead, in the software you'll have the option of seven color choices). From the back, the mouse appears to have a very "swoopy" body that leans to the right a little as if it had perhaps a drink too many. The left indent for the thumb looks smooth front to back – but if you recall from the left profile, it's a little harsher in stepping than it appears. The matte rubber edge does end up above the CM Storm logo where the hard line cuts through the mouse. From there down it's simply the matte plastic rather than the glossy shown on the right. Main point here is to enjoy the fat butt.

 

 

Overall the mouse is generally pretty simple in appearance. It isn't overly flashy with something crazy to make it stand out. Usually the ones with flaps/wings that try to stand out aren't very comfortable and lose at some categories of judgment. In this case, the mouse has three left buttons, some lights for indicating mouse profile, a scroll wheel, and a couple buttons for DPI switching, or whatever you desire. It's nothing too crazy yet fits quite well in the palm of your hand – it's like it was designed to be a mouse!

 

These last pictures provide you a taste at some of the color options available to the mouse. Ultimately you'll have access to set it to one of the following: red, white, yellow, green, blue, teal, or pink. The wheel, DPI arrows, and CM Storm logo all change with the color choice for a nice added touch to whatever your favorite is at your desk. For me, I'll leave it on the blue. I will say that the four DPI level indicators on the upper left remain red no matter what. However, I will also note that what you see here appears to be a pre-production version with the red indicators. The production version appears to light up in a very subtle white that you hardly notice without taking a true top-down look. All in all, it's quite nice to make things match at your desk!

 

 

 

 

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse and QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Closer Look (The Software):

The CM Storm software for peripheral devices generally tends to be "good". It's rather straight forward in setup and pretty easy to figure out without needing help. The same applies to the software for the CM Havoc Gaming Mouse (there's no need for software on the XT). The software starts up with a simple loading screen with the CM Storm logo and a red to black gradient background. The red loading bar is part of this smaller window letting you know something is happening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The software opens in full with the Main screen to the Havoc mouse. An image of the mouse itself provides indication to numbers 1-8 to show you what you are changing. The drop-down options provide you with fun rapid fire options, traditional IE Forward/Back, left click, right click, and access to your macro options (which you can set up in a couple tabs). The bottom edge shows you which profile you are set to and allows you to assign images of 42 x 42 pixels to really claim them as yours.

The advanced tab opens up options for the four cyclic DPI levels from 200DPI all the way up to the maximum 8200DPI. You can set your X and Y sensitivities differently or lock them to be the same (the normal option) and even lower your polling rate if you want. The color options I mentioned earlier are here with the ability to turn off lighting completely, add a breathing effect, or shoot with rapid fire. It's all up to you. The typical OS settings for sensitivity, double-click speed, and response time can all be played with and adjusted here.

 

 

The ever-popular macro tab opens up next. You have near freedom in setting up about any macro you can think of. You can record up to 256 options/clicks/button presses, etc. You can change timings to a perfect milliseconds change over what you humanly can do. You can save them locally and/or to the mouse for your use on the go. For fun, I set up a pretend macro that spams HIHIHIHI for whatever reason…it's just so easy to set up, you can do (almost) whatever you want.

 

 

The "Profiles" tab allows you to save and build profiles locally and determine which three make it to the mouse. You can see on the left I was working on setting up a "Blue" profile that would ultimately replace one of the default three on the mouse. The 0th position is saved for the CM Havoc settings, which are just default settings you can always return to and guarantee yourself a working mouse when you get overzealous with macros and forget to set a left click button. The "Library" stores all the macros you develop over time and allows you to import and export them so you may share them with your friends.

 

 

The final tab is the standard support/update tab, allowing you to jump to the CM Storm website directly to gain access to updates and any online support for the product you may need. You can also access your current version information here so you know whether the most recent software is newer than what you have or not.

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Specifications and Features:

Specifications:

Part Number:
SGM-4002-KLLN1
Available Color:
Black
Body Coating Material:
Rubber Paint
Sensor:
Avago 9800 laser Sensor
DPI:
8200
Programmable Buttons:
8
Onboard Memory:
128KB
Polling Rate:
1000Hz / 1ms
Velocity:
Up to 150 ips
Acceleration:
30G
Dimensions (W x H x D):
85 x 120 x 45mm / 3.3 x 4.6 x 1.7 inches
Weight:
140g / 0.3 lb

 

Features:

Information courtesy of: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/peripherals/Havoc/

 

 

CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Specifications and Features:

Specifications:

Part Number:
SGK-4030-GKCL1 (Blue switch)
N Key Rollover:
N Key in PS/2 mode
Repeat Rate:
4 levels (PS/2 mode)
Interface:
USB/PS2
Windows Key Locks:
Yes, both sides
Media Keys:
Yes (via F keys)
Keycap Puller:
Yes
USB Cable:
Removable, USB A Connector
Dimensions:
440(L) x 132(W) x 29(H) mm
Weight:
1100g

 

Features:

Information courtesy of: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/keyboards/QuickFireXT/

 

Testing:

Cooler Master's CM Storm Havoc Gaming Mouse was definitely put through over a week of use and testing. During this time, it was used in everyday use, surfing the Internet, Photoshopping, and of course some gaming. As a mouse is personal to each and every individual, how it responds in these various tasks is important in different ways to everyone. A keyboard is much the same. As such, it is best to provide you the feedback from use rather than assigning made up numbers trying to compare one mouse or keyboard to another. It's pretty easy to distinguish the likes and dislikes of a mouse or keyboard through words rather than leaving it to you to decide what a 7 or 8 really means. No guessing game – here's what I liked, and here's what I hated. 

Testing Setup:

 

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Results:

Everyday Use:

Alright, so I mentioned this mouse has a big butt…but really it's just me coming from a prior skinny bodied mouse. The grip at first feels a little unnatural; and for me being one to frequently switch mice for review, I've never had such an awkward first fit. I will say it only took one use to really get a feel for it and I never noticed a "weirdness" again. I partially blame the small mouse prior to its use. I used to be a big fan of the MX-510, which still resides as a backup in the closet. This mouse is a bit wider for sure, but not quite as long.

That gives you a real feel for the shape and size of this mouse, but on to actually using it. Every day; not a problem. The scroll wheel is uber solid and only scrolls when your finger says to. There's no accidental scroll sitting on the wheel and no annoying clicks – just a little noise when you rapid scroll a page or so (like you'd see/expect with any other mouse). At a reading paced scroll, it's rather quiet. Changing the buttons around a little to my preferred placement for IE Back/Forward made the mouse very comfortable to use and easy to navigate web pages as I would any ordinary day.

 

Working:

For work it's always a little harder to judge a mouse. For me "work" typically involves typing, so a keyboard takes the brunt of things there. For a mouse, I like to run myself through a few photos in Photoshop to see where it struggles. This mouse did great. It was easy to adjust DPI and sensitivity in different profiles to get what I needed. It was accurate enough and controlled to the point where it was easy to grab pixels I wanted without zooming into them until they are the size of the pointer. The mouse is just comfortable in general, so relaxing and getting work done can and do go in the same sentence in this case.

 

Gaming:

So it's not a real game, but the Cookie Clicker flash game all the forum nuts seemed to be hooked on for a bit was actually a motivation to really play with the software on this mouse. A game involving rapid clicking is perfect for setting up a macro to do it for you. In this case the "rapid fire" option was built in for setting a button to which lead me to an awesome cookie producer in no time.

Flash games, and speed clicking aside, the mouse did pretty well in tracking for game play. The button clicks are nice (not too soft, not too hard). The fit of the mouse to the hand became very comfortable despite my grown taste for skinny mice.

 

 

CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Results:

Everyday Use:

A lot of times, any old keyboard will work on a day to basis as long as the keys all register and you can eventually get your thoughts onto the screen. I will admit there is a limit to this, as laptop chicklit keys drive me nuts – even when they all do their job. However, the XT from CM is nothing like chicklits and is well beyond just functioning. With the blue switches, I'm very happy typing an email to my boss, posting stupid things on the forums, or just dorking around with little flash games. The keys have a confident sound and feel to their click and reassure your mind of the press or the mis-press in some cases. It is a bit loud for a shared office and can annoy your buddies even if you aren't a heavy typer. Like I always recommend with mechs, I suggest the use of some rubber o-rings to quiet things down – it keeps the noise down, while leaving you with the same great feel. Anyway…for everyday use, if you know how to type, this keyboard is well above par.

 

Working:

On the working side of things, most of you know one of my key breaking points: num pad or no num pad. Well this one doesn't even have to go to battle as it has a fully incorporated num pad at my fingertips. Though it's not a defining characteristic of a good vs. no-good keyboard, it can make or break some of your working habits. For example, I complain a lot when there isn't one, as I work a lot with spreadsheets and prefer the num pad. That being said, when I'm writing code, I don’t care if I have a num pad or not. A lot comes down to the work you are doing. Otherwise it falls in the same category as everyday use. It's easy enough to use, though the media keys are a little hard to remember the FN key in a pinch. But essentially it's a fine keyboard for working – that is again if you don't share an office or have people that will be annoyed by the noise of your typing.

 

Gaming:

Gaming is always a completely different animal when it comes to keyboards compared to everyday use and working. Being able to type nicely and having a number pad doesn't matter as much when it comes to walking around with WASD, or picking up an item with E, or jumping quickly with the spacebar (or whatever your choice of keys may be). Sticky keys, wobbly keys, and keys that simply don't work are quick failures to gaming. Being able to dodge an enemy and jump on command are key in fast paced or even non-fast paced games – it's simply key (no pun intended) to get the reaction you expect  from your input device. The CM Storm XT does things just perfectly. With the tactile response, you know what you pressed, when you pressed it, and you get the response on the screen immediately. The only time you don’t is when you may have broken something – though these keys seem to handle my rage poundings quite well. The red keycaps for gaming's WASD positions are a nice touch, though besides teaching a five year old how to use them, I have no real attraction to it other than looks. I don't look at a keyboard when I use it – hardly ever. I touch type and I guess you can say touch game as well – no need to look down. Besides some aesthetics for the office – the changed keys are just that: neat. Overall, I found no issues in gaming. I have been hitting Dragon Age again – and even as mad as Morigan makes me, I've had no problems getting around and getting what I need done – though I will agree this is more oriented toward mouse play. Nonetheless, I'm a picky person; you would know if the XT wasn't up to the challenge.

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Conclusion:

Overall I really enjoyed the CM Havoc gaming mouse. I usually don't go for the fat mice, but this is one you can definitely be a chubby chaser for and still be thought of as okay. It is definitely set to fancy those with a palm grip and despite having small hands there's not too much there. It is built nice and sturdy and even some rage smashes of the mouse have not shown any instant signs of loss. The little bit of lighting really adds to the mouse in my opinion; for some reason I fall into the category of loving a little bit of customization through a little bit of lighting on my peripherals. The lighting is subtle enough and you can turn it off completely without it looking like it is broken. I didn’t like that I couldn’t have my full RGB spectrum, but I can settle with the standard options provided. The mouse glides quite well even on the cheapest of mouse pads and is great for many hours of game play, work, and whatever else you use your mouse for. It's just a nice simple connection between you and your machine.

 

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Pros:

CM Havoc Gaming Mouse Cons:

 

 

 

CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Conclusion:

Besides getting some butter from my popcorn on the keys as I typed this review, the QuickFire XT is another good keyboard from the CM QuickFire lineup. I will say the style isn't a lot different from the other QuickFire items and is starting to show its wear on the market as another of the same kind. Its lack of wild branding and flashiness does make this a nice keyboard to sneak into the office without being caught mashing away on your glowing keys or any Razer keyboard. Then you can be happy typing away rather than sad mashing at those Microsoft keyboards or Mac chicklits all day long. It doesn't have anything exceptional with it – no need for drivers and fancy software – but I guess that's what attracts me to it a little bit. I still don't love the need for a function key (FN) to access my media keys, but this seems to be becoming a common thing, at least to keep the size down on most keyboards. I like the Cherry MX Blues as they click and clack away – as a fan of Greens, this isn't too far a step down in pressure. But they do offer this in just about all switch types, so pick your favorite. Overall, I am generally pleased with this one.

 

CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Pros:

CM QuickFire XT Mechanical Keyboard Cons: