CM QuickFire Pro Mechanical Keyboard Review

BluePanda - 2012-04-05 16:14:02 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: April 25, 2012
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

Cooler Master is at it again, releasing a whole new lineup of gaming gear. I got a little peak and even played with a few of the things that are to be coming out over the next month and you shouldn't be disappointed; there is a lot to look forward to. Recently released was the CM Storm QuickFire Pro mechanical keyboard - a daughter product to the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid that was released over a year or so ago. They have a similar look with similar keys, but the QuickFire Pro has a full number pad and added red LEDs for those of you who haven't gone to mechanical because you'd lose your matching theme.

Having been on the market for almost a month now and at my hands for a week or so, let's get a closer look at what makes the CM Storm QuickFire Pro so special, and help you decide if it shall be showing up on your doorstep anytime soon.

Closer Look:

The keyboard box sure attempts for the wow factor with lightning bolts, lots of graphics, and flashy fonts and swooshes. If nothing else it will have you picking it up off the shelf next to the boring boxed competitors at your local computer hardware store. I can't say most boxes ever impress me too much, as I generally shop around online for the products I want and tend to care a little more about what the product itself looks like. Cooler Master has put thought into packaging for many of its products and are all definitely attention getters regardless of whether you purchase things online or not. You feel like you've got something neat when you open up that brown box at the end of the day either way.

The front reads out CM Storm with QuickFire Pro in big letters. A real picture of the keyboard with the keys lit up is shown with a small box at the bottom right corner indicating which key switch is enclosed. For me, I've got the CHERRY MX Brown, a slightly more clicky key that gives a better feel for the actual switch itself (in my opinion).

The back of the box has a list of features in nine different languages with four action photos on the right. I'm not sure if this box is a part of a poorly printed batch or if all the printing has come this way, but I can barely make out what the pictures are because they are so dark. The reflections of light and the camera seem to help show the images a little better, but in person I'm tilting the box to every angle trying to figure it out – makes me look like an older person reading it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this angle of the box you can see a little better what these pictures are on the back of the box. The top left shows the insides of a CHERRY MX switch, the top right a highlighted keyboard showing the NKRO in USB mode, a really dark picture at the bottom left of the partial backlighting, and route pattern arrows in the bottom right showing the cable placement options.

One corner of the box shows in 21 different languages "Mechanical Gaming Keyboard –QuickFire Pro, for more information please visit our website…" A quick read to find out where to find more information about the product as well as other products. The edges of the box were all pretty neat allowing you to know what product it is without really having to rotate the box much. Each side has Storm Tactics or QuickFire Pro written somewhere on it.

 

 

 

Enough about the box. I say I don't care a whole lot about the box, but then I babble on and on about it; sorry. Inside it is packaged well. The keyboard comes in a nice foam bag with a plastic protective cover. The cardboard boxed in area at the top has the USB cable and key puller hidden. A quick start guide is underneath the keyboard ready to answer your questions about the function keys.

 

 

I think the fact that the keyboard cable isn't attached to the keyboard is both the best and the worst thing in the world. The mini-USB to USB connector makes it easy to route cables on your desk and allows you replace the cable when your pesky pet decides to make it his new chew toy. You won't have to rely on electrical tape to keep your favorite keyboard together after years of play (as long as it's still your favorite then). The other side, glass half empty, if you head to a LAN party without it, you won't be able to compete very well without your WASD patterns to run. You'll be left looking for an old cell phone adaptor or calculator plug; not something you want to be doing while your friends are gaming without you.

 

Finally I've got the keyboard out of the box after being distracted by the fact that the cable isn't attached to the keyboard. This isn't really a new feature as the QuickFire Rapid had the same disconnect pattern, just still something rare on the market, and something I haven't seen in person until now. The keyboard itself is pretty heavy and feels like a weapon. It is rather aesthetically pleasing and looks almost better without a cable attached – like "no strings attached." It feels nice, looks nice, and I'm a little excited.

 

 

Flipping over the keyboard you can see the routing lines for the cable. In the second shot you can see the mini-USB sneakily plugging in at about the center of the keyboard. There are a couple feet at the top to flip down if you prefer a greater grade of slope to your keyboard and four super rubber feet that hold it well in place. The most interesting aspect of the bottom of the keyboard seems to be the cut outs for the cable.

 

 

With the cable in plugged in you can see how it actually routes out the left, center, and right of the keyboard. It’s a little awkward to plug in at first and it seems like there was only enough room cut away to barely plug it in, but it works. The cable fits snuggly in place and is pretty much set in place with no worries of it falling out of place. So no matter where you place your case or USB hub, you can plug it in neatly.

 

 

With the feet out it stands a good bit higher up and off the desk. I can't say I like it here, but I generally prefer the lower grade rise in a keyboard as I don't want to have my fingers feel like they are climbing mountains from D to E. Either way, the feet are there, if you like it, you like, if you don't, you don't. The front edge of the keyboard reads the same CM Storm logo as the back side there and brings it to a nice uniform look. There are no external USB ports or audio connections like many other keyboards out on the market – but I never use them, so I'd rather the cost go towards the build than these so called "features."

 

 

The top right corner of the keyboard has a laser etched CM logo and three indicators for your usual Num, Caps, and Scroll Lock. Looks pretty neat and you can see about all of the indicators from your seated desk position. I've found a few keyboards in the past in which the keys actually blocked you from seeing the indicators. They should light up in red like the keys – we need to get this thing lit up. Let's plug it in and see what we can get.

 

Alright, fair warning; these next few shots make me a little sad. The intensity of the red LEDs is so strong that my camera outright couldn't handle it. The slightly more bright alpha keys and arrow keys look orange in the next few shots. They aren't orange, and they don't appear orange – just very bright. You don't have to worry about them not being bright enough at all; however, the lighting is pretty even (so don't let my camera's pictures steer you away).

 

You do have a couple options here for lighting, but you won't be able to light up the full keyboard in red unfortunately. With the FN lock key on and holding the CM key on the bottom right or bottom left (where the Windows key would be) pressing F4 allows you to cycle through the different lighting modes. (You also can use F2 and F3 to adjust brightness as well as F1 to turn off the lights; F5 –F12 can be used for media keys). You can select just WASD and the arrow keys to be lit up; the QWER, ASDF, ZXC, Esc,1-5, arrow keys, space, and F1-F4 to be lit up, and a pulsing version of the latter.

 

 

The indicator lights are a bit disappointing and rather dim to say the least. The picture portrays them as a pink color but they really are still red – just dimly lit at best. I was expecting them to have the same intensity as the rest of the keys but also understand they aren't the same material as the keys either. I'd prefer these to be a little brighter and more evenly lit, but you can at least tell when they are on and unless you have the sun inside your room you should be able to tell what is on and what is not.

 

Removing the W key you can take a look at the top of the brown switch. Not a big surprise, it's brown! You can see the placement of the LED at the top, which explains why the F1-F12 key don’t show up with "perfect" lighting all down the keys. There really isn't anywhere else for the LED to be placed so it is what it is. You can replace these keys with others if you like and still maintain the great brown switch. A key puller is included, but I'm not really sure why. There aren't any extra keys to swap out, but I guess you have it in case you decide to buy some to swap out in the future. Overall it's pretty neat. Lighting up the LED with the key off you can see how truly red the actual lighting is. The orange appearance on the ASD keys is still just an effect of blowing out the camera – but like I mentioned before, it is RED.

 

Specifications:

Key Type:
Options of CHERRY: Black, Blue, Brown, Red *
N key Rollover:
6/Full N Key
Polling Rate:
1000HZ/1ms
Backlighting
Partial Keys
Windows Key Disable:
Yes
Media Keys:
Yes
Interface:
USB 2.0 Full Speed
Cable Length:
1.8m
Dimension:
454(L) x 155(W) x 31(H) mm
Weight:
1300 g
Warranty:
2 years
 
 

*Availability depends on regions

 

 

Features:

 

 

 

 

 

All information provided by: http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product.php?product_id=3080&product_name=CM%20Storm%20QuickFire%20Pro

Testing:

Cooler Master's CM Storm QuickFire Pro was put through over a full week worth of testing. During this time I did everything from writing school papers, random net surfing and most importantly some good casual gaming with some friends.

Although a keyboard is a crucial part of any system build there really are no concrete "tests" that can be performed that can really define this keyboard as better than any other. However, in a subjective manner it can easily be broken down into key categories that really show where a keyboard shines or fails miserably. The most defining traits of a keyboard can be summarized numerically under the categories of: Comfort, Customization, Gaming, and Accuracy.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Keyboards:

 

Results:

Comfort:

Comfort personally is a major player when it comes to choosing a keyboard. If I need to spend 15 hours working on a report I want to be miserable from the report itself, not because my hands are cramping from the unusual keyboard design. If the keys are too far apart or it has a sharp edge where my palms sit then I probably will not be much of a happy camper. With this in mind, comfort is measured on a scale from 1-10 with a score of 1 being, "Are you sure this is even a keyboard?" and a score of 10 as, "This keyboard was molded to fit my hands." A 5 shall represent your typical quote stock keyboard.

Customization:

In a gaming situation it might be nice to have a few keys on a keyboard that are designated for weapon selection or giving commands. The ability to assign macro keys can be the difference when you are being beaten by someone who simply does not have to click to do every action. Therefore a scale of 1-10 is assigned with a value of 1 representing, "There are fewer keys than an average keyboard," and a value of 10 as "WOW! Where are my normal keys, there are SOOO many." Again a 5 is representative of the "stock" keyboard (including media keys). This category also covers the options of appearance customization (i.e. replacement keys, lighting, and other color options)

Gaming:

Gaming plays in hand with customization. Being able to assign macros can make some games much easier to play – especially if it replaces scrolling through several menu options. This category for rating is based on the concept of the keyboard being designed for gaming or not. This category is based completely on the compatibility to play with games. Does it have specifically designed macro keys, are there many of them, and how easy are they to use. A scale of 1-10 is used with a score of 1 representing a keyboard with only the main keys (no media keys, no number pad), a score of 10 means the keyboard was designed solely for a gamer.

Accuracy:

No matter how fast a keyboard can respond or how fast you can type, writing up papers and maneuvering the battlefield both require great accuracy. If you can't get your point across in an email because you had to spend half your time going back to retype words because a keystroke was missed or over typed then why even bother. Same goes for in game – pressing the correct key should always, always, always produce the correct response. A scale of 1 – 10 was used to rate accuracy; a score of 1 represents you might as well give up, and a 10 means your keyboard knows what you were thinking before you typed it.

 

Overall I find it harder and harder to assign numerical values to keyboards after looking at different ones. It becomes harder and harder to compare one to the next. With it all being subjective my opinion can only matter so much to even begin with. I like the way it feels. It's quick to recognize a wrong key press and quick to fix. I have a concrete feel of the keys and can easily tell when the key has been pressed. The MX CHERRY Browns have a lot to do with the feel. It's a different feel if all you are used to are Reds. The media keys as function keys aren't my favorite as it requires two hands or at least full attention to complete a song switch. I'd say it's on par with other mechanical keyboards on the market with cable routing and lighting being the only real difference between the next one for bid.

Conclusion:

In the end the CM Storm QuickFire Pro is definitely worth its price tag. Looking at other mechs on the market in this price range this one does have a bit of a leg up with a little bit of LED lighting and some neat cable routing. I can't say it will be my new "favorite," but I go through so many keyboards for review it's hard to ever settle. It doesn't have any major advantages to the gaming side of things, as there are no macros and all your media keys require the awkward function key. I tend to prefer discrete media keys where I can reach up with one hand to control volume, next, stop, pause, mute, etc. I like lighting as long as it is done well. The indicator lights are a bit on the "fail" side of things but not a major complaint. I'd like to have a full set of keys lit up but again, some over none is better than nothing. As a BluePanda, I clearly prefer a change in color as well but red seems to be the new "hot" thing. I enjoyed the keyboard overall and the overall feel keeps me happy. It's one well worth getting at your fingertips for a spin, especially if you've still been waiting to try out the mechanical feel.

 

 

Pros:

 

Cons: