CM Storm Trigger Keyboard Review
Reviewed by: BluePanda
Reviewed on: April 30, 2012
You may or may not have been impressed with Cooler Master's last keyboard release the CM QuickFire Pro. A lot of complaints were directed at the lack of full backlit keys. What was the point if only a select region of keys lit up – everyone just seemed to want more. Having reviewed the QuickFire Pro I was left wanting more too. It seems rather difficult to find a decent mechanical on the market with any decent backlighting. Well Cooler Master had something else up its sleeve that should help solve some of the woes. The CM Storm Trigger was released today and it is quite the step up from the most recent launch of the QuickFire Pro.
I'll admit that the price still doesn't satisfy those of you looking sub-one hundred, but for about $120, the Trigger exceeds your average mechanical keyboard with full red backlighting, sturdy construction, macro keys and a more than ergonomic wrist rest. I've been playing with it for over a week now and it's time I share what I've found, though parts of it are tempting to keep secret as good as it is. Just coming to the market today, let me show you a closer look before you "add" it to "your cart."
After opening the brown shipping box I got out the lovely manufacturing sale packaged product. Cooler Master always seems to have a lot of work put into the design of its packaging, which I have never really been a fan. Sell me with the product, not with the pretty box; but marketing is a cruel world, so what works for some companies works.
The front of the box shows a picture of the keyboard with a little window cut out to fill in the rest of the image with the actual keyboard itself. It's rather clever and even though the keys don't actually line up, it really makes you take that second look. A CM logo is drawn in the upper left while the lower left gets to scream "CMSTORM TRIGGER!" The right image, though a little dark, indicates the switch type for the keyboard – MX Browns are indicated for this one. CHERRY MX Browns are all that are available with launch for the time being; reds will eventually join in as an option, but CM has not released an ETA for when that will happen. Other switches are also being considered for option, but again, no ETA.
The back of the box covers ground with features in eight different languages to avoid losing a buyer from lack of understanding I guess. Though when I think about it, if it wasn't in English, I probably wouldn't seriously consider buying it without someone else telling me about it first. Three quick shots of in action features are listed on the right: the five macro keys, USB hub, and on-board memory.
Overall the packaging is pretty fancy. The box is pretty thick with a height that you might expect two keyboards to fit in (but only one is inside). The little peek window is probably my favorite, but a lot when into making the box flow with the rest of the CM Storm series gear – it all has the red/gray/black swooshy theme. It's all about the Storm Tactics.
The back of the box is left quick to open, no haggling with complicated boxes that require you to destroy them just to get the product out. For the Trigger, just cut the little round sticker and voila, a keyboard! Inside is indeed a keyboard, a quick little manual to ramble off the features again and a hidden arm rest beneath. The foam packing being most impressive.
If nothing else had caught my eye, the foam packing for the keyboard really blew my mind. It was this that impressed me most, almost more than the keyboard itself. It was pure beauty in design. Much like a case is packed it came with two end foam caps and a nice piece across the back to separate the keyboard and wrist rest. Another sheet of foam was covering the rest to protect it in the box. I don't know why, but to me, this was honestly the most impressive. No crappy broken up plastic tray – just perfection in packing.
Okay, I get it, you don't care that much about the packing, but without it, it might not have gotten to the door this pretty. Out of the box it's pretty simple: a keyboard, a mating wrist rest, and a detachable USB plug. Awesome. I really like the non-square shape and am truly loving the added wrist rest here; I really like the fluidity between my desk and keys.
Before I attached the wrist rest I thought it seemed fair to show you what it looks like without it. If you don't have the extra 3-4 inches of depth on your desk than this is how you would probably be using the keyboard. It's still pretty solid. The back side has six serious rubber grip feet to hold it down on any surface. A couple of pirate legs are built in for raising it up for that high raked keyboard some of you so much die for. A nice CM Storm logo is cut into the bottom and a unique product sticker keeps your model number and SN safe.
From here out, I've got the wrist rest firmly attached but I don't want you to forget that you can take it off. You by no means have to use it and if you are at a LAN party with a little less room, you can shrink your keyboard to save some shooting room. I prefer the wrist rest and it is a nice addition to the keyboard. I wanted to share the full nine yards CM has provided me with – so from here out this is what you get. I think it looks great!
I never seem to find a use for pirate legs on keyboards but on this one it seems to line up well with the wrist rest angle and just seems to make it easier to "reach" the number keys without feeling like you are going out of your way. This is probably the first keyboard I would actually recommending putting up the feet for some added range.
A major flaw I did find with the keyboard was when I went to plug it in. Rather than having the mini-USB adapter plug-in underneath the keyboard and route out like on the CM QuickFire, it sticks out on the upper right corner and asks to be broken off. It looks funny and makes routing cables across my desk an utter mess. I find no use in the USB hub as most cases satisfy my needs with the front I/O panel and I dislike running my mouse through a keyboard hub – so honestly no use here. I didn't end up using it at all, and mostly just because I didn't remember they were there.
Looking again at the bottom of the keyboard you can see how easily the wrist rest attaches. It clicks right in but is a little scary to remove. It feels like you are most definitely going to break it, but give it a good squeeze and it should come off just fine. The back looks pretty neat and the perfect fit with the shape of the keyboard shows that the entire thing was truly thought out ahead of time.
The close up of the peg leg really shows you that it isn't a massive incline increase when they are up. It matches up well with the incline of the wrist rest, which seems to be the idea. Although the wrist rest adjusts if you don't like added height and looks just as perfect with the peg legs down. They seem sturdy for lots of key banging and rage pounds of your nightly gaming.
Although this keyboard isn't really a "blade" or super slim design, it sure looks thin from the side. It's almost an optical illusion as it really is a good inch and half tall including keys. I just really liked this angle and how sleek the keyboard really looks. The design is a constant continuum of one idea – not a hodge podge of ideas clustered together. Very well done.
Finally for those of you with lighting complaints in mechanical keyboards and in general, here is something to shut you up a bit. If you don't like lighting, well you can turn it off! The only lighting is the indicator lights for SCR LK, PRT SC, and NUMLK, the keys otherwise being laser etched look normal, not like they 'have' to be lit up. For those of you who want a "gamer profile," the macros, WASD, and arrow keys can be lit up with another lighting mode option. This allows a little lighting without being completely in your face about it. And finally, there is the full backlit option; every key lights up in bright red. If it's too bright on either this or the "gaming" option, you can toggle brightness up or down a few notches. So I don't want to hear any complaints on lighting this time around; CM has you covered.
N Key Rolloever:
Windows Key Disable:
On Board Memory:
475(L) x 162(W) x 25(H) mm
*Availability depends on regions for CHERRY MX Switch Options
- High durability gold-plated Cherry switches rated for 50 million strokes
- Multi-media control keys for convenient sound control
- 14k gold plated ultra-low latency USB plugs
- Anti-ghosting 6 key rollover
- 64KB onboard memory for profile storage
- Storm key that deactivates the Windows key
- 1000Hz driverless polling/1ms response time
- Two port enhanced USB 2.0 hub (optional AC power)
- Strong braided cable to protect connections
- Premium non-slip rubber coating
All information provided by: http://www.cmstorm.com/en/products/keyboards/Trigger/&tab=support
To be fair, you won't have to install any software to get this keyboard working out of the box. Plug it in and it truly is ready to go, no need to go downloading drivers immediately. However, if you want to get the full functionality of the keyboard, like use of macros, you'll have to grab the quick download from Cooler Master's site. The best part is everything is very straight forward.
The first thing you'll see when you do get it installed is the Storm CFG (configuration) page. It allows you to select what each and every key on the board can function as. You can change the default function, or what you want it to do as a macro. You can have any key launch programs or do nothing at all. It's completely up to you. If you look at the bottom row – you can see you can save up to five profiles to fit five different users or five different gaming setups. Pretty neat.
The next tab you have access to is the Profiles button. Here you can name profiles and you can store about an infinite number of profiles locally on your computer. The keyboard itself is what stores the five main profiles you see on the main screen. Here you can decide what stays local and which you want to be on the keyboard itself for on-the-go gaming.
The last tab is used for your standard Macro setup. Here you can set up everything you can imagine. My favorite is still spamming ASCII art as I'm not much for MMOs or anything that really requires much use of a macro setting. Either way – you've got full control of this beast so have at it!
On a side note, after closing the software panel, I noticed it doesn't quite save right. For any of the key bindings you have assigned to actually work you will need to leave the window open. I'm assuming this is just a pre-release bug that will hopefully be fixed in time. This prevents you from having a Windows key at all without the software running and a software window open. Knowing CM, this will likely be addressed for you to not have the window open all the time.
Cooler Master's CM Storm Trigger 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.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Corsair H100
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 16 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drives: Corsair Force GT 240 GB SSD
- Case: Corsair 650D
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
- Logitech Internet 350 keyboard
- Razer Lycosa
- Ozone Strike
- Zowie Celaratis
- Tesoro Durandal Ultra
- Corsair K60
- Corsair K90
- CM QuickFire Pro
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.
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 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 specific designed macro keys, are there many of them, and how easy are easy they to use. A scale of 1-10 is used with a score of 1 represents 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.
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 the CM Storm Trigger was a very comfortable keyboard. It was loud and clacky like a mech should be but nothing seemed to tame it. It was quite a pleasure to type on. Customization was quite fun with the software being able to set various keys for random things; the lack of a ton of macro keys is really all that sets this one behind the K90. Overall the numbers really can't speak for a keyboard – it's something you feel and you know is right for you. Don't let these numbers hold you back from trying different keyboards. Know what you like, compare it to what I like and go from there. If you like mechanicals with a real feel for the key, red LEDs, the ability to change functions of keys, and be comfortable all in one –then this is the keyboard for you.
Overall I'm quite impressed with the CM Trigger mechanical keyboard. I will be honest and say I couldn't really handle the clickly clacky noise after a week and promptly bought some O-rings to quiet it down. This is something any of you who can't stand the noise can do to reduce that while still getting the great feel of a mechanical keyboard. With or without the O-rings the keyboard is still worth getting your hands on. The price is a little high, but it is something I would fork the change over to have. Although this BluePanda would prefer her keys to light up in blue this is well worth taking the red for. I really like the way it feels, the way it looks and the great interaction between user and product; I feel I have full control. Take my word for it – this is a BluePanda Gold, go find one for yourself.
- Full red backlighting.
- Full control over key programming.
- Comfortable as heck.
- Loud – but easy to fix with O-rings (extra cost).
- Awkward cable attachment.