Introduction, Design And Features
A small keyboard with gaming aspirations
The gaming keyboard market seems to rigorously follow a common rule of consumer products – more is more. If a keyboard is for gamers it should include lots of fancy gaming related features, and the more that are included, the more hardcore the keyboard. Macro buttons, customizable back-lighting and LCD screens are all features of modern gaming keyboards–and you don’t see many companies going the other direction.
But there are products that buck the trend. One of them is the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid, a mechanical gaming keyboard that became available in North America earlier this year. Unlike most competitors, the QuickFire rapid cuts features instead of adding them. Back-lighting? Macro keys? You’re kidding me, right? This keyboard doesn’t even include a numpad.
Cooler Master (the company behind CMStorm) has not cut out the features that matter, however. This keyboard comes with Cherry MX keys (the blue variant, in this case) and also supports PS/2 connections for full NKRO. For those who’ve seen the light of day recently, this gobbly gook means the QuickFire Rapid scans key activation individually and therefore can detect new key activations even when other keys are still depressed. It’s a feature hardcore gamers love because of their tendency to press multiple keys simultaneously.
Cutting back on unneeded features has a notable side effect–it reduces price. Currently this keyboard is available for $79.99 at retail or as low as $65 on Amazon.com. Only Razor’s bare-bones version of the BlackWidow keyboard sells for less, and it only beats the QuickFire by $5 dollars.
So can you really buy a decent gaming keyboard for $65, and will you miss the numpad? Let’s find out.
Design And Features
Gaming keyboards have become more and more extravagant over the years and some, such as Corsair’s, look like money. Others, such as the Microsoft SideWinder series and the SteelSeries Merc, immediately turned me off with a too-serious aesthetic (the SideWinder) or unusual layout (the Merc).
The QuickFire doesn’t illicit a strong reaction in either direction. It is simply a keyboard. There are keys, and they are connected to a plastic casing, and that’s it. You do receive a couple CMStorm logos–your $65 dollars has to buy you something, right?
Anyone who is used to using a conventional rubber-dome keyboard may be taken aback by the thickness of the QuickFire. It holds the keys significantly above whatever surface it’s positioned on. The wrist rest is a victim of the keyboard’s low price – you’ll have to supply your own. Seriously, you’ll have to – using the QuickFire without it turns the typing experience into a test of your lower arm strength.
Don’t take the QuickFire’s lack of style for a lack of quality, however. Most of it is plastic but the construction is solid. There are no strange rattles, no large panel gaps and no off-color surfaces.
While CMStorm doesn’t include a lot of features, there are some nice extras. The connection cable can be removed from the keyboard, a feature that will appreciated by anyone who occasionally moves their keyboard to obtain more desk space. A key picker is included, as well, which makes removing key caps simple.
Less useful is the set of four red arrow keys that are meant to potentially replace WASD. Yea, it looks cool, but I don’t think they have any functional purpose.