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First Looks: CM Storm QuickFire TK Mechanical Keyboard
By Joy Hou - 7 Nov 2012

First Looks: CM Storm QuickFire TK Mechanical Keyboard

A Compact Yet Versatile Mechanical Keyboard For The All-round Gamer

Established in 2008, CM Storm (a sub brand of Cooler Master) is a brand known for churning gaming hardware by incorporating ideas of E-Sports aficionados and professionals with its mission "Storm Tactics" (hence its name) that heavily focuses on "Strength, Security, and Control". The brand has since spawned gaming mice, chassis, and keyboards, including the most recently announced QuickFire TK (which will be available in the coming weeks).

The TK integrates a numpad block, 7 easy-access multimedia shortcut keys, a Windows lock key (F12), and a Fn lock key.

Touted as QuickFire Rapid's successor, the QuickFire TK "takes the QuickFire Rapid and puts it on steroids", as described by Cooler Master. Both mechanical keyboards employ Cherry MX switches and are each furnished with a Windows lock key, multimedia shortcuts, a removable braided USB cable with cable routing, and removable, laser-etched, matt, grip-coated keycaps. What sets the TK apart is the addition of a numpad block with navigation and command keys, NKRO in USB mode (previously only achievable in PS/2 mode), and full LED backlighting except for arrow keys located on the numpad block (as opposed to no backlighting on the Rapid).

The keyboard's backlighting helps the gamer orientate quickly in poorly lit environments like in a LAN shop.

On top of this, the backlighting comes in 3 modes and 5 brightness levels for different type of gamers. The first mode lights up the gaming cluster (WASD keys), Fn key, and the arrow keys (on the numpad); the second lights up the entire keyboard; the third does the same, but with a 'breathing' effect. This makes the keyboard extremely multifaceted, because it can cater to distinctive game genres; FPS/racing gamers (first mode), and most RTS games (second mode). There's even an option for you to turn the backlights off (save for the Fn key and the arrow keys) should you find them too distracting for your day-to-day typing.

Weighing a mere 544g, this gaming keyboard has got to be one of the lightest mechanical keyboards in the market currently.

Also, the Fn key lock only needs to be held down instead of applying the Fn and corresponding F key simultaneously in the case of the Rapid. Another thing to note is the significant reduction in weight; the TK tips the scales at just 544g, a considerable 396g lighter than its predecessor.

Despite the inclusion of the complete numpad chunk, the TK is still compact in comparison to the regular rubberdome keyboard, or about 80% of the average mechanical gaming keyboard (albeit roughly 20mm longer than the Rapid). The former's size is comparable to the Tt eSPORTS Meka, which is another compact mechanical gaming keyboard that 's geared with the numpad.

Once considered a rare switch type, the Cherry MX Red switch has already overtaken the Blue and Black switch type when it comes to the average gamer's choice.

The QuickFire TK we are reviewing adopts the Cherry MX Red switches, which are also employed by the Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Across the Cherry MX switch family, the Red switch is most similar to the Black one, with both of them being linear switches. The Red switch however, requires less actuation force to execute than the latter, benefiting gamers as they require frequent hitting of the keys in quick succession, as well as accurate typists (once they habituate to the keyboard) because the keys would register at the lightest touch. This makes the Cherry MX Red the most versatile switch that harmonizes gaming and daily typing, which also explains its growing popularity among the mainstream gaming community, and perhaps answer to why mechanical gaming keyboards utilizing Cherry MX Red switches usually cost more than the rest of the keyboards (primed with Cherry MX Black, Blue, and Brown) in the same series.


Final Thoughts

The braided cable is removable, which minimizes wear and tear of the wire when making trips between LAN parties. Its compact size also allows you to have more space for mouse movement, letting you lower the sensitivity of your mouse, in turn increasing precision, giving you the extra edge in-game (especially if you are an FPS gamer). Of course, due to the condensed size of the keyboard, you have to compromise on the cramped keys so you may feel uncomfortable initially when typing as both thumbs are positioned closer to each other than you would expect from a full sized desktop keyboard.

We think that another major concern is the TK's lack of weight. Sure, carrying around a compact, featherweight keyboard is indeed more convenient while traveling, we're sure most gamers wouldn't mind lugging more weight around since it guarantees more sturdiness during intense gaming sessions. The keyboard has an embedded steel plate and has rubber feet to help counter its light weight, but they do little to increase the stability of the keyboard.

However, having said that, we thought that the QuickFire TK is very reasonably priced, at S$168, after taking into consideration all the factors and that it features basic gaming necessities like backlighting, Windows lock key, and multimedia shortcut keys. Besides, the keyboard does qualify as a very good all-rounder, be it typing in the office (provided your co-workers don't mind the noise), or playing a vast range of games. For those who can't be bothered switching between different keyboards on your main rig (be at home or work), the versatility of the CM Storm QuickFire TK would be appreciated. We would still recommend giving it a quick feel before making a purchase as keyboards are personal choices and mechanical variations like those listed below are much more expensive than standard keyboards.

  Cherry MX switch type Length / Weight Backlighting Pricing
CM Storm QuickFire TK Mechanical Keyboard Red 377.5mm / 544g Yes S$168
Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Red 560mm / 2kg Yes S$189
Rosewill RK-9000BL Mechanical Keyboard Black 440mm / 1.6kg No S$129
Tt eSPORTS Meka Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Black 370mm No S$179
Ducky DK-9008 Shine Mechanical Keyboard Black 442mm / 1.2kg Yes S$169
CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Mechanical Keyboard Black 355mm / 940g No S$129
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