When Cooler Master Launched their new QuickFire Line of gaming keyboards with Mechanical switched they were very well received. We have had the chance to test out all of the models even though we have not always been able to try out the different Cherry MX Switch types (we have gone through Red, Brown and Blue). Now while all of the models were well received there were complaints about more than a few of the features that were built in. One of the most common complaints that we have heard about the QuickFire line up is that the QuickFire Pro did not have full back lighting. Instead Cooler Master chose to only light up a small selection of keys that they called the gaming cluster. Still this keyboard has been bought by many gamers because it is one of the only mechanical keyboards that supports NKRO over USB. As an added bonus the QuickFire Pro has two modes of NKRO; Full and 6-Key. Well for those of you that have wished for a mechanical keyboard with full NKRO over USB and full back lighting your wait is over. Cooler Master has taken some of the best features of the QuickFire Pro and put them in a smaller version named the QuickFire TK and the best part,… it has full backlighting. Read on to find out all of the nice details.
The Box and Goodies -
As with the rest of the QuickFire Line up the TK has a nice looking box. Although we did not get one with our sample we did get images of what it looks like and also what you should get in the box. The front of the box has a very nice looking picture of the QuickFire TK. The illumination on the box will correspond for the color of switches you have inside… well sort of. The QuickFire TK comes with Blue, Red and Brown Switches, but as brown is not really a good color for lighting they changed the lights on that model to White. Inside the box, besides the keyboard you get a braided USB cable a key puller and well that is about it…
The CMStorm QuickFire TK Gaming Keyboard -
The CMStorm QuickFire TK is very similar to the others in the lineup. You have a sloped body that appears to be weighted a little to help with stability. The body and keys are bad of ABS plastic with a no-slip coating. Underneath the keys is where all the magic is. Cooler Master like a few other gaming peripheral makers has started using Cherry MX mechanical switches; these are good for more than 50 million “clicks” and have a much better accuracy when it comes to registering a key-press. On top of that you have multiple types to match your needs. From the stiff action of the blue switches to the slightly soft feel of the black. So far we have tested the blue, red and brown from Cooler Master and we have to say that for gaming we prefer the red, but for day to day use we like the brown.
Our QuickFire TK came with Cherry MX Red Switches so our backlighting is also red, we will be asking Cooler Master if we can swing a blue or brown to see how they differ in illumination and also in readability in low light. However, for now we should get back to the specifications of the QuickFire TK.
The QuickFire TK is about the same length as QuickFire Rapid, but instead of having the home keys like the Rapid does you have a 10-key number pad. This makes the TK small and can give you more room to move things around on the desk. Of course, because it is smaller it is also lighter. The TK weighs in at 1.2 Pounds which is less than half the weight of the Pro (at 2.86 Pounds) and still much lighter than the Rapid (at 2.1 Pounds). Despite this hindrance the TK has a solid feel to it part of this is the large rubber feet that Cooler Master has put on the bottom of the TK. These feet are large enough and wide enough to make sure that you cannot simply push the TK around your gaming surface. Cooler Master went one step further though; they also put rubber feet on the lifts under the keyboard so that you can elevate the keyboard and still maintain stability. This is something that the CMStorm line has over most of the competition right now.
On the internal hardware side you get pretty much the same thing that you get with the others in the QuickFire Line, you get the same 1000MHz polling interval on the USB controller and other items. As we mentioned before as with the QuickFire Pro you get full N Key Rollover and also 6-Key Rollover. The ESC key is the controller for the change on the TK. To see and hear more about the QuickFire TK you can check out our video below.
One thing we want to cover here is how the longer keys are handled (like Space and Shift). Unlike the others in the QuickFire lineup where we saw metal clips the QuickFire TK uses better stabilization with spaced plastic plungers. As you can see in the pictures below this provided much smoother action than the metal spacers did in many cases. It is a nice improvement and another indication that Cooler Master is listening to their user feedback.
We put the CM Storm QuickFire Pro through about 10 hours of gaming. This was with a variety of games from Alan Wake to Mass Effect 3 and through some older (but no less fun) games like Bioshock 2 and HalfLife 2. We also spent a little time using the QuickFire TK in day to day use. This gave us a good overview of how well it will perform for you once you get it home.
After more than a few hours of gaming I can say that the QuickFire TK performs just as well as the QuickFire Pro or Rapid. We tested it with both the 6KRO and NKRO just to see if we could see any difference in performance and we did not. In both modes it worked without issue. We also found the QuickFire TK to be very stable on the desktop; it did not slide around or even move thanks to the weight and also the rubber feet underneath. The size of the TK was not an issue at all during our gaming, but it did popup as you will see when we stared using it for more common tasks.
When we broke out the TK for daily use we ran into a couple of,… not really issues, but more hurdles. As the 10-key number pad also doubles as the home key section (not to be confused with the Home Row) we found ourselves needing to turn number lock on and off regularly even for simple tasks like deleting a file or character in a document. This could have been avoided by another “top” row of keys in the same way that new laptop/ultrabook keyboards are designed. The good news is that Cooler Master does appear to listen to their users so we will probably see this pop-up in a future model in the same way that we are seeing a small fully backlit mechanical keyboard after people asked for it from both the Pro and the Rapid. Overall, if you do not mind losing the 10-key number pad then this is not a problem, for us and the way we work it was.
Value is another very subjective topic. What is expensive to some might be a deal to others. You can look at this topic in multiple ways. One is raw price and the other is what you get for the money. Each is accurate and both are correct ways to look at price/value. We tend to look at features, performance and real-property when we discuss value. However, we also take into account the raw cash cost of the item. At $99.99 this is one of the lower priced mechanical keyboards that sports full backlighting with the number of modes that it does. There are many out there that use Cherry MX switches, but they drop off the full backlight to keep costs under control. It is also one of the only keyboards in its price range that has full NKRO over USB, and it IS the only one that we know of at $100 that supports 6KRO and NKRO over USB. The gist is that this is a great value considering what you are getting.
Cooler Master’s CM Storm QuickFire TK is a great keyboard. It is the combination of two models and many user requests. On the one hand you can definitely see the QuickFire Pro, but you can also see the Rapid in the size of the board and the way that the overall footprint is reduced. We do like the fact that Cooler Master added in items from users’ wish lists like a number pad for the Raid and Full illumination for the Pro. You are getting the best of both worlds here and for a very solid price. If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard for your gaming habit, then the any of the QuickFire line up will certainly work for you, but if you need full backlighting, NKRO over USB and a keyboard that sticks to your desk as if it were nailed there, well then the QuickFire TK is probably the only one on your list.
With everything the CMStorm QuickFire TK has going for it (especially the price) we are pleased to award it our Gold Key.
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