Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Pro Mechanical Cherry MX Black Gaming Keyboard
Mechanical CHERRY MX switches
USB 2.0 full speed
NKRO in USB mode
1000Hz/1ms response time
Windows key disabled in game mode
Partial Red LED backlight
Adjustable Back light LED
Removable braided USB cable with cable routing
Numerical Key Pad
No manual mechanical key removal needed
Switching Polling Rate
Heavy enough not to move in game play
Affordable Price for a gaming keyboard
Equipped with high-grade CHERRY MX switches, laser engraved keycaps, “Gaming Cluster” backlighting with user changeable modes, and an unheard of N-Key rollover in USB mode, QuickFire Pro, the choice for serious gamers. It supplies what gamers need to gain the edge in today’s gaming scene by enabling faster key presses and response times and a detachable high quality USB cable makes travel easier than ever. The competition begins and ends with the QuickFire Pro.
Brand New in Full Retail Box ( SGK-4010-GKCC1 )
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CM Storm is Cooler Master's gaming brand which is responsible for several mice and gaming keyboards.
For those who are unaware of mechanical keyboards and what they are, here's some basic information on them. They are far more reliable and effective keyboards as they use a mechanical switch for every key. Mechanical switches actuate about half-way to the bottom, which eliminates the need for bottoming out the key, reducing fatigue in long typing sessions. Lifespan is rated about 5x more for a mechanical switch, compared to normal keyboards.
There are many different mechanical key switches designed to give a different feel; some are linear, which means the switch is pressed straight down and gives no feedback to the user. Then there are tactile switches, which give feedback at the actuation point (which again, is about half way to the bottom). This feedback is felt as a slight bump, and some tactile keys also combined a clicking sound with this feedback to alert the user that he/she has hit the actuation point.
Tactile keys are generally preferred for typing, since compared to linear switches, it is easier to just give them a light press so that they only travel to the actuation point, instead of bottoming out. Linear keys are generally preferred for gaming, since you will be bottoming out anyway as you hold down keys to move and do other things.
The model we're looking at uses Cherry MX Brown switches, which have a slight tactile feel, no audible click, and light actuation force at 45g. The QuickFire Pro is a full size 104-key board, a premium quality product with a nice value. It features, more or less, the same minimalistic design as the QuickFire Rapid. Lets see if Cooler Master can keep up the streak!
454(L) x 155(W) x 31(H) mm 17.9(L) x 6.1 (W) x 1.2(H) inch
1300 g / 2.86 lb
There are some of the basic specs of the QuickFire Pro. They look a lot like the QuickFire Rapid, except for the red backlighting and part in bold. NKRO (N-Key rollover) in USB mode? That's something manufacturers have been trying to implement for years. This means that you can press down all keys at once, and they'll all be registered. Normally, this is only possible via PS/2 interface, and USB is normally limited to 6KRO (excluding special keys such as CTRL). Corsair claimed 20KRO on their USB keyboards, and some people have found a way to implement NKRO in USB as seen here. But CM claims to have done it! That's something that will have to be confirmed in this review. Anyway, lets look at the packaging.
Like the QuickFire Rapid the QuickFire Pro comes in a slim keyboard style box (in other words flat and thin). On the front is a nice image of the QF Pro which shows off the limits of its backlighting.
Flipping the box over we find a fairly normal layout. You have the features listed in nine different languages along with a cluster of images to show off some of the Pro’s highlights.
Once inside the box you will see that Cooler Master has done a very good job to make sure that your new purchase is protected in shipping. There is a plastic protective cover to prevent damage to the keys along underneath this the actual QuickFire Pro is wrapped in a thin foam cover (to prevent scratches). Once you get the QuickFire Pro out you will find the rest of the goodies; a manual, a cloth covered USB cable, and a key puller.Not much inside, but then again the real payoff is the QuickFire keyboard.
Nice of them to include a key puller, as this is normally an extra $5 or so. The detachable cable appears once again - that was something we really liked about the QuickFire Rapid. However, this time no PS/2 adapter is included since this keyboard apparently does NKRO in USB mode, opposed to the usual 6KRO USB limitation. There's still the difference of USB using polling and PS/2 being interrupt based, but that doesn't matter to most.
Here is the QuickFire Pro in all it's glory. It isn't over-the-top gaudy, but has some distinctive design features as well as a unique font and some branding. We like the all-black, scratch-resistant finish. It doesn't get smudged from fingerprints either. One thing that stands out is how heavy the keyboard is. It has a high quality feel, just like the QuickFire Rapid. This one weighs 1300g or 2.86 lbs.
The QuickFire Pro is built along the same lines as the QuickFire Rapid. You get the same graduated look and feel along with the same weight (the QuickFire Pro actually weighs a little more). Cooler master has extended this keyboard to include all of the normal keys as well as the 10-key number pad. The QuickFire Pro also has the same sturdy rubber feet to keep it in place as well as very nice cable management along the bottom for the braided cable.Cooler Master has also put a coating on the keys and keyboard this coating is slightly rubberized to give a nice non-slip surface to it. You can feel the keys under your fingers, but there is no worry about slipping off.
Here is another angle. You can see the multi-media keys here, which are the secondary function for the F5 to F11 keys. To use the secondary function for any key, just hold down the FN key. We much prefer this solution opposed to standalone multi-media keys which only take up more space. With these keys, you can pause/play, stop, rewind, fast-forward, mute volume, and adjust volume. The F12 key has a secondary function as well: GAME MODE, which locks the Windows keys so that you won't accidentally press them and minimize your game.
Noticeable design patterns are on the front and back. This is some "gamer appeal", but thankfully it isn't overdone like other keyboards.
On the back of the keyboard, you'll find four rubberized feet plus folding stands, and cable management grooves which are very nice to have. The back and sides have a rubber coating, while the surface does not. All of it is quite scratch resistant, and does not collect fingerprints.
Here is the detachable cable. We wish more keyboards had this feature. This is especially good for LAN gamers. The full-braided sleeving is top notch, and the USB connector is gold plated.
The cable is plugged into the bottom of the keyboard, close to the middle.
Back to the surface, the NUM LOCK, CAPS LOCK, and SCR LOCK have a distinctive appearance on the top-right of the keyboard. Something else is also distinctive here - the secondary function for the minus key, asterisk key, slash key, and NUM LOCK key. You can change the response time with these, when holding down the FN key. Available options include 1ms, 2ms, 4ms, and 8ms. We have never seen this feature before. 1ms is the default response time.
The INS and DEL key also have a unique secondary function. With these, you can choose 6KRO or NKRO respectively. It comes at 6KRO by default. Enabling NKRO (FN + DEL) installs another driver.
Here is a closeup on the font. It is the same distinctive font as the QuickFire Rapid, and we happen to like it. Keycaps are laser-etched.
As we mentioned before the QuickFire Pro is using the Cherry MX style switches. These are rated at over 50 Million (yes Million) keystrokes for durability. You can be sure that these will not go bad on you any time soon. As with the QuickFire Rapid you can also replace the keys on the Pro. Here is a look at a Cherry MX switch and it uses Costar stabilizers. These and other mechanical switches are noticeably louder than rubber domes if you bottom out. In total, this keyboard will be available with Browns, Blacks, Blues, and Reds depending on region.
F1 to F4 keys also have a secondary function. These control the backlight. F1's second function enables or disables the backlight, F4 cycles through the modes, F2 dims the light, and F3 increases the brightness. There are five brightness levels, and it gets REALLY bright on the highest one. This is because, unlike cheap keyboards, the QuickFire Pro has a red LED under each and every backlit key.
Here is backlight mode 1. It lights up the F1 to F4 keys, 1-5 keys, Q, W, E, R, A, S, D, F, Z, X, C keys, spacebar, arrow keys, and the CM Storm logo. These are the more common gaming keys. Mode 2 is just like 1, except the LEDs "breathe" or pulsate. This means they don't maintain a constant brightness setting, and constantly go from relatively dim to bright.
Mode 3 is "FPS mode". It lights up the WASD keys, arrow keys, and CM Storm logo.
Here is a closeup of the WASD keys, lit up.
Now the arrow keys.
A backlight was always on our wishlist and the QuickFire Pro mostly addresses this wish. In all the QuickFire Pro is a a very solid and well-built gaming keyboard.
Like the QuickFire Rapid we put the full sized 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 have to be honest here, the QuickFire Pro felt a little nicer than the Rapid. Between the non-slip surface and the feel of the Cherry MX switches it was simply better feeling. The movements were very precise and while the throw of the keys seems longer there was no need to hammer on the keys to get them to respond. The backlighting was also a nice touch. We did some gaming with the lights out. While we know the layout of a QWRTY keyboard by heart and do not really have to look at it the lighting was nice and made of finding the right keys easy in the dark.
The rubber feet also kept the QuickFire Pro in place which is a plus for many gamers, we know we have often pushed our keyboard around the desktop and have to stop to put it back. With the weight and the sturdy feet the QuickFire Pro stayed in place.
This is the second mechanical keyboard we've seen from Cooler Master, and they continue to impress. Like the QuickFire Rapid, the QuickFire Pro has an excellent build quality, visual appeal, convenience, and even an attractive value over other mechanical keyboards.
Appearance: The QuickFire Pro has a pleasing all-black finish, it resists scratches and fingerprints very well, and a partial backlight. It isn't over-the-top, nor too bland.
Construction: The amount of heft to this keyboard is impressive. The rubber coating doesn't seem to be going anywhere either, it has four rubber feet + foldable stands, and the keycaps have a slight textured feel to them which we happen to like.
Performance: Compared to normal keyboards, we type much faster (+15 WPM average), and the feeling of mechanical switches also improves smoothness in games.
Functionality: The QuickFire Pro includes customizable response time, multi-media keys, the option to choose 6KRO or NKRO, Windows lock function in GAME mode, includes a key puller, a detachable cable, and cable routing.
We liked the QuickFire Rapid when we tested it out. Of course there were things that we wanted to see on that keyboard. If we had of waited for a few days we would have found almost all of them in the QuickFire Pro. Here we have almost everything we could want in a keyboard for gaming. We have our gaming cluster backlit, the keyboard is stable enough and heavy enough that it won’t scoot around the desk, there is no worry about hitting keys out of order or hitting two keys at once, and so much more. We found that our movements in games like Dirt 3 and Hawx2 were cleaner (less jerky) while movement in our favorite first person shooters was considerably more controlled than with other keyboards we have used.Even the price tag is not a turn off for the QuickFire Pro as it more than matches the price tag with features and quality. If you are looking for a solid gaming keyboard that comes complete with mechanical switches, replaceable keys, backlighting and more then you will surely want to pick up the CM Storm QuickFire Pro.
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