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CM Storm QuickFire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
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by J.D. Kane on November 28, 2012 in Gaming Peripherals, Keyboards/Mice

Through its Storm product line, Cooler Master has introduced an entire family of gaming-oriented peripherals. Time to add one more member to the mechanical keyboard lineup: the QuickFire TK. Featuring a unique layout and a compact footprint, how well does the TK measure up to its heralded sisters? Read on to find out.

Introduction

Would you believe that it has only been scarcely a year since Cooler Master’s Storm gaming product line first waded into the shark tank that is the mechanical keyboard market? The QuickFire Rapid was the first to jump in, followed in subsequent months by its sisters the QuickFire Pro and the Trigger. By all accounts, including ours here at Techgage, all three are certifiable hits.

Today, Techgage has the newest member of the CM Storm mechanical keyboard family on-hand: the QuickFire TK. We’ll have a good look at it and see how well it stacks up to the pedigree established by its older siblings.

Cooler Master sent us its newest baby in nothing but a plain white box, so I suspect what we have is a sample strictly for review. I mention this at the outset since there is a possibility that the shipping retail versions may have some subtle differences from what we received. It’s currently shipping, but the roll-out to certain e-tailers is slow. It carries an SRP of $99.99 USD.

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

From the first time you lay your eyes on it, it’s clear that the QuickFire TK shares plenty of DNA with its elder sisters. For example, it has a detachable braided USB cable that plugs in underneath the keyboard chassis, just like the Rapid and the Pro. Also like these two variants, the TK has three channels through which you can route the USB cable (left, right, center) for best convenience, according to where your keyboard is relative to the PC.

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

In terms of physical dimensions, the TK is a just a smidge larger than the Rapid in all three dimensions (L, W, and H). Styling-wise, it borrows the most from the Pro: the TK features iterations of the Pro’s most distinctive styling cues, most obvious in the “Lock” indicator LED cluster, as well as its dark anthracite coloration. The TK also has CM Storm’s very attractive custom font on its laser-etched keycaps as well, a detail it shares with all of its sisters.

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

And in case you thought it borrows nothing from the Trigger, the TK has the Trigger’s capability for full backlighting of the entire keyboard. Indeed, not only can you have backlighting for all the keys, you can choose to have it just for the WASD and arrow key (more on this later) clusters, or “go dark” entirely. The TK borrows something else from the Trigger, too: Multimedia shortcut keys! These keys are not distinct, but are secondary functions of keys F5-F11. They are accessible by activating the Fn (Function) key first. (This particular feature is also shared with the rest of the CM Storm keyboard family.)

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Speaking of the keys, Cooler Master has changed its tactics somewhat with the launch of the TK. When the other CM Storm keyboards made their debuts into the marketplace, the company did not offer consumers in a given region a choice of available Cherry MX mechanical key switches. For example, in North America, only the Cherry MX Blue key switch was available for the QuickFire Rapid; likewise, the QuickFire Pro and the Trigger both just came with the Brown switch type. Other key switch types for these models, though, were available in other regions, although it must be said that for each model, only one key switch type was available for each region.

Very recently, though, perhaps after some consumer feedback, Cooler Master has relaxed its “one key switch per model per region” availability policy and now offers consumers more choice in key switch type. A quick look at Newegg’s inventory shows the QuickFire Rapid is now available with the Blue, Black, and Red switches; the QuickFire Pro, with the Brown and Red; and the Trigger, with all four Cherry MX switch types. In my opinion, this is how things should have been done from the onset.

The TK will be available with the Red, Blue, and Brown Cherry MX switch types right from launch. The variants will be very easy to distinguish from one another as well. Though all TK models share the same dark anthracite chassis, the MX Red model will have red backlighting and a red steel plate (Cooler Master’s terminology here) beneath the keycaps, the MX Blue will have blue backlighting and a blue steel plate, and the MX Brown model will have white backlighting and a brown steel plate.

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

As much as the TK shares with its older siblings, though, one thing makes it different from most other keyboards: its unique form factor. As stated before, it’s just fractions of an inch larger in every dimension than the very compact QuickFire Rapid, but it has a complete numpad (tenkey) on it. Cooler Master accomplished this feat by physically eliminating the four arrow keys and the six so-called command keys (Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down) from the TK. This contrasts with a tenkeyless design which retain the arrows and command keys but forego a numpad. On the TK, those command keys haven’t disappeared completely. If you really need your arrow keys and/or any of the command keys, simply toggle the Fn key on, then hit the specific keys on the number pad which correspond to whichever function you need.

Cooler Master Quickfire TK Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Now that we’ve had a good look at the QuickFire TK, let’s see how it is in action.

Page List:
Top

1. Introduction
2. Testing and Final Thoughts


  • http://techgage.com/ Marfig

    I’m getting a bit scared of what I perceive to be a new trend of mechanical keyboard with heavy changes to the key configurations.

    I’m always on the lookout for something that can eventually replace the dome keyboards I’ve been using for the past… 15 years(?) There’s however the matter I use my keyboard mostly for typing and gaming only comes a distant second. But if mechanical keyboards start to get this apart from traditional key configurations, I don’t think this will become an option.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      The problem is that a lot of these companies cater to gamers, so the best option for someone like you who may want not a gamer focus, LEDs or other bling, would be to look at options from companies like Filco, Ducky and others.

      The sub-Reddit for mechanical KBs is a great resource for finding out about all sorts of different options (but, a lot of them are also much more expensive than $100).

      http://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/

    • JD Kane

      There are actually plenty of options available if you want a good, basic mechanical keyboard. CM Storm itself offers the QuickFire Pro – I bought one when a local store put it on sale (couldn’t resist), and I like it a lot, to be honest. If my QF Pro had Cherry MX Blues, it might supplant Das Keyboard Professional (itself a no-frills plank) as my daily driver.

      But these are no means the only basic mechanical keyboards available out there.

    • Patrick Michael Graf Murray

      Actually, there is an entire mass of mechanical keyboards that are minimalistic in design and aesthetics, but not lacking in overall feature besides quality such as for example: WIthout backlighting, Cooler Master XT( comes in every switch flavor to give users a wide gamut of choices while staying rather affordable for a mechanical keyboard of that quality, I currently own one with brown switches and yes sometimes I miss backlighting but overall I absolutely love this keyboard) The there is the cooler master ultimate basically your full array of 104 keys but with backlighting and a less minimalistic design but the build quality is definitely there, also still keeps the board from being gaudy. The XT runs you around 80 to 95 usd(on sale for 70) and the Ultimate runs you about 100 depending as long as you are not picking up cherry mx green switches(harder to come by, stiffer key, more expensive by 20 usd or so) you should be able to get a nicely designed, highly durable, no bells and whistles board for 80 if you research a bit. So, don’t let some of the side project keyboards fool you…the TK is a lovely board though and it was made as such for those who need a number pad but don’t have the space which I think was actually mighty decent of Cooler Master.

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