Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Review

If you want mechanical switches in a tight, well-built keyboard, the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid is an excellent choice.
If you want mechanical switches in a tight, well-built keyboard, the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid is an excellent choice.
If you want mechanical switches in a tight, well-built keyboard, the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid is an excellent choice.

Highs

  • Affordable
  • Excellent key feel for typing
  • Different models offer different key switches
  • Good build quality
  • Lack of numpad allows for better mouse position

Lows

  • No macro keys

DT Editors' Rating

Gaming keyboards seem to be enjoying a revival as of late. Five years ago, Logitech felt like the only game in town, joined only by a few niche brands. Now some of those brands, like Razer, have become household names among gamers. Perhaps enticed by that success, more and more keyboards are debuting from companies that you’ve probably heard of, but don’t associate with gaming keyboards. This includes names like Gigabyte, Corsair, and Cooler Master.

Maybe worried that the Cooler Master name doesn’t relate to peripherals clearly, the company has been releasing keyboards and mice under the CMStorm brand. Some of the new products, such as the mid-range Storm Spawn and Storm Sentinel mice, have been well received by consumers so far.

The company is still just sticking its toes into the water with keyboards, however. One of its early offerings is the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid, a mechanical gaming keyboard that promises the tactile pleasure of a mechanical switch at a low price (the MSRP is $79.99 in the United States, and similarly inexpensive in other markets).

There certainly could be a market for this. While Corsair, Steelseries and Razer offer excellent competitors, most are priced over $100. Only the basic RazerBlackWidow limbos into the same bracket as the QuickFire. Does the budget pricing require too many sacrifices? Let’s find out.

Where’s the numpad?

If you take even a glance at the QuickFire, you’re sure to be struck by something odd. Wait a second! This keyboard is missing its numpad!

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. You’ll find no numpad here, which of course serves the purpose of making the keyboard smaller than most others, and also likely helps the product reach its low MSRP.

There’s a method behind this madness. With the numpad out of the way, there’s more room for your mouse hand, which means that your arm doesn’t have to be moved over to the side of your desk to use your mouse. By ensuring your mouse hand don’t have to move far, a more comfortable and more effective gaming position is achieved.

cooler-master-cm-storm-quickfire-review-keyboard-front

At least that’s the theory. Does it work in practice?

In my experience, yes. I used this keyboard for a number of long gaming sessions in Star Wars: The Old Republic. During these, I found that my mouse arm was more comfortable and that I could game longer without feeling tension in my shoulder. The positioning was also much more convenient, freeing up space on my busy desk for other important objects. Like a half-finished bowl of cereal.

Do these advantages justify the loss of the numpad? That is going to depend on the user, but for most gamers I think the answer is yes. Although the numpad can theoretically be used to bind additional game functions in certain titles, I’ve never actually used it for that. It is, for the most part, dead weight.

cooler-master-cm-storm-quickfire-review-keyboard-sideUnfortunately, this keyboard doesn’t make up for the missing keys with unique macro buttons or interesting functionality. What you have here is about a foot and a half of keyboard. Everything is exactly where you would expect it to be. That’s a good thing, of course — becoming familiar with this keyboard is simple — but the lack of macro or special function keys will disappoint some gamers.

The switch

This is a mechanical keyboard, which means it uses individual, mechanical switches for each key, rather than a mushy silicone membrane. There are various versions of the QuickFire with different mechanical switch types sold in different markets, but the one we received featured the Cherry MX Blue.

The MX Blue is a tactile, clicky switch. When pressed it provides feedback to your fingers due by the way the key seems to snap down. It also provides feedback to your ears through a “click” noise which occurs at the point where a key press is registered.

This makes the MX Blue a good switch for typing. Every key press is registered by both touch and by sound. Better still, it sounds impressive. If you’re working on a keyboard with the MX Blue, people are sure to know it. You’ll sound as if you’re typing at a 1,000 words per minute even when you’re just posting a comment on Facebook.

As a gaming switch, however, the MX Blue has downsides. The noise of the switch doesn’t add anything to your experience, and the tactile snap of switch engagement feels unusual when quickly tapping the same key over and over. The Cherry MX Black switches found in my Steelseries 7G keyboard would be preferable.

cooler-master-cm-storm-quickfire-review-keyboard-rear

This not to say that a QuickFire with the MX Blue switches is flatly unpleasant to use as a gaming keyboard, however. Personally, I found it enjoyable. While the MX Black and Red switches would be better for gaming (and are indeed available on other versions of the QuickFire) they are inferior for everyday typing. Those wanting a nice gaming keyboard and a solid typist’s keyboards will find the MX Blue to be a good compromise.

Not too attached

Most keyboards come with cables that are attached, permanently — but not this one. Instead, it can be detached from the keyboard for easier portability and storage. Connection to your computer is via USB by default, but an adapter for conversion to PS/2 is included in the box.

Also removable are the key caps. Usually this simply assists in keyboard cleaning, but Cooler Master has gone to the extra trouble of including four unique red key caps with arrows on them. These can replace the default caps on the WASD keys, providing an extra gaming touch. A key cap removal tool is included to make sure this can be done without damaging the keyboard.

cooler-master-cm-storm-quickfire-review-keyboard-angle

The only other feature worth noting is the Windows key lock, which is activated by pressing the Function key (found on the lower right) and F9. Disabling the Windows key is considered important by many gamers, since an accidental bump can cause a game window to be minimized or interrupted. That’s particularly true for gamers with dual monitors, who often run games in windowed mode rather than full screen.

Yes, this means there’s no back lighting, a feature that is increasingly common on keyboards of all types. While it certainly would be nice if this was included, the similarly priced RazerBlackWidow also does not include this feature. If you want a mechanical keyboard and backlighting, you’ll have to spend in the triple digits.

Conclusion

There seems to be two camps in gaming keyboards right now. One of these camps believes in macro keys, built-in macro recording, LCD screens and other fancy features. The other doesn’t care for that, and feels that it’s more important to have a solid keyboard with excellent key feel.

Personally, I fall into the second camp. I spent $150 of my own money on a SteelSeries 7G a year ago, a keyboard that despite its price does not offer backlighting, built-in memory, or any macro keys. I find that macro keys get in my way more than they help, back-lighting annoys me, and I don’t switch between profiles. Ever.

As such, I like the QuickFire. I like that the lack of a numpad allows for a more ergonomic mouse position. I like the key feel, which is good when gaming and great everywhere else (and you can buy a different version of the QuickFire if you’d like that statement reversed). I also like the simple but robust build quality. There’s no learning curve. You can plug it in and game with it immediately.

Others may feel differently. This is a keyboard that makes serious compromises. Fortunately, they’re compromises that are easy to understand before you buy. If you want macro keys, look elsewhere. If you want mechanical switches in a tight, well-built keyboard, the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid is an excellent choice.

Highs:

  • Affordable
  • Excellent key feel for typing
  • Different models offer different key switches
  • Good build quality
  • Lack of numpad allows for better mouse position

Lows:

  • No macro keys
Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Computing

Choose your weapon wisely -- these are the best keyboards for gaming on your PC

Your PC isn't complete without one of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. We have a list spanning full-sized models to compact versions from Razer, Cooler Master, Corsair, Logitech G, and more.
Product Review

LG's new V40 has 5 cameras, but ThinQ twice before you buy

The LG V40 ThinQ has five cameras -- three on the back and two on the front. This makes it one of the most versatile camera phones LG has released to date, and it’s creatively fun to use. Read on for more in-depth analysis.
Product Review

'Black Ops 4' outshines the games it copies with that Call of Duty polish

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s omission of a campaign could have been a deal breaker, but multiplayer, Zombies, and the new Blackout mode make it one of the best shooters of the year.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift, HTC Vive head-to-head: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual-reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

What's the best laptop? We've reviewed a lot of them, and this is our answer

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Emerging Tech

Looking for a good read? Here are the best, most eye-opening books about tech

Sometimes it's sensible to put down the gadgets and pick up a good old-fashioned book -- to read about the latest gadgets, of course. Here are the tech books you need to check out.
Gaming

The 'Fallout 76' beta starts tomorrow! Here's when it starts and how to join

Want to get into Bethesda's Fallout 76 beta? We don't know when the program will launch, but we provide instructions on how to get ready. The game officially launches on November 14.
Computing

Samsung’s HMD Odyssey Plus gives you a clearer view into the virtual world

Samsung's refreshed HMD Odyssey+ promises to make Windows Mixed Reality experiences better by eliminating pixelated views caused by screen doors. The $500 headset also focuses on comfort this year with ergonomic improvements.
Computing

Intel denies rumors that 10nm Cannon Lake CPUs have been canned

Intel's long-in-development and oft-delayed, Cannon Lake 10nm CPU design has reportedly been canceled. Intel is denying the rumor, but if true, it could push back the release of new Intel chips by a long time.
Computing

Not to be outdone, Samsung says it’s making a laptop with a foldable display

Samsung announced that it is also working on a dual-screen computer. But rather than using two separate display panels, Samsung said that its novel laptop will come with a large flexible display that can fold when closed.
Photography

Free your digital memories, and frame them, with the best photo printers

Printed photos are experiencing a revival at the moment, but you don’t need to go to a special lab. Here’s our favorite options for making quality prints, from pocket-sized printers to wide-format photo printers capable of spitting out…