CM Storm QuickFire TK mechanical keyboard review
Upon plugging the keyboard into one of your computer's USB ports you're immediately greeted by the shiny backlight. As mentioned before in this review, the brightness of the backlight can be adjusted and there are several light modes. At maximum the backlight is very bright, I prefer using it at one of the lower brightness settings. The LED mode key lets you switch between three light modes; only WASD, fully illuminated and a breathing effect.
The LED backlight also provides some visual feedback about which mode you're working in. For example, when the num lock is enabled the arrow keys will not be backlit, and when the Windows key lock is deactivated the F12 key will not be backlit.
As mentioned earlier in this review, the keyboard's default operating modus is 6-key rollover mode . You can switch to full NKRO mode by pressing the ESC and N key at the same time, and revert back to 6KRO by pressing the ESC plus the 6 key (the one under the function keys). These are nice features because many keyboards available on the market today, even those marketed towards gamers, reach their limit when you hold down as little as three keys. An easy test to see if your keyboard has n-key rollover is to open a text editor, hold down both shift keys and type the following sentence: the quick brown fox jumps right over the lazy dog. Most keyboards will fail in this test, but not the QuickFire TK.
A test in Aqua's KeyTest reveals that the QuickFire TK is indeed an NKRO keyboard, it has no problem with simultaneously registering ten (or even more) keys at the same time. The Cherry MX Red should be more silent than its non-linear brothers but I still found the noise to be relatively high, probably because I tend to bottom out every time I press a key due to the light feel of the red switches.
This keyboard is clearly designed for gamers and it really performs well for this task. The QuickFire TK has no problem registering any key combo and the Cherry MX Red switches provide a light feel, with a smooth responsiveness and easy double tapping. Gamers who require lots of macros may need to look elsewhere as this keyboard does not provide any extra keys nor software customization.
While the QuickFire TK is perfect for gaming, I do not find it a good match for non-gaming tasks like typing text, coding or working with spreadsheets. The compact layout of the keyboard takes some time to get used to and remains quite cumbersome for these tasks due to the lack of dedicated navigation and editing keys. On top of that, the enter key and the plus and minus signs on the numpad can't be used without first deactivating the num lock, and unlike the arrow keys, these three keys remain backlit even when they're not active. Even after using the keyboard for an extended time, I find the constant toggling between num lock on/off to be a very big productivity killer.
Cooler Master delivers a very high-quality gaming keyboard with the QuickFire TK. You get Cherry MX mechanical switches, an adjustable backlight and excellent performance. While it's a great compact, no-fuzz keyboard it's not really my cup of tea. The QuickFire TK has everything you need for gaming, but it's not ideal for other computing tasks like office productivity and coding - the lack of dedicated navigation and editing keys is a real productivity killer for me. I do not recommend this keyboard if you plan on using it for everyday use, for that purpose you'll be better served by the full-sized QuickFire Pro. However, if you're looking for a compact gaming keyboard I highly recommend the QuickFire TK, its small size makes it easily transportable to LAN parties, and also makes it a good companion for mobile gamers. Pricing is around $89.99 (79.99EUR).
The Good Stuff
- Cherry MX mechanical switches (available in three variants)
- Great for gamers who desire a very compact, no-fuzz keyboard
- Supports NKRO
- High build quality
- Adjustable backlight
- Windows key lock
- Easy cable management
The Bad Stuff
- Only good for gaming, the keyboard layout is a productivity killer
- Somewhat noisy (like most mechanical keyboards)
- Included manual does not explain all functions
DV Hardware awards the Cooler Master QuickFire TK keyboard with a 8.0/10 and our Seal of Approval.
Added: December 16th 2012
Product reviewed: CM Storm QuickFire TK mechanical keyboard
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck