CM-Storm Keyboard Review

best keyboard I’ve ever owned!

© 2012 by KV5R.

Why?

KV5R unboxes and reviews the brand-new CM Storm Quickfire Rapid Keyboard a “tenkeyless”-style with Cherry MX mechanical switches. This one was ordered with Cherry “black” switches to replace a Filco Majestouch Tenkeyless (Cherry blue), which has an irreparable contact-bounce issue.

Sometimes ya just gotta start over… After nearly two years of enduring annoying problems with the Filco, I went searching for another keyboard that would fit in the hole in my desk. To my surprise, the guy that sold Filcos in the USA no longer sells them, but now sells an identical line under the brand of Leopold. Then I discovered that Cooler Master (yes, the computer case, power supply, and thermal products people) now sells a line of of keyboards called CMStorm, and the Quickfire Rapid is almost exactly like the Filco Tenkeyless—indeed, several companies are now marketing such keyboards, all manufactured by Costar of Taiwan. They all use the same layout and Cherry MX switches mounted in a steel frame. The CMStorm comes in at the best price ($65-$80), so that’s the one I got. After much research on Cherry switches, I settled on the Cherry “black” switches, and ordered one directly from Cooler Master. It arrived in four days.

The Quickfire Rapid is marketed as an “extreme gaming” keyboard, and I’m sure it is, but for me (not a gamer) it’s just an all-around great, heavy-duty keyboard that’s a real pleasure to use. The Cherry MX switches are mounted in a steel plate, so it’s rock-solid, yet the key action is smooth as silk. Lacking the numeric keypad, it’s only fourteen inches wide, which brings the mouse in about five inches closer than possible with with the standard keyboard. Yet minus the keypad, it has a standard keyboard layout—it’s not like a laptop keyboard with a weird layout and a bunch of little double-purpose keys. The keytops are laser-etched and paint-filled, so the printing isn’t likely to wear off any time soon.

About Switches

Cherry Corp. manufacturers keyboard switches that are widely used in commercial and industrial applications. They are high-quality mechanical switches, rated for millions of operations. You won’t find them in $10 keyboards!

Even if the Cherry blue Filco had worked properly, I never really did like the feel of those switches. The blues are clicking switches with a light spring (40-60 grams), and are made for touch-typists who typically type lightly and don’t botton out the keys, and lots of people absolutely love them. But I don’t type lightly, and I almost always bottom the keys, so that little tactile click in the blues is wasted on me.

Enter the Cherry black, a switch with a non-clicking, linear action and a 60-80-gram spring. The way these mechanical keyswitches work is that a square plastic piece slides vertically in the housing. Right beside the sliding part stands the two vertical leaves of the actual switch. The black switch simply has a ramp on the side of the sliding part, and as it moves down, the ramp smoothly pushes the switch leaves together—no click—and that’s why it’s called a linear-action switch. The browns also have a ramp, but with a bump on the side of it that creates a soft tactile bump in the action. The reds are like the browns, but with an even lighter spring. The blues are quite different. The sliding part is two parts, one around the other. As you push the key down and tension builds up in the switch, the second part of the stem suddenly pops past the switch leaves, creating that little click. Since the switch’s contacts rapidly snap together, it produces a vibration in the switch leaves, increasing the possibility of contact bounce. Keyboard micro-controller chips are supposed to filter the natural bounces of mechanical switches. If the switch is defective and bounces too long, or if the chip was improperly programmed, the computer will occasionally receive two or more characters for one key press. One or the other is what is wrong with my Filco.

Note: After reading this page and watching the video, you might enjoy Cleaning Keyboards and (not) Fixing Key Bounce. These two pages cover what I’ve learned about DSI Strongman, Filco, and Cooler Master CMStorm mechanical keyboards, as well as Cherry MX blue and black keyboard switches. The video of the CMStorm also contains a brief review of the Contour Shuttle Express input device.

Video


Better in 720p HD, full-screen…


—KV5R—

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