CM Storm Quick Fire TK Gaming Keyboard Review
By André Gordirro on December 20, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

Mobility is one of the current buzzwords. If a gamer wants to be part of a championship or an LAN party, the worst peripheral to transport is the keyboard, especially the mechanical ones, which are heavier. With this player in mind, CM Storm releases the Quick Fire TK, a compact version of the Quick Fire Pro that fits in a backpack. The model is also indicated for those who don’t have a lot of desktop space. Although it is small, the product features a complete numpad, multimedia and illumination controls. The only things it doesn’t do are macro recording and key configuring. Let’s describe the Quick Fire TK and then evaluate it.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 1: Quick Fire TK keyboard

Just like the Quick Fire Pro, its kid brother also catches the eye with its sturdiness. The keyboard is like a black brick with Cherry MX mechanical switches. There are three types of switch options: Cherry MX Red, Brown or Blue. The packaging indicates which type of key is inside. Each has its own characteristics, as we’ll see later in this test. The illumination follows the key color: red LEDs for the Cherry MX Red, blue ones for the Cherry MX Blue, and white light for the Cherry MX Brown (brown light just wouldn’t work). The illumination is controlled by the F1-F4 function keys.

For the body to be compact, the numpad absorbed the arrow keys plus the Insert, Home, Page Up, Page Down, Delete, End, Print Screen, Scroll Lock and Pause keys. They are incorporated into the numbers and can be engaged by pressing the Numlk key that switches the numpad from the regular numbers to these commands. That’s an ingenious solution. The multimedia controls also share space with the F5-F11 function keys, and the F12 blocks both Windows keys on each side of the space bar. Those extra commands are engaged when pressing the Function key next to the right Ctrl.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 2: Numeric keypad

QuickFire TK
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Figure 3: Function keys

Introduction (Cont’d)

On the right upper corner, the user can find the CM Storm symbol plus three LEDs for the Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock. On the underside, there’s a mini-USB port inside a tight niche from where three cut outs run that help route the cable to the left, right or up the keyboard. The Quick Fire TK rests on four rubber feet or two plastic feet that can be flipped down.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 4: Mini-USB port

The removable cable is cloth-wrapped, and it ends on two gold-plated connectors.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 5: Routed cable

Seen from the lateral side, the keyboard is quite tall and goes from almost 0.78” (20 mm) on the front side to 1.3” (30 mm) on the back side. It comes with an extraction tool to remove the keys and help clean it up.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 6: Side view

Main Characteristics

The main characteristic of the Quick Fire TK is that it is a mechanical keyboard that is both illuminated and compact. Here we’ll review some notions about the Cherry MX technology. The different key colors mean the type of feedback (force or linear), the actuation force (from 45 g to 60 g) and if the keys are silent or clicky. Force feedback means your finger actually feels a small resistance when pressing the key; a linear feedback offers a smoother typing experience. We got the Cherry MX Blue for this test, which has an actuation force of 50 g and it’s the noisier type that is very clicky.

QuickFire TK
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Figure 7: Cherry MX Blue key with LED

Despite being a gaming-grade keyboard, the Quick Fire TK doesn’t feature programmable functions or macro keys. So it’s more oriented towards FPS titles like Battlefield, Call of Duty, etc. For those into macro recording, it’s better to have a good programmable mouse.

Another characteristic is that the user can change the key roll-over value, that is, the maximum number of keys that can be pressed at once and still be recognized by the keyboard. It goes from 6KRO (six simultaneous keys) to NKRO (any number of keys). That can be controlled by pressing the number 6 with the Esc key at the same time. MMO players will enjoy this feature if they choose the Quick Fire TK, but they should know that the absence of macro keys is an issue.

The user can choose from three illumination modes (with five levels of intensity): full illumination, a breathing mode and the WASD cluster (the most used on FPS matches).

QuickFire TK
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Figure 8: Full illumination

QuickFire TK
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Figure 9: Illuminated WASD cluster

Testing the Quick Fire TK

Heavy and compact, the Quick Fire TK ended up being a little tiny on our big test table, but it has an ideal size for those small computer desks on the market. The peripheral held on during heated matches and didn’t move an inch. It’s a tall keyboard, so we had to adapt a detachable wrist rest from another keyboard to level our hands and be able to reach the function keys.

The Cherry MX Blue key is very noisy. The typing is so loud that it sounds like those old movies with newsroom scenes using lots of manual typewriters. Our squadmates from Battlefield 3 heard the sound through the headset during our matches.

Like the Quick Fire Pro, the detachable cable didn’t seem like a good idea. The underside niche is too tight, and we only managed to insert the mini-USB after some awkward attempts. There is also no extra USB port to plug in a mouse or a USB headset, which comes in handy in most gaming-grade keyboards.

Since the Quick Fire TK doesn’t feature programmable keys, it’s nice to have a gaming-grade mouse full of buttons to complement it. The response is as precise as was expected from a mechanical keyboard. Among all the Cherry MX colors we’ve tested, we liked the blue switch the most, but that’s purely personal taste. The audible click is a sign to lift the finger off the key, because the key will rise propelled by the coil inside. With some getting used to, the user will notice that his or her typing becomes more fluid and less tiring.

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the CM Storm Quick Fire TK keyboard include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The Quick Fire TK is one of the best gaming-grade keyboards we’ve tested for FPS gamers (which is, coincidentally, our game genre of choice). Robust, compact, elegant and stable on the table, it has controllable illumination and an ingenious system to shrink its size without losing keys. If the user doesn’t have a big hand, he or she should get a wrist rest. We didn’t miss the macro recording because it’s not that important on an FPS game. In addition, its absence can be compensated for with a good programmable mouse, which all gamers worth their reputations should have. Still, this might be an issue for those interested in more customization.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/CM-Storm-Quick-Fire-TK-Gaming-Keyboard-Review/1696


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