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March 10, 2014

CM Storm QuickFire XT


CM Storm QuickFire XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


Last week, I received a mechanical gaming keyboard from CM Storm, namely QuickFire XT. The keyboard unit comes in an ordinary card box without any branding on it except product code and a sticker indicating the keyboard is equipped with Cherry MX Red switches.

Even I'm curious why we got a sample look-a-like unit instead of regular off-the-shelf unit. Nevertheless, read on for our point of view on this keyboard.

SRP for CM Storm QuickFire XT is MYR325.



Tech Specs


Part NumberSGK-4030-GKCG1(Green switch)
SGK-4030-GKCL1(Blue switch)
SGK-4030-GKCR1(Red switch)
SGK-4030-GKCM1(Brown switch)
N Key RolloverN key in PS/2 mode
Repeat Rate4 levels (PS/2 mode only)
InterfaceUSB / PS2
Windows Key LockYes, both sides
Media KeysYes (via F keys)
Keycap PullerYes
USB CableRemovable, USB A connector
Dimensions440(L)x132(W)x29(H) mm
17.3(L)x5.2(W)x1.1(H) inch
Weight1100 g/ 2.43 lbs

Packaging





I'll assume that the box is the same as the retail box except minus cosmetics. Judging from the thickness of it, minimal protection is provided to the keyboard in case there's any accident during transport. Let's just hope the extra layer of foam cover would reduce the shock.

Closer Look



Official packaging should come with:

  • keyboard
  • usb cable
  • user manual
  • usb/ps2 converter
  • keycap remover
  • keycap





QuickFire XT comes with a removable USB cable and it is rather unique. Instead of standard USB-to-Mini-USB cable, the QuickFire XT comes with a USB-to-USB cable.

The cable is braided with some sort of synthetic material. Though I can't be sure what it is made of but it feels rather stiff and durable.

It even includes a USB-to-PS/2 converter to take the advantage of N-key roll-over feature of the keyboard.


Ring key cap puller. When compared with wire type key cap puller, ring type key cap puller would be an inferior choice. It will scratch the sides of the key cap and pretty much only effective in removing 1x sized key caps. I really hope more manufacturers would include the wire type key cap puller instead.



Then the keyboard itself. Taking it out of the box, immediately I'm impressed at how classy it looks. The designers have put the CM Storm logo at the top part of the keyboard, keeping the front looks clean and elegant. Just one thing that bothers me - rubber coating on the top chassis. I still can't think of any reason why rubber coating the chassis is a good idea. It makes the chassis more prone to wear and tear, furthermore it might become sticky after some time especially in this kind of humid and hot climate in Malaysia.





Upon closer inspection, I'm pretty sure that the QuickFire XT is OEM by Costar because the frame's construction is exactly the same as Filco Majestouch 2 and Rosewill RK-9000, especially the LED light placement. Even the typing experience feels extremely similar.


Media functions are achievable via the FN button combination. But then I'm not really a fan of FN buttons because you have to sacrifice one button at the spacebar row for it. The QuickFire TK choose to sacrifice the Menu key and I find it is a rather bad decision because it is a very useful key.


Bottom of the keyboard. Large pieces of non-slip keyboard feet.




Standard flip-up elevation feet.


The switch is Cherry MX Red, soft linear type, coupled with wire stabilizers for the large keys. Typing experience is rather solid on this keyboard. Thanks to the overall firmly constructed keyboard body.

The key cap is made of standard thickness ABS plastic and printing method is likely to be infilled-laser-engraving. ABS plastic despite being cost friendly, but not as durable as PBT or POM. Infilled-laser-engraving printing method is quite standard as it is used on most of the mechanical keyboards on the market (non-backlit).

Final Thoughts


CM Storm QuickFire XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Plate mounted switch for solid typing experience
  • NKRO with PS/2 adaptor, 6KRO with USB
  • Multimedia control with FN combination
  • Standard key layout
  • Detachable USB cable


Subjective:

  • Standard USB to Standard USB cable
  • ABS key caps
  • Infilled-laser-engraving printing - sta
  • Wire stabilizers (costar) - troublesome to change key caps but retains switch feel


Cons:

  • Ring key cap puller
  • Absence of Menu Key


When I first unboxed this keyboard, I am absolutely delighted to see how clean and elegant the design is. As we all know the general higher end keyboard market is mostly dominated by those gaming keyboards with gimmicky features, such as backlights, macro keys, LCD panel, wacky chassis design and others. The QuickFire XT however, with the absence of any obvious or oversized branding definitely makes the keyboard a class of its own despite being marketed as a gaming keyboard. One thing I feel dissatisfied is their decision of rubber coat the keyboard top chassis. We can't argue that the coating does give a special soft touch finish to the end product, but then what is the purpose when we don't usually touch the chassis?

Other than the design, in terms of usability, I have to admit this is a very good keyboard. Typing experience on this keyboard is great and solid. I have to repeat the word SOLID because the build quality is that great. If you compare it to the Rosewill RK-9000 and Filco Majestouch 2, you'll find out they actually looks similar. Well, can't blame that as they're (highly suspected) to be manufactured by the same OEM. But then, it also comes with a few drawbacks, which are not directly related to the performance or the usability of the keyboard, for instance the rubber coating of the keyboard chassis and the absence of Menu key.

I have mixed feelings towards this keyboard. In terms of typing experience and build quality, this is one awesome keyboard. Though I don't have the chance to dismantle the keyboard and take a look at the printed circuit board (PCB), still there are traits everywhere on this keyboard indicating it is built by Costar. Judging from the SRP of MYR325, I still can't take my mind off from the Rosewill RK-9000 which is almsot identical with a lower pricetag. Unless you hate the Rosewill logo so much that you prefer the sexy and stealthy look of QuickFire XT.

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