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October 16, 2014

Unboxing & Review: Cooler Master CM Storm Octane Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo


Entry level gaming peripherals are suppose to be more affordable for those who wish to own gaming optimized peripherals without breaking their bank, but there aren't many choices that is actually cheap yet being able to offer the aesthetics and functionality most gaming peripherals should have.

I've came across a very good deal from Cooler Master last year, with their CM Storm Devastator gaming keyboard and mouse combo at a surprisingly low retail price of RM 149. This year, Cooler Master revised their Devastator with more added features. The star of today's review - the CM Storm Octane Gaming Gear Combo. Its retail price is a little higher than its predecessor (RM 199) but let's put aside the pricing for now and have our attention on what's new!


Specifications

Unboxing

At the front of the box, we can see Cooler Master's usual approach with reflective font printing for the product name along with the pictures of the actual product itself - just came to know that the model of the keyboard (MB7C) and mouse (MS35). It's really appealing from the angle of those who wish to get an entry level gaming peripherals.


Cooler Master plans to keep things simple at the back, so you'll only find a briefly described feature of the keyboard and mouse at the back.


The content of the box is pretty simple and straight forward: user's guide, Octane keyboard and mouse.


Mouse (MS35)
  • 10 million click life cycle
  • Illumination with on-the fly color cycling
  • 7 LED backlighting colors to choose from
  • 4 preset DPI levels (500-3500)
  • AVAGO 3050 optical sensor

As it's part of a budget gaming combo peripheral, we don't really expect to see gold plated USB connector or braided cable. 


The MS35 mouse comes in a standard layout (4 level DPI toggle buttons, side buttons), matte plastic surface and the appearance that resembles the head of a cyborg/ Optimus Prime.






The DPI toggle buttons has a pretty good click and response but as a palm grip user, we find the position favors claw grip users more. Not only that, the gap between the mouse makes me a little uncomfortable after long hours of usage.


The left side of the MS35 mouse comes with 2 side buttons to toggle between previous page and next page, and to pair with the DPI toggle button to toggle the LED color modes.


The right side of the mouse doesn't comes with any side buttons, just plain nothing.


The front view of the mouse.


Moving on to the bottom of the mouse, there's a disc shaped cover with CM Storm logo engraved on it but we can't seems to find a way to remove it.


The AVAGO 3050 optical sensor that powers the MS35 mouse.


The MS35 mouse with its LED switched on.


Changing the LED color on the mouse.


Breathing LED mode.


Keyboard (MB7C)
  • 19 keyAnti-ghosting
  • 6 dedicated multimedia keys
  • Dedicated backlight on/ off key
  • 3 brightness levels
  • 7 backlighting colors with quick cycling and adjustable pulsating speed
  • Turbo mode – quickly adjust repeat rate
  • Game mode – enable/ disable windows key
  • Keyboard lock/ unlock

The keyboard comes with backlit feature and has a stylish appearance that resembles a spacecraft.


Bubble bursting time. Removing the keycap reveals that the Octane MB7C keyboard is actually a rubber dome switch keyboard.


And there's no way you can get a mechanical keyboard keycap to fit on it, it just won't work.


The Octane logo on the arm rest.


The extra large space bar immediately caught my attention as it's pretty uncommon even for a gaming keyboard but it gave a rather soft but solid landing when pressed from the side.



Removing the space bar reveals that there's 2 pieces of spring hiding underneath the keycap, which explains where that soft but solid landing came from.


I removed the shift key as well and while there are no springs underneath, a metal wire stabilizer is there instead.


The bottom of the keyboard looks a little odd at first glance. Imagine the amount of screws that has to be removed if you plan to perform a tear down.


The patterns at the bottom of the keyboard resembles the patterns found on carbon fiber vinyl, except that it's plastic.


These large rubber feet deserves a medal.


The keyboard feet to raise the keyboard to your comfortable height.


Before the keyboard feet is raised.



Keyboard feet raised.


The cable protector to prevent cables break after being jiggled back and forth too many times.


The LED color is default to blue but you can select the color of your choice from the 7 colors available.



The media keys is located above the function key row (F1 ~ F12) for playback control and volume control.


The function key (FN) allows you to activate other alternate functions on the keyboard. For instance, pressing the FN key with the LED backlit key right next to it allows you to toggle the backlit mode to normal backlit or breathing mode.

LED on breathing mode.



LED color toggle.

Pressing FN key and the Q key allows you to adjust the input rate of the key pressed, comes in very handy for those who requires rapid input for certain games - not a common feature found on entry level gaming keyboard.


Pressing FN key and the '+' / '-' key allows you to adjust the pulse rate of the LED during breathing mode. 



The default pulsing frequency.


Reduced pulsing frequency.



The keyboard lock function located at F11 allows you to disable the keyboard input entirely (FN and F11 is still available) to prevent someone from messing around when you're away from your keyboard.


Pressing FN and Page Up/Page Down key allows you to toggle the LED brightness, there's a total of 3 brightness level for you to choose. 


The windows key lock is a feature that is commonly found on a gaming keyboard that helps to prevent accidental windows key actuation that often spoils the gaming mood.

Key Rollover Test



Instead of having a large numbers of key rollover, the Octane MB7C keyboard is designed with optimized key matrix to prevent blocking / ghosting for the commonly played games. We've tried several key combinations for some commonly played games from various genres (FPS, RTS, Rhythm games) and each combination is able to register perfectly without any issue.


Wear & Tear

When it comes to the quality of keycap, the enthusiasts will pay more attention to the durability of the keycap, the printing quality of letters. High quality keycap are more durable and less prone to shine caused by corrosion from corrosive properties on our fingertips. 

But then again, wearing and tearing will take place as the result of heavy usage and no keyboard is able to escape the fate. The picture above shows the wear and tear of the keycap on the Octane MB7C keyboard from 2 weeks of heavy usage. Although the letters still remain intact, the shine that occurs on the keycap makes typing feels uncomfortable over time.


Thoughts and Verdict

Based on the trend that we've seen for years, majority of those who bought themselves a gaming peripheral would prefer more aesthetics and LED backlit plays a pretty big part in decision making. The 7 color LED is definitely something worth being mentioned as most peripherals that offers similar feature will cost somewhere around RM250 or more but the CM Storm Octane Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo cost only RM199.

As for user experience, we've noticed that 19 KRO of the Octane MB7C keyboard doesn't applies to any random key combinations. Its optimized gaming key matrix somehow, doesn't gives us any ghosting / signal blocking issue on majority of the mainstream games that we've tested. We also noticed that Octane MS35 mouse appears to be more favorable to claw grip users - reaching the DPI toggle buttons requires palm grip users to curl their fingers more than usual, the gap that gives an unpleasant feeling after long hours of usage.

RM199 is a pretty good deal for what the CM Storm Octane Gaming Keyboard Mouse Combo has to offer and we find no reason to not to recommend it to anyone who wants a budget gaming peripherals that not only looks great but works well enough to deserve to be called gaming peripherals.

Pros
  • Aestheticcally pleasing
  • Fair priced for those on a tight budget
  • Adjustable 7 colors LED backlit
  • Media keys for music and video playback
  • Optimized key matrix that works well on most mainstream games (FPS, RTS)

Cons
  • Keycaps gets shiny pretty fast
  • The mouse favors claw grip users more

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