Cooler Master CMStorm Quick Fire Rapid 87-Key Mechanical Keyboard

Cooler Master's CMStorm Quick Fire Rapid mechanical keyboard

Cooler Master’s CMStorm Quick Fire Rapid mechanical keyboard

For the last 13 years, I’ve been a proud, and quite happy, user of an original Logitech Di Novo keyboard, from their old “Media Laser Desktop1 keyboard+mouse bundle.  It’s still a great keyboard.  Compact, but comfortable and built really, really well.  But, while exploring the aisles of a local game shop, I happened across a mechanical keyboard.  Oh, ‘clickly-clackly’, I’d forgotten how I missed you so!

Logitech's original Di Novo keyboard, 2001.

Logitech’s original Di Novo keyboard, 2001.

What originally drew me to the Di Novo was that it only has 87-keys, and is completely missing the 10-key numeric keyboard.  Now, I like the 10-key… the few times a year I need one.  And, frankly, I am never entering so many numbers that it really is crucial.  In 2001, I was a heavy FPS and MMORPG gamer, and had a particular bias against using “WASD” to control in-game movement (“W” is off-center from “S”, and drives me nuts).  I, to this day, strongly prefer using the arrow keys.  With a standard 104-key keyboard, it’s impossible for a right-hander to reach the arrow keys without bending their elbows and wrists into knots, or moving the keyboard to the point it’s nearly falling off the desk.  The 87-key, ‘tenkeylesss’ keyboard layout and size were perfect for me, but, back in 2001, they were all junk quality.  When I saw the Di Novo in an old CompUSA one day, I walked out the door with it, and have been using it ever since.

The Quick Fire Rapid 87-key mechanical keyboard

The Quick Fire Rapid 87-key mechanical keyboard

After coming across a mechanical keyboard recently, I was struck how much I’d missed, not only the old-school ‘clack’ sound, but the feel and more-prounced ‘stepped’ design.  So, I started doing a little shopping around, and a couple of weeks ago I found a Coolermaster CMStorm Quick Fire Rapid 87-key keyboard for about $60. So I grabbed one, and that’s in spite of the tragic, Microsoft’esque, product name. Really, Coolermaster?!

The keyboard itself is compact, but sturdy, with a nice solid weight and feel.  This particular one comes with the Cherry MX Brown switches.  These switches live under every key, and produce the distinctive sound and tactile feedback that mechanical keyboards are known for.  The Brown switches are the second most quiet. The most quiet being the rare and hard to find Cherry MX Clear.  The Browns have a nice ‘clack’ sound, that is not too loud here in my home office.  In an at-work setting, my guess is that the Browns still might be annoyingly loud for some cube-pod mates.

Typing on the Quick Fire Rapid is a pleasure, but it does take a little time for your muscle-memory to adjust to typing on something that isn’t as flat as most keyboards these days.  The key press is firm, but never too much resistance – it’s nice and easy.  I am still only a couple of weeks in, but I feel like typing is a little more comfortable than the Di Novo, which is hands-down better than the generic Dell keyboard I use at the office (I mean “used”, because the Dell is going back to IT, and the Di Novo comes to work).  As mechanical keyboards go, these MX Brown switches feel ‘just right’ to my fingers.

Channels for the braided USB cable to follow.

Channels for the braided USB cable to follow.

One of my favorite things about these new style mechanical keyboards is the ease of customizing key sets, the Quick Fire Rapid even comes with a few extra keys and a key-puller tool.  In the photo above, you can see I’ve replaced the Windows keys with the Mac OS “Command” key.  Sites like WASD Keyboards sell single keys, like “Command”, as well as many others.  In fact, through them you can order from multiple templates – Windows, Mac, Linux, Amiga, or even upload your own custom design!

The Coolermaster CMStorm Quick Fire Rapid2 mechanical keyboard is a great, if unfortunately named, product.  If you are wanting to give a mechanical keyboard a try, given the price and quality, I’d strongly suggest checking one out.

Pros:

  • Solid and well built mechanical keyboard.
  • Can be found on-sale for reasonable prices.
  • High quality, braided, cable, with a generous length.

Cons:

  • More expensive than almost every board you can find a Best Buy, Staples, or other box-store.
  • Ugly font used on the keys.

Verdict = Recommended.

References   [ + ]

1, 2. Amazon Referral Link

Mike Knotts

Mike Knotts was born in 1968 in a small town in southern Indiana. Even when very young, Mike showed a love for all-things technical and sci-fi. Moving with his family to California in the early 80's, he eventually graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in History. Rather than put that to good use, Mike continued to pursue his passion for technology by working for early, regional ISP's in the mid 1990's. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where he works as a project manager for an Internet startup. Mike is a co-founder of Geekometry.

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