Coolermaster’s CM Storm Quickfire TK mechanical gaming keyboard lights up your life—and may be one of the best small form-factor mechanical keyboards you can buy.
The Quickfire TK is a mechanical keyboard designed to consume little desk space and to be travel-friendly. But the Quickfire TK has two features not found on some of its competitors, including CM Storm’s own Quickfire Rapid and Razer’s BlackWidow TE(Tournament Edition): back lighting and a full 10-key numpad, which is often sacrificed to save space in most small keyboards.
Even if you can take or leave the 10-key number pad, I consider back lighting an essential feature for PC gaming keyboards. And like other CM Storm mechanical keyboards, the Quickfire TK is available in different models based upon the mechanical switches the keyboard uses, Cherry MX Blue (the noisy ones), Red (the ‘softest touch’ or lowest resistance switches ones), or Brown (medium resistance switches).
Features & Tech Specs
The basic feature and specification run-down for the CM Storm Quickfire TK are as follows (courtesy of Coolermaster):
- Cherry MX Blue/ Brown/ Red switches (review unit used blue)
- ABS, grip coated, removable keycaps
- Keycap Puller included
- 5 levels and 3 modes of Backlight (Breathing, WASD or full backlight)
- 6 NKRO (N-key rollover) (windows only)
- 1000 Hz /1 ms polling rate
- USB 2.0
- 1.8m, braided, gold plated, removable USB cable
- Weight: 544 g/1.2 lbs
Back lighting (in my opinion) is an essential feature for a gaming keyboard. I tend to game in the dark frequently or even exclusively (as do many PC gamers), and being an experienced typist/gamer I still occasionally get my left hand out of position from the W-A-S-D cluster.
More typically, however, I may need locate a key that I may not use often, such as a macro key, a profile switch key, or something else that lies outside the standard layout of your typical keyboard.
Without back lighting, I’m forced to hunt for the key I need by the ambient light of my monitor. This frequently means getting killed in the face in whatever game I’m playing (Tribes Ascend, Borderlands 2, etc.)
LED back lighting solves that problem, saves my face from getting killed now and again, and even adds a little colorful personality to your gaming environment. But really it’s about the face.
Although the Quickfire TK is about an inch wider than either the Quickfire Rapid or Razer TE keyboards, it also has a full 10-key pad. The INS, DEL, PRT SCR, and other keys are accessed by pressing the Quickfire TK’s FN key in conjunction with the appropriate number key on the 10-key pad. (FN+NUM KEY 7 is the Insert (INS) command, for example.) Similarly, LED brightness controls, LED mode, and media keys are accessed via the FN and F1-F12 keys.
The Quickfire TK also has a detachable USB cable and excellent cable channels underneath the keyboard so you can route the cable straight forward from the middle of the keyboard or out the left or right sides. The cable channels work very well and snugly hold the stiff, braided USB cable in place.
Coolermaster even adds some LED frosting to the cake (so to speak) by providing some alternate LED lighting options. In addition to 5 levels of brightness and a ‘breathe’ mode (which are fairly common to back lit keyboards), the Quickfire TK enables you to light only the W-A-S-D and arrow key clusters, or turn off all back lighting except for the FN key and F12 key (which is used with the FN key to disable the Windows key).
The Quickfire TK is available in 3 different models, each backed by a different type of mechanical switch and sporting a different colored LED to differentiate them. My review unit is backed by Cherry MX Blue switches and comes with blue LED lighting. The Quickfire TK with Cherry MX Red switches is backed by red LED lighting, and the model based on Cherry MX Brown switches is backed by white LED lighting.
The Quickfire TK and its clickity-clackity Cherry MX blue switches won me over quickly, which is hardly surprising because I’m a big fan of Cherry MX blue switches. The Quickfire TK feels crisp and responsive and it offers the same satisfying albeit noisy key clicks that my Razer BlackWidow Ultimate does.
Admittedly while reviewing the Quickfire TK I did miss having extra macro keys or the flexibility to program macros like you can the Razer BlackWidow TE. But while the BlackWidow TE enables you to create macros and assign them to keys, bear in mind that it doesn’t provide dedicated macro keys.
This means you must use existing keys (INS, DEL, etc. for example) that already have standard assignments to make program with macros. While it’s nice to have the option, it can be a bit challenging deciding which key you can assign a macro to without potentially causing trouble in other programs. (But you can also use keyboard profiles to circumvent this problem.)
Regardless, , the Quickfire TK would still probably be my (small form factor) mechanical keyboard of choice for traveling, taking to work, or desktop gaming in an environment where space is tight. The only thing the Quickfire TK is really missing is a nice carrying bag for travel.
Overall: 5/5 stars
At about $90, the Quickfire TK is only about $10-$15 more than its sibling the Quickfire Rapid, and about $10 more than Razer’s BlackWidow TE—and I’d be inclined to recommend it over both of them for the back lighting alone. No matter how you slice it, the Quickfire TK is an excellent best-in-class keyboard and earns an “Examiner’s Choice” award.