The Cooler Master Quickfire Stealth Keyboard
I’ve been spending way too much time over on /r/mechmarket recently for my own good. I rarely buy anything, it’s just fun to look. However, when I saw someone selling their Quickfire Stealth with Cherry MX Reds for $45, I really couldn’t pass it up. Not only did I already have some knowledge of the goodness of CM’s boards (thanks to my CM Rapid-i with Browns, review in the future!), but I hadn’t had any boards with linear switches yet, something I definitely want to try for myself, both for the “gaming” that it’s so touted for, as well as for general usage as a light switch. And oh boy are they light.
(I also picked up separate sets of White and Mint PBT keycaps on mechmarket, which are featured on this board. Hopefully a review on them later.)
This is a tenkeyless board, which means that it drops only the numpad (unlike my 60% Pok3r). Although you can’t really tell due to the blank keycaps, it features a bunch of function keys to handle things like media keys that might have been dedicated keys in a full-size board. It also does the Cooler Master thing of letting you quickly change the repeat rate, which I still haven’t found a use for.
The board itself carries some heft–apparently it has steel reinforcements inside (I wouldn’t know, I haven’t opened it up). Trying to flex it as hard as I can causes some unpleasant plastic creaking, so I don’t recommend flexing it for no reason!
The whole board is coated in this rubbery finish. It feels awesome to the touch and looks beautifully matte. However, hand oils absolutely love to cling to it. I’ve read that dust and other particles like to cling to it as well, so make sure to practice proper keyboard hygiene. CM likes to keep their boards clean as well; the only noticeable branding is hidden on the back of the keyboard, keeping the front and top very “stealth” indeed.
Cooler Master includes nice braided USB cables with all of their keyboards, something other keyboard manufactures should definitely adopt, especially on keyboards more expensive than CM’s offerings! Unlike my Rapid-i which has a port on the back, the Stealth has cable routing underneath. This is nice in theory, but there are problems with the implementation. The provided cable is almost too thick for the routes, and it is unnecessarily difficult to get the cable into the routes.
Furthermore, the space for plugging in the mini-USB cable is way too small; it’s really hard to plug in the cable unless you’ve already inserted it into one of the routing holes, which makes it even more difficult to plug it in as the routing holes grip on to the cable tightly enough such that pulling it through to fit into the port is annoying. Of course, for most people you’d deal with these annoyances once and never do it again. If you’re like me though and unplugging your keyboards often, whether to transport them or just to swap keyboards, it’s really frustrating.
Underneath my awesome PBT caps (the board comes with some thin ABS nonsense, replace them quickly) are the reason that I bought this keyboard in the first place. Cherry MX Reds are a linear switch, which means you don’t feel anything until you’ve bottomed out the keys. That’s not completely true though. Cherry’s Reds aren’t perfectly smooth, as you feel a sort of “grinding” as they slide down. I don’t mean that negatively though: I actually really like that sort of texture, it personally adds to the dampened feel for me. Perhaps in the future I’ll have a board with Gateron Reds and be able to try pure smoothness.
I’ve played games with this keyboard, including shooters like The Division or puzzle-platformers like The Swapper. It works absolutely fine for gaming. I don’t know if I perform better with Reds, but I certainly enjoy using them. However, as I’m nearing typing this entire review with this board, my hands are cramping up quite badly. Of course it’s the end of a long day so perhaps I’m just tired, but the lack of feedback makes it too easy to bottom out and therefore stresses out my hands more than necessary. Plus, the lightness results it a lot of mispresses when I type quickly, which means stretching over the backspace, which means more fatigue in the long run.
This is a really attractive keyboard, and the price I got it for (in excellent condition save for some stabilizers that needed greasing) makes me glad that I have it for playing video games. At the moment though, typing is a real no-go (even my Browns got me through two all-nighters of programming, much less half an hour of blogging). Maybe I’ll get used to typing much lighter with no feedback though. Of course, switches are a personal thing, so if you’re already leaning towards Reds, this (and CM’s other similar offerings) is an awesome choice.