Combine a back-to-basics aesthetic with a compact travel-friendly design, and you’ve got the CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth. This compact gaming keyboard eschews the extra buttons and software seen on any gaming keyboards, and focuses instead on delivering a well-built basic keyboard, with your choice of mechanical key switches, an innovative approach to key lettering, and a solid design.
Design and Features
The CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth is a compact gaming keyboard, similar in some respects to the Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition. The compact design omits the 10-key numeric pad, making for a shorter overall length, which is that much easier to slip into a backpack or laptop bag and take with you to a LAN party of tournament.
Unlike the Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition, the keys aren’t backlit—in fact, they’re barely labeled. Like the Das Keyboard line of blank-keyed keyboards, the CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth has plain black tops, but the keys aren’t entirely blank. Instead, CM Storm labels the front of the key, so you can still find the correct key when needed. For gamers wanting a bit more visual input, however, the Stealth features swappable keycaps, similar to those seen on the Corsair Vengeance K60. The WASD keys can be removed and replaced with red keys, each labeled with the corresponding directional arrows.
But just as important as the keys are the key switches beneath them. Our review model uses the same Cherry MX Blue switches seen on the Razer Black Widow Tournament Edition, but the Quick Fire Stealth line offers four different models, differing by switch type: Blue, Red, Green, and Brown. Each type of key switch offers a slightly different blend of resistance and tactile feedback, but all offer the undeniable benefits of mechanical key switches, including long-lasting durability—each key is rated for up to 50 million key presses, so game on without fear of wearing it out.
The keyboard chassis is made of heavy black plastic, with a silky matte finish. Pick it up, however, and it feels a lot heavier than its 1.4 by 14 by 5.3 inches (HWD) would suggest, tipping the scales at 2.1 pounds. This weight is largely due to an integrated steel plate—similar to the design of the Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard RK-9000I—which provides a rock solid base for the key switches, and adds enough weight to the keyboard to prevent any unwanted shifting during use.
The Stealth connects to the PC via either USB or PS/2 (with an included USB to PS/2 adapter). The six-foot braided cable should ward off tangles and prevent breakage, and the keyboard features integrated cable management, letting you route the cable directly out the back of the keyboard or through either the right or left sides. Adjustable feet also let you choose between two heights for the most comfortable angle.
The Quick Fire Stealth is a fairly simple keyboard in terms of features, with no backlight, no programmable functionality, and no extraneous keys or media controls. While this may be too basic for some, the simplicity is also a welcome break from keyboards bristling with macro keys and volume knobs, or separate software downloads for custom features.
To put the CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth through its paces, I used it for both gaming and typing. In gaming, the mechanical keyboard was on par with other top gaming keyboards, with crisp keystrokes and responsive tactile feel. In gaming, the N-key rollover (when connected via PS/2) worked as advertised, letting me mash keys and pound out commands as fast as my fingers could move. The most useful feature of the Stealth, however, came in the form of the swappable WASD keycaps. The brightly colored keycaps are clearly labeled and unmistakable, preventing any potential confusion caused by the blank-faced keys.
For typing, including the writing of this review, the blank-faced keys offered a unique experience. And within a few days of use, my typing speed had increased. In many ways it’s an excellent keyboard for the user transitioning to touch typing, as it still offers letters to reference when needed, but it becomes faster to locate letters by feel.
In both work and play, the keyboard functioned very well, with an excellent typing feel, straightforward design, and no spurious features to gum things up. Like the Rosewill RK-9000I, some may find the design to be a bit too spartan, but for a basic gaming keyboard, there’s plenty to like about the CM Storm Quick Fire Stealth. Overall, however, the top gaming keyboard is still the Editors’ Choice Corsair Vengeance K90.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc