Breaking in the new mechanical keyboard.

So, today my new mechanical keyboard finally arrived.

Update: Pics!

The box. The packaging is a bit flashy on the surface and actually feels like it's made of particularly study cardboard.
The box. The packaging is a bit flashy on the surface and actually feels like it’s made of particularly study cardboard.
However, it's evident once you open up the box that packaging was stepped down to bring down the cost. A simple manual and an oddly shaped keycap remover are the only accessories included, however the USB cable provided is braided, an excellent touch.
However, it’s evident once you open up the box that packaging was stepped down to bring down the cost. A simple manual and an oddly shaped keycap remover are the only accessories included, however the USB cable provided is braided, an excellent touch.
CHERRY MX BLUES, BABY!
CHERRY MX BLUES, BABY!
Like the lighting in this shot a lot. You can read my (incoherent) thoughts on the blue switches down below.
Like the lighting in this shot a lot. You can read my (incoherent) thoughts on the blue switches down below.
Night shot at lowest brightness level. Off to the left you can see my rig with its iconic green LED fan.
Night shot at lowest brightness level. Off to the left you can see my rig with its iconic green LED fan.
Full keyboard shot of backlit keys. Lowest setting once again.
Full keyboard shot of backlit keys. Lowest setting once again.
Close up of the WASD region while backlit. The font, while a frequent complaint about the device, suits my tastes more or less and thus, doesn't really bother me. It is a little too flashy, but I'll live.
Close up of the WASD region while backlit. The font, while a frequent complaint about the device, suits my tastes more or less and thus, doesn’t really bother me. It is a little too flashy, but I’ll live.
Backlit WASD region only. One of the 3 back-light modes available on the keyboard.
Backlit WASD region only. One of the 3 back-light modes available on the keyboard.
Another full keyboard shot.
Another full keyboard shot.
Comparison shot of the new mechanical keyboard and the really shoddy wireless rubber dome keyboard I used for the past two weeks. It never stood a chance.
Comparison shot of the new mechanical keyboard and the really shoddy wireless rubber dome keyboard I used for the past two weeks.
It never stood a chance.

 

Spontaneous, unfiltered thoughts:

Life’s been busy though, so I haven’t been able to crank out a full length post for today but I decided to share my thoughts about the keyboard as I tried it for the first time. Here’s the play by play as it happened in my head.

Wow. Everyone wasn’t kidding when they said this thing is loud. Thankfully it shouldn’t be a problem for me right now since my room is fairly distant from everyone else’s.

Especially after coming from a particularly bad rubber dome keyboard after 4 years of extensive use of the arguably better scissor keys on my laptop – this feels great.

Again, I’m still a little off put by how loud it is. That said, between the beginning of the article and this sentence, my typing speed and accuracy have dramatically improved. I struggled to get to any reasonable speed on the wireless MK320 keyboard I was using until this morning, even after using it exclusively for almost 2 weeks. However, in just a few minutes I’m able to get to near what I consider to be full speed typing for me on this bad boy. I’m pleasantly surprised.

My first complaint about the keyboard has to be the shape of the space bar but I’ve seen a lot of mechanical keyboards with a similarly shaped space bar so I’m assuming that there’s some logic behind it.

The LEDs are great. I really missed the back-lighting of my laptop’s keyboard and didn’t give too much thought to my reliance on it at night when the lights were off. I would have preferred green or white LEDs but the blue ones on here aren’t too shabby although I’ll reserve final judgement for tonight.

I just discovered the fn-lock mode. It’s a great little touch that’ll grant me one finger access to volume and media keys – a feature I didn’t have on the laptop but I really appreciated once I switched over to the wireless keyboard that I mentioned earlier.

I need to stop bottoming out my keys – maybe I should have opted for greens instead. I definitely LOVE that tactile bump though – so I’m sure in my decision of blues over browns or reds, but I underestimated how hard I press on the keys. I definitely feel as though I could manage with greens for short typing sessions but for anything longer…I’m not yet sure what I think.

Anyway, that about wraps up my initial thoughts on this keyboard. I’ll post some pictures later after I get some shots of it in the dark. Right now, I’m just glad that I was able to crank this article out in time.

Slightly more coherent thoughts:

So, it’s been a hectic day but I got to use the keyboard for everyday things for quite a while. Chatting on Facebook, browsing Reddit and FunnyJunk – the usual things. The keyboard works great for these purposes and the tactile feedback still hasn’t gotten old. However, now that I’m typing extensively on it again, I see the true prowess of this keyboard. I’m not sure how to explain it but although my muscle memory with this keyboard is still significantly lacking, I can type really, really quickly on it with minimal errors.

However, I still feel as though there are some secrets that yet allude me. I’m still bottoming out nearly all of my keystrokes – which isn’t necessary with a mechanical keyboard since the actuation point is higher than the full travel length of the switch. I think that, as I stated above, I underestimated how much weight I put on my keys. Blue switches may allow me to type without fatigue and with applying minimal pressure, but even with that amount of pressure, it’s still difficult to avoid bottoming out keys. I guess that it’s just an aspect of this keyboard that I’ll have to live it. It’s a very minor inconvenience at worst since I’m still really shocked by how fast I can pump out words on this thing.

Additionally, I still think that it’s a little on the loud side – especially since I’m typing this at full speed at 1 AM and everyone else in my house is asleep. I doubt they can hear me, especially since I usually play music at this hour anyway – but if I were living under different conditions then it may have been a much bigger issue to me. Sharing a room with someone while typing on a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches is still a no-no unless you want to end up shot.

With regards to build quality: this thing is built like a rock. It feels so solid when held and its weight makes it feel like the premium product the price tag would suggest that it is. I feel like these things are absolutely built to last. This particular keyboard, the CM Storm Quickfire TK, has a little flex to it, but compared to the rubber dome keyboards I’ve used in the past, it’s almost non-existent. The rubber pads on the underside of the keyboard are hella sturdy. Shifting the position to better suit my wrists is actually a challenge and so far, I usually just end up lifting the keyboard to put it into place. As a nice touch, the feet used to angle the keyboard also include the same super sturdy rubber pads – so this keyboard isn’t sliding anywhere.

Feature wise, this keyboard is noticeably lacking in certain luxury features that I’ve seen other (more expensive) models include. Noticeably, the three included back-light modes are a little lacking. I probably won’t be gaming tonight so I can’t say how I feel about the WASD mode, but I’ll try to update this article again when I do get the chance to game on it. Lastly, the breathing backlit mode is just…weird. I don’t get the reasoning behind it, but maybe it’s not intended to be used by me. However, aside from those minor qualms, the keyboard meets also the features you’d expect from a mechanical keyboard. NKRO and back-light brightness control are both here and so is the inclusion of media and volume keys – which can be used with only one button press by locking the function button. Unfortunately, when locked to fn mode, fn+key does not execute the function-key itself. I’ll actually probably email CM about this since I consider it a pretty big omission. Finally, despite being a Cherry MX Blue board, it also includes a Windows button lock for those gaming sessions – quite handy to the right person.

Finally, we’ve come full circle and it’s time to talk about that tactile bump again. It’s indescribably satisfying. I know that each keystroke registers because I can literally feel that little click in my finger bones (and hear it as well). It’s a minor detail in theory but all the love for the bump is justified – it’s incredibly satisfying in practice. Overall, I suppose I wish that this was a little cheaper, especially given the limited feature set in some aspects. However, it’s definitely a long term investment and it’s a product that’s supposed to outlast the interface it uses. While I’m not quite so sure that it’ll last that long, I certainly will be using this for years to come and I will love every single moment of it.

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