Monday, August 26, 2013

It's On Amazon: Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid - CHERRY MX GREEN Switches

After working hard to winnow down my keyboard collection from one each of Filcos with Cherry Browns, Blacks, Blues, and Reds, and even a "fake" White Alps version, down to just a Filco Red and an array of Topres, I had to break down and try out the newest Cherry on the block in a commerically available keyboard, the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid with MX Greens.  At an impressive 80 grams of accuation force, it is said to be the closest in feel that Cherry has come to reproducing the vaunted buckling spring key switches from the old Model M keyboards.  Buckling spring technology was what lured me into the crazy world of mechanical keyboards to begin with, so I understandably had to find out how close the Greens had come to replicating buckling spring tactility.  At the same time, I wanted to see how close Cooler Master's mech 'boards came to the gold standard set by the legion of Filcos I've owned.

I'll answer the second question first:  CM is very, very close to Filco in quality.  In fact, if you prefer a detachable USB cable, or if you'd simply prefer to save around $20-$30 on any given keyboard, CM is a very viable alternative to Filco.  The key feel and quality of construction is highly comparable.  The CM font is a bit more esoteric than the one used on Filco, but they've even begun to offer a side-printed option that is comparable to Filco's "Ninja" series.  Bottom line, if you're looking to invest in your first mechanical keyboard and are interested in Cherry key switches, a CM Storm QuickFire Rapid would be my recommendation.  For the complete novice, Cherry Browns would be the logical first step; touch typists with a lighter touch (like me) may prefer the Reds, while hardcore gamers who like to mash buttons may prefer the Blacks.

As for the Greens in particular:  While they're closer to buckling springs than the somewhat lackluster (in my opinion) Blues, their high actuation force makes them impractical for daily use, at least for someone who has been spoiled by the lighter actuations of Topre capacitive switches and Cherry Reds (which remain my favorites, in that order).  If you're a typist who prefers Blacks but would like some tactile and clicky feedback, the Greens may fit the bill.  I was once such a typist, but the lighter key switches in my current stable have ruined me for the heavier switches.  If your preference run in a similar vein, you'll probably find the Greens too stiff for prolonged use.

As a result, my top Cherry recommendation still goes to the MX Reds and Browns, simply depending on whether you prefer smooth or tactile actuations.  By all means, give CM's line a try - but be prepared to fall down the mechanical keyboard rabbit hole if you do.  And believe me: it's a long - and expensive - way down, but you'll love every minute of it.

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