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CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

Cooler Master's gaming division CMStorm is back with another tenkeyless gaming keyboard, the QuickFire Rapid-i mechanical. Here's our full review.

@chad_sebring
Published Tue, Dec 9 2014 9:08 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: CMStorm

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 28 IMAGES

Cooler Master and the CMStorm team need no introductions at this point; really, if you do not know who they are, or have never seen their gear before, then you are either five years old, or you really should get out more. From what we have gathered from our own personal experiences, and from what we have seen on YouTube, when it comes to mechanical keyboards, CMStorm's are crazy tough. CMStorm is the only keyboard manufacturer I know of that runs their keyboards over with many different vehicles, and shows, without a video cut or edit, that these keyboards will indeed continue to work after a couple of tons tests every Cherry MX switch on their board to extreme levels.

It is highly unlikely that you want to take your new keyboard outdoors and run it over, as you may scuff the surface treatments. However, it is reassuring to know that if a 4X4 can run these over and they can take it, then they can take anything you can dish out. These keyboards will outlast heated game play, and even with a super aggressive temper, it is unlikely that slamming your fists or throwing this keyboard will cause any functional damage either.

It has been a while since we last toured a mechanical keyboard from CMStorm, but here we are again in the QuickFire series that originally took us from rubber dome keys into Cherry MX green switches in the Trigger. The Trigger was so nice, and so tough, that after three years of solid use, and a second set of key caps, the Trigger is still working great for our team. I have passed the Trigger along to another team member, and the reason I did so is that the full lifespan of clicks is nearly used up, and while everything remains completely functional, the springs have softened, and feel more like blue switches. Also, with so many new products arriving, I have made the move to TKL boards, but did not have the heart to toss the Trigger in the bin. After all of that time, CMStorm mechanical keyboards have found their way into a special place in our hearts.

Speaking of Ten Key Less (TKL) keyboards, we are here today to see one of the latest TLK keyboards from CMStorm and their QuickFire series, the Rapid-i. Of course, that means we lose the number pad, but we also lose the need for drivers in this instance as well. That does not completely take away from the Rapid-i and its optional functionality either. There are still some very cool lighting modes, you can adjust the repeat rate, there are profiles for lighting and key assignment, and there is a set of multi-media keys as well. There are a few other nice features to this latest design, and if you are in the market for a TKL, then the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i is a serious contender for your hard earned money.

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Since the provided chart shows there are three models, we will start there. The Rapid-i comes with your choice of reds, blues, or browns, but no matter which switch you choose, all versions of the keyboard are backlit with white LEDs. Speaking of the LEDs, you can turn them off, or light the entire board in five stages of brightness. Taking it one step further, there are lighting modes as well. One such mode lights the WASD and arrow keys. Another mode will light as you press a key, and yet another will leave keys illuminated for a few seconds after use, and disappear in the order you pressed them. There is also a mode that will light the entire row and column of the key pressed, and, of course, there is the fully lit mode.

Back on the chart, following the LED information, we see discussion of the USB 2.0 connection, which is on a removable braided cable that is 1.8 meters long, and uses a Micro-USB connection in the back of this keyboard. We also see this keyboard is set full time to NKRO support with a 1ms polling rate. The key caps are made of ABS plastic, and have a black coating on them that offers a bit of grip. We see there is 128KB of onboard memory for profiles of lighting schemes and button reassignments in the M-keys. We also see mention of the F-keys for the lighting and repeat rate settings, and even the multimedia keys.

The last bits in the chart show us the dimensions of the Rapid-I; this TKL is less than fifteen inches wide. The Rapid-I weighs 932 grams, features a two-year warranty, and comes with a key puller.

There is still one surprise yet to disclose. As we shopped around for the version of the Rapid-i with the blue Cherry MX switches, we saw listings at $149.99. This made us double take, and we had to double check that this was the correct pricing, and with Newegg.com, Amazon.com, and a few others all in agreement, this is indeed one of the priciest TKL keyboards we have seen in a while. That is not to say that it's not worth the price, but with a price this lofty, CMStorm had better be on their toes with the QuickFire Rapid-i, and be able to prove to us the worth of this latest design in mechanical keyboards.

PRICING: You can find the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-I with Cherry MX Blue switches retails for $149.99 at Amazon, and the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i with Cherry MX Brown switches retails for $155.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-I with Cherry MX Blue switches retails for CDN$156.99 at Amazon Canada, and the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i with Cherry MX Brown switches retails for CDN$139.99 at Amazon Canada.

Packaging, Accessories and Documentation

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The packaging is mostly black, with just a splash of grey at the bottom, allowing for most of the front panel to show the fully illuminated Rapid-i. Along with the naming at the top and bottom, there are five features listed to the right, including the Cherry MX switches, LED lighting, NKRO, LED management, and ActiveLite.

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To go along with the design we just looked at, even the smaller side panel carries the grey bit at the bottom, but this time, just the Cooler Master and CMStorm naming and logos are presented here.

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Most of this side of the box is covered with twenty-one ways of saying "this is the QuickFire Rapid-i mechanical keyboard," and "visit the website to find out more about it." At the very end, we find out that this keyboard is ready to go with all current, and some EOL versions of Windows. The serial number is also present here.

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With an off angled image of the Rapid-I to the left, the right is open to list features again, this time including repeat rate adjustment, the feel and styling, multi-media keys, and the detachable cable. The bottom repeats the full list from above in various languages.

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The last side of the packaging offers the QuickFire Rapid-i naming running one way. The sticker at the right is turned, but we can see that this is the GKCL1 (Cherry MX Blue) for U.S. and Canada only.

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After breaking a pair of security seals, we lifted the top of the box to peer inside. Here we find cardboard at the back containing the wiring and key puller. The rest of the interior is then taken up by the Rapid-i that is wrapped in a thin foam envelope. With the doubled sides, and the fact that the thick cardboard spacer at the back keeps the board locked in place, our Rapid-i showed up in terrific condition.

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After the keyboard is out of the box, you can pick out the spacer at the back, tip it to one end, and the cable and key puller should fall right out. The cable is gold plated on both connections, and braided over its length, but does not feature a Velcro tie strap. As for the puller, it is the standard model we have seen with all other CMStorm boards.

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Under the keyboard, you will find a Function key guide for all of the secondary functions incorporated in the various keys. The guide is repeated on another insert in Chinese; I am guessing there is a separate Chinese insert since that is where the keyboard is made. Along with those, you will also find a User Guide.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

Really, this is what the User Guide offers; the rest of the guide repeats this information as many languages as they could fit. This side lists the features again, and the opposing side offers specs, requirements, and information on the two-year warranty.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i Mechanical Keyboard

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 12 | TweakTown.com

As most of their boards do, the top section of this QuickFire wraps around the entire side of the frame, and offers an indentation near the back to make it easier to grip and move the keyboard around. As the Rapid-i sits flat on the table, we see that the key caps do lean away from the user, just like they all do.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 13 | TweakTown.com

Starting out very close along the top edge of the Rapid-i, we run into our first dual purpose buttons. F1 turns the LEDs on and off, while F2 allows you to decrease the intensity. Along with the F3 to increase the brightness, there is also the F4 button that swaps out the entire lighting mode as we described earlier.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 14 | TweakTown.com

Moving a bit to the right, we then find the repeat rate keys. Here you can select the rate at which the key will apply itself when pressed and held. Keep in mind, these will work along with Windows settings, so you can tweak this a bit for exacting speeds.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 15 | TweakTown.com

As we progress to the F9 through F12 keys, we find four M-keys for lighting profiles. Using the Function and Print Screen keys, then tapping one of these, will provide a programming mode where you can select the lights that are on and off. The arrangements will save to one of the four profiles that is saved on board.

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To the right is the Windows Lockout key, and multi-media keys. Overall, the font is acceptable, and we can see that the steel plate has been painted white to help reflect the LED backlighting.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 17 | TweakTown.com

As we raise the back of the Rapid-i with the flip out feet, we find a much more usable angle to the keys. When flat, the blunt edge may cause issues, but with the caps raised and leaning at you, your palms will rarely even feel the edge.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 18 | TweakTown.com

On the back edge, there is a Micro-USB port that accepts the cable we showed you earlier. The plug is angled to better accommodate those with the PC on the right of them. However, even with the need for a small loop of cord, there is plenty of length to get to those on the left as well.

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On the opposite end of the back edge, we see that CMStorm has painted their name on Rapid-i. The nice thing is that this naming is not too obnoxious, so it shouldn't prevent you from keeping the Rapid-i at your desk, even in an open office that requires a bit of class.

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The bottom of the keyboard is flat as can be; only four thin rubber feet, and the hinges for the flip out feet stand proud of the frame. There is a large sticker at the top with the model and serial numbers, and also a quality control sticker over a screw hole at the left.

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Since the flip out feet will take away the use of the rear feet for grip, CMStorm made sure to cover the end of the feet with a rubber pad to ensure that this TKL does not move around.

Inside the QuickFire Rapid-i

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While verifying that we do indeed have the Rapid-i with Cherry MX blue switches, we can see that they have built-in the stabilizer bars, concealing them, and keeping them from filling up with debris and hair.

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The caps that fit on the switches follow the usual procedure. First, they are cast in white ABS plastic, then a special coating is applied that is sort of rubber feeling, but allows an easy way to get the LED lighting through the bare iconography.

CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review 24 | TweakTown.com

The top section of the frame is pretty standard in a mechanical keyboard. As for the bottom, the Rapid-i has supports in both directions, as well as pins to help keep this steel plate solid, stable, and free of flex and resonance.

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CMStorm is one of the companies that will take the extra steps of cleaning the PCB after soldering. This may not be a huge deal, but there are articles about residue causing resistance issues.

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To allow the Rapid-i to take on more features than the standard TKLs out there, CMStorm employed the use of this Holtek HT32F1755 ARM Cortex M3 32-bit MCU, and that should be more than capable of handling the needs of the Rapid-i.

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Since the iconography is already white, with bright lights in the booth, it is tough to make out the "gamer mode" (as we will call it) where just the WASD cluster, and the arrow keys are currently lit.

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The other modes of illumination involve motion, and they are a bit tough to show in images as a result, so what we have now is the QuickFire Rapid-i in its last mode, full illumination.

Final Thoughts

When we look at the QuickFire Rapid-i as just a mechanical keyboard first, we are in no way disappointed. CMStorm has kept to that same level of super sturdy construction that you cannot twist more than a degree or two with your best try. We found no issues in our few weeks of use; our fingers did not get numb from resonance in the plate, there were no problems with any of the Cherry MX blue switches, and the LEDs worked just great. While we wouldn't take this out to our driveway to have a go with it, it certainly feels as if it would be up for the task.

Beyond its function as a basic TKL design, we also get things like five intensity settings, and five modes of LED lighting without the need for drivers. We don't often make repeat adjustments to keys, but there seems to be a surge of this feature on many boards lately, so it is nice to see it here for those that can take advantage of its benefits. Of course, there are also the six multimedia keys that make life a bit easier at times, but the coolest thing about this Rapid-i has to be the modes and complete customization of the LEDs. If you want to draw a picture in lights, you can do it. If you want to try to spell your name, then go ahead. Outside of a very few select keys, the majority can be turned on or off to fit whatever it is you are trying to do; there is even a guy on YouTube that has hacked his to play Snake on the keyboard without a monitor.

Any way we want to look at this QuickFire Rapid-i, we find it to be fully functional as described, even if we have spent most of our time just playing around with the LED profile function. So, the real question comes down to this: Is the Rapid-i worth the extra investment over the many other TKLs we have seen lately? Most of them are also driver-less, allowing you the same feel and settings anywhere you might use your keyboard. Most of them also offer full LED backlighting in some color or another, and we have even seen painted steel plates before. What we have never seen on a keyboard without software is the ability to drop into a record mode and customize LEDs that we want to use, and not what some guy in an office thinks we want. Then, the fact that the keyboard will save these four profiles, so you can show off your handy work to anyone is a costly option.

Looking at the Poseidon ZX, and the RGB80 from Rosewill, we can get the basics for less than $80. Even something like the KUL ES-87 that feels stronger than both mentioned before is under $110. While we absolutely are transfixed with the custom LED option and modes to go with it, the price is a bit intimidating. However, the fact that it costs $149.99 is something you are just going to have to deal with if you like this QuickFire Rapid-i as much as we do.

PRICING: You can find the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-I with Cherry MX Blue switches retails for $149.99 at Amazon, and the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i with Cherry MX Brown switches retails for $155.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-I with Cherry MX Blue switches retails for CDN$156.99 at Amazon Canada, and the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid-i with Cherry MX Brown switches retails for CDN$139.99 at Amazon Canada.

TweakTown award
Performance98%
Quality including Design and Build100%
General Features100%
Bundle and Packaging95%
Value for Money85%
Overall96%

The Bottom Line: While the QuickFire is a tad pricey, you do get a very solid TKL mechanical keyboard. The best thing is you still get full functionality, and the coolest driverless LED options on the market.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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