While browsing Cooler Master's suite at the Consumer Electronics Show, our Editor in Chief got up close and personal with the firm's mechanical keyboards. Cooler Master segments its standard keyboards into three QuickFire families: the full-size XT, the tenkeyless Rapid, and the TK, which retains the numpad but drops the paging block and directional keys. Within each family, variants are available with different switch types. Cooler Master is now adding green Cherry MX switches to the usual selection of red, black, blue, and brown options.
Cherry designed the green MX switch for spacebars, so supplies are apparently limited. The switch requires a heavy 80 grams of actuation force, a few grams more than the buckling spring switches on IBM's Model M keyboards. Like the blue Cherry MX switch, the green one offers a tactile "bump" and clicky feedback. Scott says the crisp feel reminds him of older keyboards.
Cooler Master claims its QuickFire keyboards have thinner bezels than their Cherry MX-based rivals. The new models are draped in a rubberized black material that replaces the grey exterior of the older designs. There's also a new Stealth option for folks who prefer blank key caps.
Available first on the QuickFire Rapid, the Stealth keys have their lettering printed on the side, where it won't wear off or become discolored due to heavy use. This design may not have as much street cred as a fully blanked-out keyboard, but it strikes me as much more practical. Cooler Master is working on backlighting for the Stealth keys, and illumination is coming to standard QuickFire models, as well.
The updated QuickFire Rapid will be available in February, and the XT variant is due in March. Expect prices for those two to be in the $80-100 range.
In addition to QuickFire models, Cooler Master has a gaming-oriented Trigger keyboard that adds backlighting and programmable macro keys to a full-sized layout. You can actually buy a Trigger variant with green Cherry MX switches right now, although only through Cooler Master's online store. The current $105 asking price is pretty affordable considering the features.
If you're looking for something a little bolder, check out the "Mech" prototype pictured above. The angular frame is quite a departure from the QuickFire and Trigger designs, and it apparently has a metal finish. There's also an integrated handle on the left and a USB 3.0 port around the back. We don't know whether any of those elements will change for the finished product, but Cooler Master says a full range range of switch types will be offered.
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