The CM Storm QuickFire TK is a portable mechanical keyboard that focuses on the essentials

Tactile feedback from a keyboard can never be understated. This refers to physical feedback received from the keyboard on the press of a key — a slight bump back accompanied by that wonderful clicking sound one often associates with typing sounds from IBM or TVS keyboards of old (or if you’re willing to step into a time machine, a typewriter). I say “typing sound”, but that’s a generously loose definition of that particular aural experience. With rising re-adoption rates among professional code writers and gamers, mechanical keyboards are coming back in a big way, with manufacturers such as Logitech, Razer, DAS, Corsair, Rosewill, ThermalTake and SteelSeries all jumping (back) on the bandwagon. I’ve been using only mechanical keyboards these past few months (this column is being typed on one, incidentally), and I’m happy to say that my search for the perfect mechanical keyboard only recently ended when I discovered the not-exactly-inexpensive CM Storm QuickFire TK. Read on if you’re looking for a portable clickety-clackety board that will limit your typos, help you top score charts at LAN parties and give you joy when you stare at its beautiful white, red or blue LEDs.

My mechanical keyboard journey began for the second time with the iconic TVS-e Gold mechanical keyboard — the fire was lit again. It had all the qualities you would associate with a mech-board. It was noisy, facilitated rapid (albeit inaccurate-at-first) typing, felt solid and durable. However, having been spoilt by gaming keyboards with their anti-ghost capability, macros, USB and headphone connectivity, the Gold simply wouldn’t make the cut anymore. There wasn’t any backlighting either, which was simply unacceptable. Logically, I moved on to the massive Razer BlackWidow Ultimate which was exactly that: massive, while ticking all the other boxes. It also added more tick-worthy boxes to the mix such as cloud-stored profiles (Razer Synapse 2.0, which is a little buggy I’ll admit), multimedia keys, on-the-fly macro recording and more features than can be named. It was perfect — if you didn’t mind something that weighed over a kilo-and-a-half and was a foot-and-a-half wide.

Then I discovered the QuickFire TK, only recently. The BlackWidow did its job, all right, and I wasn’t specifically in the market for a portable solution at the time, but the CM Storm keyboard’s form factor was impressive. The Taiwanese gaming peripheral manufacturer had saved a substantial amount of space by combining the traditional numpad with the directional keypad with better space optimisation than you would find on a 15-inch, or larger laptop. Suddenly, it was able to make the case for a portable mechanical keyboard. I could now stop worrying about accommodating my mouse and mouse mat (it’s difficult to forego larger mats if you’re used to them) on the go, or on smaller tables. But there is one real compromise. The QuickFire TK is nowhere nearly as feature-rich as the competition, opting for the barebones “gamer essentials” approach in the form of backlighting (with a mode that only lights up with WASD keys in addition to fully backlit with brightness controls), wire management, N-Key Rollover (for wide key combinations) and top tier build quality. The QuickFire TK uses high-grade Cherry MX Red, Blue and Brown switches which feel very durable to the touch. This little bundle of fun comes at a price, of course (it presently retails at Rs. 9,999 — around Rs. 2,500 less than the BlackWidow Ultimate), while the LEDs tend to behave funnily at times. Overall, however, the CM Storm QuickFire TK’s solid build quality combined with its portability makes it the perfect LAN party or gaming laptop companion.