CM Storm Quickfire XTi Review
Published: 8th September 2015 | Source: CM Storm | Price: |
With so many mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, and our quest to ensure that every last one of them is reviewed, it's possible for them to blur together a little bit. The CM Storm Quickfire XTi stands out thanks to a few conscious choices on the part of the designers.
The most obvious thing to say is that the Cherry MX switches ensure you're guaranteed an excellent typing and gaming experience. The use of the Brown variants in the review sample are particularly suited to both typing and gaming, with the tactile bump in the key switches helping you to type as fast as your fingers will manage, whilst the lack of the audible click you get from the Blue offerings ensuring you aren't driven crazy with clicking. This quality typing feel is echoed in the build quality of the XTi itself. It neither flexes nor creaks, with a robust spine refusing to twist. You could casually stuff the XTi in a rucksack without fearing for its state when you arrive at your destination.
Continuing the design theme the chassis is as minimalist as its possible to get whilst retaining rigidity. There is no fat at all around the keys. There isn't even a Cooler Master, or CM Storm, logo to be found unless you install the optional branded key. The keycaps are coated to give a slightly textured finish. Not as obviously bumpy as some, but neither are they smooth. It's a halfway house which gives a nice feel whilst not becoming slippery on more humid days.
With the basics out of the way we enter into the realms of the subjective. Whereas CPUs and the like have objective benchmarks you can run, input devices are far more a case of personal preference. So whilst the next two eye-catching areas might be more related to our own feelings we nonetheless try and compare to the average model on the market to explain why we feel how we do. Unquestionably the most obvious curious deliberate design choice is that the XTi only supports Blue and Red lighting and, of course, everything you can mix from those two hues. Whilst we don't know the street price yet we know that the MSRP for the Quickfire XTi is £140, and at that price there is no excuse to not use the full RGB LEDs. Both the Razer and Corsair range-toppers have RGB lighting and come in at around the same price.
In fact the only reason we can think of is related to the final area worthy of note, namely the Quickfire XTi has no software. Macro recording, lighting, profiles and repeat-rate adjustments, everything is controlled using a combination of the Function key and other keys. If you're the type of person who craves the capability to take your keyboard around with you and adjust stuff on the fly without needing to install software, or perhaps someone who doesn't object to referring to the instructions every two minutes then maybe this is the exact product you've been desiring. For us though it just was too much of a headache. Yes it's relatively simple, but we did set up some complicated lighting only to lose it with a careless press of a different key. It's nice not to have software for some specific instances, but alternatively with onboard memory and profiles there is no reason to not have software either. Some keyboards have combined the two.
As we said at the start, there are so many mechanical keyboards around, not least from the CM Storm Quickfire range, that it is in the fine details where the differences lay, and the Quickfire XTi is priced up with the most premium keyboards around, except it has no software to control it - relying solely upon key combinations - and rather than supporting RGB it just does RB, which as far as we can see is solely detrimental. It's a £100 keyboard masquerading under the price tag and feature set of a seriously expensive model and the choices that make it unique end up just as things the XTi is lacking compared to the competition. For that reason, and despite the incredible build quality and stealthy looks, we have to award it only our OC3D Silver Award.