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CM Storm Mech mechanical gaming keyboard
- Build quality
- USB 3.0
- Macro recording
- Very big
The CM Storm Mech is a great keyboard overall, with Cherry MX Blue switches that feel good to press. It's a keyboard that's aimed at professional gamers and there are plenty of features apart from the mechanical keys, such as a USB 3.0 hub, backlighting, and the ability to record macros. The downsides are the large size and the price.
Price$ 229.00 (AUD)
The Cooler Master Storm Mech series is a high-end mechanical keyboard for core gamers -- especially for those involved in eSports.
Construction and design
The review unit we were given (SGK-7000-MBCL1-US) incorporates Cherry MX Blue switches which provide the most tactile and auditory feedback with their solid ‘click’ when the key press is registered. We’ve reviewed an earlier version of the CM Storm series gaming keyboards with Cherry MX Blues before: the CM Storm Trigger.
In contrast to the Trigger review unit, we didn’t encounter the “spongy modifier keys” issue in this model. There’s a high level of quality to the construction of this board — having a sturdy plastic construction with aluminium plating on the top surface it doesn’t peel like the Trigger’s rubberised coating, and it certainly feels as though it could take its share of bumps and scrapes when transporting PCs to LAN events. The unit includes a carry handle, so this is its intended audience.
It’s 1.7kg weight makes it a heavy keyboard, and heavier than the Trigger, but if you’re the sort that lugs around a midi- or full-tower already, you’ll hardly notice it. The scale of the keyboard has grown, taking up more surface area due to the addition of the handle and the faceplate and palm-rest. We really like the design, with its lightly etched appearance of the CM Storm logo on the left side of the body, but after having been to some smaller LAN events, one concern is that the large footprint doesn’t leave much room for a typical gamer’s mousepad.
The aluminium plate is designed to be swappable, and given the higher asking price and the keyboard’s white label appearance (no overt CM Storm branding on the top or sides of the casing), it seems to be an ideal choice for sponsors of an eSports player or team.
Each of the keyboards in the range includes an onboard ARM processor and 128KB of memory to handle 64-key rollover, macro recording, and profile switching. It requires a desktop utility to be installed to make full use of the features and this is available on Cooler Master’s Web site. Each profile can handle up to 15 macros, so if you tend to play multiple games you can readily switch between available ones, or happily swap between Protoss, Zerg and Terran, for example.
We like the inclusion of a full USB 3.0 hub in the keyboard. It requires a modified detachable USB 3.0 connector cable, which is included with the keyboard. The cable resolves two issues we encountered with the cable on the Trigger: it includes no braiding, thus it doesn’t fray from the terminals, and it also never feels loose when connecting to the keyboard body. The Trigger’s cable tended to feel loose and it became disconnected if you bumped it around too much.
There’s also a Mini-USB port which should provide juice for a phone if you happen to have a male-to-male cable (or you can use a standard USB, 5V charger cable on one of the two available USB 3.0 ports).
Other nifty stuff includes the white backlighting of the keys, which have three modes of brightness (optionally disabled). The desktop utility is required to make full use of the mode switching here, too. There’s a Windows key lock as well, to stop you switching to desktop in an inopportune moment. There are analogue, 3.5mm ports for headphones and/or mic, which is nice if your tower is under the desk, but you may need some cable management to stop the wires running over the top of the keys; a MacGyver solution of some Blu-Tack or sticky tape would do the trick in a pinch.
Overall we like this keyboard. It’s a well-built piece of kit and any serious gamer should consider it if they have the budget. Simpler boards such as the Filco Ninja series have the same solid construction and key switches available (and lack the massive footprint), but also don’t feature the backlighting, USB 3.0 and audio port hub, macro recording/profiles or Windows key lock. We love that Cooler Master fixed the few issues we encountered with previous models of its keyboards and there are no considerable downsides to the CM Storm Mech keyboard (assuming you have a large enough desk to accommodate it).
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