It seems hard to remember that only a year ago mechanical keyboards were somewhat rare. If you wanted to use something that didn’t rely on rubber membranes then you had to go with a niche brand, one that specialised in making keyboards in ye olde style.
Fast forward and it seems every peripheral maker is starting in on the action. We have recently seen mechanical models from Razer, Mionix and Thermaltake and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of production models of Corsair’s entries into the market. With so many companies vying for your mechanical dollar, they are doing everything they can to eke out a niche in the market, which means not only an increasing importance of form factor but also a growth in the importance of the type of Cherry MX switches used to build the keyboard.
Coolermaster’s entry into the market, the Quickfire Rapid, exemplifies this. Not only is it tiny, with no pesky numpad and barely with a footprint barely wider than the remaining keys, but it comes in three different versions. These all look identical, however they differ in the switches used, making it a product that caters to differing people’s whims. There is a Cherry MX Black model, which has quiet switches but is ultra-springy thanks to a high actuation force. The Cherry MX Brown version has switches that have less actuation force, but still aren’t noisy, while the Cherry MX blue requires similar force to the Brown while adding that clicky sound that drives most bystanders up the wall.
This kind of choice is becoming increasingly common, but three options of switch cover most bases. The real advantage of the Quickfire is its small footprint, and that is the main determining factor in whether this is the right keyboard for you. Little touches like being able to replace the WASD keys with red ones emblazoned with movement arrows are nice, but ultimately cosmetic additions. The quickfire rapid is all about choice, and that is a refreshing thing indeed.