Gone are the days of a keyboard being able to distinguish itself simply by using mechanical key switches. Now we are firmly in the territory of mechanical keyboards having almost as many bells and whistles as their membrane key-switch brethren, and although far from the wackiest we’ve seen, the CM Storm Quick Fire TK Stealth certainly sets itself apart.
The TK Stealth’s standout features are its ‘stealth’ keys, which see their markings moved from the top of the keys to the front face, thus creating a disguised look. Its other trick is the use of Cooler Master’s TK key layout, which removes the cursor and Del/Home/End keys and incorporates them into the Num Pad. By pressing a switch you can either use the cursors and Del/Home/End keys or the numbers.
Out of the box the TK Stealth’s stealthy credentials are immediately obvious. Its black plastic chassis is a simple squared-off shape and its matching keys mean the whole thing merges into one black and menacing mass. What’s more the stealth keys really do work; view this keyboard from the back, sides or top and it appears to be completely devoid of symbols. Of course the effect is lost when viewed from the front so it rather depends just how stealthy you want to get.
We know some of our mechanical keyboard enthusiasts go for completely blank key sets and the stealth effect is that much more impressive done this way. If you do still want some guidance as to which key is which, though, then we certainly can’t think of an easy alternative way of marking the keys.
Breaking up the blackness a little are grey CM Storm logos on the back and top, which again you could see as slightly spoiling the ultra-stealthy look, but overall it’s still a pretty mean looking keyboard.
It’s also a compact keyboard, as the removal of the cursor keys saves you around 5cm in width compared to a standard keyboard and up to around 10cm compared to oversized models such as the Logitech G710+. We’ve long seen the benefit of compact keyboards, from both a practicality and an ergonomics point of view, and the TK Stealth reinforces this feeling. You’re left with more desk space, it’s easier to move out the way and it brings your keyboard closer to your mouse, which puts less strain on your wrists.
As with many compact, and thus semi-portable, keyboards the cable on the TK Stealth is removable. The full 1.8m of its length is braided and at the keyboard end it terminates in a mini USB plug. The cable isn’t too bad on the kinks front straight out of the box and it can be routed either out straight out the back of the keyboard or out to each side. As ever the rear feet can be raised by an inch or so to provide a more angled typing experience.
Aside from the key labels and the TK layout, there aren’t too many extras to this keyboard. The Function keys double for multimedia functions, with a long press of the backlit Fn key (to the left of the right Ctrl) switching between multimedia and Function mode. The F12 key, when in multimedia mode, also doubles as a Windows Key lock for disabling the left Windows key.
Otherwise, that’s your lot. The rest of the keys aren’t backlit, there’s no USB hub, no volume wheel and no macro keys.
Key Switch: Cherry MX Red (GK-4021-GKCR1), Brown(SGK-4021-GKCM1), Blue (SGK-4021-GKCL1)