In the world of keyboards, there is a huge price range depending on what you are looking to get out of the keyboard and the overall quality. With mechanical keyboards, Cooler Master has done a great job of bridging the gap between lower end keyboards and the enthusiast grade keyboards. They have been able to provide options that are priced well, but still have most of the quality and features of the most expensive models. One of the glaring holes in their lineup though has been in the tenkeyless market. Their Quickfire Rapid lineup has been extremely popular, but they haven’t had a model with backlighting. They have finally introduced a model to fill that gap and today I have the chance to take a look at it and see how it performs. Considering the Quickfire Rapid has been in our LAN bag and on our test bench for years now, I have extremely high expectations for the Quickfire Rapid-I.

Product Name: Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid-I

Review Sample Provided by: Cooler Master

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Model number

SGK-4040-GKCL1(Blue switch)

SGK-4040-GKCM1(Brown switch)

SGK-4040-GKCR1(Red switch)

Key Rollover

NKRO (Windows only)

Keycaps

ABS, grip coated, removable

Polling Rate

1000 Hz/1ms

Backlight

All White, All keys, 5 settings and 5 modes

Windows Key Lock

Yes

On-board Memory

128k bytes

Media Keys

Yes (via F keys)

Interface

Micro USB 2.0, full speed

USB cable

1.8m braided, gold plated and removable

Dimensions

35.9(L) *13.8(W) *3.9(H) cm

14.1(L) *5.4(W) *1.5(H) inch

Weight

932 g / 2.05 lbs

 


Packaging

The Rapid-I dropped a lot of the red that I saw on the original Rapid’s box. Otherwise the packaging is similar. A photo of the Rapid-I covers most of the cover showing off its backlighting. Along the bottom edge of the front, small photos show key features of the Rapid-I. There is more information on those features on the back of the box next to another photo of the Rapid-I. For the most part Cooler Master just let the keyboard itself do the talking.

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Inside the keyboard is wrapped up in a foam bag that protects it from scratches and adds a little padding to prevent it from bouncing around in the box. Up under the keyboard is the documentation, you get a small user guide and a card that explains how to work all of the lighting functionality. Also included is the removable USB cable, you will find it tucked up under the cardboard flap above the keyboard.

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Pictures and Features

Without the Rapid-I being plugged in, my initial impressions of the keyboard were that it looks a lot like the standard Quickfire Rapid. That look is a little different than what I saw when I reviewed the Rapid back when it launched. Back then the Rapid had a silver shell with a little more Storm branding. Cooler Master cleaned up the styling with a satin black finish that gives the Rapid and Rapid-I a really clean look that will go well with just about anything. When you look straight down on the Rapid-I we can see that they went with a full white backplate, this should keep the LED backlighting really bright and it’s a nice touch when you can see it peaking around the keys. As with the original Rapid, the Rapid-I is a tenkeyless design meaning it doesn’t have the number pad over on the right side of the keyboard. Otherwise the layout is the same as a standard keyboard, and different than the Quickfire XT that I covered almost a year ago with its unique design with a number pad that doubled as the direction pad.

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Taking a look from the side profile we can see that Cooler Master went with a standard key profile. The keyboard angles down but there is a slight concave in the key profile. This makes the keys a little easier to reach from the middle row.

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Like previous models the Rapid-I has a removable USB cord. They went with a micro USB over the Mini-USB that we normally see for removable keyboard cords. Not only is this a little smaller, but it is also more universal with almost every phone using the same connection. The cord itself has a heavy duty sleeving over top to for protection. The cable is a little hard to bend, like previous keyboard cords with a braided sleeving over them. This time though it is less of an issue, the previous Rapid plugged in under the keyboard and had a sharp bend right after it, with an external connection there is no issue.

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On the opposite side as the cord connection, Cooler Master slipped in the Rapid-I’s only visible branding. This is a LOT less than just about every other manufacture. Frankly you can’t even see the logo unless you turn the keyboard around.

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Like many other keyboards, the Rapid-I takes advantage of a function key to add functionality to the Rapid-I without having to pack it full of additional keys. When holding the function key all of the F keys function differently. The first set on the left (F1 to F4) turn backlighting on and off, change the backlighting brightness, and flip through the different lighting modes. The second set (F5 to F8) adjusts the repeat rate, aka x2 and up adjust a rapid fire mode for your keys. The rest of the F keys are all individual lighting profiles that you can program. On over you have a button for recording those light profiles and also a full set of media keys that double as the page up/down and home keys.

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On the flip side of the Rapid-I Cooler Master has all of the required certifications on the name badge as well as the model and serial number. Each corner has a one-inch wide rubber foot to keep the Rapid-I secure. When you need more of an angle, each side has a flip out one-inch foot. The end of each foot is covered in rubber; this means using the feat doesn’t mean less traction.

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The Rapid-I is actually available with Cherry Blue, Red, and Brown switches. For my testing, this board has Cherry MX Browns. This works out perfectly because that is my preferred keyswitch, they give a good mix of tactile feedback while not being too noisy. Check out our article on how to pick your keyboard switch to learn more.  For LED lighting the Rapid-I is only available with white backlighting, this looks great with blacked out design and is the most neutral lighting option. It will go with nearly any PC. In the pictures below you can also check out the white back plate that I mentioned before.  

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The keycaps on the Rapid-I are made out of ABS and “grip coated” according to Cooler Master. This is basically the same finish that their other keyboards have. The font is the same font that some people have complained about in the past, at this point I’ve seen it so much that I hardly notice it anymore. The only weird part is that the S and A as well as the numbers all are less bold than the rest of the letters.

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Performance

As much as I really do love the software from a few of the manufactures who combine their keyboard software with their mouse software. I couldn’t be more happy that the Rapid-I keeps things simple and doesn’t require or need any at all. For one there aren’t any special macro keys that take up additional space that I won’t end up using. But the controls for the backlighting, media, and repeat rate are all built in. With the backlighting being the biggest difference between the Rapid-I and the previous Quickfire Rapid that I reviewed, I put together a video showing all of the backlighting controls. Cooler Master even slipped in a new lighting mode when I updated the firmware just before doing this video!

As you can see above (and below) the backlighting on the Rapid-I looks amazing and is packed full of settings. The trailing mode really caught my eye when I first started playing with it, as did the new cross mode that looks crazy when typing. However, when it came down to it the most impressive feature was the four programmable modes. Here you can actually light up JUST the keys you need for your game. You are no longer stuck with everything on or just WASD. In testing, I was able to light up all of the keys I use in LoL on the fly in less than 30 seconds. The only other keyboard that you will find lighting like this is the Ducky Shine 3, and it only has two programmable modes.

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Beyond the lighting, the Rapid performed as expected. My test keyboard came with Cherry MX brown switches, so I didn’t have to worry about driving my wife crazy when typing, but I still got the tactile response with each click that I love. The ABS keycaps aren’t anything special, but most people won’t know the difference anyhow. As for the key layout, there weren’t any weird quirks like oversized enter keys or a moved | to worry about. Being a tenkeyless I did miss the number pad but when it comes time for LANs I am going to love the additional space that the keyboard gives me. I take my Quickfire Rapid to LANs all of the time, adding backlighting just makes it that much better.

 


Overall and Final Verdict

As of this article, I have published over 650 reviews. Of those reviews there are only a few products that have gotten more use over the years than my Quickfire Rapid. I loved it so much that I even talked Cooler Master into handing over one with Cherry Black switches back at GForceLAN, when they only sold the Rapid with Blues. They have been with me at just about every LAN between then and now due to their compact size and durability. I always said all they needed to do was add backlighting. Cooler Master stepped things up even more than that with the multiple lighting modes, four profiles that can be recorded on the fly, and a design that puts the old grey model to shame. At this point, beyond adding even more lighting modes, I have no idea where they can even go from here.

fv3tophonorseditorschoice

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #34957 06 Jun 2014 17:58
You guys need to check out Cooler Masters new Quickfire Rapid-I, today I took a look at it. I think you will dig it!
trgtprctc's Avatar
trgtprctc replied the topic: #34958 07 Jun 2014 12:22
Very cool lighting modes. I would prefer back lighting other than white, though.
Plague's Avatar
Plague replied the topic: #34959 08 Jun 2014 02:51
if you took all the keys off, you could color the white backplate and make it another color, the keys would still be white, but the glow would be something else. Might be interesting.
garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #34960 08 Jun 2014 03:43
actually they make LED covers that work amazingly with white LEDs and you can swap them out to other colors as needed



Plague's Avatar
Plague replied the topic: #34965 08 Jun 2014 23:56
wow, that is smart... I didn't give them that much credit. :)

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