It's rare that a manufacturer releases a whole set of peripherals that have a single aesthetic vision behind them, but CM Storm have done just that with their latest products. Known for their excellent Quickfire keyboards, Sentinel gaming mice and, of course, some of the most popular cases around.
We've looked at the full range of CM Storm keyboards so far but the Mech is the first that's really aimed at the very top end of the marketplace. A no compromise effort with full mechanical switches, robust build quality and some intriguing customisation options. As we have three reviews to get through today and keyboards don't require a great build up, let us crack on with what is on offer.
With a steel plate backing up a robust top, the Mech is a weighty beast thanks to the extraordinary build quality. The Mech is available with three of the main Cherry MX switches, the Brown, Red and Blue variants. Our review model comes with the Cherry MX Blue, light actuation with a deliberate click to aid in your feedback. With 64 N-Key rollover you can bash your head off the keyboard and be sure in the knowledge that every key will be registered accurately. Finally there are 5 dedicated macro keys which, combined with the available profiles, should keep even the more demanding user happy.
|Model Number||SGK-7000-MBCL1-language (Blue switch)|
SGK-7000-MBCM1-language (Brown switch)
SGK-7000-MBCR1-language (Red switch)
|Key Switch||CHERRY MX Blue/ Brown/ Red|
|N Key Rollover||64|
|Macro Key||15 in each profile|
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz/1ms|
|Backlight||All keys, 5 settings, 3 modes|
|Output||Dual USB 3.0 port and mini USB port for charging|
|Windows Key Lock||Yes|
|On-board Memory||128k bytes|
|Media Keys||Yes (via F keys)|
|Weight||1686 g / 3.71 lbs|
The packaging for the CM Storm Mech is as sturdy as the keyboard within. Firm cardboard exterior with high-density foam on the inside ensures that the Mech will survive even the most ham-fisted delivery person. As with any mechanical keyboard in this price range there is an assumption that the buyer doesn't require a wealth of shouted features to attract them.
The USB cable is removable which helps with transportation, although the positioning of the port is slightly strange as we'll see below. It is, in keeping with the rest of the CM Storm Mech, a very high quality cable indeed.
The keyboard itself is no shrinking violet. We've spent many hours looking at it trying to decide if we think that the extremely non-standard design is a masterstroke or an abomination. Even now we're not sure which side of the fence we fall on. It's a brave design choice and certain to divide opinion.
Regular readers in these hallowed halls will recognise the Cherry MX Blue switches instantly. The Blues are very much an acquired taste as they add a definite click to the already tactile nature of a mechanical switch when compared to the laptop style most of you will be used to.
The strange shape when viewed from the top becomes even odder when you look from below. With the side handle and angular wrist rest the Mech is probably the most instantly recognisable keyboard on the market.
Connectivity is two USB 3.0 ports, a mini USB for charging your devices, and audio ports. The keyboard insert is placed at the top right hand corner of the keyboard behind the F12 key, so you're almost certain to have to move your tower to the right hand side of the Mech, if it isn't there already.
Up Close continued
If you've ever wanted a keyboard that was easy to customise to your overarching colour scheme, then the Mech is exactly the one for you. By using the supplied Allen Key to undo a few bolts the top of the Mech comes off in a single piece, perfect for hanging up and spraying in the colour of your choice. A wonderful idea, and entirely deliberate as we'll see when we look at the other two CM Storm peripherals.
Lighting is white, which is certainly chromatically average enough to go either with the brushed aluminium that comes as standard or in whatever choice you spray the Mech in. There are four lighting options, full, breathing, WASD and off.
The lock indicators are tucked away just below the numpad and are bright without being distracting. It's nice to see them somewhere other than in their usual position.
Although everything works perfectly, it's irritating to find that the LED on our F12 key was DOA. If we'd purchased the Mech we wouldn't want to have to go through the annoyance of an RMA just because of QA issues. This is the sort of thing that should be picked up before it leaves the factory.
The CM Storm logo has proven far harder to photograph than it is to see in regular use, but hopefully it's clear enough in these two pictures. You can also see how well the Reaper mouse matches the Mech keyboard.
The software is extremely simple to use. It's hardly overwhelming in the amount of options available, but has everything you could desire in an easy to understand format.
In some ways the perfection of the Cherry MX switches is the undoing of both manufacturers and us. If you want the very best mechanical keyboard then you have to use the Cherry switches, and because they are created with such tiny tolerance then every keyboard ends up with exactly the same tactile typing experience. For the manufacturers this is bad as it's much harder to come up with differences to make people do more than just sort by lowest priced and buy the top one. For us it's difficult because if you've read the review of one Cherry-equipped keyboard you've read most of them.
So what does the Mech bring to the table?
The most striking thing is unquestionably the looks. There is an expression in the UK that things are "like Marmite". You either love them or hate them, and we think that the CM Storm Mech will be similar. The angular body coupled to the built-in combined wrist rest and handle leaves an impression unlike any other keyboard we've seen. Sometimes we think the decision to be so bold with the aesthetics was brave and bold, other times we think it's a step too far.
What is good is the ability to remove the top. A minute with an Allen Key and you have the metal top off, primarily to make it easy to clean the keyboard. In reality though it is just begging to be put on a hook and sprayed to match your rig. The choice of white LED lighting seems to back this up, as any other colour would limit your creative potential. We like this very much indeed and look forward to seeing what the community comes up with. This isn't the only excellent feature as the steel base ensures that this is one of the sturdiest keyboards you'll ever use. With the combination of the Cherry MX switches which will outlive us, and the robust build quality, you wont need to purchase another keyboard unless some major advance in interface devices appears.
Otherwise the Mech is a standard layout with the FN key combining with the F-Keys to adjust the lighting intensity and mode, and five dedicated macro keys on the left hand side to fulfill your needs without costing you a key. The lighting is bright without being dazzling and we particularly like the placement of the lock indicator LEDs. It's nice to find a keyboard with USB3.0 ports too.
All in all for your £119.60 the CM Storm Mech has plenty going for it. Any and all Cherry equipped keyboards provide a beautiful typing experience and this is no different. It's built like a tank too. The niggles are slight, but there. The aesthetics are, as we've said, a love it or hate it thing. But the decision to allow you to remove the metal top either for easy cleaning or customisation is a masterstroke. The handle is a strange thing. We don't know anyone who ever said "I love this hugely heavy keyboard, I just wish it had a handle".
All in all it's a great product let down by a couple of quirks that very much are 'your mileage may vary'. Some of you are thinking it's the best design ever and a handle would be perfect, in which case you're sold. If, like us, you're unsure then the hefty price-tag doesn't lend itself to giving it a try, and for that reason we'll award the CM Storm Mech our OC3D Silver Award.
Thanks to CM Storm for supplying the Mech for review. Check the other CM Storm reviews and then let us know what you think in the OC3D Forums.