Perhaps more famous as the gaming case arm of Cooler Master, CM Storm have also furnished us with a few excellent peripherals in time. The last one we looked at was the Sentinel mouse and Sirius headset, both of which we found to be very good indeed.
So with due anticipation we finally get our hands on a product we first saw at the Insomnia event, the CM Storm Trigger mechanical gaming keyboard.
With a sleek look, a bevy of features, and a design that has been rigorously tested in demanding conditions, can the Trigger provide us with all we look for in a keyboard?
The key, if you'll pardon the pun, to a good keyboard is excellent switches, and with Cherry's providing the heart of the CM Storm Trigger it's clear that we can't complain there. Depending on where you are in the world you will receive one equipped with one of the four types they provide. For those to whom this is new information, the Cherry switches are the premium mechanical switches available, and the colour largely depends upon the amount of pressure required to actuate the key itself. Our model comes equipped with the sturdiest Cherry Black switches, which require the most force to depress, but balance this with extreme longevity.
Besides those we have all the elements we hope to find on a premium gaming keyboard, including a six key anti-ghost, full (but adjustable) backlighting and five dedicated macro keys.
|Model Number||SGK-6000-GKCC1 (Black Switch)|
SGK-6000-GKCL1 (Blue Switch)
SGK-6000-GKCM1 (Brown Switch)
|Key Switch||CHERRY Black / Blue / Brown / Red|
|N Key Rollover||6|
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz /1 ms|
|Windows Key Disable||Yes|
|On Board Memory||64 KB|
Enough preamble, let us take a look at what is on offer.
The model we have on hand is a pre-production sample, so the box art is yet to be completed. However the actual packaging is incredibly robust as befits a £100 keyboard. There is no danger of it getting damaged in transit.
Aesthetically it nicely matches the rest of the CM Storm line, with a blend of black and gun-metal grey.
Included in the box, besides the detachable USB cable, is a sturdy wrist-rest. The height of the keyboard is such that you can use without should the mood take you, but it's wrought from a soft plastic that makes for comfortable typing. On the reverse we have the usual feet to raise it to a more wrist friendly height.
As opposed to many keyboards the unique keys on the Trigger are all within reach of a single hand. The CM Storm logo is used to modify the ALT Macro key to provide 'live' macro recording capabilities, as well as activate the media keys and lighting controls that are part of the function keys.
Round the back we have a DC power input, should you require more power for devices connected to the USB ports. This also enables finer controls of the lighting, although being a pre-production model ours didn't come equipped with an adaptor so we can't test this aspect.
The lighting is red. Seriously red. It's always the hardest colour to photograph, such are cameras insistence upon fixing infra-red. There are four main lighting styles. The first, and most obvious, is off. You only have the LEDs to indicate lock states. Secondly we have the whole keyboard lit up. Thirdly is the keyboard lit, but in the 'breathing' style. Finally is selective lighting in which only the WASD, cursor and macro keys are lit, along with the CM Storm logo.
The software is an optional download, and a large one at that weighing in at 100mb to download, and a 460mb footprint after installation. To be fair this is ridiculously large, and the inclusion of bitmaps for the UI doesn't help. However it's feature-rich, with multiple profiles and easy macro recording.
When recording a macro the software offers a nice timeline overview of the keypresses and delays. You can select from real-time delay, a 50ms default one, or no delay at all.
In case you desire it, clicking a section of the recorded macro will highlight the keys used at that moment. Assigning the macro to a key is incredibly easy, and you can choose to play it once, repeatedly or in a cycle.
Playing a macro isn't the only option available from a key. You can launch applications, macro's, duplicate other key combinations, choose from a preloaded list of options, or disable the key entirely.
There are a lot of things to like about the CM Storm Trigger, and a couple of issues that keep it from really shining.
The most important aspect is, of course, how well it types. Given that it has the excellent Cherry Black MX switches at the centre of it then it's not a surprise at all that it's a joy to use. Every key has a reassuring tactile feel to it, and you know that it will put up with extraordinary amounts of abuse without flinching. The whole keyboard is very well put together with enough weight to keep it planted on your desk, but not so heavy you don't want to take it with you when you're off gaming.
The customisation options are plentiful, with five dedicated macro keys and the ability to modify the whole layout to suit your preference it really can be all things to all people. You can either use the software to create them, or do them on the fly. Either way it's a very simple process. Even the lighting is nice, with variable levels of brightness. We thing a whole keyboard 'breathing' would be distracting, but the option is there if you desire it.
Speaking of the software, that's the first area that could do with improvement. It's enormous for a start. A 400mb file for something that many other companies have trimmed to sub 30mb is just too big. It works well enough, but has a few quirks that go against how you'd expect it to work. When your FAQ has to include a manuals worth of hints and tips, you know that it's time to go back to the drawing board.
The only other major complaint is the price. By any measure it's an expensive keyboard, coming in at around £100. If you just want an array of macro options you then, as we've just said, the Corsair Vengeance K90 provides better build-quality, better software, and far more macro options for the same money. If you just want a seriously rugged keyboard with Cherry Black switches, the SteelSeries 6Hv2 is all of those things and £40 cheaper.
If we were reviewing in a vacuum then the CM Storm trigger ticks all the right boxes. If you have your heart set on a red keyboard with the CM Storm branding and accept the software has a few foibles then we can highly recommend it. But, when compared to the competition, that very middle-of-the-road design ethos that covers all the bases ends up leaving it either a lot overpriced or a bit under-featured. Better software and a price cut and it would be Gold, but at this price we're afraid it's only Silver.
Thanks to CM Storm for supplying the Trigger for review. Discuss in our forums.