- Brand: CM Storm
- Model: MECH
- RRP: £129.99
CM Storm are well known gaming arm of Cooler Master, having produced many peripherals and cases all aimed at the gamers out there. We’ve reviewed many products for CM Storm now, with the majority of them being high quality and decent performing products for the cost. CM Storm have recently launched a new range of gaming peripherals aimed towards the higher end of the marketing dubbed the “Aluminium Gaming Series”. These new products consist of keyboard, mouse and headset, all with a similar theme and target market. We have recently reviewed the Pulse-R Aluminium Gaming Headset which scored well, so today we will be taking a look at MECH mechanical keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are renowned across the peripherals market as being the best keyboards going, in both terms of performance and build quality, although they often come with high price tag. The different types of Cherry MX switches means there is a switch type for nearly everyone, and with each switch offering a lifetime of around 50 million keystrokes, mechanical keyboards often takes precedence over it’s rubber-dome cousins. These mechanical keyboards are increasing in popularity with gamers, especially with the professionals, as most have better anti-ghosting capabilities and NKRO, making them ideal for competitive gaming.
The MECH is CM Storm’s latest product to hit this market, boasting many features that a gamer would want and need during those matches. CM Storm have a great feedback system for their products and in the past we have seen them re-release their products having made changes that their customers have put forwards, so because of this, I’m expecting great things from them with the MECH. So without further hesitation, lets take a look at what we can expect with the MECH:
SGK-7000-MBCL1-language (Blue switch)
SGK-7000-MBCM1-language (Brown switch)
SGK-7000-MBCR1-language (Red switch)
CHERRY MX Blue/ Brown/ Red
N Key Rollover
15 in each profile
All keys, 5 settings, 3 modes
Dual USB 3.0 port and mini USB port for charging
Windows Key Lock
Yes (via F keys)
1686 g / 3.71 lbs
The MECH comes in a very large, relatively flat box, which gives you a brief example of what’s to come. The product name and CM Storm logo is printed on the box using silver foil, which fits perfect with the premium feel and aluminium design of the box. There is a fancy graphic of the keyboard across the entirety of the front, highlighting the aluminium cover. The bottom right corner features two stickers indicating the switch type and layout, which in this case is Cherry MX Blues and is in the ISO UK Layout.
The rear of the box contains a graphic of the main features of the MECH . Along the bottom there are various translations of the features.
Inside the box there is: Macro guide, Manual, USB 3.0 cable, hex key and a key cap remover.
Now it’s time to take a decent look at the MECH itself.
Straight out of the box you can see that the MECH is a large keyboard. It has two “sections”, with a chunky black wrist-rest, which flows round to the left forming a handle. The wrist-rest is a textured black plastic with a gloss section forming part of the CM Storm logo. The wrist-rest is quite high compared to other keyboards with build in wrist-rests and has a fairly sharp chamfer, which suits the overall angular design.
The main body of the keyboard is covered with a texture aluminium cover surrounding the keys. This also contains a slightly different coloured part which makes up some of the logo also, although the image below doesn’t really show it off well. This cover is held in place by 7 hex screws, which can be removed (as seen later). The overall styling is typical of CM Storm and has a study, high quality build and feel to it, so much so, that it almost resembles a weapon if you include the handle (and it’s damn heavy enough to be used as one!)
Down the left edge there are 5 additional macro keys, which can be programmed to do various functions.
The left side of the keyboard features an extension to the wrist-rest, which then becomes a handle to aid transportation. You can also just about make out the aluminium part of the CM Storm logo in this image.
The front of the MECH has the various connectivity options for the keyboard. On the left you have the USB 3.0 port required to power the keyboard and the USB 3.0 hub, with a mini USB connection available also if you do not wish to use the UBS 3.0 option. To the right of that you have the two additional USB 3.0 ports followed by a mic and stereo 3.5mm socket.
The underside of the MECH is relatively plain bar the four rubber feet, which provide plenty of grip and two retractable feet. There is an engraving of the CM Storm type and some lines crossing the keyboard.
As seen below, the feet can be extended to raise the height of the rear of the keyboard.
Along the top of the keyboard you have CM Storm’s typical styled function keys, which highlight the dual functions of the various keys. Combined with pressing the two Fn keys located next to each Alt key, these additional function keys control everything from different lighting modes (F1-F4) and brightness to common media keys (F5 – F11) and even a windows lock key (F12).
A unique feature to the MECH is a removable top cover. Currently the only reason I can think of this being a good feature is that CM Storm will offer different covers in various colours and styles – which is partially backed up by a competition CM Storm are currently running to design your own plate (and win the keyboard with that design – I’ll include a link in the conclusion).
Below is the aluminium cover for the MECH. After removing the 7 hex screws with the provided hex key, this easily comes off. You can see along the top edge some printed symbols for the various connections on the top edge.
This particular mode features Cherry MX blue switches, although this keyboard is also available with brown or red switches. The blue switches have a tactile feel to them, which produces a fairly loud and audible click when it actuates after 45g of force. You can also see the white LEDs that are present on each switch.
Below is a brief size comparison of the MECH to show just how bit is is compared to a typically sized keyboard.
The MECH is fully backlit, resulting a much brighter, more distributed glow. It has lighting modes: Gaming, Full backlight, glowing and off. It also has 5 brightness modes from off to full brightness. Below are the two modes I could capture with my camera.
In gaming mode, only the macro keys, WASD and the arrow keys are illuminated. The small light in the bottom right is the LED that indicates when the NumLk is active.
Every single key is illuminated in this mode except the windows lock key (F12). This only illuminates when active.
The MECH does not come with any software or drivers as it must be downloaded first. When downloaded, you are presented with a fairly basic program that lets you modify various functions of the keyboard – primarily the macros and profiles.
The main config screen lets you change the function of each key (to a reasonable extent). You can select the key you wish to change, then select the function you would like it to have.
The profiles tab lets you save and load different profiles. These can be stored on the keyboard’s memory or the PC’s.
The last tab allows you to create and save macros which can then be assigned to keys on the first tab.
The best way to test a keyboard such as the MECH is to put many hours of use into it. This allows anyone to discover all the benefits and negative aspects of the keyboard, from comfortableness, to useful, hidden features. I’ve had this keyboard for over ten days now, having put around 8 hours use into it a day (sometimes a lot more when gaming). I tested the performances during gaming and general use and the overall comfort of the MECH. The keyboard was simple to setup, with it being plug and play I connected it to my desktop and away it went. However not all the features were available at first – the audio ports did not work, nor could I configure any macro keys. For this I downloaded the software and the drivers, which were available from CM Storm’s website, which isn’t great if you don’t have an internet connection! To configure the macro keys was a doddle, with the option to use the software to record them, or on the fly by pressing the FN+ALT for 3 seconds. This is all possible due to the 32 bit, 72MHz ARM processer, which allows more complicated macros to be run faster than alternative means. After setting it all up I jumped straight into testing
For the gaming tests, I used the MECH in several genres: FPS, RTS and RPG/MMO, as this allows me to get a decent feel of the keyboard. First up was FPS, for this genre I fired up my current favourite, Battlefield 3. Straight away I noticed that I was putting my hands slightly to the left of the norm, as the additional macro keys subconsciously made me position my hands near them thinking that was the typical edge of the keyboard. This took a while to get used to, but now I position my hands correctly. When playing the game the MECH keyboard performed admirably – Cherry MX blue switches are my personal preference as the audible click allows me to know exactly when the key has been activated, so I didn’t make any incomplete key presses. The 64 Key Roll-Over (pretty much NKRO) also meant that all the keys I pressed where acknowledged, which meant when flying a jet, yawing, accelerating and deploying countermeasures was all possible at the same time.
This was the same for Supreme Commander 2, although the macro keys also came in handy here, enabling me to assign various combinations of key presses to quickly select my units and issue orders. These additional macro keys were also useful for DOTA 2, my current MMO enabling me to quickly issue alerts and quick buying items.
As I already mentioned, Cherry MX blue switches are my favourite type, so I found it very easy to do a lot of typing, sometimes for several hours (like writing this review). The additional media keys were also used, although I prefer some of them having their own dedicated key. Again, I could program macros to carry out various tasks for me, which meant I could switch profiles and use my Photoshop profile instead of my gaming one. There is an option to install audio drivers for the keyboard, which in a sense allow you to use the keyboard as a sound card, with features like virtual surround sound. I tested this quickly, however it was nothing particularly special, although it did make switching between speakers and headset a lot easier than reaching around the back of my PC to change the plugs. The 2x USB 3.0 ports were also handy for quickly plugging in devices, which I discovered I did a fair bit.
The large wrist rest is fairly high which could result in problems for some, plus it’s not removable which some users may not like. Having the glossy logo placed directly under the the left wrist is begging for scratches and can become slippy during those sweaty gaming sessions.
The CM Storm aluminium gaming series products have all been designed with quality and performance in mind, of which the MECH meets and smashes all expectations. The aluminium cover and angular shape look stunning and really makes the keyboard stand out on your desk. The additional macro keys with the option to record on the fly and combined function keys like the windows lock increases the your overall productivity and gaming performance, whilst not imposing on the overall design. The plain white LEDs again add to the premium look of the keyboard, which in my opinion makes the MECH stand out over its competitors in the mechanical keyboard market.
That said the MECH does have a few negative aspects to it, with the most important one being its size and weight: The addition of a steel plate for the switches, combined with extra macro keys and a chunky wrist-rest have increased the overall size and weight of the keyboard, which pretty much negates the point in having a handle, so be prepared to clear a lot of space on your desk if you are looking to get this keyboard. To be picky, I could repeat the bad placement of the CM Storm logo, although it is good to see that they have kept their branding to a minimum on this keyboard. The software that you have to download also leaves a lot to be desired. It would be better if the audio drivers were included in this and not as a separate driver, which can only confuse things.
Overall I am thoroughly impressed with the CM Storm MECH keyboard. It looks great, performs great and is actually at an expected price point for such a high quality, feature packed mechanical keyboard, although to some it may still come across as expensive at £129.99 it’s still cheaper than a Ducky. To date the MECH has exceeded my expectations of a mechanical keyboard, with me thinking that not much more can be done with them, CM Storm have come along to produce something that looks amazing, but does not compromise in performance.
So, time to think ratings and awards – you may have already guessed, but with not much wrong with the keyboard and a fantastic design and with many useful features, I am awarding the CM Storm MECH Aluminium Gaming Keyboard with not only the highest award going, but also the accolade of being my favourite mechanical keyboard to date.
Superb design and feature packed, however be prepared to clear a lot of desk space for it’s large and heavy form.