Cooler Master CM Storm Trigger Mechanical Keyboard Review

Cooler Master’s CM Storm range of products has been slowly expanding in the last couple of years and now contains a wide range of gaming peripherals.  It’s clear that they are trying to compete with the big names in the gaming peripheral market like SteelSeries, Razer and Logitech.
Today we are going to look at the latest mechanical gaming keyboard from Cooler Master, the CM Storm Trigger. It boasts an impressive feature set which includes Cherry MX mechanical switches, customisable LED backlighting and macro buttons.
Interestingly, the Trigger is one of the only mechanical keyboards on the market which is available with all four colours of Cherry MX mechanical switches.  This means than you can choose the type that suits you best without having to purchase a different model of keyboard.

Features

  • High durability gold-plated Cherry switches rated for over 50 million key strokes
  • Multi-media control keys for convenient sound control
  • 5 macro keys with profile management
  • 18K gold plated ultra low latency USB plugs
  • Anti-ghosting 6 key rollover
  • 64KB on-board memory for profile storage
  • Storm tactics key for deactivation of Windows key
  • 1000Hz driverless polling / 1ms response time
  • Two port enhanced USB 2.0 hub
  • Detachable wrist rest
  • Braided cable for durability
  • Non-slip rubber coating

Our early sample of the Trigger was supplied in a plain cardboard box but Cooler Master provided us with an image of the retail packaging (above).  Inside the box, the only item we received with the keyboard was the detachable braided USB cable.  We expect that Cooler Master will include a quick start guide and possibly a software CD with the retail version.

It would be fair to say that the Trigger stands out from the crowd when compared to the other mechanical gaming keyboards on the market.
The rugged-looking design that CM Storm have given the base of the keyboard gives it quite a presence on your desk.  The rubberised paint finish echoes the rugged theme set by the aesthetic design of the unit.

Even though the black and grey colour scheme that CM Storm has used to finish the Trigger isn’t quite as attractive or exciting as the sleek brushed aluminium of Corsair’s Vengeance keyboards, it is brought to life by the red LED backlighting that CM Storm have integrated under the keys.

Unlike a lot of LED backlit keyboards, the Trigger has a number of different lighting modes which can be easily selected using the F1-F4 keys in conjunction with the function button.  There are three different lighting modes letting the user choose between static lighting, a breathing effect or gaming mode where only the WASD, arrow and macro keys are illuminated.
The only slight issue with the lighting is caused by the mechanical switches in the keyboard. The LEDs are located underneath the top of this key.  This means that the lighting is uneven, especially on the top row of keys.

Rather than use dedicated multimedia buttons, CM Storm has made them second functions on the F5-F11 keys.  These are a little fiddly to use as you have to press them function button at the same time.
Corsair’s Vengeance keyboards offer a much more user-friendly solution.

Along the left hand side of the keyboard there are five Macro buttons labelled M1-M5 which can be configured in the included software utility.  These are within relatively easy reach of your natural hand position on the keyboard.  Some users may prefer more dedicated macro buttons but we must consider that the Trigger lets us configure macros for any key on the keyboard.

On the back edge of the keyboard there is a two port USB hub which connects to your PC using the aforementioned braided USB cable.  This cable is removable and connects to the keyboard using a mini-USB connector.  Both of the connectors on this cable are gold plated.

There is also a 5V power input on the back edge of the keyboard but there wasn’t any cable provided for this.  This connector would only be required if you use USB devices with a high power requirement in the USB hub.
As we mentioned earlier in the review, Cooler Master supply a comprehensive software package with the CM Storm Trigger which lets the user configure various aspects of the keyboard.

We are greeted by a sizable diagram of the keyboard on the first page of the software which lets us set the button assignments.  Each button can be set to a number of different functions, including custom macros, and various pre-defined multimedia functions.
We can also set certain keys to launch applications, or disable them altogether. It’s possible to create a number of profiles so you don’t have to reconfigure the keyboard every time you switch between games.

Clicking the ‘Profiles’ tab at the top of the page brings up the second page of the software.  This lets us set which of the configured profiles are stored on the keyboard and on the PC.  There is enough built in memory in the keyboard to store up to five different configuration profiles.

The third and final page of the software utility lets us create our own macros.  It has a number of different options which allow for key timings and use several predefined actions.
It’s very difficult to sum up the performance of a gaming keyboard as the experience depends largely on your personal preference.  The CM Storm Trigger feels almost identical to every other gaming keyboard we’ve tested that features Cherry MX Black switches. This means it is good!

Cherry is renowned for producing high quality gold-plated mechanical key switches which find their way into various gaming keyboards from a number of different manufacturers.  There are four types of Cherry MX switches available in different keyboards: red, black, blue and brown.
Each type of switch feels quite different and we have tested the red, black and blue ones in the past.  Many keyboard manufacturers will select one variant for a particular model but Cooler Master have decided to offer this model with all four types of switch.  As we mentioned earlier, we have the black variety.

The black switches don’t feature tactile feedback like the blue ones which we prefer for gaming.  They also have a heavier action than the red switches which makes them feel slightly more responsive.
Even though mechanical keyboards are also preferable for typing, the Trigger features N-key rollover which makes you more prone to error.  Those looking for a typists keyboard should consider a non-gaming model instead.

The Trigger offers great gaming performance and is far nicer to use everyday than a membrane based keyboard.  it will also offer slight in-game performance benefits which will be important to the most serious gamers.  Cooler Master include a wrist rest with the keyboard which makes it more comfortable to use for long periods of time. This can be removed when not required.
Overall we are quite impressed with what the CM Storm Trigger has to offer.  The rugged design and aesthetics make the keyboard look very robust.  That said, we question just how well built it really is as our sample had what sounds like a piece of plastic rattling around inside when moved. We admire Cooler Masters decision not to give the Trigger a glossy finish, as the rubberised paint is far more practical and doesn’t pick up fingerprints and grime readily.
Cooler Master offer this keyboard with all four of the flavours in Cherry’s range of MX mechanical switches.  We tested the Black version but the others are available depending on your personal preference.
We found the gaming performance of the keyboard to be very good indeed, in line with pretty much every other Cherry-based mechanical switches we’ve ever tested.  The included software package is very good and lets us easily configure the different functions of the keyboard.
There are a few negative aspects regarding the Trigger, though.  Despite having a number of different modes and brightness levels for the LED backlighting, the lighting itself isn’t even.  This means that most of the second key functions aren’t well-illuminated which isn’t ideal when using the keyboard in the dark.  Also, we think that most consumers would prefer a selection of dedicated multimedia buttons instead of the second-function buttons which Cooler Master have used.
It is available for around £100 at Scan which puts it in the same price bracket as the Corsair Vengeance K90 gaming keyboard that we reviewed a few weeks back.  We feel that the Corsair model is a better buy as it offers slightly better build quality, dedicated multimedia buttons and a more grown up appearance.
The Trigger is still worth considering, especially if you prefer black, blue or brown Cherry switches instead of the red ones in the Corsair model.
Pros:
  • Rubberised finish.
  • Choice of MX Switches.
  • Rugged design.
  • Comprehensive software.
Cons:
  • Uneven lighting.
  • No dedicated multimedia buttons.
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