CM Storm MECH Detailed Features
Now that we’ve taken a look the CM Storm MECH Keyboard, let’s see what makes it tick. Literally. The CM Storm MECH Keyboard that Benchmark Reviews received uses Cherry MX Brown switches. You can also find the CM Storm MECH with blue or red switches. Cherry MX switches come in a lot more styles than just those three, but those three give the CM Storm MECH a very rounded repertoire. The Cherry MX Brown and Red switches have very low actuation force at 45cN (centiNewtons). The Blue switches actuate a little bit stiffer at around 50 to 60cN. The real difference between the three switches, though, is the reset, or release point. That is the point when you can actuate the key again and the true reason why typists and gamers like mechanical keyboards. The lower the distance between the actuation point and the reset point, the faster you can re-engage the key and have it actuate again.
Cherry MX Red and Black switches have the “best” reset (depending on what you are looking for) because their actuation and reset points are the exact same position. That means that they require the least amount of movement to re-actuate. Once you find and become comfortable with the actuation/reset point, the Red and Black switches are the best for quick multiple single-key strokes. The only difference between the two is that the Black switches have a much higher actuation force, around 60cN. For that reason, many gamers prefer the Red switches. The problem with the Red and Black switches is that they are linear switches, which means that you don’t get any tactile feedback when you have reached the actuation point. Like membrane switches, there is really only a click when you bottom out the keys.
The Blue and Brown Cherry MX switches are what’s known as tactile switches. They physically click when the actuation point is reached. That clicking mechanism, however, means that the actuation and release points can’t be the same. The key has to travel back up beyond that mechanism to reset. Don’t think that it is that much of a difference, however. The switches are small, and you would probably allow the Red and Black Switches to travel that much anyway just out of habit. The nice part about the tactile switches is that you know when you have reached the actuation point because the key tells you. You can hear the audible switch and feel the bump. That feedback is another feature that draws a lot of people to mechanical keyboards. Between the two, the Brown switches have a smaller difference between the actuation and reset points because of the floating actuator in the Blue switches. This also gives the Blue switches more tactile feedback.
All in all, the differences really boil down to personal preference. I happen to like the Brown switches, because I get that tactile feedback while still taking advantage of the low actuation force. I also like the Red switches because of the low actuation force and that combined actuation/reset point. That being said, you really have to try them out to figure out what your preferences are.
One of the major benefits of mechanical keyboards that we haven’t talked about yet is insane lifespan. Even the best hybrid membrane keyboards have a lifetime of up to only 15 million or so strokes per key. More inexpensive keyboards only last between 1 and 5 million keystrokes. That’s a mere drop in the bucket compared to the CM Storm MECH Mechanical Keyboard, with keys rated for upwards of 50 million strokes. In pure lifespan alone that means you might go through 10 or more keyboards within the same time that you can keep the CM Storm MECH.
The CM Storm MECH Keyboard software doesn’t come on a disc with the keyboard, you need to download it from the website. That’s alright by me, since I’m always connected to the internet, but if you aren’t you’ll have to connect to get the software if you want to customize your profile. When I went to download the software, I first went to the Cooler Master USA website. The version of software there was 1.2.1, which is outdated and didn’t work on my computer. At the time of publishing, the updated version is 1.3.0 and can be found on the CM Storm website.
The MECH software opens up to the Storm CFG tab; the first of three tabs in the software. Within the Storm CFG tab you can select one of up to five profiles. Within the profiles you can actually change the function of almost any button on the keyboard. The top area of the tab shows the key that you have highlighted and gives you options for what you can change. Click the red button next to the description to change the function of the button.
- Default – Just your normally expected action for the button. A = A, 1=1, etc.
- Single Key – Lets you change the key to any other key. A=B, 1=2, etc.
- Macro – You pick one of your programmed macros and assign it to that key.
- Advanced – You can assign the key a volume control or media function, similar to the FN+F5-F11 keys.
- No Function – Disables the key.
- Launch Program – Assigns a program to launch when you press the key.
If you get confused about which keys you have changed to what assignations, you can click the little boxes next to the red buttons to change the color associated with the functions. Each key that is assigned to that function will show up in that color on the keyboard map.
The next tab is the Profiles tab. Quite obviously, the Profiles tab lets you configure the various profiles that you have assigned to the CM Storm MECH Keyboard. The top half of the tab is dedicated to the profiles stored within the 128kb of memory within the keyboard. You can store up to five profiles here. If you take the keyboard with you to use on other systems, this is where you’ll want to store the profiles you’ll need. The bottom half of the tab shows the profiles stored in your system’s memory.
The features in the Profiles tab are pretty self explanatory. You can create new profiles or delete old ones. If you only want to change a few things, you can make a copy a profile so you don’t have to start over. The best part about this tab, in my opinion, is that column that says application. You can assign any of your profiles to a specific application so that, whenever you run the application, the keyboard automatically switches to that profile (if the auto-switch button is clicked).
The final tab is the Macro Studio tab. I’ll bet you can guess what you do in this tab. There are a couple of ways to do it, though, so I’ll go through those.
The quickest way to make a macro for the CM Storm MECH Keyboard is to make a new macro and use the Record button. After clicking the Record button, you’ll get a pop up with options for 1:1 Mode, Speed Mode, and God Mode with an explanation for each of them. As soon as you click OK, the recording starts. You have 30 seconds to enter up to 25 different key presses. The other option for making a macro is to create a new macro and use the action dropdown menu to the right. You can manually insert commands and times there to make the macro do what you want, using the virtual keyboard and mouse rather than the actually keyboard and mouse to pick.
Once you save a macro you can go back the Storm CFG tab and assign it to a key. You can then set it to run once, 2 to 10 times, in a loop, or as long as the button is held down. And there you have it. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for experimentation.