More recently, we noted in reviews that the 65% keyboard format is extremely rare and not in demand by users. But manufacturers of gaming peripherals seem to have a slightly different opinion, as such devices began to appear on the market in bulk. The turn has come for ASUS to join the general trend. And their first miniature keyboard variant is called the ROG Falchion. This word denotes another kind of edged weapons, do not be surprised — now the entire periphery of the company is named in this way.
Let’s try to briefly list the main features of ASUS ROG Falchion. This is a mechanical «skeleton» keyboard with Cherry switches, 65% format (68 keys, including arrows, Del, Ins, PgUp, PgDn), PBT keycaps and RGB backlighting. Of the «exotic» moments, it is worth noting that the keyboard is wireless (it can work and be charged via cable), and it has a touch panel with a built-in display. And a beautiful protective overlay to boot. And now let’s try to study this device in more detail.
|Model||ASUS ROG Falchion|
|Product page||ROG Falchion|
|Connection||Wired / Wireless (2.4 GHz)|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||68|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Red RGB|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory||+ (six profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Backlight||+ (16.8 million colors)|
|USB cable length, m||1,9|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Software||+ (Armoury Crate)|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||101 x 305 x 39|
|OS Compatibility||Windows® 10|
|Battery type and capacity, mAh||Lithium polymer, up to 4000 mAh|
|Autonomy, hours||up to 450 (with backlight off) up to 53 (with backlight)|
|Peculiarities||Double-molded PBT keycaps, left-hand touchpad, detachable cable, USB Type-C connector, polycarbonate protective slip cover, receiver extension adapter included|
|average cost||4999 hryvnias|
Contents of delivery
The outer design of the packaging looks quite informative. On the front, there is a picture of the product, a mention of backlighting, switch types, and layout. On the back there is a more detailed listing of the benefits and a list of some technical characteristics.
Inside is a black cardboard box with a red ROG logo in the middle. There is practically no protection against damage in it, only a fabric overlay and cardboard inserts in a circle.
The package includes a polycarbonate cover-stand, instructions for use, a sheet with warranty information, a pair of stickers with the ROG logo, a cable with USB Type-C on one side and USB Type-A on the other, a receiver and an adapter.
The design of the ASUS ROG Falchion is simple, discreet and minimalistic. The dimensions practically coincide with the dimensions of the printed block of keys made in the «skeleton» style. Under them is a metal support panel 1 mm thick. The button layout is based on a modified ANSI standard with a long left Shift and a single row Enter. There are no separate function keys, editorial buttons and arrows are maximally squeezed under the right side of the keyboard. There are exclusively Latin characters embossed in PBT plastic caps by double injection molding. It is located in the central upper part of the buttons. The spacebar is shortened, due to which the right Alt, Fn, Ctrl are shifted to the left side. In general, on the one hand, it turned out to be as compact as possible, on the other hand, all the necessary buttons are always at hand.
Symbols of alternative commands are printed in white on the front faces of the corresponding keys. All of them are activated through combinations with the Fn button.
The highlight of the ASUS ROG Falchion is the touchpad built into the left side of the case. She is very sensitive. It has tactile notches in the form of «+» and «-» symbols and seven dots, each of which is highlighted in a different color, depending on the current indication or the nature of the user’s touch. For example, when you change the volume level, a white strip of light runs after your finger, with a single press in one of the three zones up, down or in the middle, red is displayed, and alternatively, the LEDs can display the current battery level or synchronize with the backlight of the keys. Beauty, and only. The LED strip on the edge at the top duplicates the backlight of the side panel. At the top is the Win Lock indicator, and at the bottom is Caps Lock, both white.
If the arrows are built into the intuitive lower right corner, then the logic of the location of the editorial keys will need to get used to. Or reassign in the driver and rearrange the caps. For example, I would put Del up, in its place PgUP, and insert Insert to the right of Enter. So with an accidental miss on Enter, nothing significant will happen. And the user will often miss it when printing blindly at first, believe me.
As switches, the good old and time-tested Cherry MX Red RGB in a transparent case (and also German-made, according to the company) are used here. It is unlikely that anything new can be said about them, except that they are one of the most respected and reliable mechanisms on the market. And so everything is familiar — 4 mm of full travel, 2 mm before actuation, a completely linear nature of pressing, 45 grams of effort for activation and 50 million clicks of the declared MTBF resource. I’m not sure if this will be on sale with us, but the official site claims brown, blue and silver switches with a different tactile feel as an alternative. Stabilizers here are external and on most long keys they provide even pressing, not counting the gap slightly dancing in the horizontal plane.
The minimum profile height of the keyboard on the back row of keys with the legs folded in is 39mm. With the legs unfolded, the height increases to 44 mm. The buttons in the profile are devoid of ergonomic tilt and are arranged in even ledges one after the other. By the way, although the plastic sidewalls are tilted inward, when rearranging the keyboard, you will not have to take them in the most obvious place so as not to accidentally activate the touch panel on the left.
On the back of the device there is a recess where the power switch is hidden, a USB Type-C port (fully open for access by any cables of this format) and a magnetic pocket for a wireless receiver. It is convenient to insert “flash drives” into it so as not to accidentally lose them.
The braided cable has a length of 1.9 meters, a USB Type-C connector on one side and USB Type-A on the other. It is thin, quite flexible, although not particularly soft. There is no protection against bending, but there is a Velcro tape to adjust the length, or to fold it when carrying.
Separately, the kit also includes an adapter that allows you to connect the receiver to the cable. This is necessary in order to reduce wireless communication delays by placing it as close to the keyboard as possible. And after removing the adapter, the charging cord will immediately be at hand. By the way, the device works fine on the cable during charging.
The bottom panel has a figured pattern in the form of the ROG logo and diagonal lines. Four rubber triangular legs are glued on the corners. They are made of branded «mirror» rubber, which, subject to regular dusting, tightly «glues» the keyboard to the table surface. The serial number sticker is located in the lower right corner.
The legs are laid out in one level. They also have rubber pads, although they are less tenacious than on body stickers.
An unusual accessory that comes with ASUS ROG Falchion is a protective polycarbonate pad. It can be used to cover the keyboard when being carried or not being used for long periods of time to cover the keycaps from dust and damage. The inside of the tray is rubberized. The outer side is richly made of metal with the ROG logo and brushed diagonal lines. At the corners, rubber feet are glued to it, the same as on the keyboard itself.
When closed, in the «transport position» the rear ports remain accessible. That is, it is not required to remove the cable or receiver from them in advance.
When used as a tray, both the rear ports and the touchpad on the left remain open. And the legs on the case help the whole device to stay securely on the table.
The backlighting here is RGB, for all keys, with a large number of effects. It has an average margin of brightness and fades in bright ambient light. But in the twilight of the room looks good. White color traditionally gravitates towards the blue tint.
For a shortened keyboard, many basic functions are available only through Fn key combinations. Below is a list of all the commands that we managed to play on the ASUS ROG Falchion.
|Fn+Ins||Fn lock functions of the numeric and function keys are reversed, the Ins button glows white.|
|Fn+Tab||Touchpad lock (Tab key glows white)|
|Fn+Caps||Resetting the keyboard to default settings|
|Fn+Win||Win key lock (light above touchpad is lit)|
|Fn+Right Ctrl||Context menu|
|Fn+Y||Decreasing the sound volume|
|Fn+U||Increasing the sound volume|
|Fn+A||Enable profile 1|
|Fn+S||Enable profile 2|
|Fn+D||Enable profile 3|
|Fn+F||Enable profile 4|
|Fn+G||Enable profile 5|
|Fn+Family||Enable a default profile|
|Fn+↑||Increasing backlight brightness|
|Fn+↓||Decrease backlight brightness|
|Fn+→||Next highlight effect|
|Fn+←||Previous highlight effect|
|Fn+Alt (Left)||Macro recording. Order: 1) press the specified combination (the left ALT will slowly blink white); 2) type a command and press the indicated combination again (the left ALT will start blinking white quickly); 3) Press the key to which you want to bind the command (the green color of the key means that it is free for writing, and the red color means that the command has already been written to it). To delete a macro, press Fn+Alt twice and press any button highlighted in red. Fn, Alt (left), Caps, and Win keys are not available for hardware recording. Macro commands are saved for all profiles separately.|
As software, the ASUS ROG Falchion keyboard uses the heavyweight universal “combine” Armory Crate, which requires downloading from the official website and installation. We will consider only those tabs that touch the keyboard directly. The first screen of the application is called «keys». Here you can reassign them. All buttons except Fn are available for this. You can assign text messages, keyboard and mouse commands, macros, launch a specific site or application, eight multimedia commands, six basic Windows shell commands. Another key can be returned to default values or disabled completely. In addition to the Win button, you can configure the Alt + Tab and Alt + F4 combinations to be disabled in the game mode.
If you click on the question mark in the upper right corner of the keyboard image, a window will open with an exhaustive list of alternative commands available through Fn.
In the touchpad settings, you can assign five commands to actions in the form of sliding up or down (by default, change the volume level) or three touch zones. The available list of commands is the same as for the keyboard buttons, except for the «scale». The touchpad backlight can be synchronized with other keys or set to display the current battery level.
In the backlight settings, 11 options for lighting effects are available, including with a static glow. There is not only an individual backlight setting for each key — for it you will have to download the Aura Creator program from the Microsoft Store.
The power section displays the current charge level, adjusts the level at which a warning is issued about the need for charging, as well as the transition time to «sleep» when idle for a period of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 minutes or never. You can enable or disable the power saving mode, which automatically dims or turns off the keyboard backlight.
The firmware update section checks the current version of the keyboard and receiver firmware and updates it as needed.
In the macro editor, you can record keyboard commands with or without time intervals, repetitions and delays, as well as pressing all mouse buttons and the direction of rotation of the scroll wheel. Then all this can be quickly edited. Each macro can be up to 100 characters long.
Ergonomics and testing
The ASUS ROG Falchion keyboard was tested primarily in wireless mode, since this is the main mode of operation for it. The receiver was located at a distance of 50 cm, in the line of sight. Before starting active use, the device was connected by wire for several days to make sure that the battery would be fully charged. But first, a few words about the design in general. The keyboard withstands the diagonal twist test perfectly, does not flex or creak when used. This indicates an excellent fit of plastic and metal parts. ROG Falchion feels heavier than its real weight, with an eye to the reduced size. The feeling is enhanced by very tenacious legs that do not allow it to slip. The negative point is that when trying to move the keyboard, the user usually takes it on the sides. And then the touch panel on the left involuntarily fires, because it occupies most of it. Fortunately, the sensor can be turned off if desired. The overall height is chosen well and allows you to do without a palm rest, although for a long pastime it would still be better to purchase it separately. There is little practical sense in a polycarbonate case, as for me, but its presence in the kit once again emphasizes the high status of the product.
In terms of typing ergonomics, everything is quite good. The narrowed keys on the right side will take some time to adapt, but this is not critical and the habit is developed quickly. In general, the standard layout allows you to type «blindly» almost immediately. Classic Cherry red switches paired with PBT keycaps for a great tactile experience. You can complain, perhaps, about the already familiar “laxity” of the space, but, unfortunately, this is how things are now with most mass keyboards. Yes, and some keys should be rearranged, but this is a matter of personal preference.
The touchpad in this device is more of a fashionable feature. All the same could be achieved with the help of an ordinary wheel, although it would not be so beautiful. But the visual charge indicator is a really necessary thing.
The backlighting on the keyboard looks good. As for the ability to quickly record macros and many quick profiles, ROG Falchion does this better, more clearly and simply than anywhere else. The software also gets better over the years, but is still far from perfect.
Now briefly about the power saving settings. The keyboard has a 4000 mAh battery. It claims up to 450 hours of continuous operation without backlight and 53 hours with the backlight turned on at full power. The device goes to sleep after 3 minutes of inactivity (default setting) and wakes up instantly when you press any key, which is also registered in the system. For a week of use for 3-4 hours a day, I managed to lower the charge level only to 60% (according to the software and indications on the device itself.) Based on this, we can agree with the autonomy indicators declared by the manufacturer, and this is the time of continuous operation, where downtime is not taken into account. The only negative is that almost every time the keyboard was activated, the driver gave a message that it was completely discharged, although in fact it worked without problems. It is possible that this is a software defect. But the built-in battery takes a really long time to charge. On average, from a completely dry state, the process can take more than eight hours, although a lot depends on the quality of the USB port’s power supply. In general, ROG Falchion is doing well with autonomy. Without a backlight, it can last in intensive wireless work for almost two months. Or up to two weeks backlit.
ASUS ROG Falchion supports full-fledged NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate all buttons at the same time and in any combination.
In reviews of peripherals from ASUS, I often have to note that the company is very fond of experiments. Maybe this is not as profitable as riveting devices according to the same patterns, but at least it somehow moves the industry forward.
In the case of ROG Falchion, it is safe to say that the keyboard turned out to be very interesting and unusual, in the best sense of the word. It managed to combine almost binary opposites — compactness and convenience, wired and wireless communications, backlighting and a long margin of autonomy. Spice it all up with a sturdy chassis, great PBT plastic switches and caps, and a touchpad with indicator light to boot. And cover the top with a lid. Plus, we still do not forget about the wide possibilities for hardware configuration of the device, quick macro recording, six built-in profiles and good, albeit cumbersome, software. There is almost everything you can dream of, although not at all for free.
The device has no critical flaws. But for my personal taste, the location of the touchpad is not the most inconvenient. And it is quite possible that even without it, the keyboard would not have lost its attractiveness. But it would be a little more affordable.
ASUS ROG Falchion is designed for true connoisseurs of compact mechanical keyboards. It is good in all respects — functional, tactile and aesthetic. In addition, it is excellent and, importantly, it works for a long time in wireless mode. And the key layout allows you to do everything the same as on a TKL keyboard, but in an even smaller form factor.