The most important element of a mechanical keyboard is its switches. It is these mechanisms that determine what the user’s tactile sensations will be. Initially, the trendsetter in this area and the main supplier of switches was the Cherry GmbH corporation with a recognizable logo in the form of cherries. For the last ten years, their mechanisms have been copied by everyone who was not too lazy, but anyway, it was considered good form for keyboard manufacturers to have buttons from “cherries” in their products, despite their high cost. However, the general trend has changed over the past few years. Leading gaming peripheral brands are massively switching to switches of their own production, or at least marked with their own logo. ASUS did not stand aside either. First, she showed off the truly unique optical-mechanical buttons of the ROG RX. And then she announced a massive transition of her products to purely mechanical switches of a «proprietary» design called ROG NX. It is not known how this will end in the future, but for now we have a chance to get acquainted with a new type of mechanisms using the ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe keyboard as an example.
|Model||ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe|
|Product page||ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||84|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||80|
|Switch type||ROG NX Red (optional — Brown / Blue)|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||Yes (six profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Backlight||+ (RGB, 16.8M colors, keys and front stripe)|
|USB cable length, m||1,8|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Material||Plastic / Aluminum|
|Software||+ (ROG Armoury Crate)|
|Removable palm rest||+|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||356 x 136 (+75 stand) x 40|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 10|
|Peculiarities||Extended left Ctrl key, detachable magnetic palm rest, detachable USB Type-C cable|
|Average cost, $||–|
Contents of delivery
The packaging of the keyboard consists of a black and red soft outer cover and an inner box. Here you can find images of the product and a brief description of its main advantages. In particular, it mentions the range of NX mechanisms, which will consist of red linear switches, blue clicky and brown quiet and tactile.
Inside, the keyboard is protected from damage by cardboard dampers and closed with a cloth bag and soft padding.
In addition to the keyboard itself, the package includes a soft magnetic palm rest, a detachable Type-C USB cable, instructions, a warranty brochure, and two stickers with the ROG logo.
Externally, the keyboard is a complete copy of the ASUS ROG Strix Scope TKL Deluxe [https://www.overclockers.ua/peripheral/asus-rog-strix-scope-tkl-deluxe/] on Cherry MX switches, which we reviewed just over a year ago. Skeleton style design, gray aluminum alloy base plate with diagonal brushing. The device remains very rigid and perfectly withstands the diagonal twist test.
The magnetic stand consists of a leather cushion with soft filling on top and a plastic base on the bottom. It is 75mm wide and has three points of attraction at the rear (center and sides). There are also three main support legs and four additional, narrow, «guide» rubber stickers.
The layout of the printed block of keys is made according to the American ANSI standard shortened to 84 buttons, the F1 button is located above the number «2». The symbols are laser engraved. Latin is located at the top center of the caps, and Cyrillic is absent altogether. However, this is a test copy, and it will obviously be on retail. On some keys, special commands are placed on the front face. All single keycaps are conventionally shaped with a cylindrical recess. A signature feature of the Scope series is the left Ctrl, extended to the size of Shift, to make it easier for players to hit it. But this was done by reducing the size of the space and shifting the Win and Alt buttons to the right.
The block of numeric keys is missing. There are no editor buttons PrtSc, ScrLk and Pause. Instead, an illuminated ROG logo is embedded. The functions of these keys are executed through a combination of Fn with Del, End and Page Down. Above the arrow keys are dotted RGB indicators with the symbols «A», «S», «F» and «Win-Lock». The first two diodes stand for Caps-Lock and Scroll Lock. The «F» diode is lit if the function keys perform their standard function, and does not light if they are configured to activate alternative commands. This is switched by the Fn + Ins combination, and the second function of any function button can always be activated by holding it together with Fn. The last icon indicates the game mode and the Win-Lock function (locking the Start button).
So, we got to the main and only difference between the keyboard — ASUS ROG NX Red mechanical switches. Outwardly, they are similar to the original Cherry MX Red RGB in a transparent case and with an LED soldered on a printed circuit board. However, the difference lies in the characteristics. These are still linear switches, but they are tighter to the touch — it takes 40 grams to start pressing, and 55 grams of total force at the moment the button is activated. Operation occurs already at 1.8 mm of the way, while the distance to the stop is equal to the usual 4 mm. On the front of the case of the mechanism there is the inscription ROG and the image of the logo of the gaming series. The stabilizers of the long keys are made in the form of external wire rods, which dangle perceptibly, creating a rattling overtone when typing. Button caps are made of ABS plastic, painted on the outside.
The lower part of the sidewalls is slightly beveled inward, which makes it easier to lift and rearrange the device if necessary. Folding legs in one level change the inclination of the case and the height of its rear part from 40 mm to 48 mm.
The signal cord enters the keyboard housing through a triangular recess in the center back. The keyboard has no additional external ports.
The “C” connector is easy to connect by touch with any suitable cable, because the direction of the rotation of the contacts does not matter.
Removable wire in a nylon braid turned out to be quite flexible. Its total length is 1.8 meters. There is no ferrite ring on the cord, but there is a reusable Velcro tape to adjust the length of the cable.
The back side of the keyboard is designed in the form of diagonal stripes of matte and glossy plastic, and on the left is another ROG logo. A sticker with serial and product number is glued diagonally near the connector. Rubber feet made five pieces — in the corners and in the center of the body. The outer edge of each leg is polished to a high gloss, and the inner edge is made of ordinary matte rubber. If you keep them and the table cover reasonably clean, the grip is excellent and the keyboard sticks firmly to the table. On the front edge of the keyboard, a strip of white translucent plastic is built in, through which the backlight from the keys is visible when it is not covered by the palm rest.
The rubber bands on the two folding legs are also glossy. The legs are laid out in one level.
The keyboard has full individual RGB backlighting of all keys. Signal LEDs have a soft glow, which is clearly visible regardless of ambient lighting. Their color depends on the color of the nearest keys. The backlighting of the front face and the logo is not configured separately and also depends on the color of the glow of the nearest keys.
ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe has built-in memory for six profiles (of which five are customizable) and allows you to record macros and many other operations without using a driver. All combinations of additional commands are activated using the Fn button. Below is a list of features that we were able to replicate.
|Fn+Esc||Reset the keyboard to default settings (hold for 5-6 seconds).|
|Fn+F5 / F5||Start/Pause|
|Fn+F6 / F6||Stop|
|Fn+F7 / F7||Rewind|
|Fn+F8 / F8||Flash forward|
|Fn+F9 / F9||Mute/Unmute Sound|
|Fn+F10 / F10||Turn down the volume|
|Fn+F11 / F11||Turn up the volume|
|Fn+F12 / F12||Minimize all windows and turn off sound|
|Fn+1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6||Switch to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 profile or default profile|
|Fn+Ins||Switching the operating mode of the function keys between standard commands and multimedia. Alternate command mode can always be executed with a combination with the Fn button|
|Fn+Del||The PrtSc team|
|Fn+Page Down||Pause command|
|Fn+Win||Enable or disable game mode. The Win key is disabled by default. The corresponding indicator lights up.|
|Fn+Left Alt||Macro recording. Recording order: 1) press Fn+left Alt to start recording (left Alt LED will blink white); 2) dial a combination of keys; 3) press Fn+left Alt again to end the recording (left Alt LED will start blinking white quickly); 4) press the key to which the macro command should be written. To reset the command from the key, you need to repeat all the steps except the second. To cancel the recording, you can press Fn + Esc once. Buttons free for macros glow green, and buttons reserved for commands glow red|
|Fn+←||Previous backlight mode|
|Fn+→||Next backlight mode|
ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe uses the ROG Armory Crate universal driver (the current version at the time of writing this review is 184.108.40.206), which must be downloaded from the official website and installed. Automatic and forced check for updates is available. The current keyboard firmware version is 1.00.12. There are four main tabs to customize the keyboard. All settings are saved in one of the five on-board profiles, the sixth (which is the default) is unchangeable. The launch of profiles can be tied to the launch of a specific application.
In the basic «Keys» tab, you can remap all keys except Fn. You can disable Alt+Tab and Alt+F4 shortcuts for Game Mode. 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 the backlight settings, 11 options for lighting effects are available, including with a static glow. There is not only an individual glow setting for each key — for it you will have to download the Aura Creator program from the Microsoft Store.
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 hold up to 100 commands. However, if scrolling the wheel is perceived as one command, then pressing a key is treated as two.
In the Firmware Update section, the current firmware version is checked and updated as needed.
Ergonomics and testing
In terms of ergonomics, the ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe is practically no different from its predecessor on Cherry MX switches. The TKL format lets you place your hands more comfortably on the desk, leaving more room for your mouse, the rigid keyboard chassis improves the tactile feel of the buttons, and the soft magnetic stand allows you to spend most of your time typing or gaming without getting tired. Of the little things that are hardly noticeable, it is worth noting the branded “sticky” legs, thanks to which the keyboard clings very tightly to the table surface. A detachable cable is useful for those who often carry peripherals with them, however, there are few such people now.
The standard ANSI key layout does not cause problems with touch typing, but it takes time to get used to the elongated left Ctrl button, due to which the space has decreased and Win and Alt have moved to the right. At first, Win will be constantly pressed instead of Alt, so it’s better to just block it so that there are no accidental exits from the game. Separately, I note that the wire stabilizers in this model tend to rattle in the up position, which can become annoying over time, especially when using the keyboard for a long time. This moment is most noticeable on the gap.
I can characterize the ASUS ROG NX switches themselves only on the positive side, in the two weeks that I managed to use them. And to be more precise, this characteristic will concern purely their «red» version, since I did not have a chance to encounter others. So, these are classic linear mechanisms, quiet, without parasitic overtones in the form of ringing of springs or something like that. They have a fixed actuation point and a consistent stroke, without sharp «failures». Activation here occurs a little earlier than in Cherry MX Red and requires a little more effort. This helps to avoid false presses when the key sags under the weight of the finger. In general, in a blind test, ASUS ROG NX Red will be extremely similar to Cherry MX Red, especially for an inexperienced user. From which we can conclude that in replacing the switches, the company pursued exclusively its own commercial or marketing goals. That is, either in this version, the buttons are cheaper, or the keys of your own brand increase its value in the eyes of potential buyers.
The hardware capabilities of the keyboard remained on top. It is possible to record macros on the fly without a driver and save them to separate profiles. There is a switch between the F5-F12 key mode. If they are not in demand, then when switching to the multimedia buttons mode, sound and player control is always at hand, without pressing Fn or extra switches on the case. The F12 privacy button, which minimizes all windows and turns off the sound, has not gone anywhere either. The only thing that cannot be configured without software is the individual color of the backlighting of the keys.
The software has changed to ROG Armory Crate and has generally become more stable, although, on the other hand, more voluminous and demanding on system resources.
ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe supports full NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate even all the buttons at the same time.
The mechanical keyboard ASUS ROG Strix Scope NX TKL Deluxe differs from the ASUS ROG Strix Scope TKL Deluxe reviewed a year earlier by purely used switches. Now, ASUS ROG NX Red proprietary mechanisms are used here, which are extremely similar to Cherry MX Red for verification. The only difference between them is a slightly higher pressing force, and a slightly earlier activation point. The rest of the advantages remained unchanged — a sturdy case, NKRO support, beautiful backlighting, tenacious legs, a detachable cable, built-in memory for six profiles, the ability to record macro commands without using a driver, a magnetic palm rest and an enlarged left Ctrl.
Among the shortcomings, one can note the rattling of the stabilizers of long keys and the lack of Cyrillic engraving. Although, that the first, that the second may be due to the fact that we had a test, and not a retail copy of the product on our hands.
It is obvious that ASUS plans to transfer all its keyboard lines to branded switches in the near future. For what purpose this is done — in search of commercial gain or for the marketing promotion of the brand, is unknown. But, according to first impressions, the user of their products will not lose anything from this. And some people might even like the new ROG NX switches more than the original Cherry MX.