Since the appearance of the ROG Claymore mechanics, and this was almost two years ago, there has been a complete lull in the upper segment of ASUS keyboards. And they broke it only now, with the release of the ROG Strix Flare mechanical keyboard. This review will be dedicated to her.
|Model||ASUS ROG Strix Flare|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Brown RGB|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||+, 6 profiles|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|USB cable length, m||1,8|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Software||Yes (ROG Armory)|
|Removable palm rest||+|
|External interfaces||1 х USB 2.0|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||450 x 158 (218 with stand) x 38|
|Weight, g||1140 (1302 with stand)|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7 / 10|
|Peculiarities||Pressable volume wheel, interchangeable translucent insert with custom logo, left and right side lighting, detachable palm rest, one USB 2.0 pass-through port|
|Average cost, $||180|
Contents of delivery
The packaging looks yummy. On the front of it, the product is depicted in all its beauty. There is a name, a reference to the Aura backlight, and the type of switches used. The back and sides are listed in several languages and clearly show all the advantages of this keyboard, but very few technical characteristics are indicated.
Under the colorful cover is a black cardboard box with the ROG logo in the center. There are no dampers inside, just a soft fabric keyboard case and a few plastic bags for other parts.
The package includes instructions for use, two stickers with the ROG logo, a transparent plastic blank on which you can put your own image, and a palm rest.
Appearance ASUS ROG Strix Flare turned out to be quite strict. Completely gray smooth body with slightly rounded corners is made of plastic. It has narrow frames along the sides and good overall strength, although a creak is still heard when twisting, and in the upper right corner the plastic bends completely if you press on it. Included is a removable palm rest, into which the front of the keyboard is simply inserted from top to bottom. The only element of decoration here is on the right side and is a texture of small beveled lines, which is visible only in bright light.
The palm rest is solid and solid. Made from the same smooth gray plastic as the rest of the keyboard. The deciphering logo is printed on the left and I even wonder if it will not be erased under constant pressure from the left hand. There are two hooks on the back of the stand that hold it to the keyboard. Four rubber feet are glued to the bottom corners, and in the center there is a diagonal recess, which at first I took for a channel for pulling wires, but in fact this is just a strange design decision and nothing more.
The printed block of keys is standard, this is the American ANSI layout. Both Shift buttons are long, Enter is single-row, the F1 button is located exactly above the number «2». The Fn key takes the place of the right Win button. The latin engraving is laser engraved in the center at the top center, in thick type. Cyrillic is shifted to the lower right corner and has a thin outline. The color of the keycaps is black, but with a pronounced glossy effect.
In the upper right corner is a long rubberized system volume adjustment roller. It rotates easily and quietly, but pressing to mute or unmute the sound turns out to be quite tight. It is noteworthy that ASUS is so far the only company that has guessed to place this control on the left, where it is convenient to reach. While other manufacturers stubbornly put such videos on the mouse side. To the right of the roller there are six membrane keys with constant white backlighting when active. In order, if you count from the left, they are responsible for: blocking the Win key, adjusting the brightness of the backlight (five levels, including complete shutdown), play / pause, stop, rewind and forward. In terms of resistance to pressing, they are average.
The configuration of the digital block, arrows and editor keys is completely standard.
In the upper right corner there is a transparent illuminated insert with the ROG logo, which, if desired, can be replaced with a spare one with some kind of your own image. First, though, you need to find someone who will correctly apply this image to the plate. The Num, Caps and Scroll Lock dot indicators are illuminated when active with a pleasant uniform white color that is clearly visible in daylight and does not blind your eyes in the dark.
The keyboard features Cherry MX Brown non-linear, non-linear tactile mechanical switches in a transparent housing. Activation force — 55 grams, with 2 mm to actuation, and a full stroke of 4 mm The RGB diodes are soldered directly on the PCB. Internal stabilizers, all keys can be easily removed for cleaning. The standard caps are made of translucent ABS plastic and painted black on the outside. Alternatively, versions of this keyboard are available with Cherry MX Red, Blue, and Black switches, with different sounds and different tactile feedback. All mechanisms are installed in a white metal thrust plate. Long keys are perfectly stabilized vertically and horizontally, backlash is minimal.
The keyboard body is completely flat. The first three rows of caps are slightly tilted back in profile, and the rear three, on the contrary, have a bevel forward, but the degree of inclination is very small. On the sides of the keyboard in the lower part on both sides there are lines of LED backlight, covered with translucent plastic
The extended legs add only 10 mm to the height of the back of the keyboard, increasing the angle of inclination forward. The tilt angle of the palm rest remains unchanged.
The signal cable entry into the keyboard case is slightly shifted to the right. There is a short bend protection at the contact point. To the right of the cable is one pass-through USB 2.0 port for easy connection of peripherals. The transparent logo plate is not fixed rigidly and is simply removed towards the rear.
A fairly thick USB cable with two connectors at the end, has a dense nylon braid and a length of 1.8 meters. It is rigid, securely holds the given shape and is reluctant to change it. There is no ferrite ring.
The design of the reverse side looks even richer than the front. The central part forms a triangle covered with diagonal grooves. There are only six visible mounting screws, two of them are located in the center, the other four are in the corners of the case. On the left side is a large ROG logo. Three massive rubber feet on the front face are designed in the form of triangles and a trapezoid. Near them there are two recesses, for which the palm rest clings. Two rear rubber bands are glued on the folding legs, which, even when folded, raise the keyboard 6 mm up.
Folding legs plastic, have one level of height. The contact face is completely covered with a rubber insert.
The RGB lighting looks ok. Wide Latin characters are read perfectly, narrow Cyrillic is noticeably worse, but, nevertheless, quite distinguishable, even at a low brightness level. LEDs on the sides create an interesting background glow effect. The only significant drawback is that the white backlight looks like a soft blue. This is especially evident in contrast with the pure white color of additional buttons and lock LEDs. If the user wishes to observe beautiful color effects, then they are also in abundance here.
The ASUS ROG Strix Flare keyboard is designed to work with its own software. But it has a number of features that can be configured and executed in hardware using keyboard shortcuts. We will tell about them now.
|Fn+Esc||Reset the keyboard to factory settings (hold for 10-15 seconds)|
|Fn+← / →||Switches the current light effect. Cycling color effects: 1) static, 2) breathing, 3) color cycling, 4) color wave, 5) splash, 6) pressure marks, 7) starry sky, 8) one color wave, 9) transverse lines, 10) rain|
|Fn+Del||Cycle through the level of red in the current hue (10 gradations available)|
|Fn+End||Cycle through the level of green in the current hue (10 gradations available)|
|Fn+Page Down||Cycle through the level of blue in the current hue (10 gradations available)|
|Fn+Left Alt+F1||Changing the character repeat rate to 1x|
|Fn+Left Alt+F2||Changing the character repeat rate to 2x|
|Fn+Left Alt+F3||Changing the character repeat rate to 3x|
|Fn+Left Alt+F4||Changing the character repeat rate to 4x|
|Fn+Right Alt||Macro Recording|
|Fn+1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6||Activation of one of the five changeable or one basic profile (#6)|
Color Adjustment Order in Any Mode: hold down Fn and successively pressing the Del, End and Page Down buttons select the appropriate hue by adjusting the saturation of the red, green and blue channels. The buttons will be highlighted in the corresponding color.
Macro recording procedure: press the combination Fn + right Alt. The backlight goes out, the right Alt key starts blinking slowly. We type the desired command in sequence, press Fn + right Alt again. The right Alt starts blinking quickly, all the buttons available for saving are highlighted in green, and those on which commands have already been written are highlighted in red. We click on the desired button, where the macro command will be saved, the recording is over. The Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Num Lock, Win, Right Alt, and Fn keys are not available for recording. If you do not select any key, the macro recording mode will turn off by itself after 15-20 seconds of inactivity. You can delete a recorded macro either by resetting the keyboard to factory settings, or by overwriting a new one.
ASUS ROG Strix Flare uses ASUS ROG Armory universal driver version 2.06.01 as software, which requires downloading from the official website and full installation. The current keyboard firmware version is 0.00.35. You can update the firmware manually or automatically, but the driver is updated through a reinstallation with a request. In addition, you can enable or disable auto-launch of the program at the start of the operating system, select one of 12 interface languages, or visit the official ROG website or Facebook page.
When starting the program, the user encounters the key settings window. At the top there is a ribbon with active connected devices, on the left is a profile window. They can be renamed or associated with the start of any application. But you can not delete or perform operations with them to import or export to the PC memory. For the game mode, it is proposed to disable Alt + Tab and Alt + F4 combinations, but in fact, if you do this, the combinations are turned off completely, regardless of whether the mode is active or not. From the driver, you can already reassign all keys except Fn. You can assign a default function, any keyboard press, left or right mouse button press, a macro (without setting trigger parameters), a program launch, a multimedia command, a basic Windows command, or turn off the key completely.
In the lighting settings, you can choose one of a dozen preset effects or create your own. The possibilities of adjustment here are the widest, from a banal change in color and brightness, to a choice of direction, speed, duration and order of changing effects.
In the custom version of the lighting settings, all the same parameters are adjusted, but for each individual button individually.
In the macro editor, you can create, delete, rename and save individual command sequences in the PC memory. Keyboard and mouse button presses and wheel scrolling are perceived. Upon recording, all positions can be edited by changing the commands and the duration of the delay. You can change the default delay and playback method settings by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner.
To synchronize the backlight, you need to have another device that supports the ASUS Aura function.
In the statistics section, in the form of a heat map, the number of keystrokes on each individual key since the start of the recording of the session is shown. If you move the cursor over the button icon, a window will appear with the exact number of its activations. Character set speed is not measured.
Ergonomics and testing
In terms of usability, the ASUS ROG Strix Flare keyboard is a fairly simple and comfortable device. Its ergonomics are straightforward and unpretentious. The low height of the body allows you to use the keyboard without a palm rest, but it is fully revealed with the stand. Although many competitors make such a stand soft and covered with artificial leather, the hard plastic used here is still more durable and relatively good to the touch. In any case, the hands on this keyboard practically do not get tired. The only thing is that the stand does not hold on to the keyboard when lifting, so it will not work to actively rearrange everything as an assembly on the table. The layout of all keys is completely standard and does not take time to get used to, allowing you to immediately type text in the blind. Special thanks can be said to the company for the correct placement of additional buttons and the volume control roller at the top left, that is, where it is easiest to reach them without looking up from work or play, and without removing your right hand from the mouse. The surface of the keyboard housing and the plastic of the keycaps do not tend to quickly accumulate dirt, which is also good. The strength of the case as a whole is not the best, the plastic creaks under load at the junctions, and in the upper right corner it tends to sag at all. However, this is noticeable only if you specifically check the keyboard for twisting. In everyday use, no fragility of the structure is felt, as well as extraneous overtones. The legs on the keyboard and stand have excellent grip on the surface, there is no fidgeting during intensive typing. It is interesting that the rear USB port, which is invisible beyond the edge, can be groped without looking without any problems; getting into it with a connector is no problem.
Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches in this version are very similar to MX Black. Tactile feedback is felt if you press the key not very quickly, while with heavy typing, you get the feeling that the button moves just linearly. Thus, they are well suited for both gaming and typing, and most importantly, they will not annoy others with loud sounds. All long keys are well stabilized and do not cause complaints.
The backlight looks good. It has a normally adjusted brightness level that does not produce stray reflections. Latin is read well, Cyrillic is a little worse, but at least it does not fade against the background. As mentioned above, these LEDs cannot correctly depict the white color, although all other shades are quite similar to themselves. The backlighting on the sides creates a pleasant soft illumination, and I even got the feeling that it largely compensates for the difference in brightness that happens when you look in the dark from the monitor to the keyboard and back.
In terms of hardware setup, ROG Strix Flare is doing well. All the necessary functions — volume control, profile switching, backlight control, etc., are always at hand, recording macro commands is very simple and intuitive, unlike many other keyboard options that I have seen. The software as a whole is also well organized, but something tells me that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Anti-ghosting in this keyboard is implemented as a permanently active NKRO mode for all keys.
In general, the ASUS ROG Strix Flare mechanical keyboard turned out to be a very nice device. Not as pretentious as the ROG Claymore, but not as economical as it was in the Cerberus Mech. It is distinguished by its original and strict appearance, simple and thoughtful ergonomics. The keyboard comes with all the major Cherry MX reference switch options to suit any taste, with a palm rest, a pass-through for peripherals, and decent-looking RGB lighting. The volume control is well done too.
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. The plastic case creaks and flexes in the upper right corner when twisted. It’s good that this moment does not manifest itself in operation. This keyboard would be very suitable for the “face” of the metal top panel. In addition, the white color is displayed incorrectly with a bias towards blue, which is very striking against the background of clear white LEDs for additional buttons and Lock indicators.
ASUS ROG Strix Flare can be recommended for those who need an outwardly restrained, stylish and utilitarian, in the good sense of the word, mechanical keyboard that has everything you need and nothing more. And for those who are inclined to make decisions in a balanced way, and not under the influx of emotions, because the acquisition of ROG Strix Flare is far from the most accessible pleasure.