The second version of the ASUS ROG Claymore modular keyboard was delayed by almost six years compared to its first iteration. Apparently, this time was needed to completely update the design of the device, change the type of switches and give it wireless capabilities. Let’s see what happened as a result, and what innovations appeared in this project.
|Model||ASUS ROG Claymore II|
|Interface||USB 2.0 / 2.4 GHz|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Key press resource, million||100|
|Type of keys||Optical and mechanical|
|Type of switches||ROG RX Red або RX Blue|
|Changing the angle of inclination of the case||+|
|Built-in memory||+ (6 profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Handling simultaneous clicks||NKRO|
|Illumination||Yes (RGB, 16.8 million colors)|
|USB cord length, m||2|
|Software||+ (Armoury Crate)|
|External interfaces||1 х USB 2.0|
|Dimensions, (L x W x H) mm||462 x 155 x 39|
|OS compatibility||Windows 10|
|The declared operating time from the built-in battery||43 hours in 2.4 GHz mode with backlight on (at 100% brightness)|
|Additionally||Detachable numeric keypad with four additional buttons and volume control wheels that can be attached to the right or left of the keyboard. Ability to work in wired and wireless mode. Separate charge indicator. Fast charging. Fast hardware recording of macro commands without software. Detachable USB Type-C cable. USB pass through port. Removable magnetic palm rest.|
The keyboard comes in a red and black box decorated in ROG’s signature colors. On its front and back side there is the appearance of the product and all the necessary information about it.
Protection from damage in the middle is provided by additional cardboard inserts and a wrap made of artificial fabric.
In addition to the keyboard and digital block, the set includes a palm rest, a USB Type-C signal cable, an adapter from USB Type-C (female) to USB Type A (female), an adapter from USB Type-C (female) to USB Type A (dad), miniature 2.4 GHz receiver, welcome letter, manual, warranty brochure and ROG logo stickers.
ASUS ROG Claymore II is a modular device and consists of two separate parts — the TKL keyboard itself and a digital block that can be connected from both the right and left sides. In addition, the set includes a soft full-size palm rest. Let’s consider them one by one.
The removable magnetic palm rest has a size of 454x70x16 mm. On top, it is covered with soft artificial leather, with an embossed ROG logo on the right side. The lower part is made of plastic. There are two large rubber feet in the middle and four triangular feet at the corners of the sole. Five magnets are evenly distributed inside along the edges of the rear face of the stand. There is also another ROG logo and inscription at the bottom. The weight of the stand is 194 g.
ASUS ROG Claymore II is made in the «skeleton» style. Most of the top panel is aluminum, gray in color, with a diagonally milled panel. A small bend from the bottom gives the keyboard an additional margin of rigidity. The dimensions of the device are 372x155x39 mm, with a weight of 866 grams.
The key layout fully complies with the ANSI standard with long, single-row Shift and Enter buttons. The F1 key is located exactly under the number 2. The letters of the Latin alphabet are laser-engraved exactly in the center of the caps in thick font. Thinner Cyrillic is applied in the same way in the center below. All inscriptions are perfectly visible when the backlight is on, but without it they are visible only in bright external light. The Fn button takes the place of the right Win key.
The upper left corner of the keyboard is covered with a layer of transparent plastic. Beneath it is an illuminated ROG logo and a four-level battery indicator. The indicator can be assigned a color according to the keyboard backlight. It is set to glow green or blue when running on battery and slow charging, or purple when fast charging.
On the left side, under the magnetic plastic overlay, there is a connector and guides for connecting the digital unit. It is inserted a little above the connector and then slides down.
Arrows and keys for text editing are standard.
All dot white indicators are placed in a plastic cover in the upper right part of the keyboard case. They are visible only under the condition of activity. Inscriptions with designations can be seen only if you look closely at them. So, from left to right are: 1 (Num Lock), A (Caps Lock), S (Scroll Lock), the Windows symbol with a lock (Win Lock), and the USB symbol, which lights up when the keyboard is connected by cable and the pass-through USB port is enabled ( you can turn it off to increase the battery charging speed).
On the right side there is also a port for connecting a digital unit, hidden under a magnetic plastic overlay.
This keyboard uses proprietary ROG RX Red optical-mechanical switches. You can find out more about them at this link. The mechanical part of the switch consists of a rod with a spring, which, when pressed to a sufficient depth, interrupts the light flow between two elements located on the printed circuit board, causing the button to actuate instantly. The advantages of this method over classical closing of contacts in mechanical switches are self-evident. There is no physical contact, there is no need for a delay for the «jitter» of the signal, the switch can work much longer without excessive friction. The reaction speed is stated to be within 1 ms, although in practice it is not known what delay is actually set on the controller. The second elegant solution is an X-shaped pantograph under the rod, which, being evenly folded, forces the button to go straight down, without deviation to the sides. And the third great engineering discovery is the backlight LED on the board, in the center of the switch and the lens above it. This makes the illumination uniform and bright.
ROG RX Red are linear switches that have just 1.5mm of travel to actuate, with 4mm of total travel to the stop. To activate them, you need to exert 45 grams of effort, with an initial load of 40 g and a peak load of 55 g. The switches are pressed with soft resistance, and in this they are closer to membrane keyboards than to conventional mechanisms. However, unlike them, all buttons have an unparalleled stabilization in the horizontal plane. The sound is quite quiet and dull.
Stabilizers of long buttons are hidden here, with wedge-type fastening. The keycaps are made of painted ABS plastic and have specific four-point fastening at the corners.
The height of the keyboard with folded legs along the back row of keys is 39 mm. With unfolded legs — 53 mm. Side panels bent inward allow you to easily rearrange the keyboard if necessary. A slightly understated OEM key profile is used here.
The main external interfaces and switches are hidden in the recesses in the central part of the back panel.
The cable has a USB Type C connector on both ends, nylon braiding and a length of 2 meters. It is medium in thickness and flexibility. To adjust the excess length, there is a Velcro-type velcro.
When connected via a cable, the keyboard automatically switches to it and starts charging its battery. If the computer has a USB Type-C port and the keyboard is connected to it, fast charging is activated. When connected by cable, the high-speed end-to-end USB port will also work. It can be turned off with a special key combination if you need to provide more energy for charging.
The keyboard has two modes of operation: 1) wired (switch to the right); 2) wireless 2.4 GHz through the receiver (switch to the left). To the left of the switch is a USB Type-C port, and to the right is a pass-through USB Type A port. Even further to the right, outside the recess in a separate magnetic compartment hides the receiver.
In order to reduce signal delay, the receiver can be moved closer to the keyboard and connected to the cable through an adapter. Convenient in case you need to recharge. The cable is always at hand. It is enough to remove the adapter from it.
Separately, there is a reverse adapter from USB Type-C to USB Type A, in case your computer does not have this latest interface.
The bottom of the keyboard is plastic, with diagonal stripes and the ROG logo on the left. Five rubber feet have a special «sticky» texture. If you keep them clean, the keyboard will stick to the glossy table as if glued. A sticker with a serial number is located near the pocket of the receiver.
The folding legs also have anti-slip rubbers.
The optional numeric keypad has a standard button configuration and the same switches as the main keyboard. In its upper part there is a large metal wheel for adjusting the sound volume. Four additional flat and wide multimedia buttons are mounted below, which can be reassigned to other commands if desired. The dimensions are 100x155x39 mm, the weight is 214 grams.
Connectors and guides for connecting it to the keyboard are hidden on the left and right sides of the block under magnetic plastic overlays.
On the back we have two triangular support legs in the front at the corners, and one large one at the back.
The rear rubber leg folds down to the same level as the keyboard.
If you attach the numeric keypad on the right side, you get a standard full-size keyboard. But if we add it on the left, we will get all the advantages of the TKL keyboard format, but together with a digital block that does not interfere with the mouse on the right side. Unfortunately, the unit is not wireless, and cannot work separately from the main keyboard. In addition, the block may wobble a little vertically, which is noticeable if you lift the device up, but this does not interfere with work.
Due to the special central lenses in the switches, the backlight on this keyboard looks great. It is very saturated and bright. All colors are reproduced correctly, except for white, which has a blue tint. Engraving in Latin and Cyrillic is equally well read. In addition, there are many lighting effects and the ability to customize each button individually.
The ASUS ROG Claymore II keyboard has an advanced hardware platform with built-in memory for five variables and one immutable profile, where key assignments and backlight settings are stored. Additional functions are implemented by combining the corresponding keys with the Fn button. You can find information about them on the official website, in the instructions, or intuitively understand their purpose by looking at the icons on the corresponding buttons. The table below provides a complete list of those functions that we were able to reproduce.
|Fn+Esc||Resetting the keyboard to factory settings (hold for 3 seconds)|
|Fn+F8||The next track|
|Fn+F10||Reduce the volume|
|Fn+F11||Increase the volume|
|Fn+F12||USB pass-through port switch|
|Fn+1||The first memory profile|
|Fn+2||The second memory profile|
|Fn+3||The third memory profile|
|Fn+4||The fourth memory profile|
|Fn+5||The fifth memory profile|
|Fn+6||Default memory profile|
|Fn+Win||Activation or deactivation of the game mode in which the Win button and (optionally) combination Alt+Tab or Alt+F4 are inactive. The corresponding indicator will light up.|
|Fn+Left Alt||Writing a macro command. Sequence of actions: 1) press Fn+left Alt (left ALT will begin to slowly flash white); 2) press the desired sequence of keys and press Fn+left Alt again (left ALT will start flashing 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, without backlight — not available for writing, and red — that the command is already written on it). To delete a macro command, repeat the second point without typing any command and save it on any button highlighted in red.|
|Fn+↑||Increase the brightness of the backlight (5 levels)|
|Fn+↓||Reduce backlight brightness (5 levels)|
|Fn+←||Previous lighting effect|
|Fn+→||The next lighting effect|
As software, ASUS ROG Claymore II uses Armory Crate application with a lot of resource-demanding processes and redundant elements. The software needs to be downloaded and installed. There are four tabs to customize the keyboard. The first is responsible for changing the assignment of buttons. For this, all keys except Fn are available (in the case of using the software, and when writing directly from the keyboard, Caps Lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, Win, left Alt are also unavailable). You can assign keyboard and mouse commands (left or right button only), macro commands, launching programs or opening sites, multimedia and Windows commands, entering certain text, completely disabling the key, or returning its function to the default. There is also a button to reset everything to the initial settings. Also, in game mode, in addition to the Win button, you can disable the Alt+Tab and Alt+F4 combinations. And assign four additional keys from the digital block.
There is a separate tab for setting the RGB indicator built into the logo. It can be set to two backlight modes: 1) synchronization with the backlight, 2) work as a charge level indicator with its own individual colors.
In the backlight settings, 11 types of effects are available, including static backlighting. The backlight can be turned off completely. You will need to download the Aura Creator program to customize the lighting of each button individually.
The «Power» tab shows the battery charge level accurately by percentage. Here you can set the level at which the low battery warning will be triggered, ranging from «never» to 25 or 50% charge. Power saving mode can also be set to never, or within 10, 5, 3, 2 or 1 minutes of idle time. You can also completely disable the energy-saving mode, or choose a variant of its operation: 1) complete shutdown of the backlight when idle; 2) reducing the brightness of the backlight.
In the «Firmware update» section, the firmware version of the keyboard, digital block and receiver is checked and updated if necessary. Current firmware versions at the time of writing this review can be seen in the picture.
In the macro editor, you can record keyboard and mouse commands (including scroll directions and additional keys), with or without time delays. Then all of this can be edited. A total of 100 actions are available per command chain, with key presses and key releases being separate actions. The command can be configured to record the delay as is, fixed delay, or no delay. Playback is available in three options: continuously on click, continuous repeat, or once. The recording delay can be set to 1, 3 or 5 seconds. All macros can be named, created and deleted, imported and exported.
Ergonomics and testing
The main interesting feature of ASUS ROG Claymore II is not so much a wireless interface as a modular digital key block. The keyboard can be used without it, but then why pay extra for its existence? You can fix the block on the right side, but then it is cheaper to immediately buy a regular keyboard. Therefore, the most logical option for «gaming» operation of the device is when the digital unit is attached to the left. After all, then the place for the mouse on the right side is freed. Therefore, it was in this version that the general testing of the keyboard was carried out. The receiver was located close to the device, on an extension cord, to reduce possible delays and radio interference.
In terms of overall quality, ASUS ROG Claymore II has no problems. The keyboard is strong enough for its modular design. There are creaks in places, but nothing more. The digital key block is also not fixed tightly and can swing up or down a little, which generally does not interfere with work. The magnetic stand under the palms is a little narrower than we would like, but it is quite comfortable with it. The keyboard holds well on the surface, thanks to the grippy legs made of special rubber.
The removable digital block, when placed on the left, does not interfere with the movement of the mouse and, if necessary, it can be used not only for typing numbers, but also as a set of additional macro keys or commands. And this may be necessary not only for players, but also, for example, when working in various graphic applications. Although, in my opinion, it would be much more convenient if it were a separate wireless device, without the need to connect to the keyboard.
The layout of the keys here is generally standard and does not require getting used to. Although it will still take time to adapt to not hitting the digital unit when it is fixed on the left. The ROG RX Red switches used here are designed specifically for gaming. These optical mechanisms are very fast and consistent in terms of operation, excellently stabilized and in many ways resemble the feeling of a membrane keyboard, but with all the advantages of a mechanical keyboard. Those who are looking for a keyboard for typing large volumes of text may not like them for the tactile feel. Therefore, it would be better for them to look in the direction of RX Blue, or classic mechanical switches.
The excellent hardware platform of this keyboard with a large amount of memory and a significant number of profiles allows you to record macro commands without using a driver. As always, I have complaints about the optimization and interface with the Armory Crate software, but it still gets better with time. And there is also a very good backlight thanks to the design of the ROG RX switches with a central lens.
The manufacturer claims 43 hours of keyboard operation with backlight through the receiver in 2.4 GHz mode with maximum brightness, or up to 144 hours without backlight. To test the first part of this statement in practice, I ran a battery endurance test with the backlight turned on at full brightness and with the power saving mode completely disabled. In this mode, the battery with a capacity of 4000 mAh was enough for 42 hours, which almost corresponds to the declared parameters. Considering that 50% brightness is quite enough, and provided that energy-saving technologies are connected, the autonomy of the keyboard can be quite realistically increased to 60 hours without any particular problems.
It is worth noting that the keyboard has two charging modes — normal and fast. In the first version, everything happens quite slowly, it is activated if the cable is plugged into the USB 2.0 port, or if the pass-through port is connected. In the second, much faster, in about 2.5 hours. This requires connecting to a USB Type-C port of version 3.2 or higher, and disabling the pass-through port so that the energy from it goes directly to the battery.
By the way, the pass-through port also works only if the keyboard is connected by a cable to USB Type-C or USB 3.0. And even in this case, devices with a consumption higher than 500 mA may not work in it.
In terms of wireless communication, the keyboard behaves stably and well. No disconnections and obstacles were detected. The exit from the standby mode is instantaneous. Officially, the manufacturer claims a response speed of 1 ms with a wireless connection, but, unfortunately, we cannot verify this.
ASUS ROG Claymore II supports full NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate all buttons at the same time.
The ASUS ROG Claymore II wireless keyboard is a logical continuation and rethinking of the first version of the ASUS ROG Claymore. The main «feature» of the device is a removable digital unit, which has remained unchanged. With it, the user can turn a regular full-size keyboard into a TKL variant if desired. Or in the keyboard «inside out», where the number pad is on the left side, so as not to interfere with the movements of the mouse. But in everything else, almost everything has changed. External design, optical-mechanical switches instead of traditional mechanics, wireless interface (it’s in fashion now), additional keys and volume control, USB port through and palm rest. In general, it turned out very well, but the price of the product increased accordingly. This is practically the most expensive gaming keyboard on the market today. And that cost is justified only by a successful combination of technological solutions, in contrast to the products of the closest competitors in the price range.
If we continue this idea of ASUS and dream a little about the future of gaming keyboards, it might be nice to see solid (non-modular) devices in production with a permanent location of the digital block on the left (in wired and wireless versions). And separate wireless digital blocks that the user could place where it is convenient for him.