I wasn’t expecting much when Asus sent me the new ROG Strix Scope mechanical gaming keyboard. You see, while Asus is famous for their Monitors, Motherboards and Graphics cards, they aren’t exactly winning awards for their accessories. Opening up the keyboard didn’t do anything to assuage my doubts. It presents as a very simple design with only the ROG branding and signature angled, brushed finish that tell you it’s a gaming keyboard.
But underneath that understated veneer is a highly capable keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches and swappable WASD keycaps so you can show off your gamer sense to anyone in who knows. However, at over $250, the Strix Scope is trifling with some truly marvelous keyboards like the Roccat Vulcan 120 or HyperX Alloy Elite 2 and that’s where things start to get…tricky.
Asus ROG Strix Scope Review
Once you unbox the Scope, you are immediately aware of it’s heft. This full size keyboard weighs just over a kilo thanks to its durable metal construction. The back plate is aluminium with the signature ROG brushed finish on the left side where the number pad lives. This gives the keyboard a distinctively gamer look to what would otherwise be just another black keyboard.
A large backlit ROG logo occupies the top right corner where other keyboards typically put more useful dedicated media keys and a volume dial. Republic of Gamers is proudly printed on the angled front edge of the board which is designed to accommodate a metallic wrist wrest which doesn’t come in the box unless you buy the Deluxe version of the keyboard. I find it unacceptable for a keyboard above $200 to omit a wrist wrest by default.
The exposed Cherry MX Red key switches lend well to the Aura Sync RGB lighting but are still not as bright as other premium keyboards. This lighting is of course customizable via the Asus Armoury software but you can also cycle through the presets and adjust the brightness using the Fn+ arrow keys.
The keys themselves feel great. My review unit came with Red switches but you have the option of Brown, Blue, Black, Speed Silver and Silent Red as well. The Reds have an actuation distance of just 2mm and require only 45g of force which I found smooth and really fast. I often felt like my key presses registered with the lightest of touches which is great for speed typing and gaming.
The Strix Scope combines a 1000Hz polling rate with N-Key rollover and 100% anti-ghosting which simply means all your fancy finger work when gaming is clearly captured and registered very fast. Making things easier for gaming, Asus has elongated the Ctrl key on the left making it almost double the length found on regular keyboards making it the same size as the Shift key. This makes it that much easier to press instead of always hitting the Windows key and being unceremoniously tabbed out of your game.
To further emphasize the gaming focus, Asus has included silver WASD keycaps which you can swap out easily with the supplied key cap puller. I’m not sure why anyone really needs this since you typically aren’t looking at the keyboard when you are gaming anyway. Furthermore, the silver keycaps don’t feel any different making them no easier to identify than the regular caps.
I’m not the biggest fan of the ROG keycap font but at least it’s bold and clear. I also already mentioned that there are no dedicated media keys but Asus has implemented a rather clever solution to the old dual function keys. The Quick Toggle Switch lets you switch the whole row of function keys between gaming and media functions or the regular F1 – F12 functions. I love this because you don’t have to keep pressing Fn+key to change the volume or skip tracks.
There’s a lot of other handy keyboard shortcuts including an Instant Privacy mode which hides all apps and mutes audio – which is definitely as shady as it sounds. Another disables the Windows key so you won’t accidentally interrupt your game and another allows you to record macros on the fly without using Armoury software.
Speaking of Armoury, the Asus website says the software is the Armoury II, not to be confused with the Armoury Crate. Despite my efforts, I couldn’t get the Armoury II to even download from their site so I was relegated to using the Armoury Crate instead which only gives limited customization.
The Strix Scope connects to your computer via a sturdy, braided USB 2.0. Unfortunately this cable isn’t detachable so you can’t swap it out for a custom one but at least there’s cable channeling so you aren’t constrained to just the middle. I’m not sure why USB passthrough is such a rare feature on full size gaming keyboards but it would certainly be nice to have it.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope is a competent, solid keyboard that does everything it needs to do without fuss or fanfare. Performance is great thanks to the Cherry MX Reds that are smooth, fast and responsive. It’s built like a tank and should last you a good, long time and is a great choice if you are invested in the ROG hardware ecosystem. I love the quick toggle that transforms the function row into accessible media keys; something I’d love to see other keyboards incorporate.
However, at the $250 asking price, there’s definitely better keyboards that offer much more in terms of design and features — the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO, Steelseries Apex 7 and HyperX Alloy Elite for example. All three are exceptional pieces of kit that do something no other does — whether it’s the OLED panel on the Apex 7 or the steampunk design of the Vulcan. In contrast, the Strix Scope doesn’t do anything special to make it a better choice than the competition.
The ROG Strix Scope was provided by Asus Australia to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.