HardwarePCReview

Corsair STRAFE RGB (MX Silent) Review

March 10, 2016 — by Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey0

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HardwarePCReview

Corsair STRAFE RGB (MX Silent) Review

March 10, 2016 — by Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey0

Guess who has a new favourite mechanical gaming keyboard?

Once you go mechanical keyboard, you’ll never go back to membrane keyboards. At our labs we have been using mechanical keyboards as our daily drivers for both gaming and typing, including for this review. Corsair’s line of mechanical gaming keyboards is popular and for the right reasons. Covering all types of key switches from Cherry and with the recent surge and demand for RGB lighting, the company didn’t shy away from accommodating both. And with the STRAFE RGB, the company struck an exclusive time-limited deal with Cherry to release the new Cherry MX Silent keys, a first in the realm of mechanical key switches.

We’ve been hearing a lot of positive things about the keyboard, especially about the new set of key switches. Having used the Corsair K70 RGB for several months, here’s a detailed observation with the STRAFE RGB.

There’s not much to talk about the packaging inside. The absence of styrofoam protection in the box makes the keyboard susceptible to damage in case of rough handling by the delivery service. Apart from the keyboard, the box consists of the warranty card, manual, wrist rest, replaceable keys and the key remover.

Corsair STRAFE RGB

Build and Design

The STRAFE RGB has an anodised aluminium body that won’t accumulate dust unlike the brushed aluminium body on the K70 RGB. It still carries the pleasant and minimalist design of the older STRAFE, giving a simple gaming keyboard aesthetic. Additionally, the glossy white accents on the sides give the keyboard a classier look. The Corsair logo on the top left has been shifted to the right and has received a little RGB love as well.

Extra contoured keycaps dedicated to FPS and MOBA gamers have been included with this variant along with a handy keycap puller. They follow the same texture and feel to them from the older variant. Textured keycaps play an essential role for serious gamers who can’t afford to look at their keyboards in the middle of a killstreak. The space bar key also has a similar texture but isn’t replaceable. There are no dedicated multimedia keys on the keyboard but the Windows key on the right has been replaced with a Function toggle that can be combined with multimedia key toggles in the top Function keys.

They’ve still included the pass-through USB port on the top, something rarely offered by other mechanical keyboards. The keyboard has two USB cables, one for the keyboard and lighting, and the other one for the passthrough port. Unlike the K70 RGB, here it’s essential to connect both the USB cables in USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports. The K70 RGB had the extra USB cable for more power, and the STRAFE RGB has it for the passthrough. And we don’t need to tell you how handy these pass-through ports are.

The wrist rest has a prominent texture which aside from being non-slip, gives it a real nice feel while typing and gaming. The wrist rest attaches easily but doesn’t have a snug fit and flexes slightly while typing. The rubberised matte texture offers good enough friction to prevent your hands from slipping off the wrist rest.

Corsair STRAFE RGB

Performance

The MX Silent switches are a redefined version of the Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Black switches. The one we received was the MX Silent Red version that has the same actuation force of 45g while the travel distance has been slightly reduced from 4mm to 3.7mm. A considerable noise reduction was made possible with a shock absorber within the assembly that absorbs noise generated when the keys spring back to their resting positions. We have mechanical keyboards with all the different types of switches present at our labs and we can definitely claim one thing. The MX Silent ones aren’t silent, obviously, but they are the quietest among them. The audible clicks have disappeared or rather dampened down. Pressing the keys could easily make someone wonder whether it’s a mechanical or a membrane keyboard. The company claims that the keyboard has a 104-key rollover matrix which essentially means that each and every key will be registered if pressed together. Practically, you won’t be pressing all the keys simultaneously and while gaming it hardly goes above six simultaneous key presses.

Corsair partnered with Cherry to exclusively have the Silent switches integrated into their keyboards, and this period extends to six months. Once the deal ends, we’ll be seeing more keyboard manufacturers releasing gaming keyboards with these Silent switches.

Another much-publicised update on the new STRAFE is RGB lighting support and boy, this has to be the best one offered by Corsair. The white reflective paint at the back of the keys is a smart move essentially making the RGB lights look brighter. The lighting can be controlled by the Corsair Utility Engine software. Getting used to the software takes a little learning, especially if you are new to the RGB world. Assigning keys and defining macros are quite easy. Several pre-defined lighting modes and effects are supported by the keyboard and you can create your own lighting profiles. User-generated profiles are also available on their forums which can be imported into your device. The RGB LEDs showed no lag at all and exhibits a smooth transition of colours across the various effects. RGB lighting on keyboards is more of a gimmick, hence buying one just for that feature isn’t justified considering the price of these keyboards. Only if you are an enthusiast level gamer and love to decorate your rig, would you not give this a second thought and simply buy it. Speaking of putting the RGB keys to use, you could light up a set of keys to create different profiles for different games. Say, you light up only the essential keys required in CS: GO including the keys for movement and weapon selection. Once you get used to these custom profiles, playing in dark environments becomes more efficient.

Corsair STRAFE RGB

VERDICT: STRAFE RGB

The STRAFE RGB is the best mechanical gaming keyboard we have used at our labs. There, we said it. The bright RGB LEDs and the minimalistic design further enhances the aesthetics of the keyboard. Apart from a few extra features such as dedicated multimedia keys and a physical polling rate control switch, enthusiastic gamers can pick the STRAFE RGB over the K70 RGB. Or if you’re not ready to hop onboard the RGB bandwagon yet, you could simply pick up the normal STRAFE RGB.

Model Name Corsair STRAFE RGB (MX Silent)
Keyboard size Standard, Numpad included
Keyboard backlighting RGB LED
Supported polling rate 8ms, 4ms, 2ms and 1ms
Switch Type Cherry MX Red Silent
Actuation Force 45g
Key Rollover 104-key
Cable 2m (approx.), non-braided tangle free rubber, two USB Type-A connectors
Software Corsair Utility Engine
Additional ports USB passthrough
Accessories -Contoured keycaps for FPS and MOBA
-Key-puller
Price Rs. 12,000
PROS
  • Keys don’t have audible clicks
  • Extra contoured keycaps
  • USB passthrough port
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No dedicated multimedia keys
  • Non-braided, thick USB cables
Corsair STRAFE RGB (MX Silent) Review
8 / 10  
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey

This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.

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