CORSAIR Strafe RGB MX Silent
£150 From www.currys.co.uk
Its quiet keyswitches are nice, but the Strafe RGB MX Silent is far more than a one-trick keyboard
MECHANICAL GAMING KEYBOARDS pose an unusual dilemma. Mechanical switches are simply better than rubber domes for gaming; they’re more responsive and have greater tactile feedback, which is crucial when you need to keep your eyes on what’s happening on the screen. However, mechanical switches mean more noise, which might be good for touch-typists but can encroach on the fidelity of a game’s soundtrack.
Enter stalwart switch-maker Cherry, and its MX Silent RGB design. This is a bumpless, clickless linear switch (like the more common MX Red) designed for true mechanical feel and durability, while being as quiet as possible and containing an RGB LED to boot. Corsair’s Strafe RGB MX Silent, on test here, was the first showing of the dampened switch in action.
Sure enough, it’s considerably quieter – not actually silent, unsurprisingly – than the rest of Cherry’s switches, including the relatively hushed MX Red. There’s no loud click or clack whatsoever, similar to the switches uses in Matias’ Quiet Pro series of
office keyboards; for the curious, they’re about the same volume overall, perhaps with the MX Silent’s having a higher register while Matias’ are lower-pitched.
So, it’s a great fit for undisturbed gaming on the noise front, though when it comes to feel, the Strafe RGB MX Silent is surprisingly mushy when bottoming out. It’s still a lot sharper and nimbler than a membrane keyboard, but if you’re likely to be doing a lot of typing on the same PC you use for gaming, other Cherry switches (or SteelSeries’ QZ2 switches, seen in the Apex M750) are a bit more satisfying to hit.
The good news is that this minor quibble doesn’t affect performance, and the Strafe RGB MX Silent is beautifully quick and responsive – exactly what a gaming peripheral needs to be. There are other helpful features in the form of full 104-key rollover to prevent ghosting, and a button on the top-right that disables the Windows key, eliminating the chances of accidentally opening the Start menu during a heated moment. A detachable soft-touch wrist rest also helps keep lengthy play sessions comfortable, even if it is a bit short from top to bottom.
By default, the backlighting is mostly red, with the WASD and arrow keys highlighted in white, though obviously the benefit of RGB is that you can customise the lighting however you want with the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) desktop application. If you have other Corsair RGB hardware, such as a suitable case or standalone lighting strips, you can even sync the keyboard lighting’s colours and effects to these parts of your rig.
Rounding out the list of extras is a set of textured keycaps for the most-used keys in FPS and MOBA titles, and a USB2 pass-through port. The former can be an acquired taste (or, more accurately, an acquired touch), but the USB port is handy for everyone, as it can transfer data as well as power other peripherals. It’s a small but welcome touch and shows that even when making a fuss about its quiet switches, Corsair knows the finer details also make for a great keyboard.