Custom PC - - REVIEWS / NEW KIT -

s its name sug­gests, The Strafe RGB of­fers full RGB per-key back­light­ing, whereas the orig­i­nal Strafe only of­fered red light­ing. This fea­ture ties in to Cor­sair’s Util­ity En­gine soft­ware, which gives com­pre­hen­sive con­trol over the light­ing ef­fects of ev­ery key, in ad­di­tion to other parts of the key­board. The Strafe RGB also sports a rea­son­ably large de­tach­able wrist rest for ex­tra com­fort and a USB 2 pass-through port – both miss­ing fea­tures on the cheaper non-RGB model. The USB passthrough is use­ful for con­nect­ing other desk­top pe­riph­er­als such as mice and head­phones to your PC. Sadly, though, Cor­sair’s ex­cel­lent ded­i­cated me­dia con­trols and vol­ume di­als from the Vengeance K-se­ries of key­boards are still ab­sent from the Strafe RGB, as are ded­i­cated macro keys.

How­ever, there’s a far more sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion to the key­board – Cherry MX Silent switches. As with Cherry’s RGB switches, Cor­sair and Cherry have a li­cence agree­ment al­low­ing Cor­sair alone to use th­ese new switches for the time be­ing. They’re aimed at fans of me­chan­i­cal key ac­tion that are look­ing for qui­eter key presses, fol­low­ing feed­back Cor­sair has sought from its com­mu­nity.

To make th­ese new switches, stan­dard Cherry MX Red and Black switches have been mod­i­fied so that the switch­ing slider in­side them now fea­tures a TPE elas­tomer in the mech­a­nism. This com­po­nent not only re­duces the bot­tom­ing out you ex­pe­ri­ence with some me­chan­i­cal switches, but more im­por­tantly, the top-out noise as well. The lat­ter oc­curs when you release a key and there’s of­ten a loud tap as the key re­turns up­wards, sig­nif­i­cantly adding to the noise made by the switch dur­ing a key­stroke. While you can use O-rings to re­duce bot­tom-out, there’s noth­ing you can do to al­le­vi­ate top-out.

The ef­fect is quite pro­found. The switches, in our case, the si­lenced Cherry MX Red va­ri­ety, were no­tice­ably qui­eter than stan­dard switches, with the top-out es­pe­cially be­ing much qui­eter, al­though they’re still louder than mem­brane and scis­sor switches. The ac­tu­a­tion force (45cN for a Red switch) and gen­eral feed­back is iden­ti­cal to the vanilla Red switches too, al­though they feel slightly dif­fer­ent and clearly have re­duced au­di­ble feed­back too. As such,

Wired, USB

2m, non-braided

ACher­ryMX Silent RGB USB pass-through, wrist rest, ad­di­tional tex­tured keys you might not take to them in­stantly, even if your cur­rent key­board uses Red switches.

There are some other good fea­tures too. As usual, Cor­sair’s Util­ity En­gine al­lows com­plete con­trol over key as­sign­ments and back­light­ing, and while it ap­pears com­pli­cated to new users, you can find your way around quite quickly. You can also record macros, or as­sign keys to ex­e­cute macros, Win­dows shortcuts or me­dia con­trols. Mean­while, the per-key RGB back­light­ing con­trol is su­perb, and the light­ing it­self is much more pleas­ant and flex­i­ble than that on the orig­i­nal Strafe too.

The switches were no­tice­ably qui­eter than stan­dard switches


The silent Cherry MX switches really do of­fer much qui­eter but the Strafe RGB it­self sports nu­mer­ous other fea­tures that may well tempt you to pay a lit­tle more over the stan­dard Strafe.

It’s also cheaper than many other RGB key­boards, al­though the plas­tic con­struc­tion and lack of ded­i­cated me­dia and macro con­trols mean it doesn’t quite of­fer an over­all pack­age that stands out as be­ing wor­thy of an award.

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