The Hardware Review: Corsair Strafe RGB

Apr 16, 2016

The Strafe in Action

Using the Strafe

As can be expected, the switches themselves are up to Cherry’s usual excellent standards, providing great levels of tactile feedback, both physically and auditory, with a nice light click to help you register when the key has been depressed. Overall the Strafe feels durable and has a decent heft to it, with high quality key caps. The font takes a bit of getting used to for me, but it’s clear and defined. The letters are large enough to allow a significant amount of the back lighting to shine through. I’m a touch typist so don’t generally look down that often.

How about that white background I thought was ugly earlier on? Now it’s put to good use. The RGB lighting reflecting off it nicely so it is actually in line with the rest of the colours you’ve programmed.

By default the keyboard has only the space bar with any form of texturing, beyond the normal little bump on F and J though the removable key caps can easily remedy this if you need to type/play by feel. While the texture moulding on the space bar is directly into the plastic (same as my K70), it does seem to have a very slight rubbery feel to it - examining the key shows it to be a single piece so you need to live with it but I’ve been used to this from the K70 so no problems with that for me.

Corsair Strafe RGB

In addition to the expected keys, there are two extra buttons added in - specifically brightness control (which switches between off, dim, medium and bright) and a Windows lock key, something many gamers will no doubt find useful. The F Keys up top also pull a dual role thanks to the addition of a function key in place of where you would normally find the right hand Windows key. These dual function keys give quick access to media controls for changing system volume, stopping and playing music and so on. The K70 has these as separate dedicated buttons above the numpad which I tend to prefer as it makes the keys look a bit less busy but realistically both are fine and it’s going to come down to personal preference.

Be aware, the cable which comes out of the back of the keyboard is pretty thick, about 1cm diameter. This then splits to two chunky, black and yellow USB plugs. No doubt this is for the USB pass through port on the back of the keyboard. Still, the thickness of the wire can make routing cables around your desk difficult if you like a fairly clean looking desk. Personally I try to avoid using USB pass through and hub devices, but for those that want the convenience of a USB slot on their keyboard, this has that option.

The real challenge of any keyboard, of course is not how nice its keys are, or how many keys can be pressed simultaneously before it starts dropping input (104, for those interested) but of course how it types. With Cherry being an almost default go to for a lot of mechanical keyboard makers, there is often little in it these days I find. Manufacturers can make minor adjustments to change the travel of the keys, or how squishy they feel but for the most part, the actual mechanism dictates the keyboard, not the other way round. As always, the Cherry’s feel great for typing on. Writing this review was one of the many things done to test how well I could actually write on the keyboard and it certainly came through with flying colours.

Compare this to my Razor Orbweaver, with its own Razer designed switches and I certainly prefer the Strafe, while the Orbweaver is nice, its keys feel a lot mushier and seem to have far less travel, thankfully the Orbweaver is a gaming controller rather than a full keyboard so it is less of an issue there.

One thing to note with the blues is they are pretty noisy, even for a mechanical keyboard, though this is as much down to how the blues are designed, with a 'drop' mechanism (see here for an excellent guide to the various Cherry switches available) as anything else. They were certainly loud enough for my microphone to pick them up eliciting a certain amount of friendly jibing while using discord to chat with some mates.

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