Corsair is a brand name that needs no introduction, every PC gamer or enthusiast has come across the brand in one way or the other be it through their famous Hydro series CPU liquid coolers, Power Supply Units, Chassis or even the very reliable Memory kits.
Today thanks to Corsair India we have with us something entirely different for review, we have with us the Corsair STRAFE RGB MX Silent Mechanical Keyboard! The keyboard has more than what just meets the eye or the ear for that matter since the name hides a lot in itself.
Mechanical keyboards are a great performer but at the same time noisy due to that clicking spring under each key, but Corsair overcame this problem to quite an extent by putting a damping material right inside the switch housing, this patent and exclusive to Corsair key is known as Cherry MX and is present in all the new fleet of STRAFE keyboards. Simple yet effective move I'd say!
The STRAFE is available in three formats, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Silent, which Corsair say is “30% quieter than any mechanical switch on the market”.
The keyboard is very well equipped, with USB pass through, 104-key rollover, RGB lighting, the new switches, built-in memory and more. Corsair has left no stone unturned to make the STRAFE RGB MX Silent an ultimate keyboard for the price point since other keyboards like the Razer Blackwidow Chroma don't offer half the features at nearly $20 more the price!
Packing and Closer Look
Corsair brings the STRAFE RGB in their now signature black and yellow packing. The new Corsair logo is at the top left corner followed by the product name and Cherry MX switch glimpse at the bottom right corner. A large picture of the keyboard occupies most of the front side which is good move.
Flip the box and at the back you see that Corsair has clearly mentioned the contoured WASD and MOBA keys that are provided with the board. USB pass through is also mentioned at the very top.
All in all the outer packing is brilliant and goes perfectly with the theme of the board.
Inside the box you'll find the STRAFE keyboard, a detachable wrist rest, a user manual and warranty card. A set of contoured WASD and MOBA keys are provided in a separate bag that even contains the key cap removal tool which we'll be coming to later on.
The STRAFE RGB MX comes with a set of contoured keys for swapping the default ones for slip free and accurate gaming experience. A set of WASD for FPS gaming and QWERF keys for MOBA are provided, they say its for gaming but I found typing experience way more smoother with these keys on. A tip from my side to Corsair for their future products.
Looking at the keyboard we can easily say that its one heavyweight! The build quality is robust and solid from every angle possible. The keys are smooth and letter printing is nice and crisp, the wrist rest is detachable and provides just the enough traction required.
I loved the aluminium top panel that we found on the K-series Corsair keyboards, but the matte finish plastics on this keyboard are thick, strong and provide a nice soft contrast to the powerful built-in lighting system.
Using the cap switch removal tool is fairly simple just push it down on the key you want to swap and let the clamps jam underneath the cap, pull it out and that's all! Put the new replacement cap in and you're set.
Here you can clearly see the patent Cherry MX RGB Silent switches that give the STRAFE its Silent nature over the conventional mechanical keyboards. Obviously they look different by looks& perform exactly as promised.
Swap all the keys with the provided contoured ones and you have yourself a fully battle ready weapon designed for precision and accuracy! The keys feel soft and grippy and I can't complain anything about them.
The board comes with a thick and I mean ridiculously thick USB wire for power & connectivity. Its a pair of two since one is for the keyboard and another one is for USB pass through. I personally feel that the wire is a bit too thick but that's a matter of personal opinion.
Tada! I bet you weren't expecting that didn't you! The STRAFE comes with a USB port to power virtually anything that runs on USB power including mouse, gaming headsets and even your cell phone! This makes it the ultimate comfy couch gaming accessory for sure.
Plug in the board and you'll see the beautiful LED kick in right away. By default the LED is red in color and can be customized both in color and behavior via the new Corsair CUE software which we'll come to later on.
The WASD keys are distinctly red in color amidst all he red hue and you can clearly read out what's printed on each key which is a good sign for a LED keyboard.
On the other side the arrow keys are white aswell with two buttons on the top edge, one is a Windows lock key that locks the Windows key so that you accidentally don't kick yourself out during the heat of battle by hitting on the key by mistake. The other key is for controlling the brightness of the LED on the go with three presets that set the brightness by repetitive press.
I love how the space bar is textured for extra grip and comfort, since its a universal key for gaming and day to day use.
If you look at the side you see that the area above the white strip even has a white LED lining which is constant in color.
This is a very cool thing and gives the keyboard a very distinctive look and finish. One thing that makes me worried is that the switches are a bit high and you can see that from the lights bleeding out from underneath the caps, this can cause a lot of dust accumulation which might be tough to clean so a little less height would've been better.
One thing you all must've been thinking is that how does the contoured key cap looks when put in and lit? So here is it with just the WASD keys on and one with both WASD and MOBA key caps, man! they look beautiful!
Corsair Utility Engine (CUE)Corsair has brought out an entirely new software suite with the STRAFE RGB MX keyboard. CUE as Corsair likes to call it is a suite to bind all the three gears, namely as the Void Headset and Scimitar Mouse, together as one taking a more holistic approach. CUE can be downloaded from the Corsair official website for free.
I upgraded the firmware of my sample since CUE prompted me to do so, new firmware is always recommended for better performance and stability.
Lighting can be controlled easily from a set of presets like the spiral rainbow, raindrop etc or you can even create your own style suiting a particular game or theme since the STRAFE comes with a per-key illumination a massive array of patterns can be created on your own or can be downloaded from another user sitting in some corner of the world.
Under the Performance tab you can easily disable or enable a few common key combinations, a simple move but comes handy sometimes.
In the STRAFE RGB MX you can set a macro per key or even record a set of actions so as to assign them to one key or a group of keys. This comes really handy when one is playing a RPG or one on one game like Mortal Kombat, if at all you are into all that!
My VerdictGenerally it is very hard to justify a keyboard that costs in at $159 but that's the general case & the Corsair STRAFE RGB MX Silent is an exception! We've come across a lot of mechanical keyboards over the year and after using the STRAFE for almost a week now I can say that its one of the best mechanical keyboards out there & maybe the best in terms of raw performance.
Gaming or typing a letter to your mom *wink* on the board is a delight even without the contoured key caps but once put on the experience just becomes heavenly, the Cherry MX keys truly make this product a silent one with noise levels well below to what we are used to with other mechanical keyboards. The USB port is a great addition giving the keyboard a new dimension and usability. It might be too much to ask but a 3.5mm jack would've completed the deal since many gaming headsets now come with 3.5mm jacks as-well.
Weight and build quality are on the perfect side and the 1.6million colors and customizable glow patterns not only make it a perfect addition to a gamer's build but also the best keyboard for showboating preferably for a studio setup or even a Case Mod showcasing! You name it and the keyboard ticks in all the right boxes.
For its superior build quality, stunning looks, unmatched price to performance ratio and exorbitant LEDs I give the Corsair STRAFE RGB MX Silent Mechanical Keyboard a perfect 10/10