The Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Keyboard

Externally, the Strafe RGB is a rather simple keyboard, sporting a plastic body and a modern design, based on simple geometric shapes and curves. The plastics are of very good quality, feel great and are very firm. Although it is very similar to the vanilla Strafe version, there are distinctive differences between the two models. Visually, the most obvious difference is that the red metallic support plate is now white, in order to not distort the lighting color. Corsair also moved the company name to the right side of the keyboard and added wrist rest support. The company's "sails" logo remains at the top left side of the keyboard, now illuminated.

The Strafe RGB is a standard full-size keyboard, with the only two extra keys being the square keys at the top right side of the keyboard. By default, one of the square keys controls the intensity of the lighting, while the second locks the Windows keys so they are not accidentally pressed during gaming (which minimises the game and may cause a bit of rage). Media functions for volume and track controls have been inserted as secondary commands in the F5-F12 keys, and are accessible by holding down the FN key. There are no dedicated media keys or the much-loved metallic volume control wheel that is found on their higher tier keyboards. Since the Strafe RGB is fully programmable, it is highly likely that one of the two extra keys can become a volume mute key, or both are going to become volume control keys.

  

The stock keycaps of the Strafe RGB are standard cylindrical black keycaps with enlarged characters, with the exception of the Space Bar key. The Space Bar key is textured and it feels great while typing. The surface of the Space Bar should also decay less easily now, as Space Bar keys with their right side heavily worn out by aggressive thumbs are a common phenomenon. For gamers, Corsair supplies two sets of contoured and textured keycaps. The WASD keycap set is meant for FPS gamers, while the QWERDF set is meant for MOBA gamers. If someone likes to change the stock key settings from, for example, WASD to ESDF like some FPS gamers do, the only solution would be to use the contoured keycaps in the place of the ESDF keys, ignoring the wrong characters.

Beneath the keycaps, we find Cherry's new MX Silent switches. These are practically Cherry MX Red switches, modified to minimize the noise generated via keystrokes. In order to achieve that, Cherry is using a glass-fibre reinforced base that dampens sound when the keys bottom down, as well as mechanical tappets that reduce the noise when the key resets after the finger has been removed. The new additions shorten the travel distance a little, from 4 mm to 3.7 mm, but the actuation force remains the same (45 cN for the MX Red variants), so they should not feel any different to someone accustomed to the normal MX Red switch.

The backlighting is performed using RGB LEDs that project the light upwards to the keycap characters, and also surround the keycap by diffusing through the clear body of the switch. The lighting effect is good and evenly distributed, with the exception of the bottom row that is significantly dimmer towards its bottom. Furthermore, only the main character of the keycaps is being clearly illuminated, as the light of the LED reaching the secondary character is being blocked by the key's axis.

LED lighting strips have been installed on both sides of the keyboard in the gap between the glossy white top and side covers. The lighting strips are not RGB, only white, and can be only turned on or off via the software. The same goes for the company logo at the top left corner of the keyboard.

 

The Strafe RGB actually features one thing that none of the top tier RGB Corsair keyboards has - a USB port. The pass-through USB port is found at the rear of the keyboard, near the thick cable. It is worth noting that there is no polling rate switch on the Strafe RGB like on the K70/K95 variants, and the cable is not braided either - it is a thick black cable with futuristic easy-grip connectors.

Removing the top cover of the keyboard reveals the satin white metallic plate that supports the main PCB and the keys. It is the common steel plate found in most such designs, which is a little heavy but very durable.

The assembly/soldering of the keyboard is textbook, with no flaws to be found on the main PCB itself. There are no excess solder or points to be found anywhere. The power cables of the side LEDs however could have had the connectors soldered onto the main PCB, as those in our sample were particularly easy to come off. Corsair is using an NXP LPC11U37F controller for their Strafe RGB, the same as the one found in the K70 RGB. It is a high performance 50MHz processor with 128 kB on-chip flash memory.

Introduction, Packaging & Bundle The Software: Corsair Utility Engine (CUE)
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  • croc - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    If memory serves, there has been a Cherry 'Red' switch as far back as... Well, as memory serves. As to the noiselessness, I always understood that came from having no detent, or breakover point to the spring mechanism. I do have a Cherry 'testkit' with five or six of their switches attached, have had it for several years now. One of the switches on it is a 'red'.

    Not being able to tell when a key has done its job would, for me, tend to make the keyboard even noisier as I would then be POUNDING the keys to make sure that it was, indeed, pressed.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    After wasting money on the tat corsair called the K65 (one of corsairs previous cherry red mechanical offerings) ill never buy another corsair board again. How on earth could a company screw up a keyboard, but they did. Even their firmware fix didnt cure the issues fully, and now nothing from them, no more firmware, so I have to deal with double ii and gg all the time or I throw it out.

    GG corsair, never again.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    edit tat they call the K60, its so wonderful its not even worth remembering the name. Reply
  • Sttm - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    No dedicated media keys, no sale. I am not fitting function + F key to adjust volume or change a track; especially not in game. Reply
  • friendlypew - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    I had a K70 which I enjoyed very much, but it died from a drip of condensation. I had a friend with the same issue, although volume of liquid is in dispute. I now have a radacted brand at both home and office, and it has sustained hits from both me and my wife of liquids. I don't trust corsair anymore. Reply
  • galta - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    If you know how to type, then you will do it significantly faster on a good mechanical keyboard. This is fact beyond discussion.
    However, being 42 years old, I suspect I might have been the last person on the western hemisphere to have taken typing classes. When I look around at the office, all I see is kids looking at their keyboards to type. From an efficiency perspective, it does not make sense for them to buy a mechanical keyboard.
    Noise is sometimes considered an issue. Although it is clear that mechanical keyboards are considerably louder than membrane ones, some people feel bad about it, others do not. The one thing I can say is that I happen to find the sound of my own typing hypnotic: after a couple of minutes doing my work, I type even faster with the clack-clack sound of my cherry brown das. There is near consensus that browns and blues are better than reds and blacks for typing. I agree, but some think otherwise.
    Then we come to gaming. I find “game editions” or “built for gamers” just a fancy name for “ugly but expensive”. I just can’t understand how people find beautiful to have shinning lights and neon on their PCs, but everyone is entitled to have his/her own preferences. Just wish PCs could have some of the sober elegance of Macs, but that is for another day.
    If you talking about productivity in gaming (lol), not sure if it makes a difference. Some people say it’s better to use mechanical keyboards, others say the opposite. As a more than occasional FPS gamer, I see no significant difference.
    Reply
  • Murloc - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    there is plenty of people who know how to type without looking but they've always been a minority as % of the whole population, back then most people simply didn't use computers, now they do but they can't typewrite.
    At the end of the day it's a personal choice for most people, unless they go to a school that prepares them to become office drones, in which case the benefit of typewriting is too big to ignore.

    The sober elegance on PCs is just a matter of choice, you can't buy gamer gear and expect it to be sober.
    Reply
  • galta - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    "there is plenty of people who know how to type without looking but they've always been a minority as % of the whole population"
    Maybe as a % of the whole population, but not as % of population who worked in offices.
    Anyway, I do not want to imply that I support mandatory type writting classes. Times have changed and typing skills are not that important anymore.
    So yes, it is always a matter of personal choice. Just saying that one should not expect to type faster, or better, just because he/she has bought a mechanical keyboard.

    "The sober elegance on PCs is just a matter of choice, you can't buy gamer gear and expect it to be sober"
    Sadly, you are right. Just wanted it be otherwise. Personally (it is always a matter of choice, right?), I would be willing to spend some extra 5%-10% if I could get PC hardware (cases and monitors mostly) as elegant and sober as Macs.
    I do suspect, however, that it will remain just a dream. Again, as you said before, I must be part of a minority as % of population.
    Reply
  • zeeBomb - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    What is a good brown/red keyboard under 100? And what makes the K70 more Superior? Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Flat keyboard? How would you even type on that thing? "With carpal tunnel," I suppose.
    Been using a Microsoft Natural Elite since 1999 and the WASD keys still have texture on 'em. There's only a small spot on the right spacebar where it's worn smooth. Key travel is still smooth and consistent. THAT'S quality.
    Reply

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