Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate assessment: My keyboard endgame

Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate review: My keyboard endgame

ROG Strix Flare II Animate

MSRP $220.00

“The ROG Strix Flare II Animate is the go-to gaming keyboard in 2022.”

Execs

Sizzling-swappable keys

eight,000Hz polling charge

USB passthrough

Snug pleather wrist relaxation

Stunning AniMe matrix

Cons

Software program may very well be extra centered

Costly for a wired keyboard

12 months after yr, we see a slew of nice gaming keyboards which might be roughly the identical because the competitors. None of them are dangerous, however they’re not a purpose to perk up. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate is.

It’s not simply the AniMe matrix that units the keyboard aside. It’s not even the eight,000Hz polling charge, supremely comfy wrist relaxation, or hot-swappable key mattress. It’s the mix of options that makes the ROG Strix Flare II Animate stand out.

When Asus introduced the keyboard earlier this month, I hoped it could be my gaming keyboard endgame. And after utilizing it for just a few weeks, I now know that it’s.

Design

ROG logo on the AniMe matrix.Jacob Roach / Digital Developments

The ROG Strix Flare II Animate doesn’t waste time attempting to impress you. From the second I opened the field, it was clear the place the $220 went. This can be a premium keyboard from prime to backside, and Asus is fast to make you are feeling prefer it was cash properly spent.

Just like the budget-focused Akko 3068B, it’s the main points that make the distinction on the Strix Flare II Animate. The thick braided cable comes with an ROG-branded cable tie already hooked up, and the keycap pullers are particularly designed to suit the keyboard’s look. They even snap collectively so that you don’t should retailer them aside.

You’ll rapidly neglect about all of these particulars as soon as the star of the present lights up: The 320-LED AniMe matrix. By default, it reveals an ROG brand that slowly pulses, and regardless of the way you configure it, the matrix will mild up while you use operate and media buttons on the keyboard.

I’ll dig into configuring the matrix extra beneath, however I had a customized animation up and working in a few minutes. The matrix is just a bit bundle of gamer clout, however an organization might nonetheless screw that up. Asus didn’t. The AniMe matrix is helpful if you happen to want it to be, downright cool while you need it to be, and it brings the look of the keyboard full circle.

Volume up logo on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate.

Lock icon the ROG Strix Flare II Animate.

Reverse the matrix, you’ll discover just a few operate and media buttons. There’s a steel quantity wheel, a toggle for ahead and again, a play/pause button hidden on the facet, and devoted keys for Home windows lock and LED brightness.

On the entrance, you’ll discover the RGB mild diffusor, which is analogous to the RGB strips on the perimeters of the Corsair Ok100 RGB. With out the wrist relaxation, it provides a good glow that includes the lighting you have got in your keys. A rain impact, for instance, will carry past the underside row of keys into the diffusor.

Asus needed to incorporate each function a gaming keyboard might have, and it succeeded.

It appears to be like unbelievable. Even higher, you’ll be able to snap off the diffusor to connect the fake leather-based wrist relaxation and carry the lighting by way of. It appears Asus got down to embody each function, functionally and visually, of gaming keyboards in 2022, and throughout the board, succeeded.

The wrist relaxation is an enormous a part of that. It’s plump and comfortable, and it goes a protracted approach to make an argument for the Strix Flare II Animate towards competitors just like the Razer Huntsman V2. It snaps into place completely and refuses to maneuver, nevertheless it takes a little bit of adjustment. With the again arise, the wrist relaxation is sort of as tall as the underside row of keys.

Light diffusor on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate.Jacob Roach / Digital Developments

It doesn’t break the typing expertise, fortunately. I ended up closing the again stands with the wrist relaxation hooked up, and it’s typing nirvana. On this configuration, the peak peaks on the intersection of the keyboard and wrist relaxation, with a refined downward slope away from the keyboard. No adjustment right here; I cherished utilizing the Strix Flare II Animate like this from the primary keystroke.

My solely criticism with the design of the Strix Flare II Animate is that there aren’t tenkeyless or 65% variations out there. That’s simply my desire, and if Asus ever decides to department out, I’ll be the primary in line.

Switches

Key switch on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate.Jacob Roach / Digital Developments

The Strix Flare II Animate mannequin I reviewed got here with Asus NX Pink switches, which aren’t my favourite. Asus provides one in all three of its NX switches: Both Reds, Browns, or Blues, which approximate the texture of their Cherry MX counterparts. I don’t have a tendency to love linear switches, however that’s the fantastic thing about the Strix Flare II Animate’s hot-swappable switches.

The one different mainstream keyboard with this function is the Logitech G Professional X, which didn’t begin a pattern towards hot-swappable switches. Greater than two years later, I hope the ROG Strix Flare II Animate is the catalyst.

You possibly can throw any Three-pin change into the ROG Strix Flare II Animate, together with switches from Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh. The smaller change choices excite me extra — switches from Akko, Wonderful PC, and TTC. The previous few years have seen a increase in third-party switches, and the ROG Strix Flare II Animate is primed to reap the benefits of them.

Empty key slot on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate.Jacob Roach / Digital Developments

Any of my complaints with the switches don’t matter as a result of you’ll be able to simply swap them out. I don’t like Pink switches for typing, so I instantly changed most of them with my set of Akko Jelly Blues. However I like linear switches for my house bar, the place I must rapidly bounce in video games like Future 2. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate didn’t make me select.

With how low cost many third-party switches are, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate encourages experimentation, and it bridges the hole between mainstream gaming keyboards and boutique choices just like the Cyberboard R3. Sizzling-swappable switches are a good way to deliver the customization current with gaming PCs to peripherals, and I’m glad Asus is main the cost with them.

Gaming efficiency

Fingers on WASD on a gaming keyboard.Jacob Roach / Digital Developments

With how a lot else the ROG Strix Flare II Animate has happening, I assumed it could have the identical cookie-cutter gaming options as any model identify board you would purchase at Finest Purchase or Micro Middle. You understand what they are saying about assumptions.

The keyboard comes with an eight,000Hz polling charge, which is barely out there on a small variety of keyboards (together with the Corsair Ok70 RGB TKL). Most keyboards solely include a 1,000Hz polling charge. The distinction? The upper the polling charge, the quicker your keyboard can report keystrokes to your PC.

It issues extra on mice just like the Corsair Sabre Professional RGB than it does on keyboards, although; 1,000Hz already reviews keystrokes each millisecond, so stepping up simply continues to divide that millisecond. Within the case of eight,000Hz, for instance, it’s zero.125ms. That’s not tremendous essential for a keyboard, the place you’re unlikely to really feel the distinction of fractions of a millisecond between keystrokes.

I used the eight,000Hz polling charge for a couple of week, sometimes toggling again to 1,000Hz for reference. I couldn’t inform the distinction. It didn’t matter if it was Future 2, Halo Infinite, and even Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — the ROG Strix Flare II Animate felt the identical whatever the polling charge.

The gaming expertise on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate is elegant.

It’s technically higher, however the eight,000Hz polling charge isn’t the promoting level of this keyboard. It’s only a perk. Sadly, it’s solely a perk for some players. You’d have to be an ultra-competitive gamer to note a distinction, and also you want at the very least a Ninth-gen Intel i7 or 2nd-gen AMD Ryzen 7 to even use the upper polling charge.

Outdoors of polling charge, the gaming expertise on the ROG Strix Flare II Animate is elegant. It’s not the switches or keycaps, which you will get with any gaming keyboard, however the wrist relaxation and construct. Angled down with the wrist relaxation hooked up is my new favourite approach to play video games. It’s comfy, and shifting between rows felt instantly pure.

Software program

Asus Armoury Crate dashboard.

You possibly can configure the ROG Strix Flare II Animate by way of Asus Armoury Crate. The app consists of the entire settings you’d need, together with macro recording, customized RGB results, and per-key remapping. Nevertheless it doesn’t hit the identical heights as Corsair iCue or Logitech G Hub.

A part of the issue is focus. Armoury Crate is a hub that features further options like machine-wide profiles, sport offers, and system updates. The extras are nice, however they drown out the settings for the ROG Strix Flare II. Razer has this drawback with Synapse. There’s an excessive amount of happening, and it makes getting round to make fundamental modifications tougher than it must be.

That’s to not say it’s troublesome general. Armoury Crate doesn’t look pretty much as good as iCue or G Hub, nevertheless it’s simply as quick. I managed to replace my firmware, modify my polling charge, choose one of many 10 premade lighting results, and create a customized AniMe animation in about 5 minutes after discovering the correct spot.

Keyboard settings in Asus Armoury Crate.

Outdoors of lighting, Armoury Crate means that you can remap any key with an software shortcut, a textual content enter, a macro, or something in between. That spreads to the media buttons, too. And if you happen to don’t wish to mess with the software program, you’ll be able to report your macros on the fly. I had hoped for extra sturdy macro recording — Armoury Crate tops out at 100 instructions — nevertheless it’s nonetheless greater than sufficient for most individuals.

After you have every little thing set, you’ll be able to retailer your macros, key assignments, and lighting in one in all 5 onboard profiles.

After studying Armoury Crate’s quirks, you’ll have the ability to get round with out too many points.

Once more, Armoury Crate doesn’t attain the heights of iCue or G Hub, particularly in terms of customized lighting results (that comes by way of a separate app, Aura Creator). Nevertheless it doesn’t do something too egregious, and after studying its quirks, you’ll have the ability to get round with out too many points.

The AniMe settings are just a little extra concerned. Use one of many presets or a fundamental picture, and also you’ll be tremendous. The rest falls aside. The animation timeline is imprecise and lacks settings, and including your personal pictures or GIFs is a follow in endurance.

AniMe settings in Asus Armoury Crate.

The issue is that the AniMe matrix solely has 320 LEDs. It will get tougher to inform what you’re taking a look at because the picture will get smaller, which restricts you to fundamental shapes and patterns. The built-in clock doesn’t present up nice, both. You possibly can show your system clock, together with a notification for alarms, however numbers don’t at all times play properly with the matrix.

It’s only a scenario of expectation versus actuality. The AniMe matrix is proscribed. It’s nice inside these limitations, although. It’s a unbelievable approach to get fast standing updates about your PC or examine the time, and if you happen to discover a picture that performs properly with this format, the matrix provides quite a lot of persona to a setup.

Our take

The ROG Strix Flare II Animate is a keyboard that refuses to say “no.” Plump and soft wrist relaxation? Test. Glorious lighting and customization choices? They’re right here. Sizzling-swappable switches? Asus has them. It’s the last word gaming keyboard at first of 2022, combining disparate components from mainstream and boutique gaming keyboards to make one thing that feels really particular.

It’s nonetheless a $220 wired gaming keyboard, which is hard to swallow. Should you’re like me and are keen to pay a premium worth for premium merchandise, nonetheless, it’s cash properly spent.

Are there any higher options?

Nothing brings collectively the entire options of the ROG Strix Flare II Animate, however just a few keyboards get shut:

$200 Razer Huntsman V2 — The closest competitor to the ROG Strix Flare II Animate with a pleather wrist relaxation and eight,000Hz polling charge, however lacks hot-swappable key switches.
$150 Logitech G Professional X keyboard — Comes with hot-swappable key switches, however restricted to a tenkeyless design and missing media or operate buttons.
$230 Corsair Ok100 RGB — Filled with further macro buttons and higher software program, and matches the ROG Strix Flare II Animate with a pretend leather-based wrist relaxation. Nonetheless, it nonetheless lacks hot-swappable key switches.

How lengthy will it final?

Till the LEDs give out. With hot-swappable switches on the prepared, you would proceed to present new life to the ROG Strix Flare II Animate for so long as you should buy key switches.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The ROG Strix Flare II is the gaming keyboard endgame. At the beginning of 2022, there isn’t one other keyboard that does every little thing this one does. It’s costly, however even equally priced rivals can’t prime what Asus is providing.

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