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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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Corsair Strafe Review

Corsair Strafe Review

Over the past few years the peripherals market has been flooded with mechanical keyboards and often these products were aimed at gamers. Often these boards would use Cherry MX switches, a part which is viewed by many as being best in class however more recently some manufacturers have moved away from these for various reasons (sometimes cost saving). On todays product we get the tried and trusted Cherry MX so we are already off to a promising start… welcome to our Corsair Strafe Review.

Corsair Strafe Review –  Box and Bundle

corsair-strafe-review-box corsair-strafe-review-bundle

Keeping things simple on the packaging, giving us a clear view of the board along with key feature info. Inside the keyboard is protected by cardboard, wrapped in a bag and we get a simple guide to get us started. Also present are some textured replacement keycaps for the main gaming keys and the latest software is downloaded from the Corsair site.

Corsair Strafe Review – The Keyboard

corsair-strafe-review-keyboard

The Strafe is shown above and it is quite a traditional looking board. The majority of the body is black plastic, there is a red highlight beneath the keys which helps accentuate the LED lighting. As noted before, our keys are all Cherry MX (red and brown available) with our model using the red version. A few of the F keys have media functionality as their second function and each key is backlit with the LED shining down onto the red surface as well as through the symbols cut into each contoured surface.

As far as other features go, inside the board we have support for 104 key rollover/anti-ghosting, onboard memory to take our profiles between systems/locations. Dimensions are 448x170x40mm and it weighs 1272g.

 

corsair-strafe-review-functions corsair-strafe-review-port

Those extra buttons we mentioned earlier sit beside our status LEDs and one changes the intensity of the lighting (3 steps and off), the other enables/disables the Windows key. Flipping the board round we get to see a little of the key structure which is quite exposed and that there is a single USB passthrough on the back.

corsair-strafe-review-base corsair-strafe-review-usb

Turning the board over reveals four rubber feet on the base which help keep the keyboard steady on our desk. There are two legs in the back corner which raise the angle of the board and extending from the centre is a chunky rubber coated cable which ends in two USB connectors, one for the board and the other for the USB passthrough.

Corsair Strafe Review – Software

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Corsair call their control panel software CUE and upon opening it one of the first things that happens is our Firmware is checked and then updated if needed. Ensuring we are always up to date. Once that step is out of the way we are presented with a screen which lets us set the button assignments before moving on to the basic lighting configuration. This includes effects like visor (think knight rider/cylons) or rain.

Strafe2 Strafe3 Strafe4

Digging a little deeper into the software we find two key screens. The first allows us to set detailed macros, the second lets us get very much hands on with lighting effects. It is also possible to export these are share them online with the Corsair community, or download and import theirs. Finally we have the main options for the control panel which allows us to perform tasks such as firing off a manual update check.

Corsair Strafe Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Strafe we have a nice solid feeling keyboard. In a way we kind of miss the brushed metal of some other Corsair models however they have in no way significantly reduced the strength of the body. As well as the solid construction with decent textured finish the board also has a decent weight which means it sits nicely on our desk and we very much like the little touches such as textured spacebar (and alternate keys) which add a feel of quality to the board. If there is one area which could be improved (and it is a common issue on mechanical boards) it would be that on keys which have multiple symbols, the lighting isnt even across each. For example on the 8/* key the 8 is well lit, the * isnt… Corsair could fix this by moving the 8 to the top left corner of the cap, the * to the top right.

As far as the software goes. We’ve said it before but CUE has some issues with how intuitive it is. Basic functions are fine but try to get a little more in depth (such as messing with your own lighting effects) and some guess work is required. We do like the nice simple update process for firmware, the detailed macro options and responsiveness though. Support is also good with a decent forum community and 2-year warranty.

So that brings us to the typing experience which is the Strafe’s high point. On the basic level, all the key options are just a button press away (media, lighting, Win lock) and the board is compact without any complication from spurious extra or misplaced buttons. The keys are “key” though… and as always Cherry MX models don’t disappoint. Perfect resistance, accurate across the entire board and responsive. Ideal.

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Stuart Davidson

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