The Asus ROG Strix Flare is a gaming keyboard with the high price we expect – but the kind of subtle design that’s rare in this part of the market. This £140/$180 unit has smart looks, customisable options and RGB LEDs, and it uses familiar CherryMX Red switches. However, that may not be enough to convince us to part with our cash, so read our Asus ROG Strix Flare review for our hands-on verdict.
Asus ROG Strix Flare Review – Design
The Asus ROG Strix Flare looks eye-catching but not because it’s riddled with gaming hardware conventions. Instead, this gaming keyboard draws the eye because it looks smart and modest.
Most of the keyboard has a matte, gunmetal grey design. A slashed section across the right-hand side of the unit, across the keyboard, has a brushed pattern.
The smart design gives way to a small Perspex panel at the top-right. This arrives with an Asus ROG logo, but it’s also one of the Flare’s unique features. This small, clear panel can be removed – and Asus supplies a blank piece of replacement plastic. It’s designed for etching and 3D printing, and Asus reckons it’s perfect showing off your favourite esports team’s logo.
The Asus ROG Strix Flare might look mature, but there’s one area where Asus has given in to the gaming market. Every key on this unit has its own RGB LED, and two more bands of RGB lighting are installed underneath teach end of the Flare.
Other keyboards also have more mature design. The Corsair K95 Platinum is just as subtle – aside from its RGB LEDs – although its £174/$199 price is a little higher than the £140/$180 you’ll need to buy the Flare.
The Asus ROG Strix Flare balances its smart looks with a good range of features. It’s got a USB pass-through port, four media keys, a brightness button and a Windows lock key.
It’s also got a volume roller. This is on the left-hand side, above the keys, and it’s wide enough to easily use during fast-paced gaming – and its position on the left means you don’t have to take your hand off the mouse. The roller also clicks down to mute the system, but this is fiddly.
The Flare weighs in at just under 1.3kg, which is heavy for a keyboard. It’s very sturdy, but that weight makes it less ideal for carrying to LAN parties. The Flare is extremely sturdy, with no give in its surfaces, and the two feet feel reliable.
It’s almost a clean bill of health for the Asus ROG Strix Flare, but it’s not without a couple of minor design issues. The wrist-rest’s rubber pads aren’t very grippy, and the wrist-rest doesn’t attach firmly to the keyboard – it just slots into a couple of indentations in the plastic.
And, speaking of plastic, we’re a little disappointed that a keyboard at this price doesn’t use any metal. You won’t find dedicated macro keys on this high-end gaming keyboard, either.
These latter areas are where the Corsair K95 Platinum steals back some ground – it has six macro buttons alongside all of those other features. It also has metal construction, and its 998g weight makes it more portable than the Flare.
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We’ve reviewed the Asus ROG Strix Flare with CherryMX Red switches. They’re one of the most popular switches on the market, so it’s easy to see why Asus has stuck with them – even when several competitors are designing their own switches.
CherryMX Red switches are lighter and quieter than most other Cherry switches. They’ve got 4mm of travel and a 2mm actuation point, and they require a middling 45g of pressure to register a click – so they don’t require a huge amount of heft. They also don’t have a noticeable tactile ‘bump’ in the middle of their action, so they’re smooth under the finger.
In practice, that makes the Flare’s buttons fast and consistent, with a great balance between solid, reliable buttons and the speed required to handle fast-paced gaming.
The buttons feel well-made, and their slightly concave tops mean they hold fingers well. The font is easy to read, and the larger Return and Space keys aren’t tinny or hollow. Be aware, though, that while the Flare is a little quieter than some mechanical units, it still makes a fair amount of noise.
Of course, the smooth, light typing action might not appeal to traditionalists/ Happily, CherryMX Black, Blue and Brown variants of the Flare are also available. Black switches have a smooth action but need a heavier button-press, while Blue and Brown switches have the noticeable bump in their typing action.
The Corsair K95 Platinum also uses CherryMX Red switches, so expect the same quick, clicky and satisfying typing. That keyboard is only available with CherryMX Brown as an alternative.
Asus’ ROG Armoury II software controls the Flare. It’s a good utility with design that mimics the keyboard itself: it’s good-looking and unfussy, with a focus on function rather than form.
The Armoury tool can be used to save five different profiles with keys and custom lighting. That’s handy for games that you play frequently. Every button can have its function altered, and every button can have its lighting customised.
As usual, there are different lighting patterns to choose from – around a dozen in total – alongside static colours. Gamers can also choose to illuminate clusters of gaming buttons, like WASD and the arrow keys.
Other modules record macros and measure stats. Our only complaint is that the sliders to change LED brightness and speed only offer a few increments of difference.
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The Asus ROG Strix Flare is excellent. The CherryMX Red switches provide a superb base for every kind of game. They’ll handle work as well thanks to the supremely satisfying typing action.
The Flare looks the part with smart, mature design, and its neat Perspex panel, USB pass-through and media controls add functionality. It’s sturdy, with good software and customisation options too.
The plastic construction and lack of macro keys are minor quibbles. However, if you take the plunge on this £140/$180 unit, you’ll probably be satisfied – only the keenest competitive gamers, or frequent travellers, will miss those features.
If our Asus ROG Strix Flare review has show that those omissions will be game-changers, then head to the Corsair K95 Platinum. It’s more expensive, but its light, metal construction, macro keys and feature set mean it’s the only other gaming keyboard that’s had more to offer than the excellent Asus.
The Asus ROG Strix Flare costs £140 in the UK and $180 in the US. Discuss our Asus ROG Strix Flare review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!
- Excellent typing action
- Solid, smart physical design
- Interchangeable Perspex panel
- Good media and USB features
- No metal used in construction
- No macro keys
CherryMX Red switches
CherryMX Black, Blue and Brown also available
Full-size QWERTY layout with numberpad
454 x 155 x 31mm (WxDxH)