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Corsair STRAFE mechanical gaming keyboard review

Tom Morgan
23 Aug 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Corsair STRAFE keyboard - hero
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
inc VAT

Feature-packed and comfortable to use, but the STRAFE is a little expensive compared to Corsair’s RGB keyboards

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Specifications

Keyboard shape: Standard, Number pad: Yes, Connection: USB, Warranty: Two years RTB

Corsair might have been one of the first companies to release a gaming keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting, but the cost associated with the mechanical switches meant keyboards like the K70 RGB were out of reach of many gamers. If you aren’t bothered by multi-coloured LEDs, but still want to have per-key control over your keyboard lighting for easily spotting the keys you need mid-game, the STRAFE is a more affordable alternative.

By dropping the RGB LEDs in favour of red-only LEDs, and switching from a metal back plate to a plastic one, Corsair has been able to drop the price and make the STRAFE that little bit more affordable. Otherwise, little has changed from the more expensive RGB models; you still get Cherry MX mechanical key switches (red in this case, but MX Brown switches are available as well), function keys that double as multimedia shortcuts and even a USB pass-through port – something you don’t get on Corsair’s more expensive models.

Corsair STRAFE keyboard - USB port

There are also two sets of contoured and textured key caps included in the box, along with a key cap puller tool; one which replaces the W, A, S and D keys for FPS gaming and another which swaps out the Q, W, E, R, D and F keys for MOBAs. They are labelled with their corresponding letters, meaning you can’t put them on other keys if you use a different keyboard layout without them looking wrong.

The light strips on either side of the keyboard tray are fairly dim, meaning they won’t illuminate your desk, but instead act as an attractive design flourish on an otherwise plain keyboard. The rest of the LEDs are more than bright enough to be seen clearly during the day, however, with three levels of brightness controlled by the button on the top right corner of the keyboard in case it is too dazzling at night. Every key is well illuminated, with the double-row punctuation and number pad keys lit evenly.

Corsair STRAFE keyboard - side lights

You can completely customise the lighting effects using Corsair’s CUE software, which also plays nicely with the company’s mice and gaming headsets. There are six pre-set effects, including a Knight-rider style side-to-side pulse, a random top-to-bottom rain of light, a steady fade and per-key ripples, where a burst of light spreads across the keyboard as you press each key. You can also create your own effects, or download some of the user-created ones from Corsair’s support forums. It’s a little bit fiddly to do it yourself at first, but after a few minutes of tweaking you can get some impressive visual effects. CUE also lets you set up macros and customise every single key on the board, which MMO gamers are sure to appreciate.

We had no trouble typing at speed on the STRAFE, despite the lack of a wrist rest; after adjusting our typing position we didn’t have any issues with missed keys or typos. The Cherry MX Red switches require very little force to actuate, around 45 Centinewtons (Cn), meaning you can type lightly without creating a racket. The switches are far from silent, but only become truly noticeable when you slam down each one.

Corsair STRAFE keyboard - small Windows key

We also appreciated the textured finish on the space bar, which helped distinguish it from the other keys on the bottom row. This is important, as Corsair has used a slightly non-standard layout; the Windows key is a little smaller than normal, as is the Menu key to the right of the space bar, in order to make room for the Function key. This didn’t really affect us in day-to-day use, however, as the Windows key is only slightly smaller than the standard layout we’re used to.  

While we were impressed with the STRAFE’s no-nonsense approach, squeezing in as many features as possible from Corsair’s more expensive models and not compromising on build quality, at launch there’s not a giant price gap between it and the more expensive multi-colour K70 RGB. Whether you consider colour customisation worth an extra £30 is largely down to personal preference, but if you don’t mind red lighting, the STRAFE is a great way to bring down the cost of a gaming keyboard without sacrificing features.

Hardware
Keyboard shapeStandard
Number padYes
Shortcut keys2
Volume controlYes
ConnectionUSB
BatteryN/A

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