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Asus ROG Strix Flare review: The keys to a perfectly customised gaming experience

James Archer
1 Dec 2020
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
120
inc VAT

Comfortable and well made, the ROG Strix Flare offers an unrivalled range of customisation options

Pros 
Incredible functionality
Abundant customisation options
Practical
Cons 
Slight lack of tactile feedback
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ROG, or Republic of Gamers, is by far the boldest and brashest of Asus’s consumer sub-brands. The ROG Strix Flare shows why: it’s a full-size keyboard and then some, complete with full RGB lighting that doesn’t just cover the key backlighting but shines out from the sides as well. There’s even a shard of see-through acrylic lodged in the top; more on that later.

Beneath all the visual pizzazz, however, is actually a very practical, very usable keyboard. For instance, the underlying key switches are Cherry MX Reds – quite likely the most popular mechanical switches for gaming thanks to their smooth, linear action and less noisy, click-less noise profile. They’re as effective on the ROG Strix Flare as they are everywhere else, providing a responsive and robust feel to every keypress.

The MX Red switch’s lack of tactile feedback (unless you fully bottom out the mechanism) isn’t ideal for extended typing sessions, however. We’ve found a version of the ROG Strix Flare with MX Brown switches, which add a little bump to help touch-typists be sure they’ve hit their mark without creating too much MX Blue-like noise, but it’s even more expensive at £160.

Asus ROG Strix Flare review: Features

The main keys are laid out in a totally standard formation, which helps avoid mistakes from muscle memory, and unlike its Asus cousin, the TUF Gaming K7, there’s a set of dedicated media controls. The most immediately useful of these is the volume wheel, which is a little twitchy but still fine for making quick adjustments, while play/pause, stop, skip back and skip forward buttons are positioned on the right.

That’s not all, either. In between are a button for locking the Windows key (a common accident-proofing feature on premium gaming keyboards) and a button that toggles through different brightness levels for the backlight and side lights.

This system of more-is-more illumination isn’t just notable for beaming out on to your desk, although we’ll admit it can look good with the right colours. It demonstrates the ROG Strix Flare’s greatest strength: not its switches or bonus buttons, but the nigh-obscene wealth of ways you can configure and customise it to your exact liking.

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In the case of its lighting, you can do a lot more than change the brightness. Holding the Function key and hitting the arrow keys will cycle through an impressive nine different effects, ranging from gentle pulses to trippy ‘rain drop’ animations. That’s not counting the solid colour setting or just having it switched off entirely. What’s more, you can adjust the main colours (unless you’re using one of the two effects that span the full rainbow) by altering red, green and blue levels, again entirely though the onboard keys.

For even finer control, you can download and install the ROG Armoury utility on your PC. On the aesthetic side, this lets you be much more specific with which colour or colours are shown, as well as set up to five different custom lighting profiles and sync the ROG Strix Flare’s lighting with any other compatible Asus components you might have in your PC system.

Asus ROG Strix Flare review: Customisation

On the utilitarian side, the choices go even deeper. You can customise individual key inputs so that they perform a Windows shortcut or launch an application, record and set macros, and disable keys besides Windows – potentially helpful if you’re prone to smashing the wrong ones while gaming. On that note, once again you can add key customisations to different profiles, which you can then switch between with the Function and number keys – so you could, say, have one profile for gaming and another for every day. These profiles are saved on the keyboard’s own memory, which is ideal if you ever switch between PCs.

There’s even on-the-fly macro recording: Hit Fn-Right Alt to start recording, punch in your macro, then use the same combination to stop. It’s another clever, customisation minded little feature – if only there were dedicated macro keys.

The last, most unusual way to personalise this keyboard is the little acrylic piece. Out of the box, this is just a light-up ROG logo, but there’s also a blank replacement piece included. The idea is that you add your own decal – be it a sticker or, if you really want to put in the effort, an engraving – then simply pop out the ROG piece and slide yours in. It’s a charming touch, even if we suspect most users won’t take advantage of it.

Asus ROG Strix Flare review: Design

Despite being largely made from plastic, the ROG Strix Flare is nicely finished. Most of the bodywork has a smooth, matt, almost soft-touch texture, with a kind of brushed aluminium effect on the right side. In a neat attention to detail, this angled pattern continues downward on to the bundled wrist rest when it’s attached.

This isn’t padded but, like the Thermaltake X1 RGB’s wrist rest, is comfy enough. It’s a worthy addition to what is an incredibly long features list, which also includes a USB2 pass-through port on the rear.

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Asus ROG Strix Flare review: Verdict

There’s no 3.5mm mic or headphone jack, but this and the fact that the ROG Strix Flare needs to connect to two USB ports instead of just one are about the worst things you can say about it. The higher price is more than justified, by both the unrivalled provisions to customisation, and a strong grasp on the essentials of comfort, performance and hardware quality.

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