Having used the SteelSeries Apex RAW as my keyboard for many years, I decided that I wasn’t a fan of the amount of noise it made. Sure, it was a chiclet keyboard, but it was still way too loud for my tastes and I wanted to try using a mechanical keyboard for the first time. After doing some hunting around, I came across the Corsair Strafe RGB keyboard with Cherry MX Silent switches. Obviously, I had to try it out, so I went to a local electronics store and was immediately impressed by the build quality of the keyboard. After pressing a few keys on the display model I asked about buying one. They weren’t in stock.
All was not lost as I bought one on Amazon the same evening and it arrived a couple of days later. I opened the box and before even plugging it into my PC I switched the standard WASD keys for the textured, sloped ones meant for FPS gaming. The keyboard also came with another set of keys for MOBA games.
Unlike my Apex RAW, the Strafe doesn’t have any dedicated macro keys. I didn’t mind this because I rarely used the macro keys on the Apex RAW. All the normal keys are there and some of the function keys act as multimedia controls. It has a nice wrist-rest and the spacebar is textured in a similar way to the FPS and MOBA keys.
Of course, the keyboard is backlit and has support for 16.8 million colours with individual colour settings for each key, but I’ll cover that later when going over the aesthetics.
At the back, the keyboard has a USB 3.0 pass-through port which you can use for your mouse, memory stick (flash drive…) or even USB headphones. Unfortunately, this means the keyboard takes up two USB ports on your PC, but those ports would be taken up anyway and the keyboard acts as an extension cable for you. On the bottom of the keyboard, you’ll notice it has standard “flippy feet” to adjust the angle at which you’re typing. To me, it doesn’t make much of a difference but it might be the decision-maker for some of you out there.
Of course, being a mechanical keyboard, the Strafe isn’t going to be perfectly quiet. It just can’t. It’s definitely the quietest keyboard I have, and if you press really softly it is pretty inaudible. You can buy O-Ring dampeners to put on the switches, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. The Strafe is a massive improvement on my old Apex RAW and I definitely recommend it if you’re the type for late-night gaming sessions.
Ah, the fun part. This is where the “RGB” part of the name comes in. However, before I get into that, I just want to talk a little about the build of the keyboard. It looks striking, even when the lights are off. It has LEDs on the sides as well as the keys, and I absolutely love the typeface used for the keys themselves. The shiny black brand name in the top right is wonderful, and I think the shape and size of the keys are just right.
But, of course, you want the lights. Everybody wants the lights. Let’s be honest, if you didn’t buy this keyboard for the silent switches, you bought it just so you can have a fancy light show on your desk.
You’ll have to download the Corsair Utility Engine. This is a piece of software that lets you control all aspects of most Corsair peripherals (I have the Void RGB headphones so I already had the CUE). It’s remarkably simple to use and lets you adjust about every aspect of your keyboard, from adding custom macros and changing the lights to modifying your Win Lock key and disabling the sidelights. The picture above shows how I have my colours set up. It might not be what you like but I love the visor effect.
If you have the advanced switch turned off as I do, you have many predefined options and effects to choose from and layer over each other. If you turn it on, there are fewer options but you have a lot more freedom to create your own effects, including adjusting the opacity. If you have any questions about this, leave them in the comments.
I must say, this keyboard is impressive. It’s not the best if you’re a League player who needs loads of space for macros, but if you’re someone who plays games on a casual level and despairs at the decibels of noise produced by your current keyboard, this is definitely something I would look at getting. Corsair really has done well on the Strafe RGB MX Silent and I really look forwards to seeing what they’ll come up with in the future.
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