Unboxed, we see that the STRAFE comes hard-wired with a thick non-braided cable.
The cable is of a very good quality and comes with custom-moulded USB headers in the Corsair Gaming yellow, although perhaps red would have looked better to match the keyboard colours? A minor issue either way, as they still look great.
First impressions of the STRAFE are very promising, it’s got a good weight to it, so it feels well planted to your desk, even when you’re mashing away at the keys typing angry Facebook comments, it’s certainly not going to slide around unless you have a desk made of ice. The key caps look fantastic, with a really nice finish to them and a cool oversized font with clear lettering to allow the LED lighting to pass through it that’ll really shine through when gaming in a darker environment.
I hate tabbing out of my game to take control of my music, so I’m happy to see a set of FN-shift multimedia keys here. I’d have preferred dedicated keys, but this is certainly a better than nothing solution.
Tucked in the top right corner, you’ll find a master LED lighting brightness control, which can also be used to turn the lights off completely. You can adjust the lighting in great detail through the desktop software, but if you’re watching a movie or in the middle of a game, you don’t want to spend time mucking about with software, so it’s nice to see this has a dedicated key. To the right of that, Windows lock key, which should save you from bringing up the desktop in the heat of battle.
A full size number pad, not something I use a lot for gaming, but when it comes to day-to-day work, like inputting lots of benchmark numbers into spreadsheets, it’s certainly something I look for in a keyboard.
A subtle touch of texture is applied to the space bar, does it make a difference to the performance? No, not really, but it does look rather cool and it goes with the theme of the extra key-caps, which we’ll take a look at in a moment.
One thing I did notice about this keyboard is that the keys are very quick, which is something anyone who has used Cherry MX Reds before will know. This does make it quick and easy to type or game on, but it also means the keys can be a little clanky. Quickly tapping a key and taking your finger full off the key is a little loud and it’s something you’ll notice if you type quickly or aggressively. This isn’t something that bothers me, I actually quite like it, but if you’re coming from a membrane keyboard, you’re going to notice the extra noise and may want to consider some o-ring mods to help mitigate the issue.
The keyboard has a nice sleek profile, especially for a mechanical keyboard of this size and weight. What I do like, is that thin LED strip on the sides of the keyboard, it just gives it that little bit of extra flair and more scope for custom light patterns in the lighting customisation mode.
Around the back, you’ll find a single USB port, which is catered for by the dual USB headers on the main cable. This isn’t something a lot of people will use, but when you need a quick and easy port for connecting your mouse or headset, you’ll certainly come to love it.
Corsair are kind enough to put a key-cap removal tool in the box, something I think all mech keyboards should come with, but surprisingly they all don’t. This will make maintaining the keyboard easier and it also allows us to quickly install those extra key-caps that were included in the box.
We’ve got two sets on offer here, a QERTDF and WASD set.
Each set of key-caps is sculpted to provide better grip in each gaming scenario. The top set is great for MOBA style games while the WASD is a little more focused on FPS and gaming in general.
I spent a good many hours gaming on this keyboard with the stock key-caps and absolutely loved it. It’s snappy, responsive and accurate. I won’t say that it’ll make you a better gamer, but it certainly makes it a more enjoyable experience. The extra key-caps aren’t essential, but they do look pretty badass and the extra grip they provide is hardly a disadvantage either.
Here you can better see the unique shape of the extra key-caps and the softer rubber caps they provide. They’re very different when gaming, but it’s still perfectly reasonable to keep them on full-time while typing, or at least I didn’t find them to be of any concern when I’m working.
Gaming in the dark isn’t something you need to do, but it can be great for immersion. Of course, if you’re not the keen touch-typer that I am, finding your place on the keyboard can be tricky, so having a good quality backlight is a big advantage here. Personally, I just like having a backlight on regardless, it looks cool and the STRAFE has a huge range of customisation to add all kinds of cool effects that help further enhance the visual appeal.