When purchasing a gaming keyboard, there are usually so many things to consider based on price point. Mechanical or non-mechanical keys? Is RGB customisation your thing? How about build quality? For the premium price point of A$349, the Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate provides almost everything a gamer would want in a high-end keyboard. Bolstered with a sturdy build quality, a wealth of customisation options and an included wrist rest that assists greatly during longer gameplay sessions, it’s hard to ask for more.
Off the bat, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate provides an aluminium frame, covered in ABS plastic, that remains free of any flexing and creaking that entry-level keyboards can be guilty of. Asus’s in-house NX Red linear keys are smooth and responsive, if a little sensitive. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate also features either NX Red, Brown or Blue switches for a or soft and linear or clicky and tactile experience, based on user preference. The NX Red keys provided here were nothing short of swift, providing a 1.8mm actuation point, feeling more responsive and fluid, even if it’s not as quite as I would expect linear switches to be. That being said, soft PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) key caps are a surprising bonus, dissipating any heat that keys may develop over longer gaming sessions.
The NX Red switches are admittedly lighter than any linear switches I had encountered before and therefore took me a little time to adjust to, given the 1.8mm actuation point is a little sensitive, causing accidental key presses, particularly if you like to type fast. However, it’s a no brainer for overall responsiveness during gaming. Thankfully, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate’s PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is hot swappable, meaning you can utilise aftermarket switches if the NX Red keys aren’t your thing. It’s still hard to complain about the general typing experience here, given the solid build quality and materials of every aspect on display.
When it comes to functionality, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate has you covered. Be it adjustable feet, a memory foam wrist rest, or 2 metre braided USB cable, any set up will more than likely have space for this premium keyboard, should your PC be tucked away out of reach, or if you like your gaming keyboard to sit a little higher or lower than usual. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate also provides an unorthodox display in the top right corner, what is otherwise referred to by Asus as the AniMe Matrix display. This nifty display functions differently to any other HUD display you may have seen, much less on a gaming keyboard. Featuring 312 individual and programmable LED lights, the AniMe display can be programmed to show custom images thanks to the Asus Armoury Crate software. The only real gripe I have with this display is the fact that these LED lights do not display colour, instead opting for a plain white. I’m definitely clutching at straws here, but when the rest of the keyboard is so consistently colourful and customisable, it sort of stands out. Although you could also argue that’s the point.
On the opposite corner, the ROG Strix Flare II Animate provides a button to control RGB brightness levels, a scrolling wheel to control media volume and even a knob which allows you to forward and rewind through videos and various media. It’s rare that features such as these are tied together in not only one convenient location, but one single keyboard in general.
Much like the AniMe LED display customisation, you’ll need the Asus Armoury Crate software to take advantage of the full range of customisation options on offer. And boy are there options on offer. The real highlight here is RGB control, which allows users to program and customise keys and create pre-sets. I personally recommend the ‘Raindrop’ pre-set. The Asus Armoury Crate software can unfortunately be a little tricky to navigate at times, seeing as it serves as a command centre for your PC, with the option to customise peripherals confined to a single tab on the sidebar.
Pair this up with a front under glow lighting strip, which can be inserted into both keyboard and wrist rest and you have lighting customization options that even extends beyond the keyboard itself. While the wrist rest itself is detachable, I will add here that it’s unfortunately a flimsy experience, as it ararel6y holds onto the keyboard should you want to shift the unit or even pick it up.
Verdict & Value
Overall, it’s hard to ask for much more in a gaming keyboard. The Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate serves as a high-end gaming keyboard that is worthy of the price tag. Gaming and typing alike is nothing short of consistently satisfying, with the Asus Armoury Crate software providing almost limitless options for RGB customisation. The AniMe LED display is admittedly nifty, thanks to the ability to implement custom images. The NX Red linear keys may be a little too sensitive for some, but thanks to a hot-swappable PCB, you’ll always be able to craft a set up that works for you. The ROG Strix Flare II Animate is definitely in it for the long haul, and may indeed be the last gaming keyboard you’ll need for the foreseeable future.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Solid build quality; satisfying keys; virtually endless customisation options; versatility makes for both gaming and typing.
Lowlights: Asus Armoury Crate software can prove a little tricky to navigate at times; installation for provided wrist support is a little flimsy.
Review based on unit supplied by Asus.