A keyboard with too much Flare

Asus goes overboard with the LEDs in its new Strix Flare mechanical keyboard.

Bearing the Taiwanese firm's gamer-centric Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand, the Flare has two LED strips at the sides. This is on top of the usual RGB LED backlights for each individual key.

As is the norm with high-end gaming keyboards, the Flare's LEDs can be configured via an app, called ROG Armoury. There are six LED backlighting profiles, of which five can be customised by users. You can set the LEDs to follow a lighting pattern, from a wave-like cascade of colours to a breathing effect.

Although you need to install the app to change the profiles, the edited profiles are saved to the keyboard's on-board memory. Hence they work on any computer without requiring the app.

A specific key combo lets you toggle between the profiles while another combo resets them to the factory default.

That is not all. Asus has a whole ecosystem of hardware devices, including motherboards, graphics cards and monitors, that have RGB LEDs that can be synced to produce a coordinated pattern using the Asus Aura Sync app. This feature is supported on the Flare.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $299

    SWITCHES: Cherry MX RGB Red (linear, 45g actuation force)

    FEATURES: RGB backlighting, six built-in backlighting profiles and dedicated media controls

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I find the sheer number of LEDs on the keyboard overwhelming. But this trend seems to be getting popular in the gaming industry, so it probably has its fans. However, it is a hassle to have to install two apps (Aura Sync and ROG Armoury) to get the most out of the LEDs.

The switch mechanism for each key is exposed, letting the light from the LEDs through.

My review set uses the Cherry MX Red switch, though the Flare is also available with Brown, Blue or Black switches. Red switches are suitable for gaming because they take less pressure to register a key press. I prefer the Blue variant for typing, though the Flare is responsive and accurate enough to almost make me consider switching.

The keyboard comes with dedicated media playback keys and a volume scroll wheel. These are conveniently located on the left, which makes them easier to reach because, as a right-hander, my left hand is usually free.

However, the Flare can do with a better wrist rest. The one included with the keyboard is said to be "detachable", but it does not actually secure itself to the keyboard.

At $299, the Flare is expensive for a mechanical gaming keyboard, though it costs less than one of its rivals, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum ($319). There are, however, other models on the market that offer better value, especially if you do not need all of the Flare's features.

• Verdict: Good performance, with plenty of customisable LEDs. But some of its features feel excessive and add to its price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2018, with the headline 'A keyboard with too much Flare'. Print Edition | Subscribe