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Corsair STRAFE Review - Armchair Empire

Corsair STRAFE Review

corsair strafe front view

  • 8.5/10
    Look - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Feel - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Durability - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Value For The Price - 8/10
8.6/10

Our Rating

We Recommend The Corsair STRAFE Mechanical Keyboard For

FPS, MMO, RPG and several other genres of gamers will appreciate the versatility and design of the Corsair STRAFE. If you can live with the confusing CUE software from Corsair and don’t mind using preprogrammed profiles from users, the Corsair STRAFE will serve you well. All the prerequisites for a gaming keyboard are present in this particular model. Mechanical keys, complete anti-ghosting, multiple macro settings, many profile options and full RGB color gamut for each key. There really is nothing missing with this keyboard other than a wrist rest, which we believe is not necessary thanks to the keys tactile feel and reach.

If you are solely into MMO however, the lack of dedicated macro keys or additional keys on the keyboard might be a bit of bother even though you can set macros for any key on the keyboard. Nevertheless, for the price and the features, if you have a budget of no more than $100 then this is the one you should be getting.

Sale
CORSAIR STRAFE  Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Red LED Backlit - USB Passthrough - Linear and Quiet - Cherry MX Red Switch
  • 100% Cherry MX key switches - Gold contact Cherry MX mechanical gaming keys deliver the ultimate competitive advantage
  • Dynamic backlighting - Brilliant RED backlighting enhances the experience with virtually unlimited lighting adjustability
  • Fully programmable - Reassign any key or set up the most extreme macros for effortless gaming. PC with 2 USB 2.0 ports. Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7. An internet connection is required to download the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software

Corsair STRAFE Introduction

With two decades of experience making gaming accessories, hardware and leading with innovation, Corsair Gaming brings you the power of Cherry MX engineering with its latest mechanical gaming keyboard codenamed “STRAFE”.

Unlike other brands, Corsair doesn’t use Cherry MX like keys but the actual keys manufactured in Germany to ensure precision gaming. On this particular model you get Red MX keys with gold-cross point contacts, pressure resistant metallic alloy springs and gold plated contact closures. The Cherry Red switches offer the responsiveness associated with all Cherry keys without that audible click or bump. As for backlighting, it is dynamic as each key has its own RGB LED light that together allows you to define your own backlight profile for the entire keyboard. To do this you get the CUE Corsair program that controls more than just lights. It tackles macros and profiles too plus complete rerouting of each key. Finally, you get a single USB pass-through for connecting a wireless headset, USB drive or even your gaming mouse. The Corsair STRAFE mechanical keyboard lets you choose between MOBA and FPS kits depending on the kind of gaming you most engage in.

Corsair STRAFE Design

Simple would be the apt summarization for the Corsair STRAFE. Without the backlights on, this keyboard looks any general purpose keyboard. In fact, from afar it won’t stand out at all unless you set an RGB profile for the keyboard. It is only then that one understands this is an all-out gaming peripheral.

Coming to the weight, this keyboard is not heavy as it does not rely on complete metallic backbone but rather settles for the use of heavy-duty plastics in most places. The keys thankfully are all Cherry MX Red with a softer recovery that does not produce that signature Cherry click or tactile bump. As for the LED lights, each key features its own individual LED that can be configured precisely on the RGB color gamut. What isn’t evident from all the photographs though is that on either short side of the keyboard is yet another strip of LED lights that illuminates the sides white. This is a nice after thought as it provides some ambient lighting around the keyboard. Some folks have received a wrist support but the model we received from Amazon did not come with a rest. Not that it matters because, to me, a wrist rest is more of a gimmick as most gamers usually tend to prefer a traditional no-wrist support platform.

Corsair STRAFE Specifications

The STRAFE from Corsair is actually an upgrade over the previous Vengeance K70 mechanical gaming keyboard. While it no longer retains the anodized aluminum casing, this particular keyboard is just as adept at gaming thanks to its impressive specification list. Cherry MX Red keys, fully mechanical with 104 key rollovers and 100% anti-ghosting. This keyboard allows for complete customization of all its keys, multiple profiles and several macro settings using the included CUE software. It even offers quick audio controls or multimedia keys up top.

Corsair STRAFE Performance and Feel

First, let’s address the Corsair software or the CUE. Before getting to the easy stuff, I have to point out that the included software is kind of outdated and will not work with Windows 10. You have to visit the Corsair website and get yourself the latest CUE version. Corsair could have made it easier on its customers by pairing the correct driver version considering how old Windows 10 is now. Nevertheless, once you get the CUE installed, it is evident that there are a lot of features and options to configure. In fact, none of us could figure out how to set the RGB lights for the buttons. Frustrated and out of patience, we decided to download pre-configured RGB profiles from the internet. Thankfully, Corsair allows for export and import of color profiles so you need not set it up yourself. If you do plan on doing this at a per-key level then beware, it can take you ages with several pages popping up for various parts of the keyboard.

As for macros and rerouting of keys, that is the easy part as you simply select the key you wish to configure as a macro for a particular profile and choose the exact sequence you want to record. There isn’t much thought in this process and should be super easy for anyone.

Speaking of the feel of the keyboard, we loved the side LED lights and the overall height of the keyboard. It isn’t too high so the need of a wrist rest is not felt, which by the way isn’t included anymore. As we understand it though, Corsair initially shipped a wrist rest with its STRAFE model. It does not do so anymore. Speaking of rest, the keys aren’t too clicky neither are they hard. For someone who is used to membrane keys, this will be an easy replacement and in fact, if you have never before tried a mechanical keyboard, typing on this baby will feel so natural that you will never go back to any other kind of keyboard. Personally, though, I prefer the Cherry MX Brown keys for their slight tactile bump. Also, for those who absolutely hate any kind of noise from their keyboards, Corsair has the Silent Keys edition of the STRAFE, which is worth checking out.

Corsair STRAFE Pros

  • Plug and play right out of the box. Only the lighting won’t be preconfigured though the default is red all over the keyboard.
  • The keyboard is built to last and can take a few bumps though it is advisable not to!
  • This keyboard comes with its own key puller and a few extra keys too. A nice afterthought from Corsair for those who set a lot of macro keys and need a visual aid. Plus, the key puller makes it easier to clean and maintain the keyboard.
  • A 2-year warranty is a really long time of coverage so you need not worry much about losing the keyboard to a few defunct keys during the time. Besides Cherry MX keys are known for their longevity and durability.
  • The pass-through is conveniently located to the top of the keyboard where it won’t interfere with your gaming. This works great with a wireless headset adapter, a mouse or even to just charge your mobile phone.
  • The depression of the keys can be felt on your fingers and they do help maintain grip.
  • Everything about this keyboard is configurable starting from the lighting to the key map.

Corsair STRAFE Cons

  • Corsair should start bundling Windows 10 software and driver along with its peripherals now that Windows 10 is widely used. You will have to search online for the STRAFE driver and CUE software that controls the keyboard settings and macros.
  • CUE software has a massive learning curve, enough to make us gawk at it. While exhaustive with all the things you can do, simple stuff like changing light profiles is a huge pain. The alternative is to download profiles made by other users and import them into your CUE software.
  • We felt the keyboard is a tad pricey but if you can find it on sale you should do so by all means – it is an amazing piece of gaming hardware.

Corsair STRAFE Conclusion

Corsair is a brand name that you can depend on. Be it gaming accessories, RAM kits or power supplies – the name Corsair inspires confidence. The same applies to the Corsair STRAFE, which is evident from the moment you pick it up. Well built, lightweight with Cherry MX proprietary RED keys and complete anti-ghosting – this keyboard has all the requisites to qualify as a gaming keyboard designed for all genres. Yes, it is a tad overpriced at the moment but we hear that periodically Corsair and Amazon get together for a discount sale and you can find the STRAFE for a steal during these times.