Corsair has become a prominent gaming brand in recent years, with expansion into cases (they didn’t always make them) and peripherals. One of Corsair’s strongest pursuits has been mechanical keyboards. The company recently released its Strafe mechanical keyboard, and announced a soon-to-be-released RGB Strafe. In preparation for the RGB variant, we’ve used, dissected, and reviewed the Corsair Strafe mechanical keyboard.
The Strafe is Corsair’s response to a lack of a lower-budget, mechanical gaming keyboards in their product vertical. Corsair’s Strafe comes with Cherry MX Brown or Red switches, has a plastic enclosure, and hosts customizable lighting through the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software. The Corsair Strafe has an MSRP of, and currently retails for, $110 via retailers.
After Corsair hyped and released their programmable RGB mechanical keyboard, it seemed everybody and their grandma (who only makes large print keyboards) started coming out with their competing RGB keyboards. Corsair’s early arrival to market and general popularity mean that the Corsair RGB K-series keyboards are primarily recommended while alternatives are ignored or forgotten. So, in order to help those looking for a programmable RGB keyboard, we’ve put together this roundup of reliable solutions.
This RGB LED mechanical keyboard round-up compares budget, mid-range, and high-end keyboards with RGB capabilities.
The name “Ducky” may conjure images of adorable rubber ducks for many, but for keyboard enthusiasts, Ducky reminds them of a well-known and, more importantly, high-quality keyboard brand. Ducky’s Shine 3 and 4 keyboards are some of Ducky’s most recommended products, and stand as a testament to their minimalistically styled, but high-quality mechanical keyboards.
Corsair is a well-known name for cases, keyboards, CLCs, mics, mice, and other PC components. Throughout the years, the company has established a fairly strong brand name by generally providing good products that are usually at decent price points. This is not to suggest they are perfect -- sometimes things aren’t competitive, have lackluster performance, or look ugly.
Corsair’s RGB series of keyboards is among the most-hyped peripheral lines in recent history. These keyboards were the first to feature programmable RGB lighting on a keyboard with mechanical switches, and even signed one-year exclusivity with Cherry MX RGB switches. The hype train was going at full-steam ahead with these keyboards.
Then, Corsair’s RGB keyboards were delayed. Following this, Corsair started using its new gaming logo in lieu of a traditionally more reserved logo, annoying fans of the old logo (perhaps to a point of irrational rage). Then -- somehow -- more bad news emerged pertaining to quality control and supply issues with Cherry MX Blue switches, to the point that they are now discontinued entirely.
We recently reported on an IndieGoGo campaign to crowdfund a pre-made ErgoDox keyboard, something that hasn’t been done at a commercial level previously. The initiators of the campaign have surpassed their goal of $50,000, and are now are shooting for a stretch goal.
For anybody who has read our mechanical keyboard specs dictionary, it’s likely abundantly obvious that we enjoy mechanical keyboards. Despite an avid interest in mechanical keyboards, they don’t lend themselves to every situation. Even “quiet” mechanical switches -- like Cherry MX Reds or Browns -- can be fairly loud in comparison to a rubber dome keyboard; similarly, mechanical keyboards are not for those with stricter budgets in mind, since even the lowest priced mechanical keyboards are $50+, whereas rubber dome keyboards are available all the way to less than $10.
For those unwilling to spend $50+ on a keyboard, options exist in the form of budget-oriented, rubber dome keyboards. The Cougar 200k is one such keyboard, employing scissor switches and setting out with a respectable price-point of $30, promising few large compromises.
Keyboards like the Microsoft Natural are common suggestions for those who swear by ergonomic keyboards. Yet, for those interested in an ergonomic mechanical keyboard, there are very few options. The Truly Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard springs to mind, but is expensive at $250 and may not be to everybody’s liking. Similarly, the Matias Ergo Pro is another option, but is -- once again -- a hefty buy at $200, and only comes in Matias (Alp clone) switches.
Ergonomic mechanical keyboards are generally expensive.
As we have previously discussed, since Cherry’s patent expired, the North American market has been seeing the introduction of traditionally Asian brands using Kailh switches. One of the most prominent Asian brands, and one that is pushing into the North American market quite aggressively, is Tesoro.
For years now, the original Quickfire Rapid has had a “Stealth” version with side printed keycaps; although, I’m not sure how stealthy one can be with a keyboard that uses Cherry MX Blue or Green switches. With the release of the Quickfire Rapid-I, some (myself included) were disappointed to see Cooler Master not release a stealth version, but this appears to be changing as of late. Recently, Cooler Master posted the Quickfire Rapid-SI (the “S” standing for “stealth”) page on their site. This is nearly identical to the Quickfire Rapid-I, but for any unfamiliar with the Rapid-I, I’ll quickly run over it, then cover the differences between the two.
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