Asus unveils impressive gaming keyboard | ENBLE

Asus unveils impressive gaming keyboard | ENBLE

The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96: A Surprisingly Impressive Gaming Keyboard

Asus ROG Strix Scope II

I’ll be honest, when I first saw the Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96, I didn’t have high expectations. After being impressed by the ROG Azoth earlier this year, the Strix Scope II 96 seemed like a step back—a cheaper gaming keyboard catering to the mainstream and lacking the enthusiast flair of its predecessor. However, I’m happy to admit that I was wrong.

The Strix Scope II 96 may not match up to building your own keyboard or the premium options from brands like Keychron, but it certainly raises the bar for what you should expect from a mechanical gaming keyboard priced at $180. It not only comes with modern features like hot-swappable switches and three connection modes, but it also delivers a fantastic sound and feel straight out of the box—which is saying a lot considering my usual aversion to the sound of most mechanical gaming keyboards.

What Sets it Apart?

ROG NX Snow switches

There are a few standout features that make the Strix Scope II 96 unique. The first and most important is the implementation of the new ROG NX Snow switches. These switches are factory lubricated, providing a fantastic typing experience. The NX Snow switch closely resembles the popular Cherry MX Red switch, offering a linear feel with an actuation force of 40 grams. What truly sets these switches apart is the use of the Krytox 205G0 lubricant, known as the gold standard for enthusiast-grade keyboards. The result is an incredibly smooth and satisfying typing experience.

But it’s not just the switches that contribute to the exceptional sound and feel of this keyboard. The design of the keyboard shell is equally crucial. With silicon foam under the PCB and dampening switch pads above it, the Strix Scope II 96 stands out from the crowd. Most gaming keyboards, regardless of the brand, tend to sound hollow and pingy. However, the addition of board foam to absorb sound, combined with the quality switches, makes it difficult to distinguish the Strix Scope II 96 from a custom-built keyboard in a blind test.

Expensive but Competitive

Strix Scope II compared to other keyboards

What truly sets the Strix Scope II 96 apart is its price. At $180, it may not be considered cheap for a gaming keyboard, but it surpasses the competition in many ways. Take, for example, the Corsair K70 Pro RGB, which is priced the same but sounds inferior and lacks the wireless capability and hot-swappable switches found in the Strix Scope II 96. Similarly, the SteelSeries Apex Pro, priced at $200, suffers from the same issues as the K70, and if you want a wireless version, the price jumps to $250. At that price point, you might as well consider building your own keyboard using a base like the Glorious GMMK Pro. Razer is no exception, with its BlackWidow V4 Pro priced at $230 without offering any wireless connectivity.

Considering these factors, the Strix Scope II 96’s price doesn’t seem too high. While it may lack a few extras like an OLED screen or enhanced media controls found in other keyboards, the keyboard’s superior sound quality makes up for these downsides. In terms of build quality, the Strix Scope II 96 has an aluminum top and a plastic bottom, ensuring a solid and durable construction.

A Few Minor Gripes

Keycaps of the Strix Scope II

Of course, no keyboard is perfect, and the Strix Scope II 96 is not exempt from criticism. One aspect that falls short is the quality of the keycaps. They don’t feel or look great, with blocky and robotic legends and a subtle graininess on the tops that may be off-putting for some. Additionally, the raised nub on the W key, which is usually found on the J and F keys for touch typing purposes, can be annoying and distracting.

Another complaint I have is with the Armoury Crate app. While it provides a range of customization options like macros, per-key RGB lighting, and key remapping, it can be sluggish and prone to bugs. However, it does support Aura Sync, allowing seamless integration with other Asus components.

Despite these minor issues, the Strix Scope II 96’s price, superb sound, and excellent typing experience make it a standout choice. It serves as a great introduction to enthusiast keyboards and offers enough flexibility for future customization with switch and keycap replacements. Without a doubt, if you’re in the market for a mainstream gaming keyboard, the Strix Scope II 96 is the one to buy.