For my testing I have actually been using the Corsair Strafe RGB MX Silent with it hooked up to my LAN rig in the office for weeks now. This has given me time to use it in game, writing, and during my normal internet browsing. In that time, I was able to get a good feel for the keyboard but before I get into my full experience I wanted to touch on my initial thoughts when I first started testing it. For starters I ran right into an issue even when just hooking the Strafe up. The custom USB plug design that Corsair went is frankly just too big. When I plugged them in it was uncomfortably tight as you can see below, putting strain on both the connectors and the motherboard. I ended up having to stager them because the issue happened side by side as well. Lucky for me I had extra ports, but not everyone is going to have that luxury. Beyond that I found the Strafe very easy to start up on. The mostly normal key layout meant no adjustments there other than the larger spacebar and smaller bottom row keys. Frankly if I didn’t know the spacebar was bigger I wouldn’t have noticed at all, it didn’t really give me any sort of improvement or advantage when typing or gaming.
Over the weeks moving it around from time to time I was impressed with how solid the board felt considering they did drop the one piece aluminum design. There is still of course a metal backplate just like most other mechanical keyboards so that helps. I did find that the small rubber feet on the bottom of the board could use an upgrade, the board slide around a little on our white plastic test table, especially when I flipped out the rear feet. The new design does make keeping the dust out of the keyboard a little more complicated compared to past Corsair keyboards, something I noticed right away with multiple cats. As for the other changes like dropping the media keys, I don’t use media keys very often so it wasn’t too big of a loss for me, but I know if I did I wouldn’t put the function layer media keys to use, especially with the smaller function key. I do however really wish the volume knob was still here, having quick and easy access to that is important to fine tune when the volume level of your game, movie, or stream changes, doubly so if you watch Trick2G.
I tried the included gaming keycaps and didn’t like them almost right away. In game they weren’t too bad and they helped me keep my hand in place. But they are very hard to type with and I do that in game all of the time as well. It was nice that they kept both MOBA and FPS players in mind though.
Of course a lot of my testing included me playing around with the RGB backlighting because it is a little fun. I found that the Strafe was a little brighter than previous Corsair RGB boards that I have seen and on par with the Blackwidow Chroma for brightness. Part of this I’m sure is because the Strafe now uses a white backplate that helps reflect the lighting. This gives the keys a little glow around in addition to the glow from the legends. If you aren’t interested in this look you can also turn the lighting brightness down to cut it back. The backlighting does look good and did a surprisingly good job of replicating all of the colors I tried to get it to do. Orange as always required a little more red than you would think but that’s par for the course at this point with every RGB product. I went ahead and put together a quick and wobbly video of the different lighting modes as well.
Beyond that the rest of my attention was firmly on the new MX Silent switches. I spent a lot of time just typing on them and the board felt quieter but it really wasn’t until I pulled out a few other boards to compare that I knew for sure. I made a quick video of it to compare the MX Silent Reds to standard MX Reds and then I also included MX Browns. Looking back, I should have included MX Blues just to show the full range but I didn’t have any nearby as I don’t like to type on blues. The new switch didn’t change much but there is a night and day difference on the sound as you bottom the switch out. You still have the same linear switch action like the standard reds. I hope that Cherry brings out a tactile model soon as well. The dampening effect doesn’t make typing mushy or anything like that, just slightly more refined.
Before I decided to take a video of the lighting effects I did take a few photos. They don’t server much of a use but I figured I would go ahead and toss them down here at the bottom in case anyone is interested.