Published: April 08, 2019
If I could describe my obsession for mechanical keyboards in one word, it would be: unhealthy. The feel of a well-constructed chassis and key switch is unparalleled, and there’s no one that could begin to convince me that a rubber-dome membrane keyboard is comparable in any way. Snobbery aside, using a mechanical keyboard provides several advantages over it’s rubber-domed siblings (yes Apple fans, scissor switches are still rubber-domes).
Mechanical keyboards have a much higher life expectancy, as mechanical key switches are tested to anywhere between 30 million and 100 million keystrokes. In comparison, membrane keyboards have an average lifespan of 5 million keystrokes. While this may seem like a lot, it adds up quickly.
Mechanical keyboards also provide a superior feedback while typing compared to their membrane siblings. Some keys provide a tactile click (audible or silent) that let a typist know through feel that the key has been pressed. Many speed typists insist on using a key with a tactile click, and claim it reduces errors and increases speed by alleviating the worry of whether or not a key was pressed. As part of superior feedback, the weight of mechanical keyboards also play a role in feedback. The heavier weight reduces chassis flex, keeping the keyboard in place while typing.
With that out of the way, onto the Corsair Strafe. I enjoy a tactile click, so I ordered mine with the silent tactile Cherry MX brown key switches. I would prefer the audible click Cherry MX blue key switches, but these switches are not available with this keyboard. However, Corsair has included the ultra-fast response Cherry MX red key switches- a gamer favorite.
One of the coolest features of the Strafe is the ability for unlimited customization of the red backlighting through the Corsair CUE software. Any combination of on/off, intensity, gradient, ripple effect, wave effect, or rain effect can be programed into the backlighting of the keyboard. All keys can be customized through CUE, and includes macros and remaps that can be combined with lighting and sound for an immersive gaming experience. Additionally, textured rubber FPS and MOBA keycaps (as well as a keycap tool) are provided for further customization.
The strafe features a solid chassis with anti-ghosting and 104-key rollover circuitry suited for gaming. While this may be overkill for typing, the circuitry features and the very solid chassis allow for a high accuracy of keystrokes when typing and gaming. The Strafe also features a pass-through USB port near the location where the power/communication cord exits the keyboard, allowing for an extra port for a mouse or charging a phone.
I primarily bought this keyboard because of Corsair’s great history and the fact that I knew this would be a solid keyboard. I was not disappointed in the chassis category, as this keyboard is the most solid one I’ve used yet. I spent some time speed typing and mashing keys, and I couldn’t feel any flex or jumping around of the chassis. The keycaps look great, but I did not like the stroke length or how they felt when they bottomed with the MX brown keys. I ended up putting 0.4mm o-rings on the keycaps to soften the bottoming and reduce the stroke. Afterwards, the keycaps felt way better.
A bit of a large disappointment was not in the keyboard itself, but the Cherry MX brown key switches. I’m a massive fan of Cherry MX, and every mechanical keyboard I’ve kept has MX switches. I primarily type with my keyboards, so I would have preferred a MX clear (65cN actuation force) or blue option (60cN) instead of brown (45cN). The brown is supposed to be made for typists, but I find them way too soft. The MX red switches (45cN) are extremely soft, and are linear instead of tactile.
The power cable is interesting, and requires two usb ports from the computer to run. One usb is a communication and power cable, and the other provides solely power. I attempted to run the keyboard with only the communication cable plugged in, and unfortunately, the keyboard didn’t work. While the power cable does take away two usb ports, it makes up for it with the auxiliary usb port in the chassis- which is ok by me.
Lastly is the lighting. I absolutely love the rain lighting, which reminds me of the movie The Matrix. While I don’t turn the rain feature on much, it’s very fun to mess with now and then, and definitely provides a wow-factor to most people who see the keyboard. (add video?) The lighting is very bright, and I run it daily with the intensity on the lowest setting. The lighting visibility through the included keycaps is excellent.
Overall, my predictions of the Corsair Strafe were accurate and I was not disappointed in the least with the keyboard itself (minus the MX browns). I continue to use this keyboard at the office daily, and it feels great every time I use it. If trying to decide between this keyboard and any other in this price range, you will not be disappointed. If you are ready to purchase the Strafe, click below to purchase on Amazon. Buying through the link allows Amazon to provide us with a small percentage of the purchase that can help us fund this site.