ASUS has been expanding their STRIX line of gaming products recently and have added a headset, keyboard, mouse, and even a couple of different mouse pads to the family. Today, we’ll have a look at the STRIX Tactic Pro Gaming Keyboard, which offers a plethora of features aimed at the gaming enthusiast market. Mechanical keyboards such as this are a popular choice in the gaming world, so let’s take the STRIX Tactic Pro for a spin and see if ASUS has come up with a product worthy of your hard earned dollar.
Specifications and Features
Here are the STRIX Tactic Pro specifications as provided by the ASUS product page. The keyboard features fully mechanical Cherry MX switches, on-the-fly macro recording, and the ability to save up to 21 macros. Customizable back lighting and a braided USB cable add to the high-end look of the keyboard.
|ASUS STRIX Tactic Pro Specifications|
|Connector||Single gold-plated USB|
|Anti-ghosting||True NKRO (6KRO switch included)|
|Switches||Fully mechanical Cherry MX type|
|Switch lifecycle||50 million keystrokes|
|Backlit||Individually-backlit (orange) keys with 4-level settings|
|Cable||Braided fiber 1.8m|
|Key cap material||Tough ABS|
|Media Keys||Volume control, play/pause, previous track and next track|
|Macro keys||Up to 21 customizable keys (13 dedicated macro keys + 8 switchable macro/function (F1-F8) keys)|
|Special features||– On-the-fly macro recording
– Dual modes: plug-and-play hardware mode and software mode
– Gaming mode (disables Windows® key); Macro mode (reassigns F1-F8 as macro keys)
|Box contents||Strix Tactic Pro mechanical gaming keyboard
Driver installation CD
4 x Additional key caps
key cap-removal tool
Moving on to the features, here is a quick list of the high-level functionality the STRIX Tactic Pro offers.
- Full mechanical switches: Lightning-fast response and ultra-durable lifespan of up to 50-million keystrokes
- N-Key Rollover (NKRO) over USB: Never miss an action for precise control
- 21 easy-to-reach macro keys: Ultra-fast combo commands and on-the-fly macro recording
- Software and plug-and-play hardware modes: Easy customization via an intuitive interface or bring your favorite profile wherever you go
The remainder of the features are provided by ASUS. Looking through the below illustrations and descriptions will give you a good idea of everything this keyboard has to offer. You’re able to choose which Cherry MX switches you prefer – Blue, red, black, or brown. Today’s review sample came with the brown switches, which typically strike a good balance between gaming and productivity typing. The keyboard offers a full-fledged software suite that allows full customization. By utilizing the 4 MB of onboard memory, you can store up to three profiles directly on the Tactic Pro. Additionally, the NKRO anti-ghosting feature allows multiple keystrokes to be registered simultaneously.
The retail package is loaded with product information on all sides. The box top provides a picture of the keyboard and a few high-level features. At the bottom of the box, you’ll find the specifications and features much like what we listed above. The box sides have a few more of the keyboard’s features and a multilingual product description.
Opening the retail box presents you with… wait for it… another box! The interior box houses the keyboard and accessories. The keyboard is wrapped in a plastic bag and further protected with stiff foam blocks. The accessories include the product documentation, software DVD, four orange key caps and removal tool, and a nice little STRIX sticker.
The USB cable is nicely sleeved and plenty long for the vast majority of people. The connector end is gold plated with a uniquely designed plastic housing. The design of the housing will make it easily identifiable from other USB cables that might be attached to the system. At the bottom of the keyboard are eight rubber pads that will keep it from sliding around on the surface. Two pop out feet can be found on the back if you prefer your keyboard to be at a slight angle when in use.
At the top right corner of the STRIX Tactic Pro are the low-profile media keys and a scroll wheel for volume control. The FN key is used to access several of the keyboard’s features. The F12 key will enable gaming mode, which basically just disables the Windows key. The 8 and 2 keys on the numpad are used to change the back lighting between three levels of brightness, a breathing effect, or off. The on-the-fly macro recording feature is accessed by using the ALT key just to the right of the space bar. The PGUP key toggles between the keyboard’s default NKRO or to a standard 6-key rollover state.
A total of 21 macros can be saved by utilizing the M1 through M10 keys at the left side of the keyboard, the F1 through F8 keys on the top row, and the three buttons located just below the space bar.
The orange back lighting also flows into a series of LEDs at the very top edge of the keyboard, which indicate various functions being on or off. Just next to each of these LEDs is a marking stamped into the keyboard, but the markings are not illuminated. This isn’t much of an issue in a well lit room, but in a low light situation they can be difficult if not impossible to read. I think having the markings themselves illuminated would be a much more user friendly approach here.
As we mentioned earlier the keyboard comes with four orange keys that can be substituted for any of the standard keys. The most likely scenario being either the A-S-D-W keys or arrow keys.
The accompanying software is easy to use and understand. There is one screen for key assignment and another for Macro setup. To save profiles to the 4 MB of onboard memory, you can toggle to the Hardware Mode button at the top right of the screen. Any of the saved profiles can be accessed by pressing the FN key and print screen, scroll lock, or pause/break. In software mode, you can also link profiles to specific applications. The bundled software is adequate for the task at hand and gives you plenty of options to get the keyboard customized for your favorite game play. It can also come in handy for repetitive productivity tasks.
Useability and Conclusion
Trying to describe how the keyboard feels is a tough task using the written word, but we’ll give it a shot. First off, the keyboard is extremely responsive to every keystroke, whether that be gaming or productivity use. The macro keys are easy to access, except for maybe the three below the space bar. That row of three buttons could stand to be moved to the left about an inch, which would make them much easier to reach with your left thumb. As to be expected with the Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, you get a good mix of smooth keystrokes with a satisfying click to let you know each keystroke is complete. That smooth feeling keystroke also translates to less noise, which is one of the reasons my personal preference is the Cherry MX Brown switch. However, if you prefer a different Cherry MX switch, the STRIX Tactic Pro is also available with red, black, or blue switches.
In all honesty, the STRIX Tactic Pro has more available macro keys then the vast majority of users will ever use. If macros are important to you and your gaming experience, you’ll love this keyboard! The keyboard is extremely customizable on both the hardware and software level.
The LED lighting works great, and the different intensity settings are a nice option. We just wish the markings at the top edge of the keyboard were illuminated, which would make them readable in low light.
The STRIX Tactic pro is a heavy duty, well-made keyboard. From the minute you pick it up, you get the feeling of a quality component in your hands. It’s definitely heavier than a normal keyboard, but not beyond what you see on other high-end gaming keyboards.
When the STRIX Tactic Pro was first released back in December, it carried a price tag of $150. Fast forward a couple months, and places like Newegg are selling it for $129. That’s a competitive price for a keyboard with this amount of features and as well-made as this one. If purchasing a gaming keyboard is on your horizon, the STRIX Tactic Pro deserves serious consideration.