While some gaming keyboard manufacturers like to texturize or change up the color of their keycaps, I tend to like my gaming peripherals simple, understated, and with RGB lighting that I can set to static in any color I want. Throw in some extra bells and whistles and you've got a perfect description of Asus' ROG Strix Flare gaming keyboard. Its actual flare may be on the quiet side, but it's a fantastic keyboard to consider if you're looking to explore outside the likes of Razer and Corsair, for instance.
This full-sized keyboard is a sleek black with individually backlit keys. It can make sense to put raised bumps or lines on the WASD or spacebar keys to give players a better grip, but if you also use your keyboard for everyday typing then it might feel awkward. However, I will say that with the ROG Strix Flare my fingers sometimes slip off the keys, particularly if I've been gaming for a while. (I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally called out 'I need healing' in the middle of an Overwatch match.) The keys have that slick of a surface, not like Razer's keycaps or other keyboards that have a slight roughness to them. You might want to invest in some Gamer Goo, or rebind a few keys.
The Flare has a comfortable spread of keys, even for those who have small hands. The left Ctrl may not be as large as the one on the ROG Scope (my little pinky finger has to contort somewhat to reach it), but what the Scope lacks in features the Flare makes up for. It has the added bonus of dedicated media controls as well as a volume wheel on the top left corner, a button for quickly adjusting the brightness of the RGB lighting, and locking the Windows key. There's also a USB passthrough to the left of the removable acrylic logo, but my favorite feature is the volume wheel just for the fact it's on the left side instead of the right—so much easier to aim while turning the volume up and down.
There's also an included wrist rest, which is more for support rather than comfort, but at least the Flare comes with one, unlike the Scope. It easily detaches if you don't care for it, and saves you a few inches of desk space, but after using it for a week or two, gaming and typing without it will probably feel weird. It's not as comfortable as the wrist rests Razer provides with its keyboards, but it does have a greater incline, so you might find typing with your wrists angled slightly higher is more comfortable. I do.
But back to the keys—the Strix Flare comes in five different key switch options: Cherry MX Red, Brown, Speed Silver, Silent Red, and Blue. So, there's a switch for everyone's tastes. Like your keys tactile and clicky? Go with Blues. Like a smooth, linear keystroke with a soft clack? Reds are generally the best way to go, and the keyboard we reviewed came with Cherry MX Red switches. The actuation point on these switches is just 2mm, so you only need to press them halfway down for your computer to register a keystroke. And with only 45g of force needed to actuate, the Cherry MX Reds are a great choice for both gaming and typing your next novel, especially if you have a light touch.
Response time isn't remotely a concern, especially with features like anti-ghosting and N-key rollover. Every key press is registered accurately and instantaneously, so the ROG Strix Flare has you covered whether you dance and jump around enemies like it's a Riverdance performance or type 80 words a minute.
The Flare has a few other features in common with the Scope as well, like on-the-fly macro recording, and it comes with Asus' ROG Armoury II software for fine-tuning everything from lighting effects to mapped keys. It's compatible with the company's Aura Sync software too, so if your rig is made up of several Asus peripherals and hardware components you can create a synchronized light show.
The ROG Strix Flare currently goes for $129.99 (a nice drop from its original $180 MSRP), which is cheaper than most of the best gaming keyboards, but you won't have to worry about sacrificing quality if you decide to go with this one over another. The Flare is a perfect sidekick that will hang around for the long haul—one of my favorite keyboards I have ever used.