Flashy as can be: The Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate keyboard – Ars Technica

Produced by Sean Dacanay. Transcript coming soon.

Specs at a glance: Asus ROG Strix Flare II Animate
Switches Asus ROG NX Red or Brown
Keycaps Doubleshot PBT plastic
Connectivity options USB-A cable
Backlighting Per-key RGB
Size 17.13×6.5×1.5 inches
(435×165×38 mm)
Weight 2.55 lbs (1,157 g)
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $220
Other perks USB passthrough port, keycap puller, switch puller

Switches, keycaps, chassis colors, backlighting—many features bring personality to mechanical keyboards. But for the flashiest among us, they’re not enough. If you’ve ever looked at an RGB keyboard and still yearned for more pizzazz, Asus’ ROG Strix Flare II Animate is for you.

LEDs go wild on this keyboard, from the bright RGB backlight to the hundreds of mini LEDs above the numpad that create pixellated animations to varying degrees of success. You’ll need to love LEDs to be drawn to the keyboard, but they’re not the Flare II Animate’s sole selling point.

Even without the display, this is a premium keyboard with hot-swappable switches, quality keycaps, programmable keys, and on-board memory. For serious gamers, the board claims 0.125 ms input lag compared to most keyboards’ 1 ms.

All of this glitz and glamour comes at a high price, though—$220, to be exact.

Hit-or-miss animated display

If there’s one thing the Flare II Animate is not, it’s discreet. A common complaint about RGB lighting on PC peripherals is that it can be distracting. The Flare II Animate has plenty of RGB, but it kicks things up a notch with 312 mini LEDs that you can program to display different animations, including text.

I generally find RGB to be a mild distraction at most, but the so-called AniMe Matrix is another story, especially when it’s programmed to display moving animations. The movements looked flashy in my periphery and drew my attention from the monitor, and the contrast between the multicolored RGB and the slightly brighter white mini LEDs was also a bit much. You can only change the animation (including making it a static image or turning brightness off or down) if you download the keyboard’s software.

After downloading the Armoury app, you can activate 19 premade dot-matrix effects. Some are hard to decipher, though. For example, “Basketball” looks like a man dribbling until he takes the ball to the hoop—then the animation looks like a random splash of light. “War” simply looks like flashing, abstract lights.

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