Cherry's MX Silent switches are making their debut on the Corsair Strafe RGB gaming mechanical keyboard. Corsair has the exclusive on the MX Silent for the first year, and in this review we are examining the quality and features of the Strafe RGB keyboard as well as the performance of the new switches.

Introduction

Mechanical keyboards are now etched into the minds of PC enthusiasts, making the requested upgrade list alongside a specific mouse or headset. However, there are those who are reluctant because of the two major disadvantages of mechanical switches - price and noise.

Price is something we'll come onto, but noise is a particular problem for those who want to use them in working environments or have their home PC inside a shared living space, such as the living room or bedroom. Some aftermarket solutions have appeared, in the form of silicon O-rings and pads, to dampen the noise that mechanical keys do when bottoming down. However, a very large portion of the noise actually does not come from the key bottoming down but from the spring that quickly resets the key up to its original position, meaning that even with O-rings or pads installed beneath the keycaps, a mechanical keyboard could not ever become really quiet.

The growing adoption rate and sales of mechanical keyboards have given the manufacturers incentive to research and develop new products. Cherry, the original creator and patent holder of the keyboard mechanical switch, has created and patented "silent" versions of the MX mechanical switch. For the time being, only MX Red and MX Black switches are available as "silent" variants, which makes sense considering that the MX Blue switch is inherently noisy ("clicky"). Hopefully, silent versions of the popular MX Brown switch may appear in the future as well.

Cherry currently holds a deal with Corsair, giving them exclusive use of the Silent product range for the first year after their launch. Corsair has thus released a new version of the Strafe, their middle-range mechanical keyboard, including RGB lighting and the new silent version of the MX Red switch. The new MX Silent switches increased the MSRP of the keyboard by $20 ($170 instead of the $150 for the version with MX Blue switches). The increase in price may be why the company decided not to use them for the time being on the more expensive K70 RGB and K95 RGB models. $20 should be more than an acceptable price difference for those seeking a silent mechanical keyboard (and would spend them on O-rings or pads anyway, with perhaps questionable results). It will be interesting to see if the Cherry MX Silent switch can truly deliver over the self-customization route, and we will find out in this review.

Corsair Strafe RGB Packaging and Bundle

The Strafe RGB comes in a well-designed, thick cardboard box. The artwork is based on a picture of the keyboard itself and has a black/yellow color theme, which is the "signature" livery of the Corsair Gaming brand. The use of Cherry's new MX Silent switches is very clearly noted on the front side of the box.

Alongside with the keyboard, Corsair supplies a very basic manual, a wrist rest, a keycap removal tool and two sets of gaming keycaps. The first set is supposed to be for FPS gamers and the second for MOBA gamers. Both sets are contoured and textured. Two keycaps, the W and the D, exist in both sets but have different contours as a result. The wrist rest was not included in the "vanilla" version of the Strafe that we reviewed last year, so it is a positive sign to see it included here.

The Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Keyboard
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  • croc - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    If memory serves, there has been a Cherry 'Red' switch as far back as... Well, as memory serves. As to the noiselessness, I always understood that came from having no detent, or breakover point to the spring mechanism. I do have a Cherry 'testkit' with five or six of their switches attached, have had it for several years now. One of the switches on it is a 'red'.

    Not being able to tell when a key has done its job would, for me, tend to make the keyboard even noisier as I would then be POUNDING the keys to make sure that it was, indeed, pressed.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    After wasting money on the tat corsair called the K65 (one of corsairs previous cherry red mechanical offerings) ill never buy another corsair board again. How on earth could a company screw up a keyboard, but they did. Even their firmware fix didnt cure the issues fully, and now nothing from them, no more firmware, so I have to deal with double ii and gg all the time or I throw it out.

    GG corsair, never again.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    edit tat they call the K60, its so wonderful its not even worth remembering the name. Reply
  • Sttm - Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - link

    No dedicated media keys, no sale. I am not fitting function + F key to adjust volume or change a track; especially not in game. Reply
  • friendlypew - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    I had a K70 which I enjoyed very much, but it died from a drip of condensation. I had a friend with the same issue, although volume of liquid is in dispute. I now have a radacted brand at both home and office, and it has sustained hits from both me and my wife of liquids. I don't trust corsair anymore. Reply
  • galta - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    If you know how to type, then you will do it significantly faster on a good mechanical keyboard. This is fact beyond discussion.
    However, being 42 years old, I suspect I might have been the last person on the western hemisphere to have taken typing classes. When I look around at the office, all I see is kids looking at their keyboards to type. From an efficiency perspective, it does not make sense for them to buy a mechanical keyboard.
    Noise is sometimes considered an issue. Although it is clear that mechanical keyboards are considerably louder than membrane ones, some people feel bad about it, others do not. The one thing I can say is that I happen to find the sound of my own typing hypnotic: after a couple of minutes doing my work, I type even faster with the clack-clack sound of my cherry brown das. There is near consensus that browns and blues are better than reds and blacks for typing. I agree, but some think otherwise.
    Then we come to gaming. I find “game editions” or “built for gamers” just a fancy name for “ugly but expensive”. I just can’t understand how people find beautiful to have shinning lights and neon on their PCs, but everyone is entitled to have his/her own preferences. Just wish PCs could have some of the sober elegance of Macs, but that is for another day.
    If you talking about productivity in gaming (lol), not sure if it makes a difference. Some people say it’s better to use mechanical keyboards, others say the opposite. As a more than occasional FPS gamer, I see no significant difference.
    Reply
  • Murloc - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    there is plenty of people who know how to type without looking but they've always been a minority as % of the whole population, back then most people simply didn't use computers, now they do but they can't typewrite.
    At the end of the day it's a personal choice for most people, unless they go to a school that prepares them to become office drones, in which case the benefit of typewriting is too big to ignore.

    The sober elegance on PCs is just a matter of choice, you can't buy gamer gear and expect it to be sober.
    Reply
  • galta - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    "there is plenty of people who know how to type without looking but they've always been a minority as % of the whole population"
    Maybe as a % of the whole population, but not as % of population who worked in offices.
    Anyway, I do not want to imply that I support mandatory type writting classes. Times have changed and typing skills are not that important anymore.
    So yes, it is always a matter of personal choice. Just saying that one should not expect to type faster, or better, just because he/she has bought a mechanical keyboard.

    "The sober elegance on PCs is just a matter of choice, you can't buy gamer gear and expect it to be sober"
    Sadly, you are right. Just wanted it be otherwise. Personally (it is always a matter of choice, right?), I would be willing to spend some extra 5%-10% if I could get PC hardware (cases and monitors mostly) as elegant and sober as Macs.
    I do suspect, however, that it will remain just a dream. Again, as you said before, I must be part of a minority as % of population.
    Reply
  • zeeBomb - Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - link

    What is a good brown/red keyboard under 100? And what makes the K70 more Superior? Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Thursday, March 17, 2016 - link

    Flat keyboard? How would you even type on that thing? "With carpal tunnel," I suppose.
    Been using a Microsoft Natural Elite since 1999 and the WASD keys still have texture on 'em. There's only a small spot on the right spacebar where it's worn smooth. Key travel is still smooth and consistent. THAT'S quality.
    Reply

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