Corsair Penalty RGB – Best for personalized, dynamic backlighting

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TRAFE is the new gaming keyboard from CORSAIR. CORSAIR has more than two decades of experience in the production of gaming hardware and accessories. After I configured my new keyboard, I was not disappointed.

Where cheaper manufacturers rely on membrane keyboards to cut costs, CORSAIR uses mechanical switches manufactured in Germany to ensure precise control of the game. As soon as I plugged it in and started pressing buttons, I could really feel that difference. The new STRAFE offers its users red MX keys with gold-plated contacts, gold cross contacts and pressure-resistant springs made from a metallic alloy.

The mechanical switches provide the same responsiveness that gamers expect from all Cherry MX keyboards. Compared to membrane keypads, mechanical switches provide a noticeable “bumpy” feel or “click” when the contact is made. This gives a physical indication that the player’s command has been sent to the system. This means less mashing keys and more pwning. The Cherry MX mutes the sound and minimizes the noise, but there is still an audible click to hear.

The most unique feature of the keyboard is perhaps the backlight. Each button has its own RGB LED. This allows users to customize the backlight profile using the CUE CORSAIR software. Now with the software you can not only create macros and redirect keys, but also color-code these keys. At first, I did not capitalize on that. But after playing with it for a few hours, I found that when my avatar was unexpectedly caught, when I reached for my limo, the lighting scheme helped my fingers find the right keys faster than ever.

You can also connect an additional drive, a headset or my gaming mouse with the provided USB passthrough. Another great feature that surprised me when playing with PENALTY was the fact that I appreciated the choice between FPS and MOBA profiles.

Important design specifications

When I started playing with PUNISHMENT, I almost felt like any other mechanical keyboard. It was not until I started configuring the RGB profiles and got used to the feedback during the game that I really appreciated everything that brought the PENALTY to the table.

It has some other important features like 104 button rollover, anti-ghosting and of course the Cherry MX Red buttons. It also has white LEDs on the shorter side, which I only recognized after configuration. There was a nice ambient light.

The CORSAIR website says that the STRAFE is compatible with the palm rest, but I found the profile so low that I do not need it. It is made of durable plastic and is therefore lightweight but durable. All keys are equipped with tactile keys that suppress the audible click of the Cherry brand.

The Corsair STRAFE is an upgrade to the Vengeance K70 gaming keyboard. Apart from switching from the aluminum-coated case of the K70 to the plastic of STRAFE, I fell in love with this keyboard.

What I liked

As for the keyboard, I liked the side LED lights as well as the desk height. The PENALTY is sitting so low that you probably do not need a palm rest. Another thing I loved about this keyboard is the feeling of the keys. They are neither too crisp nor too hard. Typing on the Corsair STRAFE feels natural and I think I’ll stay with this keyboard for a while.

What I did not like

Similar to all mechanical keyboards, a sound is heard when the keys are pressed. I know that some people love that. I do not care, except that I think it helps the gaming experience. However, if you have a roommate in a small apartment or an office mate, you can consider the STRAFE Silent Keys model.

I did not love the price either. At this price, the Cougar 700k offers some additional features. What you really pay for is the experience of individual lighting.

The setup took a while. Since each key is customizable, you need to sit down and adjust to get the full effect.

Pros

  • Custom visual lighting
  • Support for full and individual key programmability. Use its bundled key puller to define custom macro keys
  • USB pass-through
  • A plug and play keyboard, although I had to independently configure its backlighting

Cons

  • Set up time
  • Lacks stand-alone media control keys
  • A steep learning curve for its CUE software
  • Minimal support for Windows 10

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