Mar 24, 2021 Written by:Eric Born

Hands-on: ROG RX Red Optical Mechanical switches up the ROG Strix Scope RX’s game

Articles: Hands On
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One tap of a key is a step forward, an action performed, a precisely timed jump. For years, traditional electromechanical switches translated my intentions into in-game actions. I loved the feel of moving parts under my fingers, the bright metallic click of their actuation. Life with mechanical switches is good, but it can be better. The old mechanism taught me to tolerate the imprecision caused by key wobble and compensate for the latency—however slight—introduced by debounce delay.

All that changed the first time I sat down with the ROG Strix Scope RX. Equipped with innovative ROG RX Red Optical Mechanical switches, this keyboard sweeps away the weaknesses of traditional mechanical models. The typing experience is nothing short of phenomenal, and the keyboard complements these switches with durable construction, convenient media keys, and vivid RGB LEDs. After only a short time with the Scope RX, I can’t imagine typing on anything else.

Typing at the speed of light

When we went looking for a home for our new optical-mechanical switches, we went with one of our most popular layouts. The ROG Strix Scope RX is a full-size keyboard with all the gaming features I crave. A sturdy aluminum alloy top cover prevents the board from flexing under my fingers while making the keyboard easy to clean. The glossy black keycaps and the sandblasted metal top cover offer a stealthy presentation that’s the perfect backdrop for the vivid per-key RGB LED backlighting.

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The functionality and customization options of the Scope RX fit my needs perfectly, but it’s the keys themselves that really won me over. The name of the game here is speed. ROG RX Red switches use an optical trigger, utilizing light to detect when I actuate a key. The actuation speed is so fast that it startled me at first. Since the optical trigger lets our engineers all but eliminate debounce delay, we had to add a 1ms delay between transmission of repeated key presses to ensure that I only get multiple actuations when I want them.

 

The typing feel of the RX Reds is fast, light, and responsive. The switches on my previous board had 2mm of travel before the actuation point, but the RX Reds actuate after 1.5mm. The initial force is very light at just 40g, and 45g at the actuation point. I could take advantage of this featherlight typing experience after only a day or two of adjustment, and my fingers appreciate how the Scope RX minimizes the wear and tear of a day of typing and gaming. The keys operate silently unless I bottom one out, but even then, the noise is muted. The clickiest traditional mechanical switches make a racket that even my headset can’t always drown out, but the ROG RX Reds produce only a firm tapping noise that’s easy to ignore yet comforting to listen to, like the quiet sounds of someone getting ready for the day in an adjacent room while I lay in bed.

Wobble-free, consistent typing

Here’s a situation that has happened to me more often than I care to admit. I’ll be playing a game, perhaps League of Legends with my regular Saturday night group. In the heat of the moment, I’ll try to activate an ability, but the timing isn’t what I expect—or it doesn’t go off at all. If this happens once in a gaming session, I blame myself and refocus my attention. If it happens again, I start to wonder about the input devices that I’m using.

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I’ve learned over the years that an imprecise keyboard sets me up for these frustrating moments. Switch mechanisms work best when you strike them right on center, where it requires the lightest actuation force. Strike a key on a corner instead, and it can take upwards of 22.7% more force to actuate the key. That easily leads to moments when I press a key with my usual amount of force, yet the press doesn’t register. On other keyboards, off-center strikes also create noticeable “wobble” under my fingers. Ideally, keys only go straight down when pressed. Lateral movements distract and disorient me, keeping me less accurate and a little grouchy.

The ROG RX Reds are the first switches I’ve ever used that accommodate, not punish, my occasionally errant keypresses. They have a linear stroke, so the keys press in smoothly without a tactile bump or audible click at the actuation point, and they move uniformly in one direction without any distracting wobble I find the gliding, unhindered motion of the keys deeply satisfying. It’s like the difference between real Legos and dollar-store knockoffs. The pieces click together just as they should.

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The ROG RX Reds employ four technologies to combat force inconsistency and key wobble. The first is the hollow, square stem design. Since the stem is nearly as wide as the keycap itself, it just doesn’t have much room to wobble, and the mechanism presses in more consistently on every stroke. Second, the switch is held firmly by four corner latches, minimizing wobble even further. Third, the key caps are joined to the stems using four corner posts, a connection that’s much more stable than the single central post used in traditional mechanical switches. Finally, our x-shaped stabilizers keep the cap moving smoothly and in a single direction throughout the stroke.

What practical difference do these stabilization technologies make? Well, I endure fewer of those moments where I’m positive that I pressed a button, but nothing happened. The Scope RX nearly eliminates those phantom misses. The wobble-free technologies really let me take advantage of the switch mechanism’s fast actuation, too. There’s no wasted energy when I rapidly press the same key. This keyboard has been re-training my fingers, teaching me to rely on the light actuation without bottoming out the keys on every stroke. I don’t have to be a dancer or a boxer to see the advantages of staying light on my feet.

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Whether I’m unleashing a combo in my favorite MOBA or peeking out around a corner in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the ROG RX Red switches operate with the pin-point accuracy that so often separates the champions from the hopefuls. The gap between the movement of my finger and the actuation of the key is so slight that the process feels as fast as my reflexes.

The Scope RX is built for long-term durability, too. The same mechanisms that ensure consistent, wobble-free actuation also extend each switch’s lifespan. What’s more, by replacing mechanical actuation elements with optical ones, we reduced the number of moving parts that can fail down the road. All told, every switch should be good for 100 million keystrokes.

Revolutionary typing feel augments a tried-and-true layout

Like the other keyboards in its family, the Scope RX puts all the controls I expect for gaming within convenient reach of my fingers. For starters, its media keys are integrated into the row of function keys, an arrangement that keeps them close at hand and easy to press while gaming.

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The Stealth button is my favorite among these. It minimizes all open windows, pauses any media that’s playing, and mutes all audio. It came in handy recently when I was playing Doom Eternal, a game that my young children should not under any circumstances watch me play. My older son wandered into my office after bedtime while I was in the middle of the hellish Nekravol fortress. The poor boy had a bad dream and needed comfort. Thanks to the Stealth button, I was able to send him to bed without adding any nightmare fuel to the fire. A second tap of the Stealth key brought my windows right back to where they were, in all their gory glory.

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Our new switch design really lets the per-key RGB LED lighting shine. The hollow stem design allows the central LED to radiate in all directions. Since the caps “float” several millimeters above the surface of the top plate, the illumination is brilliant and color gradients are smooth. The lighting design of each switch even lets light shine through handy legends on the sides of some keys, too. I can adjust all of the RGB LED settings without any special software using the Fn key and the arrow keys.

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The Scope RX has its fun side, but it’s practical, too. Five indicators perched in the upper right hand corner next to the RGB LED-illuminated ROG logo help me keep track of the keyboard’s various toggles, like Caps Lock or Num Lock. A USB passthrough offers a convenient spot to charge my smartphone or plug in a flash drive. And I can record macros on the fly for my games and apps, all without installing specialized software. The Armoury Crate app lets me fine-tune my experience even further with customizable lighting effects, the ability to sync the RGB LEDs with my other ROG gear, and full control over the function of every key.

ROG Strix Scope RX
Availability (US) Newegg
Amazon
Micro Center
Availability (Canada) Memory Express

The new standard for precise, responsive PC gaming

Between my passion for gaming, my hobbies in music production and video editing, and my professional life as a writer, I spend a good portion of every day with my hands on a keyboard. Long ago, I learned the importance of putting high-quality keys under my fingers. The ROG RX Red optical-mechanical switches take my typing experience to a whole new level. With their fast and light actuation, wobble-free movement, and smooth, linear stroke, they’re a clear upgrade for gaming and typing alike.

The ROG Strix Scope RX offers the perfect layout for these new switches. Its compact frame gives me a full-size keyboard with media keys and a numpad, but it doesn’t take over my desk. The new switch design really lets the RGB LED lighting shine, too. The vivid glow across the durable aluminum top plate makes the Scope RX a true showcase keyboard.

This keyboard more than earned its place on my desk, and it can do the same on yours. Pick up the ROG Strix Scope RX of your own, and you’ll learn for yourself how fast, light, and wobble-free keystrokes can revolutionize your gaming and typing.

Articles: Hands On
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