ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate gaming keyboard review

It certainly has flare, but is that all it has?

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 1 1

Continuing on from the novel LED display on the Delta S Animate headset, ASUS has introduced the same technology to its new mechanical gaming keyboard. Perhaps a display you can actually see while you’re using the product will prove more than a cool gimmick this time? We were provided with an early sample of the Strix Flare II Animate for review and have been extensively testing it in order to see if it’s up to snuff.

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 1
Asus Logo

ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate gaming keyboard

Key switches

ROG NX Mechanical Switch / Cherry MX switch

Connectivity

USB type-A

Layout

100% full-size

Pros

Hotswappable

Robust

USB pass-through

Excellent for gaming

Dedicated media controls

Cons

‘Unique’ keycap font

Divisive design

Tech Specs

Key switches

ROG NX Mechanical Switch / Cherry MX switch

Connectivity

USB type-A

Layout

100% full-size

Backlighting

Per-key RGB LEDs

Polling rate

1000Hz

Cable length

2.0m

Anti-ghosting

N-Key rollover

What’s in the box & setup

  • ROG Strix Flare II Animate gaming keyboard
  • Wrist rest
  • Keycap puller
  • Switch puller
  • ROG stickers
  • Quick start guide
  • Warranty Booklet

ROG has a history of some of the most secure packaging in the industry and unfortunately, we were left slightly lukewarm with the experience here. There is a disappointing lack of protective foam and the keyboard was merely wrapped in a fabric sleeve, as was the included wrist rest. This will protect the products from scratches, but large drops or heavy items impacting the top of the box could be bad news for your new gaming keyboard.

The keycap and switch pullers are securely ensconced in thick foam, however, which is odd as these are very cheap components to find replacements for. We’re sure everyone would prefer more protection for the board itself, rather than the accessories. Anyway, the rest of the contents are unlikely to get damaged as it’s all underneath the keyboard.

When you’re plugging the keyboard in you may be surprised to discover that the USB cable splits into two on the PC side. The one with a small keyboard logo stamped into it is essential for the keyboard’s core functionality, while the additional one is simply for the USB passthrough. Feel free to leave that one dangling if the passthrough is a feature you don’t plan on using, though we left it plugged in regardless for tidier cable management.

As is usual with the rest of the ROG line of products, it’s not necessary to install Armoury Crate for the product to work, but you need it to fully take advantage of the feature-rich Strix Flare II Animate. That’s about it in terms of setup. ASUS has thoughtfully included a little cardboard guide on how to attach and remove the wrist rest in the box too, which is good because due to the light diffusion feature, it’s a little more involved than traditional magnetic wrist rests.

Design

Aggressive, yet utilitarian is the best way to describe the Flare II Animate, from the dedicated media controls to the impressively thick and satisfyingly cold-to-the-touch aluminum alloy top plate. Everything is here for a very distinct reason, and we are big fans of this sort of design philosophy.

The font on the keycaps is probably the most striking part of the board, aside from the Animate display of course. It’s not our favorite bit of the keyboard. The legends are angular and a bit too gamer-esque for our liking, and in the case of the ‘B’ key, kind of confusing – it looks like an ‘8’.

Overall, though, we really like the look of this board. The RGB is vivid and the color scheme of the materials is a sort of a military gunmetal grey which hints at the high-performance competitive target audience. The media controls and hotkeys are unfortunately housed in a plastic outcropping which is pretty bulbous. They’d look far better if they seamlessly integrated into the aluminum top plate.

The included wrist rest is bound in matte-black faux leather and totally matches the look of the board itself. Additionally, the feature where the RGB lighting from the chin of the board is diffused through it is a stroke of genius.

Build quality

Due to the length of full-size keyboards, they are far more prone to flexing than smaller form-factors such as 60% and tenkeyless boards. This is not the case with the Flare II Animate. It exhibits almost zero flex and every part feels totally solid. We suspect the lack of flex is mostly a result of the aforementioned aluminum alloy top plate. Utilizing a rigid span of metal to reinforce an otherwise plastic construction is a shrewd and effective way of building a board that’ll last.

We were provided with the doubleshot PBT variant of the Flare II Animate and the caps feel really nice. They have a slightly textured finish, which is pleasing to the touch, and they rank highly in terms of manufacturer-provided caps. Big companies usually cheap out on caps but not this time.

 

The media controls located on the top-left of the board also feel excellent, especially the volume roller which has silent tactile feedback as you spin it around. This sits to the immediate right of the skip button which springs back and forth satisfyingly and has a clever space-saving play/pause button on the end. Media controls are a life-saver when it comes to gaming keyboards as they provide rapid on-the-fly audio adjustments without having to tab out to software so we’re glad to see them here, and impressed at the tactility and overall build quality.

The included wrist rest is also impressive, with semi-firm padding and premium-feeling faux leather. The padding was about right for us, but some might find it a little too firm. In any case, it’s detachable.

Typing & gaming experience

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 19

We were provided with the ROG NX Red switches for this board (clicky blues and tactile browns are also available) and they perform very well in terms of gaming, with a very light actuation force and really quick response. The keys aren’t stabilized, but they feel pretty good regardless with relatively little chatter and swift, decisive keystrokes. We consider this an ideal board for gaming despite its large size, which can sometimes inhibit the movement of your mouse. Hardcore competitive types may prefer a smaller layout.

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 12

One of the better features of this board, and one often overlooked by the big boys, is hotswappability. We are very happy to report that every switch on this board is removable and replaceable with any standard 3-pin switch, so if you love the board, but hate the switches, you can customize it to your heart’s content. This is a conscientious offering and we wish it would become standard amongst big peripheral companies. ASUS even provides both a cap and switch puller for your convenience.

The typing experience is less impressive as linear switches lack satisfying feedback that many people enjoy for typing. If you type as much as you game, consider getting different switches as it’ll help with the experience. The full-size layout is conducive to typing however, as smaller keyboard layouts that lack arrow keys can be supremely annoying for navigating a text document.

 

Anime Matrix LED display

Here it is, the most striking feature of the keyboard, the LED display. As with the Delta S Animate, the LEDs are fully customizable and can display text, images, and even GIFs, albeit in black and white at the equivalent of a super-low resolution. This is controlled by the Armoury Crate software and it’s pretty fun to have anything you want scroll along in the top-right corner of the board.

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 15

Another nice touch is the display responds to the media controls by default, showing the corresponding symbol as you use them, which is a genuinely useful feature. Armory Crate isn’t particularly user-friendly but once you get the hang of it, it’s fun to mess with the LED display. This is also where you can adjust macros, keybinds, and all the standard keyboard stuff.

Overall we are a fan of this implementation of the LED display. It was a gimmick (albeit a cool one) on the Delta S Animate but it is far more worthwhile here. It would be nice if it was supported by games to display health or ammo count too, then it really could be a game-changer.

Final verdict

We were impressed by the Strix Flare II Animate. Too often big manufacturers reject upgradeability and modularity, so the implementation of hotswappable switches with standard connections and cherry-style stems is a breath of fresh air, and we think other big guys could take a lesson.

This board is ideal for gaming, with dedicated media controls, PBT caps, and some pretty decent linear switches. The large layout may make it less ideal but this means that the board isn’t limited in other use cases and the aforementioned hotswappability means that this could be your new all-purpose board. Downsides include the font and aggressive branding but then again, this is ROG, so what do you expect? Regardless if you’re looking for a quiet, reserved keyboard to complete this minimalist setup, this ain’t it, chief.

ROG Strix Animate Flare II Keyboard 1
Asus Logo

ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate gaming keyboard

Key switches

ROG NX Mechanical Switch / Cherry MX switch

Connectivity

USB type-A

Layout

100% full-size

0 /5
Editor's Rating
4.5/5

The ASUS ROG Strix Flare II Animate is a quality, feature-complete keyboard. We love that it’s fully hotswappable and ships with some really decent switches.

The design isn’t for everyone and the font of the keycaps is pretty ‘unique’ but if you like the aesthetics, we highly recommend this.