(Pocket-lint) - The Asus ROG Claymore II is a modular keyboard, meaning you can use it at full-size or slide the Numpad off for a smaller footptint that many gamers will prefer.
Asus has taken the original Claymore - which was already pretty awesome - and made it even better. But even so is it worth its rather hefty price tag? Here's how it all stacks up.
Flexible modular design
- 2.4GHz RF mode
- 80% TKL or 100% keyboard modes
- On-board storage for up to 6 profiles
- Programmable keys with macro capabilities
- Dedicated programmable media keys on Numpad
The thing that strikes first about the Claymore II is the one feature that makes it standout from the crowd: its modular design.
This is a full-size keyboard, complete with Numpad. Many gamers prefer a keyboard with a smaller footprint for more mouse room. Usually, the only option is to opt for a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard, at 65 per cent or smaller. The ROG Claymore II offers the best of both worlds as you can slide the Numpad off and drop it down into TKL size.
This gives you the option to use the Numpad when you're working and trying to be productive and then slip it off when it's time to jump into a game. The options are more interesting than that though, as you can also attach that Numpad to the left side of the keyboard instead.
With the power of Armoury Crate software you can make the most of this. In that software, you can re-programme the majority of the keys on the keyboard. This includes remapping them to other letters, making specific actions, launching applications or indeed macros. Since the keyboard also has onboard storage for up to six profiles, you can setup different layouts and settings for different situations.
This means it's possible to re-programme the Numpad and turn it into a macro keypad that you can attach to the far left of the keyboard and access during gaming sessions. This option gives you maximum mouse space while also having more keys to play around with. It's undeniably a high degree of flexibility.
It's not obvious from just looking at it, but the modular nature of the Claymore II is what makes it really appealing.
Stabilised optical-mechanical switches
- 100-million keystroke lifespan
- ROG RX Optical Mechanical Switches (RX Blue or RX Red)
- RX Blue: 65g actuation force, 1.5mm actuation point, 4mm travel
- RX Red: 45g actuation force, 1.5mm actuation point, 4mm travel
Like other premium gaming keyboards of late, the ROG Claymore II packs optical-mechanical switches. These ROG RX optical switches are unusual for a few different reasons. Like other optical switches they use an infrared setup to track the actuation and this means more accurate tracking and greater longevity than classic switches.
What makes these switches particularly interesting is their design. Firstly they have a hollow square stem, which is supported from below by the so-called x-stabiliser system. This is a metal support that holds the stem in each of its four corners, supporting every keypress.
On top, the stem has four holes where the keycap connects to the stem. This design stands out from the classic Cherry MX style, which has just a cross on top. The simple result is that both the keycaps and the keyswitches are supported in a way that results in far less wobble - and you have a much more consistent key feel, no matter where your press on a key.
The downside is you'll find it tough to find a custom or aftermarket keycap if you want to change the style of your keyboard, but there's a lot to be said for the design and comfort of this one.
The Claymore II has a choice of ROG RX Red or RX Blue switches. Gamers will likely want to choose the Red switches as they actuate with less pressure and will be more satisfying (and quieter) for gaming.
The unit we tested came with RX Blue switches which we're happy to report are quieter and more pleasant to type on than other versions of Blue switches we've tested in the past. There's a lot to be said for the stabiliser design and the overall comfort.
Another highlight of the switch design is the LED for the RGB lighting sits in the middle of the keyswitch and therefore shines through the keycap without being obscured.
The Claymore II has per-key illumination, with Aura Sync and Aura Creator compatibility. From within Armoury Crate software you can choose from a number of RGB lighting effects - including static, breathing, colour cycle, rainbow, starry night and more. Our favourite effects are the reactive ones where lighting spreads out across the board from each keypress.
- 4000mAh battery, up to 144 hours with lighting off or 43 with it on
- 30 mins fast-charging gives 18 hours gaming
- Aura sync RGB lighting
The Claymore II is a wireless keyboard and that's just another part of its convenience. It works over 2.4Ghz via a USB dongle that has a little dock on the keyboard for storage when it's not in use.
You can get as much as 144 hours out of it with the lighting turned off and somewhere around 40 with it on. The good thing is that it's built with fast-charging via the USB-C port so you can plug it in and juice it up quickly. In just 30 mins you can get 18 hours of use. So if you loathe it being plugged in, you barely ever have to worry about it and when you do, as it's not for long.
The Asus ROG Claymore II is certainly a premium keyboard that's feature-packed, comfortable to use, and accurate for gaming. It's the little details that really make this keyboard standout though - and when you get your fingers on it, that's when you'll fully appreciate it.
However, we do think that it's a bit cheap-looking considering the asking price. It doesn't exactly scream premium when you first get it out of the box. For this sort of money you could consider building your own custom keyboard. That said, with this feature set and detachable Numpad, the ROG Claymore II is still hard to beat.
Razer Huntsman V2
Another gem that doesn't look like much at first glance - but also has plenty to offer. This Razer keyboard includes per-key stabilisers and foam padding to dampen the key sound. It also has optical switches.
Corsair K65 RGB Mini
If size matters, then why not go small to start with? This Corsair is a tiny keyboard - but a fun one to use. Its RGB lighting is something else.