Corsair Strafe RGB Mechanical Keyboard / Sabre RGB Optical Mouse

After many years of skimping on keyboards and mice, I decided I was going to treat myself to a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse. This was prompted by the failure of the middle mouse wheel click functionality on my Cooler Master Storm Octane gaming mouse after just four months of use.

I’ll start with the Strafe RGB which is a mechanical keyboard featuring Cherry MX Silent switches, which ironically are noisier than the membrane based Cooler Master Storm Octane keyboard it replaced. I am no expert on mechanical keyboards or Cherry MX switches as this is my first mechanical keyboard, so I can not give comparisons to other switches or mechanical keyboards. As the name suggests, the Strafe RGB has fully programmable individual key backlighting which offers a choice of 16.7m colors per key.

The key actuation point seems to be around 60-65% of the total key travel with no noticeable “bump”, the action is very linear with a satisfying click when typing. It’s certainly Worlds apart from the membrane based keyboards I have used previously and now, after a week, I have gotten used to typing on a mechanical keyboard, my typing accuracy seems to be higher than when I used a membrane keyboard.

The RGB lighting really is a gimmick, I just picked a color and left it alone, I don’t need key press effects or rainbow waves, it looks cool and will impress your friends, but in day to day use, it’s plain annoying in my view. The backlight is very bright with a white key backplate which emphasizes the color of the backlight further. The key caps are easy to read even when backlighting is turned off, which isn’t the case with all backlit keyboards. The backlight can be set to four brightness levels, 0% (off). 33%, 66% and 100%.

Build quality is excellent, the keyboard has some weight to it which gives it a premium feel despite the plastic casing and the USB cable is mega thick and has two USB plugs on the end. I’m assuming that the second USB plug is to power the internal USB port, which I assume is there to plug your mouse into.

In the Strafe box are special grey textured keys caps for Q, W, E, R, A, S, D and F keys which can be swapped out for the standard keys. I personally do not like different key caps for gaming keys, I think it’s somewhat pretentious. Also included in the box is a key puller to make the job of replacing keys easier.

Moving onto the Sabre RGB optical mouse, like the Strafe keyboard, it has RGB lighting, offering the same 16.7m colors in three “zones”, these zones are Corsair Gaming logo on top of mouse, scroll wheel and headlight on the front of the mouse and each zone can be individually assigned a color/effect.

The mouse is covered in a grippy rubber coating which gives a nice premium feel in the hand. The Sabre has eight buttons, right/left click, middle click/scroll, forward and back buttons on side, two more buttons next to the left mouse button, which are bound to DPI settings by default and an eighth button just below the scroll wheel. All buttons can be reprogrammed to your own preference using Corsair’s CUE software.

In use, the mouse feels very solid, it works well for people with average size hands for craw, palm, or fingertip grip. All buttons are within easy reach without readjusting hand position and the sensor has DPI settings to keep everyone happy. My personal preference is 1500 DPI, although you can choose between 400, 800, 1500, 3000 and 6000 DPI settings by default, each with their own color indication onboard.

Both backlight and key reassignment is done from Corsair’s CUE software, which you can download from the Corsair website. Personally, I found the CUE software fairly intuitive, although not everyone will feel the same way, but that’s not a problem as Corsair has a lot of videos on Youtube on how to use CUE.

There is one negative, the backlighting on the mouse does not turn back on after a reboot, I have to go into CUE, disable and re-enable lighting. However, if I power down and turn back on, it works fine. This might be an issue related to my specific hardware, so I can’t knock points off for this minor annoyance.

After one week of usage in every day activities including gaming, work and general PC stuff, I am very happy with my purchase, everything works as expected, feels very solid and unlikely to break any time soon. I’m a heavy PC user, so hard wearing peripherals are a must for me, hopefully I won’t have to update this review with negatives like I did with the Cooler Master Storm Octane keyboard/mouse.

Update [Jul, 20 2018, 12:32]: The former last paragraph in the review is kinda amusing now, given that the Strafe RGB unexpectedly failed yesterday while using it, I was typing away, as you do on a keyboard, when suddenly, the backlighting went out and the CTRL, SHIFT and Windows key stopped working. When I tried to turn the backlighting back on using the backlight brightness key, it went through all three brightness settings before turning off again and bizarrely summoned the start menu in Windows.

So, it’s been roughly 2 1/2 years since I bought the Strafe RGB and it has failed, not great for a $150 mechanical keyboard, I have cheap 15-year-old membrane keyboards that still work perfectly. So I have replaced the Strafe with a Corsair K70 mk2 with Cheery MX Speed switches, which are kinda noisy compared to the silent switches on the Strafe, sadly, Best Buy didn’t have the silent or red variant in store.

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