If silence is a virtue, then the Corsair Gaming STRAFE with Cherry MX Silent keys is about as virtuous as a mechanical keyboard can get.
I reviewed the original STRAFE, which had Cherry MX Red keys, last year. I recently spent some time with the new silent version of the red backlit STRAFE and put it through its paces with Doom, Overwatch, and simple typing.
The Cherry MX Silent keys are the main thing that set this STRAFE variant apart from its louder, clicker red backlit brethren. Therefore, I won’t go too in-depth into the keyboard’s other features, which I thoroughly covered in my original review, because the red backlit STRAFE keyboard variants are esentially the same other than their optional Cherry MX Red, Brown, Blue, and Silent key switches.
The Corsair STRAFE Cherry MX Silent with red backlit keys currently sells for $109.99 on Newegg.
Features and Design
The Cherry MX Silent key switches deliver on their promise — quiet mechanical keys with linear response and low actuation force.
Other than the quiet key switches, the red backlit STRAFE’s Cherry MX Silent variant features the same elements and design as the other red backlit STRAFEs: per-key dynamic lighting, textured MOBA and FPS keycaps, a USB pass-through, and Corsair’s excellent CUE software, all of which I wrote about in detail in the original review:
"Macros, keystrokes and shortcuts, which CUE refers to as actions, can be created, assigned, and edited on the fly. Profiles can be set to link to a specific program, and any user-created profile can be set as the default profile. Profiles can also be imported and exported to be shared or moved to another computer. Cloud syncing of profiles and settings, such as in Razer’s Synapse software, would have been a welcome feature in CUE.
"CUE’s lighting page allows for full control of the individual backlights. Groups of keys can be saved for quick, simultaneous editing of multiple backlights, which comes in handy when creating complex lighting arrangements. There are also lighting effects inspired by the Cylon from Battlestar Galactica and the falling code from The Matrix, though they are more gimmick than useful."
Every STRAFE — including the more expensive RGB version — lacks dedicated media controls and macro buttons, but the RGB STRAFE is the only version in the lineup that ships with a wrist rest.
Comfort and Performance
The silent red backlit STRAFE feels exactly the same as the other red backlit STRAFEs except for its key actuation. The silent version, like its noisier counterparts, is a comfortable and easy-to-use keyboard but would be more comfortable and easier to use with a wrist rest.
However, this won’t be an issue for gamers who either don’t use a wrist rest or use a third-party wrist rest, such as Glorious PC Gaming Race’s full-size wrist pad.
Adjusting to the Cherry MX Silent keys took some getting used to, because they felt a little squishy, kind of like non-mechanical keys, when I first used them. Initially, I had issues typing accurately because of the lack of tactile or audible feedback, which felt like walking with one foot that had fallen asleep. But then I fired up Doom, which — for whatever reason — helped acclimate my fingers to the quiet keys. I have no idea why this helped, but it did, and after blasting a few dozen demons on Mars my typing was much improved.
At the end of the day, the Cherry MX Silent key switches will work for gamers who want the precision and reliability of mechanical keys without the noise. Cherry MX Silent key switches might not be for everyone, but gamers who live with people around them or who need a quiet keyboard with which to frag at the office will like the quiet STRAFE variant a lot.
Corsair has aimed the STRAFE with Cherry MX Silent keys squarely at gamers who want a quiet mechanical keyboard with a lightweight, plastic body and a built-in USB pass-through. This STRAFE variant doesn’t offer anything new outside of its quiet keys, but that’s OK, because silence is what this keyboard is really all about.