ASUS ROG Strix Scope PBT Keyboard Review

ASUS ROG recently released it’s latest variant of their ROG STRIX SCOPE mechanical keyboard, the ROG STRIX SCOPE PBT. In this review, I’ll be discussing what does it offer to gamers, how is it different from other Scope models, and how does it stack with gaming.

Under the ROG STRIX brand, keyboards consist of: Claymore, Flare, and SCOPE. The Flare series offer dedicated media keys, and Aura Sync RGB lighting. The Claymore, however; has a removable number pad as a feature. The STRIX SCOPE follows the traditional keyboard design, albeit having a wider Ctrl key for FPS games. And instead of having separate media keys like the Flare, they share functionality with F5-F12 keys. All models have Cherry MX keys. Note that boxes will mention which particular switch is included. 

Released sometime mid 2019, the ASUS ROG STRIX SCOPE PBT is a mechanical gaming keyboard aimed for no fuss FPS gamers, a practical and durable keyboard without  like RGB lighting. So what do I think about this keyboard?

STRIX SCOPE PBT Features

What is the PBT on the keyboard?

The STRIX SCOPE PBT is the same as the base model, but without the AURA SYNC lighting. Instead, the keycaps are made up of Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). This type of plastic has a rough texture, and is resilient to acids/heat/wear from impact; like continuous tapping of the keys. It has the same Aluminum base structure as the base SCOPE, and comes with Cherry MX Red switches (generously lent to me by ASUS for this review). To know more about Cherry Switches, read this article.

 

Does it have Aura like the base?

Design wise, the keys are mostly grays, with some blacks and very, few red keys (Enter, Esc and Ctrl). An additional keycap for the Ctrl Key is included in the box. The only LED found on the keyboard itself are the indicator lights for CAPS Lock, Num Lock, Fn Lock, and the Windows Key Lock. There are no RGB LEDs found on the keys.

Aluminum Frame for durability

The Aluminum frame does let its presence felt, with accents of brushed texture in the numpad side of the keyboard. We can prop up the keyboard thanks to flip up legs. The‘’ bottom of the keyboard has a large ROG logo as well as grooves to allow the USB cable to be tucked. Unfortunately, there are no USB  ports on the keyboard to extend its count. Instead of having a depressed key mounting, the keys themselves are raised, making it easier to clean.

 

STRIX SCOPE PBT Review

User Experience

The included Cherry MX Red on this keyboard allows for a relatively quiet experience. Sure there’s the audible click, but it certainly is not as noisy as the Cherry MX Blue switch. Actuation of the keys is fairly light, I did not need to fully press on any key. This is quite helpful especially in moments requiring hair-trigger responses like strafing, or performing context actions. Within several weeks long trial of the keyboard, I was able to adjust with the change in key actuation. Also, the wide sized Ctrl key allows for quicker access to the usual command bound to it: crouch. No more fumbling or accidentally pressing the Windows key (which can also be locked)

Removal of keycaps can be done without the use of a keycap puller. Wide keys like Ctrl/Enter/Space do not have a metal retention arm, but instead have a plastic stand that prevents the keycap from wobbling when pressed. Characters on the keys; however are, Tampo printed on, and not injected molded onto the key, making it a candidate of fading out in the long run.

ROG Armory II

With regards to software support, the SCOPE PBT is supported by ROG’s new software called Armory II. This is different from Armory Crate and using that will prove ineffective as the older app will not recognize the keyboard.

The Armory II application allows us to tune the keyboard’s media key functions. The special media keys overlap with most of the F keys and upon first use I found myself unable to trigger the screen record and screenshot commands for NVDIA’s GeForce Experience App.

While there’s a FN Lock switch that can be triggered to invert the key functionalities, modifying the key bindings did the trick for me (I’m a creature of habit, so spare me). Several profiles (up to 5 profiles) can be stored on the keyboard’s internal memory. The Armory II allows this much flexibility with the keyboard’s binding.

 

Verdict

In summary, the ROG STRIX SCOPE PBT is a keyboard built to emphasize durability for FPS gamers, or shooter games. Sporting PBT keycaps, it boasts of more resilient keycaps that prevent early wear. PBT keycaps also reduce the “click clack” sound that mechanical keyboards are known for.

The Cherry MX Red switches provide a more responsive experience, allowing for lighter touches to instantly register. The raised switches allows for easier cleaning, while the aluminum frame ensures added strength and weight avoiding sudden movements found on lighter keyboards.

The move to use Armory II and lack of backwards capability can be a surprise to longtime users of ASUS peripherals. The Armory II app does allow for media key reassignment and profile creation, but the default setup may confuse some users who are used with using F5-F12 keys.

Users looking for RGB lighting will need to opt for the base Scope Model, but for those looking for a no-nonsense performance keyboard for gaming, then the STRIX SCOPE PBT fits the bill.

The ROG STRIX SCOPE PBT is now available here with a suggested retail price of Php 4990.00

PROS:

  • PBT material is tough, and reduces noise from Cherry MX Switch
  • Wide Ctrl key allows for easier access
  • Hair trigger response care of Cherry MX Red switches
  • Raised switches allow for easier cleaning/brushing
  • Aluminum frame improves durability

CONS:

  • While key caps are made of PBT, the key characters are still printed on, and could wear out.
  • Default setup for media keys are prioritized over the original F keys, requiring switching / toggling the key combination to invert the key functions
  • Palm rest is not integrated, but can be purchased separately

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