ASUS TUF Gaming K7
It’s the latest trend in high-end mechanical keyboards, and inevitable really. The addition of lasers. Okay, so maybe not inevitable but something that will always make us take note. The new ASUS TUF Gaming K7 keyboard from the hardware giant features several notable and appreciated design touches, but perhaps the most interesting one is the addition of Optical-Mech switches – blending IR (i.e. lasers!), with traditional mechanical parts for what’s dubbed ‘lightspeed actuation’. In practise the results are indeed fantastic – fast and tactile key-stroking. Apologies for making that sound dirty.
But, it’s the entire ASUS TUF Gaming K7 picture that makes it one of the best keyboards we’re likely to see in 2019. Which surprised us, namely because the more entry-level ASUS TUF Gaming K5
we reviewed earlier in the year offered a more basic design compared to the cutting-edge future-proof laser-filled ASUS TUF Gaming K7.
Look and Feel
At a glance, the new Gaming K7 is one of the best looing TUF peripherals we’ve seen so far from ASUS. With the, err, TUF stuff we’ve seen in the past usually opting for form and sturdy design over style and flash. For that there’s ASUS ROG. Not so here, as the TUF Gaming K7 not only features the modern floating-key design that’s in, but also a subtle brushed aluminium frame, per-key RGB lighting, and a magnetic soft leathery-foam wrist pad. It’s all remarkably sleek and stylish. And something that we’d put up next to the premium Razer Blackwidow Elite, in the looks department.
Of course, looks aren’t everything. And on that front the TUF Gaming K7 features a couple of build innovations that we haven’t seen before. Namely, IP56 water and dust resistance which according to regulations means “water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.” Now, that’s not something that we normally put to the test when it comes to keyboards, we don’t have the right hose. But it plays into the TUF branding. Which extends to the lifespan of the opti-mechanical switches that are rated at an impressive 100 million clicks.
With every TUF product we’ve ever tested featuring an excellent and sturdy build these are easy claims to get behind. Plus, that IP56 certification theoretically means this keyboard could last a lifetime, even for someone prone to spilling drinks whilst they game.
Switch Type: TUF Optical-Mech Switches
LED Color: RGB
Cable: Wired (USB)
Product Weight: 794g (Keyboard), 194g (Wrist-rest)
Features: On-the-Fly Macro Recording, On-Board Memory, 100% Anti-Ghosting and N-Key Rollover
Although sturdy, this isn’t the heaviest mechanical keyboard you’re likely to find. It won’t move around a desk from simple use - but it isn’t as tank-like as you might expect coming from the TUF line. On the other side of that note, it’s light enough to be carried around. In this review we tested the Tactile, clicky version of the ASUS TUF Gaming K7 as opposed to the faster linear edition. But even here the actuation of the switches was quite small overall (with 50g actuation force and 3.55mm total travel distance). Compared to some mechanical keyboards the Gaming K7 might take some getting used to but the result is a more touch-type feel suited for most games – ranging from first-person shooters like Apex Legends to MOBAs and even action-RPGs like Diablo III.
Okay, so we should probably get to some of the ASUS TUF Gaming K7’s shortcomings. There aren’t many but worth chalking up as minuses. Firstly, the USB cable not being braided or detachable feels a little cheap compared to the rest of the keyboard, and the lack of dedicated media buttons feels like an oversight too. Also, the on-board memory is limited to three profiles which might be one or two fewer than required. Other than that, this is a fantastic product. And a great mechanical keyboard that performed flawlessly in our tests. It also benefits from the support found with ASUS’s excellent Armoury II software and the addition of Aura Sync, meaning that it pairs beautifully with other ASUS gear like motherboards and graphics cards. Sleek and stylish in all the right ways, the new ASUS TUF Gaming K7 has the performance to back up its design.