ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless gaming keyboard review
The new gaming keyboard ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, despite its name, looks more like the last year’s ROG Strix Scope RX TKL Wireless Deluxe, and another model of this manufacturer – ROG Azoth. It seems that Azoth was so successful that it was used as the basis for updating the ROG Strix Scope line.
|ASUS ROG NX Snow / Storm
|Number of simultaneously pressed buttons
|No limitations (NKRO)
|Polling frequency and input delay
|1000 Hz, 0.9 ms
|RGB (16.8 million colors)
|5 user profiles
|Removable, with magnets
|Wired (USB 2.0), radio (2.4 GHz), Bluetooth 5.1
|1012 g without cable
|Price in Ukraine
ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless package contents
In addition to the keyboard, the box also contains documentation, a USB/USB-C cable, a USB/USB-C adapter, a USB radio, an additional space bar cap, a wrench for removing switches, and a wrist rest. Yes, despite the fact that the word Deluxe has disappeared from the model name, which in the past meant the presence of a stand in the package, it is still present here.
Design and construction
Unlike the previous model in this line, the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless has a numeric pad, but the keyboard is still noticeably more compact than standard ones – this format is called 96%. Typically, such keyboards have 100 keys (versus 104 in conventional ones) – this model has 98 buttons, plus two more controls, which are described below.
The size and spacing of the keys in this format are standard, and the compactness is achieved because the digital block is located almost close to the main block, which means that the cursor control arrows have to be reduced and “pushed” into the main block, as is done in most compact laptops.
Thus, the dimensions of the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless are quite small: 37.7×13.1 cm is 5 cm narrower than a standard keyboard and only 2 cm wider than the previous model, the ROG Strix Scope RX TKL Wireless Deluxe, which did not have a number pad.
The thickness of the case together with the keys is quite typical for a “mechanic”: the lower row of buttons is approximately 28 mm above the table level, the upper row is 40 mm. The retractable legs can be used to further increase the angle of inclination, and they are “double” here: the user can choose a smaller or larger angle, in the first case the top row of buttons rises to 45 mm, in the second – to 50 mm.
Both the bottom of the case and the legs are equipped with rubberized inserts, so the keyboard does not slip on the table surface, regardless of whether the user prefers the extended legs or not.
If the user is used to resting his hands on the table while typing, the wrist rest that comes with the keyboard will be useful. It has a plastic body with a soft “top” covered with artificial leather, and it connects to the keyboard with magnets.
The considerable weight of the rather compact case (a little more than 1 kg without cable) is caused by the use of a massive aluminum top panel. Because of this, the case is very sturdy; attempts to twist the keyboard into a “screw” are practically fruitless even with considerable effort.
The USB cable is removable, 2 m long, in a rather thick fabric braid. It connects to the keyboard via a USB-C connector on the back closer to the left edge; unfortunately, there are no options to run it along the case and move it to the side.
The key layout generally corresponds to the American ANSI standard – long left Shift and single-line Enter. If in the previous model the left Ctrl was increased in size by reducing the space bar, then in ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless everything is standard. However, on the other side of the space, the developer had to “squeeze” the cursor arrows, so the three keys between them were significantly reduced.
The buttons that are normally located above the cursor arrows are placed in the top row, to the right of the F-keys, and have a dual function that can be switched by the Fn modifier.
The keyboard comes with an additional spacebar cap – it is slightly taller than the standard one, has a slightly different slope compared to the other buttons, and is distinguished by a pattern with the ROG (Republic of Gamers) logo.
As you can see in the photo, the keyboard has no Ukrainian localization: ASUS says that the first batches will be sold in Ukraine with the original Doubleshot PBT caps with Latin characters. PBT is considered to be a more attractive option (the material is more durable and not so easily soiled), but due to the peculiarities of manufacturing such caps, it is impossible to apply additional localization to them. In the future, an additional option with ABS caps, which will be engraved with the Ukrainian layout, is possible.
The keyboard is equipped with a full RGB backlight with support for proprietary synchronization with other ASUS devices – AURA Sync. You can customize its behavior using the Armory Crate utility.
The only additional control is a wheel in the upper right corner with a button to its left, which also features the ROG logo. The button switches the wheel’s modes, allowing you to adjust the volume, backlight brightness, control media playback, or run macros: the current mode is highlighted on a small ribbon with icons between the main and digital blocks.
Depending on the specific model, the ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless keyboard can be equipped with two different versions of proprietary switches: ASUS ROG NX Snow or Storm; we had the first option.
ROG NX — are mechanical switches in which the manufacturer uses lubricated stems and a base body, which makes the key stroke smoother and less noisy. ROG NX Snow are linear switches with a light, smooth and even stroke, without any tactile or audible feedback at the moment of operation. The full stroke is 3.6 mm, the actuation occurs in the middle of the stroke (1.8 mm), the initial force is 40 g, the actuation force is 45 g, and the maximum force (at the end of the stroke) is 53 g.
This keyboard can also use ROG NX Storm switches with a click. Unlike Snow, Storm has a very tangible response when triggered. They have the same full travel and travel to actuation – 3.6 mm and 1.8 mm, as well as the initial force (40g). But the actuation force is much higher – 65g, and after that, a much smaller force is required for further travel, which is why such keys feel as if they “fall through” to the end after actuation. This type of switch is better suited for fast blind typing, while linear switches are considered optimal for gaming.
Armory Crate is used to configure ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless. This is a universal utility that works with all ASUS devices, so it is quite large and may seem overloaded with “extra” functions. However, if you have other peripherals from this manufacturer, then you will be able to control all such devices from one “center”.
In Armory Crate, you can change the functionality of any key (except Fn), customize key backlighting in detail, record macros, create different profiles and save them to the keyboard memory (up to 5 user profiles are supported), select power saving modes and update the firmware. You can also change the backlighting style of the button next to the multimedia wheel in this utility – it can be synchronized with the rest of the keys or act as a battery level indicator.
ASUS ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless can be connected to a computer in three different ways: wired, via USB, or wirelessly – using a USB radio or Bluetooth. The operating mode is selected using the switch next to the USB-C connector (the USB radio is also stored here, which is held in the case by a magnet).
It is also worth noting that this keyboard model comes with a universal ROG Omni Receiver, which allows you to connect several compatible devices at the same time.
The declared autonomy in radio mode without backlight is up to 1500 hours (the manufacturer does not inform how long the keyboard will work in Bluetooth mode). The keyboard can be connected to up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth, switching between them is done with hotkeys.
The ROG NX Snow switches are practically silent: during operation, you can hear only a moderate knocking sound when the keys are pressed all the way up, and, when the keys are pressed all the way down, a knocking sound typical of linear switches on a metal surface.
Due to the nature of the switches, the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is not very well suited for typing text – it is a purely gaming model. In games, the keyboard behaves very well, no lag was felt even when playing in radio mode – the manufacturer notes that thanks to the use of ROG’s proprietary SpeedNova technology, the input delay is only 0.9 ms both with a wired connection and in 2.4 GHz connection mode.
The manufacturer claims to support the NKRO mode (unlimited number of simultaneously pressed keys), and during testing this was confirmed – the keyboard correctly processed all simultaneous keystrokes that we managed to perform.
The wrist rest helps during long gaming sessions, but it is especially useful when typing – in this case, it supports the wrists very well, relieving tension in the wrists. In games, the fingers on the keys are positioned differently, and you don’t have time to feel the strain in short sessions – but if you play for a long time, the kickstand makes a difference here, too.
The 96% form factor turns out to be very convenient for gaming sessions – the keyboard takes up significantly less space on the table and allows you to place the mouse closer to the WASD “gaming zone”. However, it is not as comfortable for work – as in laptop keyboards, the lack of a gap between the numeric and main key blocks in the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless prevents you from using Enter and cursor arrows blindly.