I should note that ASUS almost always manages to make decent mechanical keyboards thanks to a certain conservatism in its approach. And the new budget (by brand standards, of course) TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is another confirmation of this. It’s straight forward, feature-free, powered by Kailh switches, with RGB lighting, a magnetic palm rest, and a USB pass-through port. And what else is needed in order to please an undemanding user? Even to me, a sophisticated person in this matter, such a “gentleman’s game set” seems to be quite sufficient. Consider this device in detail.
|Model||ASUS TUF Gaming K3|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Kailh Red / Blue / Brown|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory||+ (four profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Backlight||+ (16.8 million colors)|
|USB cable length, m||2|
|Braid material||No tangles|
|Software||+ (Armoury Crate)|
|Removable palm rest||+ (magnetic)|
|External interfaces||1 х USB 2.0|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||131 (208 with stand) x 438 x40|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 / 7|
|Peculiarities||Aluminum top, detachable magnetic palm rest, USB pass-through|
|average cost||2399 hryvnias|
Contents of delivery
The black and gray packaging of the keyboard with rare splashes of orange elements tries to show that the device inside is really serious and corresponds to the status of the TUF series. There is little useful information about the product here, but if desired, it can also be found on the back of the box.
Several cardboard inserts, a bag and a pair of soft dampers on the sides of the box are responsible for the safety during transportation.
The delivery set is very simple. Magnetic wrist rest, instructions and warranty brochure. It is a pity that there is no key to dismantle the keycaps. Once the presence of it in the kit was considered good form for manufacturers.
Oddly enough, ASUS TUF Gaming K3 looks like the most ordinary mechanical keyboard in solid black. Although this is a “skeleton” design, there is a minimum of design frills. The top plate with 45 degree cut corners is made of aluminum alloy. It is completely flat and strong enough that the device can withstand diagonal twisting without extraneous sounds and does not bend. The weight of the keyboard without cable is approximately 980 grams. The palm rest is plastic and is held on by magnets.
While the plastic pad doesn’t feel as soft as a foam-filled faux leather pillow, it’s actually more practical and durable. The emphasis is more clear and fixed. A soft coating can sag and rub to holes pretty soon, but a plastic matte and smooth to the touch surface with a glossy TUF Gaming logo will retain its appearance and integrity for many years.
Stand inside is clearly not hollow and has stiffeners. The plastic slightly springs under the weight of the hands, but then it feels like it rests on something. On the back side, 11 mm high, four magnets are hidden inside – two in the center and two more on the sides. On the reverse side there are six rubber feet that keep the stand from slipping well.
The standard ANSI key layout, with long single-row Shift and Enter, is good and familiar. The only pity is that the F1 button is shifted to the left and is between the numbers “1” and “2”. The smooth finish of the painted ABS keycaps tends to get dirty quickly, picking up grease and fingerprints. Thick-outlined Latin script is laser engraved at the top center. The Cyrillic alphabet is modestly engraved a little lower, to the right and thinner. The Fn button takes the place of the right Win key. The shape of the upper faces of the caps of printed keys is cylindrical.
In the editorial buttons and the keys of the number block, everything looks standard. The top right corner of the keyboard is covered with brand logos. Lock-LEDs have moved to a position above the arrows. Frankly, this is a better place, where their orange color is more visible to the user. In order, there are Num, Caps and Scroll Lock LEDs, as well as the Win key lock indicator.
The switches are red Kailh linear mechanisms in a transparent case. Their characteristics are 50 grams of force, 1.9 mm of travel to actuation and 4 mm of full travel to the stop. The declared MTBF resource is 50 million clicks. The springs here are soft, with a properly selected resistance of average strength. The RGB LEDs are soldered directly onto the PCB. Alternatively, this type of keyboard can be equipped with tactile clicky “blue” switches, or quiet “brown” switches with tactile feedback. All stabilizers are internal, well lubricated. Except for the dancing space, all other long buttons have minimal play.
The minimum profile height of the keyboard on the back row of keys with the legs folded is 40 mm. With the legs unfolded, the height increases to 50 mm. The buttons have a slight ergonomic slope – three rear rows forward, and three front rows back, away from the user.
The cable enters the keyboard housing in the middle and is equipped with a short but soft kink protection.
The cable has a total length of 2 meters and two connectors – for the keyboard and pass-through USB at the end. Up to the branching point at around 170 mm, the wire has a thickness of 7 mm. Because of this, it bends with difficulty and it will not be very convenient to place it on the table.
The pass-through USB port is located on the right side of the back. You can easily get into it with a connector by touch.
The reverse side of the keyboard is plastic, with a figured relief. Four rubber feet are on the corners. In the central part there are four narrow drain holes and one small plastic stop.
The folding legs also have rubber stops. Thanks to them, the keyboard keeps well on the surface of the table.
The keyboard backlight looks good. There are a large number of lighting effects, the color of the static backlight can be conveniently adjusted directly through keyboard shortcuts, without the need to install a driver. Traditionally, all colors are displayed correctly with the exception of pure white, in which a purple tint is noticeable. The backlight is tied to individual profiles. Lock-indicators shine with a soft orange color and do not irritate the eyes in the dark.
A nice feature of the TUF Gaming K3 is the ability to customize many of its features through Fn key combinations. Below is a list of all the commands that we managed to reproduce.
|Fn+ESC||Reset the keyboard to default settings (hold for 10-15 seconds, all buttons flash red)|
|Fn+F10||Decreasing the sound volume|
|Fn+F11||Increasing the sound volume|
|Fn+1||Enable profile 1|
|Fn+2||Enable profile 2|
|Fn+3||Enable profile 3|
|Fn+4||Enable a default profile|
|Fn+Del||Increase the brightness of the red color in the backlight (Level 1-9)|
|Fn+End||Increase the brightness of the green color in the backlight (Level 1-9)|
|Fn+PgDn||Increasing the blue color in the backlight (Level 1-9)|
|Fn+Win||Enabling game mode, locking the Win button|
|Fn+Alt (Left)||Macro recording. Order: 1) press the indicated combination (the left ALT will slowly blink orange); 2) type a command and press the indicated combination again (the left ALT will start blinking orange quickly); 3) Press one of the keys F1-F8 on which you want to put a command (green color of the key means that it is free for writing, and red – that the command has already been written to it)|
|Fn+↑||Increasing backlight brightness|
|Fn+↓||Decrease backlight brightness|
|Fn+→||Next highlight effect|
|Fn+←||Previous highlight effect|
As software, the ASUS TUF Gaming K3 keyboard uses the heavyweight universal Armory Crate complex, which requires downloading from the official website and installation. After that, a dozen active processes remain in the operating system, even if the application is turned off. If you omit all the details regarding the application itself, then there are four main tabs for configuring the keyboard. The first of them concerns the remapping of keys. All buttons except Fn are available for this. You can assign text messages, keyboard and mouse commands, macros, launch a specific site or application, eight multimedia commands, six basic Windows shell commands. Another key can be returned to default values or disabled completely. In addition to the Win button, you can configure the Alt + Tab and Alt + F4 combinations to be disabled in the game mode.
In the backlight settings, 11 options for lighting effects are available, including with a static glow. There is not only an individual glow setting for each key – for it you will have to download the Aura Creator program from the Microsoft Store. Strange decision by the developer.
In the “firmware updates” section, the current firmware version is checked and updated as necessary. The current actual firmware version is 1.00.05.
In the macro editor, you can record with or without time intervals, repetitions and delays, keyboard commands, as well as pressing all mouse keys and the direction of rotation of the scroll wheel. Then all this is available for online editing.
Ergonomics and testing
The main advantage of TUF Gaming K3, from my point of view, is simplicity and reliability. It is enough to get it out of the box, connect it to the USB connectors, magnetize the stand and get to work. You will have to, perhaps, suffer a little with the placement of a thick cord, but otherwise there are no problems. Hands immediately lie comfortably on the stand at the right angle, it does not take time to get used to the layout, since it is completely standard. All available keyboard shortcuts, including macro recording and backlight settings, are easy to learn in a couple of minutes. The keyboard tenaciously clings to the table and does not slip. The device can be used quite normally without installing software, especially if you do not need to record complex macro commands.
While many people still have a prejudice against Kailh switches (thinking all other movements except Cherry are fakes), it’s worth noting that they have gotten better over the years. In this case, linear Kailh Red creates a comfortable tactile sensation. The pressing force is chosen correctly here (a little stronger than in Cherry Red), the stroke is straight and even, with a fixed actuation point, the location of which you quickly get used to. They work quietly and are great for both long gaming sessions and typing large amounts of text.
The LEDs on the keyboard have a small but sufficient margin of brightness. Exactly enough so as not to blind in the dark and not fade to zero in bright daylight. Without Armory Crate, you can easily customize the desired color. As well as recording a quick macro. Their number, however, will be limited without software to eight F1-F8 buttons and three profiles available for editing.
Armory Crate software disgusts me at this stage, and makes me remember with nostalgia the far from ideal ROG Armory II. Its main problem is not so much in the slow interface, but in the amount of system resources that are required for work. By and large, Armory Crate is tailored for use in a system where most of the components are from ASUS. And in systems of other configurations, it looks ridiculous and redundant. In a word, it is difficult to use it, especially since the keyboard works quite self-sufficiently even without it.
ASUS TUF Gaming K3 supports full-fledged NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate all buttons at the same time and in any combination.
Mechanical keyboard ASUS TUF Gaming K3 turned out to be successful. It is distinguished by a solid appearance, simplicity, strength and a set of all the basic functions necessary for players. There is a backlight with direct adjustment, and a stand, and memory, and the ability to quickly record macros without a driver, and an additional USB pass-through port. I don’t know how the other versions with Kailh Brown and Blue switches are, but the Red version is good for its tactile feel and application versatility.
There are no serious shortcomings with this keyboard. Of the minor points, the user will have to put up with a thick and unyielding signal cable, easily soiled key cover and heavy software. However, it may not be installed.
ASUS TUF Gaming K3 is a “correct” mechanical keyboard from a well-known brand at an adequate price. And if you manage to “catch” it at a discount, then the offer is generally excellent. The device can be recommended as a first mechanic for those who have not used similar keyboards before.