ROG Claymore is a new mechanical keyboard from ASUS, named after the two-handed Scottish sword. What is the secret symbolism of the name? The fact is that Claymore is a modular keyboard, in which the numeric keypad is removable. Moreover, it can be mounted on both the right and left side of the keyboard body, thus improving the ergonomics of using the mouse (hands do not have to spread far apart). Unfortunately, the full version of this device will go on sale only in the new, 2017, year, and today only the basic TKL (Ten-Key-Less) module, called the Claymore Core, is available to customers. You can buy a digital block for it later separately, if necessary. Although, for example, to me, these extra keys are not really needed in games, as well as the vast majority of players. However, modularity is far from the only advantage of this device. Let’s see what else is good in it.
|Device type/model||ROG Claymore Core|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||87|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX RGB Black|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||+|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Backlight||Yes (RGB, 16.8 million colors)|
|USB cable length, m||1,85|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Material||Aluminum / plastic|
|Software||Да (ASUS ROG Armoury)|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||366 x 145 x 45|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7, 8.1, 10|
|Peculiarities||Possibility to connect a separate numeric keypad on both sides|
|Average cost, $||185|
Contents of delivery
The packaging of the keyboard looks very good, giving the buyer a fairly complete idea of its contents. There are bright and juicy photos of the product both from the front and from the back of the box. It also shows the short technical characteristics of the device, its main advantages and the type of switches used. However, nowhere is there any mention of the possibility of attaching an additional digital block!
The shipping damage protection is so good that I decided to take a photo of it separately, which I don’t usually do. The keyboard is wrapped in a soft fabric bag with drawstrings, which can then be used when transporting it, and lies in a soft tray, covered with a transparent plastic cover. Everything looks expensive and solid.
The package includes instructions, a stylish sheet of congratulations from the manufacturer, two stickers with red and white ROG logos, and a braided USB cable. Unfortunately, there is no key to dismantle the keys.
Appearance and design
The exterior design of ROG Claymore Core is able to deliver aesthetic pleasure. The keyboard is made in the now fashionable trend “skeleton” – there is no frame around the keys, the dimensions of the case are minimal, and the buttons themselves, along with the switches, rise above the top panel. By the way, this panel itself is not easy. It is made of a thick sheet of aluminum, painted in black glossy color, and on the surface it has a relief, traditional for the latest ASUS gaming products, in the form of Mayan era drawings. Moreover, if this surface itself collects fingerprints well, then the button caps are made of matte plastic. It does not slip, does not collect dirt and is very pleasant to the touch. The illuminated ASUS ROG logo is located on the lower beveled edge in the center.
The keyboard has Russian and English engraving. They are applied by burning the top layer of paint to a transparent base. English characters are located in the center of the buttons on top and are well highlighted. The Cyrillic alphabet is at the bottom right and looks more faded, which is especially noticeable in bright room lighting. The key layout is absolutely standard, except for the lack of a digital button block. The left and right Shift are elongated, F1 is located exactly above the number “2”, the Win key is in its rightful place. By the way, you can block it if you press it in combination with Fn (in this case, the button itself is highlighted in white). And by pressing Fn + F1–F4, you can change the repeat speed when entering characters. Fn + keys “1-6” switch six profiles recorded in the on-board memory of the device.
There is a rubber plug on the left side of the keyboard. It covers a pin connector for connecting a block with numeric keys, which can be purchased separately if necessary. The position of the numbers on the left makes it more comfortable to use the mouse during the game, since the hands do not have to spread too far apart. Of the minuses, it is worth noting that false pressing with the little finger is possible, for example, on Enter instead of Shift.
On the right, everything is pretty standard. Enter and Backspace are single line and long. There are no lock indicators. Instead, white indicators light up under the corresponding Caps and Scroll lock buttons. The Claymore Core keyboard has a fairly wide range of customization options without a driver, using keyboard shortcuts. In addition to the usual multimedia and sound control using the Fn + F5-F12 combinations, there are a number of exclusive functions that are activated only with ASUS motherboards and the ROG Armory and Fan Expert software installed on them. In particular, we are talking about adjusting the speed of system fans (Fn + “-” and “+”) and backlight synchronization between Aura devices (Fn + PrtSc). With the system turned off, you can activate the BIOS / UEFI entry (Del), overclocking the processor (F11) and memory (F12), or start the system from the keyboard by pressing the Enter key. And you can even reset the BIOS by holding down the C + L + R buttons at startup. Backlight control is also possible without a driver. Fn+ left/right arrows cycle through effects, and Fn+ up/down arrows adjust brightness. Fn + Del, End, PageDown combinations change the hue by adding 10 units of red, green or blue to the current highlight. You can also record hardware macros by holding Fn and Alt at the same time. The Alt key will blink white, after which you need to type the command, press Fn + Alt again and press the button to which the command will be assigned. Please note that there is no alternative layout mode, the macro immediately works when you press a key. Therefore, it should be assigned either to unused buttons, or assigned to another profile.
On the right side of the keyboard there is also a contact connector that allows you to connect a numeric keypad on this side as well. Useful for those who are accustomed to its classic location.
The mechanical switches here are the latest Cherry MX RGB Black, made in a transparent case and with a flat built-in LED. These are linear mechanisms that require 60 grams of actuation force, have a full travel of 4 mm and actuate after traveling 1.9 mm of travel. The tactile sensations from them are quite pleasant, the moment of activation is clearly felt and the pressing force is controlled. In addition, they are relatively quiet, unless you hit the keys with all your might or do not survive them to the end. From my point of view, this is ideal for gaming applications (especially if the Red switches seem too soft), and speed typing is very good on them. The Claymore Core range is not limited to Cherry MX Black and the buyer can easily find them in Blue, Red or Brown switches to suit their taste. Stabilizers on long buttons are wire, but with special guide shafts on the sides. Accordingly, long buttons do not hang out when activated and generally behave decently. The only thing that is slightly embarrassing is the hypersensitive space. It works at the slightest touch.
This is what the keyboard looks like from the side. Folding legs change the angle of the body and raise its back by 10 mm up. The key profile has an ergonomic, but not particularly aggressive shape of the inclination, which changes from row to row. The caps themselves have a small indentation in the middle. Working on this keyboard is equally convenient with both folded and unfolded legs. There is no need to use a palm rest.
There are no additional external ports and connectors on the back. The detachable cord plugs into the socket on the bottom of the keyboard and is not kink protected.
The USB cable is encased in nylon and is flexible and soft. It can easily be given the desired shape. The total length is 1.85 meters. The connector on the keyboard side has a specific shape with protection against incorrect connection. It will be difficult to find a third-party replacement for it in the event of a cord failure.
The bottom of the case is made of matte plastic and looks very embossed. Massive rubber feet are glued not only in the corners, but also in the center, making the keyboard very stable.
For laying the cord, there is a kind of cable management system that allows you to output the wire not only from the back, but also on the sides. In practice, it is not implemented very conveniently, the cable has to be bent at the base, and it eventually falls out of the side grooves.
There are rubber pads, including on folding legs.
The keyboard has a beautiful RGB backlight with additional effects, which can be controlled both through the driver and directly via keyboard shortcuts. There are five brightness levels to choose from. When started, the diodes play the effect of a light wave, after which they switch to a given composition, individual for each individual profile. The backlight between the buttons is not striking. The inscriptions themselves look traditional – bright Latin characters on top and dull Cyrillic below. The logo is highlighted only after the device is initialized in the system. Therefore, it can be considered as a kind of keyboard performance indicator.
LEDs peeking out from under the buttons give a soft glow and do not blind. There is only one angle at which they seem too bright, and you will have to look for it specifically. Parasitic reflection on the surface is also not observed.
As software, ASUS ROG Claymore Core uses ROG Armory Universal Driver (current version is 1.01.08, keyboard firmware version is 1.04.03). It is able to work both constantly and turn on on request, which, given the presence of on-board memory on the device, is very convenient. Updating the program and firmware is possible only forcibly, at the command of the user. There are 12 interface languages to choose from, including Russian.
The very first screen will prompt us to set up command assignments for keys, providing the ability to save them to one of six on-board profiles. Automatic launch of each profile can be tied to the start of any application. For the game mode, it is configured not only to disable the Win-key, but also such harmful combinations as Alt + Tab, Alt + F4, Fn + “+/-“, which can kick the user out of the game.
Keyboard and mouse commands, macros, launching programs or websites, multimedia commands, and basic Windows shortcuts are available for remapping. You can completely disable one or another button.
The backlight settings don’t look very saturated. Of the possible options – static backlight with a choice of color (the same for all buttons), breathing, a color cycle, a wave running away from the place of pressing a wave, backlighting only pressed buttons, arbitrary flickering of buttons, and a vertical wave (“quick sand”) rolling down when you press.
In addition, you can set up a “mix” of lighting effects for each individual button. It is through this item that the individual color of the keys is set. Personally, I did not find it right away. You need to select a set of buttons, and then attach a certain effect to them with a choice of color, intensity and features of work.
A simple macro editor allows you to record and save combinations of keyboard and mouse clicks, taking into account the time delay. The maximum number of characters is 50, taking into account the fact that each command is written to press and release the key, and the time delays between them. In the settings, you can set the default delay parameter and the number of repetitions for commands. All available macros are stored in the PC memory, their list is visible on the left side of the window.
The statistics section allows you to calculate the number and frequency of clicks on the buttons of the main game block – QWERASDF, Shift, Ctlr and Space. It is difficult for me to say to whom and why this may be needed.
Let’s move on to testing the keyboard.
Ergonomics and testing
Ergonomics of ASUS ROG Claymore Core is typical for TKL. Due to the lack of a digital block, the hands are located closer when using the keyboard and mouse at the same time and at a more favorable angle. This relieves unnecessary stress on the shoulder girdle and wrist joints. The angle of inclination of the body and keys allows you to use the Claymore Core for a long time without a palm rest, while your hands practically do not get tired. The layout is quite standard, but it took a few days to get used to it. Due to the smaller dimensions, I periodically missed the buttons with my right hand. The pleasant shape and coating of the keycaps contributes to a comfortable tactile sensation when pressing the keys. The behavior of Cherry MX RGB Black switches turned out to be excellent. They have a responsive and well-controlled stroke, linear feedback and low noise. Good for both gaming and printing. Surprise, however, is the space bar, which is activated at the slightest press. Perhaps the reason is the adjustment of the stabilizers. By the way, the stabilization of long buttons is excellent, they do not warp even when you press the corners. The backlight looks good, but Cyrillic characters are still poorly read in the light and look faded. Luckily, you can see them much better in the dark. Most keyboard functions can be customized without installing a driver. Therefore, it can be used without preparation on any computer. It makes sense to use the software only for initial setup. The keyboard supports full anti-ghosting (NKRO) of all its 87 keys when connected via USB, which is great.
The ASUS ROG Claymore Core mechanical gaming keyboard turned out to be a rather interesting and remarkable device in its TKL class. Among its advantages are a beautiful external design and workmanship, the use of best-in-class Cherry MX RGB switches, the presence of multi-color backlighting, built-in memory for six profiles and on-the-fly macro recording, NKRO anti-ghosting and a detachable cable with cable management. In addition, as needed, users can turn the Claymore Core into a standard keyboard by purchasing a numeric keypad. Which, in turn, can be fixed both on the left and on the right.
The only drawback of this keyboard is that some of its functions can only be implemented in combination with ASUS motherboards. However, the company itself sees this more as a nice bonus for fans of the brand than as a problem. In addition, Claymore Core has a fairly high price compared to similar keyboards in this class. This is partly due not so much to paying extra for the brand, but to the use of expensive mechanical switches, and a thick sheet of aluminum on the top panel.