In the recent past, compact keyboards have taken quite a big chunk of the keyboard market. While most of the early models focused on minimalism to support its compact and portable mantra, there have been a few hitting the market of late aimed at gamers. There are two options available in the market at present, the 60% and 65% variants. ASUS launched its version as part of its gaming series. The ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard brings with it all the compact requirements along with a host of gaming-centric features to its potential base.
ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard Build and Design
Compactness is key here. The Asus ROG Falchion has dimensions measuring 305x101x39mm. It may be compact when compared to full keyboards, it’s larger than many other 65% options. The most notable factor is height, at nearly 4cm. That’s quite significant. It weighs in at 520g, which is also a tad on the heavier side for compact keyboards. That said, it’s nowhere near as heavy as the 800g Redragon K530 Draconic.
There are three standout design elements of the Asus ROG Falchion – the cover, the RGB keys, as well as the touch-based slider on the side.
The cover is a nice addition. It’s useful for when the keyboard is not in use or being transported. It’s opaque in colour but tinted toward the dark end of the scale. Although simplified, it resembles the design of modern graphics cards, which also matches the bottom of the keyboard itself. It doesn’t look out of place at all.
The RGB keys are a staple of ROG devices. It means that users can customise the lighting effects and more. The keycaps sit atop a transparent switch, which, when lit, looks as if they’re floating.
Finally, there’s the slider. It has two uses, both of which are great. There are grooved dots on the left-hand side of the keyboard, so when you run your finger over it’ll increase or decrease the volume, dependent on the motion. It works really well, too.
The second function is to serve as a battery indicator. The lighting for the slider will show as an indicator, so 50% charge would present a half-filled slider. It looks really great. The only trouble is that it’s not easily viewable looking directly from the top, and requires you to look around the side to get the status. Not a train smash, however.
Setup and Connectivity
As with most modern devices, setup is a breeze. Users can choose between two options of connectivity. The first of these is via the Wi-Fi dongle provided. It’s a simple task of plugging the USB dongle into your PC or laptop and then turning the power on via the button behind the keyboard. That’s it, you’re good to go. What’s nice about the dongle is that it has a compartment for it on the rear. So during transport, you can easily store it away without having to carry it separately.
The second option is via the USB cable provided. Again, it’s a simple process. Attach the USB cable to the PC or laptop, and plug the opposite end into the Type-C port on the keyboard. Here, you don’t have to toggle the power switch, as it’s already powered once plugged in.
Additionally, the cable serves as its charging mechanism. When it’s plugged in, the unit will charge its built-in battery. This takes anywhere between two and three hours. I wasn’t able to measure this accurately, as I received the battery on 70% and only dropped to 60% over the three-week review period.
For those who require additional settings and features, you can do this via the ASUS Armoury Crate software. If you’re an ASUS user, like I am, you already have this installed and good to go. So, once you’ve connected the Asus ROG Falchion, it’s a matter of selecting it from the device options.
Once selected, you can customise the lighting, as well as make a host of other changes on the device, including setting up macros. The macros are probably the trickiest option across the keyboard’s features.
ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard Keys and Layout
The Asus ROG Falchion uses Cherry MX RGB mechanical switches. It’s been around for some time, so it’s not big news. What’s nifty is that they are fitted to a compact keyboard, which isn’t seen much. I imagine you’d have a few more options to choose from down the road.
These keys are solid and reliable. That’s the aim of any mechanical switch – no stickiness during a heated gaming session. ASUS has fitted its ROG PBT Doubleshot keycaps. These provide durability, and with its mid-height caps, produce a shorter stem to reduce wobble.
It may seem like just words on paper (or screen) but it’s useful. While some users prefer a longer flight per keystroke to ensure that feeling of pressing the key, the shortened option provides better accuracy, as well as preventing stickiness.
With its 68-key design, the layout was always going to be tricky. The layout has been designed to squeeze keys closer together to reduce real estate. This means that some keys have been removed, while others relocated. This feels awkward, but after some time, becomes second nature.
The one gripe I have about the changes needed to support the compact design is the use of the Function key. For shortcuts like closing windows – Ctrl + F4 – you’ll need to add the Function key. This, then, becomes Fn + Ctrl + F4. My gripe? The order is too much in the way of it actually being a shortcut.
For users using shortcuts, the mouse in the right-hand means the left hand used to perform keyboard tasks. With the Fn key situated to the right-hand side, this becomes a challenge. It’s even more complicated when needing to be pressed first. Despite the layout’s compact nature, it’s an extremely difficult task to achieve with one hand.
Features and Performance
Although it’s not a feature per se, there’s an additional row of keys on the Asus ROG Falchion. This is the difference between the 60% and 65% label.
With its two connectivity options, the Wi-Fi dongle utilises a 2.4GHz frequency to connect. In addition, the device supports dual-mode when both the dongle and cable are connected simultaneously. I’m not too sure what this means or does, but the assumption is that it reduces the latency when sending signals to the unit when performing a task or noting a keystroke.
The keyboard has an estimated 450-hour battery life. This is measured with no RGB in play. It’s very difficult to measure how accurate that statement is because it would mean using the unit for 18 days straight to keep it powered on and in use.
Having used the unit over the span of three weeks, the percentage only dropped as little as 10% during this time. While I was using the lighting effects, along with syncing options to various elements, such as sound, the indication is that it will last a fair amount before needing to recharge.
One of the more interesting aspects about the introduction of the cover is that it also doubles as a tray. This isn’t for serving drinks. However, even that isn’t too much of a stretch, when considering that the inside is lined with a rubber mat.
That said, when flipped over, you can position the keyboard within the cover and it’ll fit snuggly inside. The open slit on the right-hand side that seemed useless before, is not very useful as it wraps around the slider. This is also the reason why the cover matches the bottom of the keyboard, with its rubber feet and all.
The ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard is a great compact keyboard. It has all the expected features you’d want, with a few extra sprinkled on top to make you love the unit even more. The mechanical keys are a joy to use and with its light sync support, makes for an excellent display when not in use.
One of the biggest caveats on the keyboard is its price. Buyers can expect to pay in the region of R2,500 and R3,000 to own one of these, which is a significant amount. While the unit does have some great features and options, its price point makes it a hard sell in my book. When you consider the many other ASUS ROG full keyboard options available on the market, it adds an additional obstacle.
Choosing between a full-key gaming keyboard and a compact one comes down to a matter of preference. While the latter has the jump on portability for those gamers who travel often, the former provides a host of easier to use shortcuts and macros to support their in-game ventures. Taking price out of the equation, the ROG Falchion is a solid option.
ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard
The ASUS ROG Falchion 65% Keyboard is a solid, well-built and well-designed compact keyboard. With its RGB lighting customisations and touch slider, along with a host of included features, the unit is a great compact option for gamers on the go. That said, if there is one notable deterrent, it’s the high-end price.
- Compact 65% design
- Wireless connectivity
- Lighting showcase
- Included cover doubles as a tray
- Cover needs some improvement
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money