Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards are the input device du jour right now, compact and portable systems for telling your computer to send a horde of unspeakable nightmare monsters towards an opponent’s base. In video games that is, not in real life don’t do that. Over the last couple of months I’ve smashed my fingers into several of these keyboards, some being thrown out by established brands and others being made available for budget-minded gamers.

Enter Asus and its ROG Strix Scope TKL, a mechanical keyboard which doesn’t just feel great. It’s pretty much a dead sexy addition to any desktop, thanks to some of the most stylish and sophisticated design I’ve ever seen applied to a keyboard.

Like other mechanical keyboards of its ilk, the Scope shaves down the numpad of a traditional keyboard and instead features 84 keys for you to finger-tap dance around. That makes for a more compact frame, but not a lightweight one as this keyboard still has some considerable heft to it. To make up for the fact that it can be used for an impromptu game of cricket, the Scope has a USB-C port that its braided cable can be detached from, to make it easier for transport.

Other clever little design touches include a left CTRL key that has been modified to be the same size as the Shift key, which is an incredibly useful upgrade when you’re in the thick of a game or creating new abominations in photoshop. Speaking of keys, the Scope has no shortcut keys but it does have its functions split between media and function, easily accessible through secondary Fn key functions.

For those of us who do work with media, it’s handy stuff, although other people with more utilitarian needs might disagree with how F5 through F12 is used. I think it’s Fn great, and you can thankfully see which function is which thanks to side-printed images on each key.

The Scope is made up of Cherry Red MX switches, which favours gaming due to the linear nature of these keys that can be pressed down quicker. They’re still good for other uses such as writing this review, as they feature a decent level of tactile feedback and satisfying audible clickiness, although if that’s not your bag then you can always switch them out for Cherry MX Brown tactile switches. But make no mistake, this keyboard is designed to give you the most feedback possible for a round of Apex Legends, and then it’ll talk to you about editing your current word document.

Asus’s Armoury Crate can once again be used to further customise the experience, which allows for a host of other features. Of particular interest to anyone who is more visually-minded are the preset options, that allow for the keyboard to light up and pulsate with light. All that control provides a silly amount of detail, ranging from which colours you want to see bouncing around to even the timing of those lights.

What sets this keyboard apart from others though, are its looks. It might sound incredibly superficial to harp on about this, but the Scope is the Zoolander of keyboards; really really really good-looking. And terrible in a petrol station fight. Mechanical keyboards are quickly approach a ceiling of what’s possible, and with a number of tenkeyless options out there manufacturers have to do everything that they can to stand out from the pack.

The Scope marries solid gaming design with brushed aluminium and just the right amount of RGB. It’s not overly done so as to apepar ostentatious, but there’s definitely enough of the stuff to catch your attention and keep it thanks to the tasteful lighting that pipes out from it. Like an early-2000s car, it even has RGB lights oozing out of its base, which looks wonderfully tacky in the dark with that underglow effect.

Sharp angles and edges complete the look, and if you pop some extra cash in you can score a comfy wrist-rest on which to pop your palms. This is of course a double-edged sword as it makes the Scope slightly more bulky than some of its contemporaries, but when you look this good, does it matter? With the Scope, beauty is indeed click-deep.

Last Updated: May 18, 2021

Asus Strix Scope TKL
The Asus Strix Scope TKL hits all the right notes for what you'd expect from a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard, and thanks to its handsome design this good-looking peripheral easily stands out from the rest of the pack.
Asus Strix Scope TKL was reviewed on PC

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