It was only a matter of time before a manufacturer began grafting quality-of-life functionality onto the typically minimalist style, with lightweight 60- and 65-percent gaming keyboards taking center stage. With its touch-based volume slider and opaque, plastic shell, the $159.99 Asus ROG Falchion 65 percent keyboard looks luxurious. Furthermore, it is wireless, which is also uncommon for mechanical keyboards. The Falchion isn’t particularly feature-packed, but it does have one of the more distinct feature sets in the latest crop of portable keyboards for 2021. The Asus ROG Falchion is an Editors’ Choice for small keyboards because of this.
A Gilded Sword is a sword that has been gilded
The 68-key Asus ROG Falchion is a bit on the big side for a small keyboard, despite the fact that its additional functions don’t add any noticeable extra surface space. It’s on the long side for a lightweight size, but not very short or wide, measuring 1.69 by 12.19 by 4.13 inches (HWD). The number pad, feature lines, and certain editing keys are removed from the Falchion to make it a 65 percent keyboard.
The Asus ROG Falchion has arrow keys in the bottom-left corner, as well as Insert, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down in the correct main column, unlike marginally smaller 60 percenters. It’s odd that Asus kept these buttons, since they’re usually stripped from smaller keyboards. They seem to be already there for the purposes of symmetry—the right arrow is at the bottom of the pole. That makes perfect sense, but the Fnatic Streak65 and other lightweight keyboards allow better use of the extra room.
The Falchion is unremarkable in comparison to some of Asus ROG’s bigger keyboards. It’s a single block of buttons, like most 60 and 65 percent keyboards, with no space between them. Next to the “1” symbol is the Escape key. The arrows are crammed into the lower-right corner. There are no sharp edges or rubber ID tags as on the Strix Scope or the Strix Flare. The legends use ROG’s distinctive, blocky font, but that’s it.
It’s subtly different, which isn’t really a positive thing. The Shift, Slash, and Backspace keys have also been rendered narrower to accommodate the editing and arrow keys. If you have a feel for the keyboard’s peculiar dimensions, the whole lower-right corner can be difficult to maneuver. The Falchion, as most small keyboards, has sidecaps that list FN key shortcuts for function keys, media buttons, onboard profiles, and other inputs.
The touchpad, rather than a key, is the Falchion’s crown jewel. The Falchion has a little touch-based slider on its left side instead of a volume roller, which will provide any additional bezel. By extension, you can lift or lower volume by moving your finger forward or back, respectively. By extension, you can increase or decrease the volume by pressing the ends on either hand. In the slider’s middle, there’s a third, unassigned tapping feedback. I’ve adjusted my volume controls to mute.
Although the slider is fast and intuitive, it lacks the fine control capability of a volume roller. It’s always useful for fast and simple tiny to medium tweaks, however. It’s also completely adjustable, so you can make it do anything you like (though there aren’t many scrolling choices that make sense for swiping inputs).
The Falchion has Cherry MX switches, which makes sense considering the keyboard’s high-end build and price. Mine has Cherry MX Reds. Cherry’s keys are ubiquitous and sound fine, even though more businesses make their own switches. The linear switches on the Falchion, like those on most gaming keyboards, have a shorter actuation point and need less force to click, which may result in more mispresses when typing. The switches, on the other hand, are ideal for twitch gaming.
Despite the “ordinary” buttons, the Falchion is an unusual breed due to its wireless connection. It links wirelessly with a USB dongle utilizing a 2.4GHz link, resulting in a secure, lag-free experience. The USB-C charging cable included with the keyboard may also be used to provide a wired link. Yeah, there is a magnetic dongle storage slot next to the power switch USB-C port on the back of the keyboard, so it is really travel-ready.
It also has a long battery life. With the RGB lighting on, the Falchion can last 53 hours, and with the lighting off, it should last up to 450 hours, according to Asus. Despite the fact that there is a higher than normal difference between the two, all figures are very strong. After more than a week of intensive usage with RGBs on, I’ve used around half of the battery, which is in line with Asus’ figures.
Armory is now open.
The Falchion uses Armoury Crate, an Asus setup software for its Republic of Gamers gaming peripherals. The app has a simple, visually appealing interface that allows remapping keys, creating macros, and adjusting power-related settings a breeze. With two swiping movements and three taps—top, center, and bottom—the contact slider is completely customizable.
The Falchion has onboard storage for up to five profiles, as is common for high-end keyboards. You may even keep as many as you like on your own premises. Without the Armoury Crate app, the Falchion still has shortcuts for returning to your onboard profiles.
Armoury Crate’s single stumbling block is lighting configuration. You can easily set complete, keyboard-wide patterns, but per-key illumination requires a separate program, Aura Creator. It’s not impossible, and Aura Creator performs admirably, so there’s no compelling justification to transfer the function to a separate application. It stifles the appetite to experiment with lighting and clutters your computer.
Tiny but mighty
However, inconvenient lighting customization will only keep the Asus ROG Falchion back so far. The Falchion creates a great impression with its strong typing feel and features that are exclusive to 60 and 65 percent keyboards. Furthermore, there aren’t many options for a wireless, mechanical keyboard, particularly at this scale.
In principle, $159.99 for a 65 percent design is a little pricey—they usually cost about $110-$120—but wireless keyboards are considerably more costly than their wired equivalent, so it’s hard to argue. Even amid this year’s 60 percent gaming keyboard deluge, the Falchion is one of Asus’ better keyboards in years, and it stands out as a good keyboard pick. Check out this Editors’ Choice option if you’re searching for a compact keyboard with a little extra.