We have to start this review with a bit of clarification about the Tactic Pro. “Strix” is not its own company, but rather an offshoot of Asus. This is not to be confused with Asus’ other arm, Republic of Gamer (ROG). We’re not entirely sure why Strix has become its own type of brand, especially when ROG already covers peripherals.
The first thing you notice about the board when picking it up, is just how rigid the construction is. We’ve gone full tilt on boards much bigger and heavier than this that have felt far less solid. If you lean more toward a very heavy-handed typing style you’ll be instantly at home hammering away on this.
A quick tour of the Tactic Pro reveals a very strange overall shape, far less rectangular and more like the new “fat” bat symbol from Batman V Superman. Strange indeed. The solid black plastic has no rubberising or similar material that would stain easily.
The height is quite spot on, and will be comfortable for those who prefer a flat or a raised position with the two included feet. There is a multitude of small rubber slip-pads to keep the board steady, but when raised you may find they are just not good enough.
On anything slicker than a clean wooden desk the keys will run away from you. This is the first major flaw: there is no wrist rest included. While this is usually forgivable on smaller and/or cheaper boards, we can’t look past this, especially when the odd shape would make a third party rest difficult to use.
This leads to more missing features, unfortunately. The included cable is lengthy at 1.8 m, made of a braided material and has an interesting connector that makes it easy to find it in the tangle of wires behind your PC. But it is not detachable and the bottom of the case has no routing features to shunt the extra cable aside. This is particularly problematic as the cable sprouts out towards the right-hand side of the board.
And the final missing feature is one we missed a lot, there is no built-in USB hub on the Pro. The laptop we tested this board with only had two USB ports which made us miss a feature we never had.
Now, onto the exciting part: the keys.
The Tactic Pro comes with your choice of Cherry MX blues, reds, browns or blacks. Our unit was randomly assigned with red switches, and we’ve been told that the majority of retailers in South Africa have chosen to stock this type alone.
We’ll soon have a guide to the switch types up, but for now we can report that the red switches are extremely light and will register a keystroke extremely haphazardly. While great for gaming, these switches are far too loose for typing. A problem we repeatedly faced with this board was the caps lock key being accidentally activated by the sides of our fingers when pressing shift.
The keys are also individually backlit by single colour orange LEDs. The colour shines pleasingly through the ABS keys . The key caps, like the rest of the board, are extremely tough and will take a lot of abuse.
To the extreme left you’ll find a bank of ten macro keys that will be more than enough for all but the most hardcore RTS and MMO players. Function keys one to eight can also be given alternate functions. The alt key on the right side of the space bar also functions as a key to initiate on the fly macro recording.
Below the space bar there are three more macro keys. These are shaped in a type of curved pattern. Although innovative, we found ourselves struggling to see a use for these keys, especially when we have so many to play with on the left-hand side. All told, there are thirteen dedicated macro keys and eight switchable keys.
The dedicated media keys are some of the best we’ve come across. They are sharp and responsive and, because they’re not raised, they never get in the way of work or play and a stray finger will never mess up your music. The scroll wheel on our board, although functional, would occasionally get stuck. We were told this was damage due to misuse from previous reviewers.
The final features we feel are worth mention are that the board supports both six key and N key roll over.
We did not get the retail package with our board, so we can’t comment on the likelihood of your board surviving a long delivery in the packaging. Also included are a guide, driver installation CD, four additional plain orange key caps, and a key removal tool. The key removal tool is the ring type, which is known to damage switches.
The Strix software is, at the same time, some of the best and some of the worst software we’ve ever used.
On the positive side, the software is very easy to use. We were up and running with several macros extremely quickly, and the one program will support both the Tactic Pro and the Claw mouse if you have it. Additionally, it rendered nicely at the 3 200 x 1 800 resolution of our desktop, something these types of software usually struggle with.
And now the bad news: while we did mainly use the software on a mid-range gaming PC, we also used it on a Lenova Yoga 3 Pro and the software ate up to 15 per cent of the little Core M processor. While we know that the Core M (and by extension, the Yoga 3 Pro) are severely underpowered, it’s just not acceptable for the Strix software to take up so much of your PC’s resources. Our unit was noticeably slowed down while running the software. While less of a hassle, the software comes with no built-in macros such as cut, copy and paste.
With a RRP of R1 999, the Tactic Pro is right in the middle of the road regarding these expensive mechanical keyboards.
What must be recognised about the Tactic Pro is that the actual typing and key press experience is solid thanks to the genuine Cherry MX switches and the great media keys.
But this falls right down when you start noticing the lack of features. At this price we would need some of these features to push us over the edge for a purchase as their are cheaper boards which do exactly what the Tactic Pro does for less money, while occasionally having some of the missing features of the Tactic Pro.
This board is going to live and die buy are its aesthetic and feel. If you’re a fan of orange or the general style of the board, you may be swayed. And it cannot be said enough times how genuinely well put together this keyboard is.