Asus continues the development of its range of gaming keyboards with the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, a wireless model with a somewhat unusual format. Apart from its specific layout, this model has many arguments to convince demanding players.
The keyboard gamer Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is a 96% keyboard, therefore relatively compact without sacrificing too many keys. This wireless model (it’s in its name) has triple connectivity and can work in conjunction with the Harpe Ace mouse thanks to a single dongle.
In line with the brand’s previous models passed through our hands, the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is equipped with replaceable, lubricated and very high-quality mechanical switches. The brand is once again trying to seduce fans of custom keyboards with a model sold for the tidy sum of 190 euros.
A compact keyboard, but without real compromise
Let’s start with the main particularity of the Scope II 96: its format. This is a “96%” keyboard, which, with the same footprint as a TKL keyboard, manages to bring together almost all the keys and functions of a full-size keyboard. This is made possible by bringing together the different key areas and a slight rearrangement.
This places the directional keys closer to the main keys, like on a laptop. The numeric keypad is also closer and the “0” key takes on a reduced size which is relatively disturbing during the first hours of use. Functions usually found between the typing area and the number pad are moved to the top or relegated to secondary functionality of other keys.
In use, this particular format has almost only advantages. The number pad is there, as are all the main functions and keys. All in a format barely larger than a TKL keyboard, which leaves room for the mouse. Only the proximity of the keys and the particular arrangement will require a slight adaptation time.
On the design side, Asus stays the course with a simple keyboard, like the brand’s latest releases. The chassis is built on a plastic base, topped with an anthracite gray metal plate. It comes with a removable, magnetic wrist rest that fits perfectly, but lacks a bit of padding. Visually, the Strix Scope II 96 is very successful!
The “hot swappable” mechanical switches are topped with ABS keys, whereas we would have preferred to find PBT, once again… The characters are very well cut out and thus benefit from the integrated RGB lighting which allows good reading of the symbols and shortcuts. The brand nevertheless retains its very typical font gamer which in our opinion takes away a bit of “class” from the keyboard.
The RGB lighting continues to an imposing button, which accompanies the customizable wheel present at the top right of the keyboard. No screen here, but a luminous display area positioned between the typing area and the numeric keypad. It allows you to see at a glance the operating mode of the wheel, the activation or not of the various keyboard modifiers as well as the devices connected via Bluetooth.
The rear edge of the Scope II 96 houses the power (and connection mode) switch, the USB C connector for charging or wired operation, as well as a slot for storing the dongle USB. Finally, the lower part houses the double-tilt retractable feet, which as always allow you to modify the inclination of the chassis for greater comfort.
While it’s not as well stocked as the ROG Azoth, the Scope II 96 comes with a two-meter braided USB cable, a more “stylish” extra space bar, a cap removal tool and switches as well as an adapter for the dongle.
Wireless freedom and decent autonomy
Like most of the brand’s wireless keyboards, the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless has triple connectivity which is always appreciable. It can obviously be used wired, but also has a Bluetooth connection (up to three devices) and above all a dongle USB for a 2.4 GHz connection preferred for gaming. Little new feature: the dongle can now also be used for the ROG Harpe Ace mouse, and probably for new models to come.
This wireless connection has often proven to be infallible during these few weeks of testing. No latency is really perceptible and communication has never been interrupted or even degraded while the dongle wasn’t particularly close to the keyboard.
In terms of autonomy, Asus announces up to 1,500 hours on a single charge, without detailing the connection mode used or the RGB lighting settings. It’s a safe bet that this measurement was carried out via Bluetooth, without RGB lighting.
During our test, with RGB lighting enabled, it took a little less than a week to get the battery down to 50% of its capacity, at a rate of 4 to 6 hours of use per day alternating between the two connection methods. We are therefore approaching an autonomy of around 60 hours, in “normal” use.
A very convincing typing experience
We have always praised the excellent typing experience provided by the ROG RX switches which equip a multitude of the brand’s keyboards. The Scope II 96 will be an exception since it is equipped with new NX Snow switches, similar to traditional red switches, but much more efficient.
This is where Asus stands out by offering a keyboard equipped with quality switches, factory lubricated and installed on a chassis equipped with acoustic elements to perfect the typing experience as much as possible. And, we must say it very frankly: it’s a success!
On the menu here: an activation point at 1.8 mm, with an activation force of 40 g for a total force of 53 g. These features, combined with the design and factory lubrication, provide an excellent typing experience. These switches are smooth, responsive, precise and very pleasant thanks to the good soundproofing work on the chassis. If we do not achieve the excellence of a GG Ironclad V2, we are very close and that is a very good thing for the gaming keyboard market!
All of this makes the keyboard equally useful for gaming and typing, for those looking for a model that’s responsive and has linear switches. Note also that the Scope II 96 is also available with tactile switches.
Comprehensive functionality, despite its compact format
Although we regret its interface which is still a little cluttered and cumbersome, it is towards the Armory Crate software that we will have to turn to personalize the settings on Scope II 96 Wireless in detail. As previously stated, it is possible to use its dongle with certain mice of the brand, hence the presence of a menu dedicated to this function.
All keyboard keys can be reassigned with different functions, the list of which would be too long to list here. The latter ranges from keyboard keys to Windows shortcuts to macros that can be recorded within the software.
The RGB lighting of the switches is obviously modifiable, thanks to different pre-configured effects, but also thanks to Aura Creator, which allows further customization and synchronization between all the brand’s devices (and certain other manufacturers). Note also that the ROG button can choose to use a personalized RGB color or serve as a battery indicator.
The latter is directly associated with the customizable wheel positioned next to it. By default, it just controls the system volume. Its assignment changes each time the ROG button is pressed, notably to control multimedia playback or keyboard brightness. The currently activated function is also indicated by a light icon between the typing zone and the numeric keypad.
It is finally possible to personalize the assignment of the wheel with personalized functions, similar to what other keys on the keyboard can receive. The possibilities are then almost endless and the user will be able to personalize the operation of the latter according to its use.
The last tab is dedicated to settings related to autonomy and energy saving. All the parameters mentioned so far can also be saved in profiles, to be associated with games and applications for automatic and transparent switching.
Apart from the options accessible via Armory Crate, and due to its format, the Scope II 96 Wireless has a multitude of secondary functions on its keys, accessible using the “Fn” key. Thus, we benefit from multimedia shortcuts, control of profiles and RGB lighting or even a more precise display of the battery level. Good ideas that we find more and more on compact keyboards.
Price and availability
The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless keyboard is offered at the recommended price of 190 euros.