The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is a fantastic wireless gaming keyboard. It offers the benefit of being both a traditional gaming board and enthusiast-level features – taking things to another level. There are comfortable and smooth switches alongside good looks and vibrant RGB lighting. Just watch out for that slightly iffy software.
- Good looks
- Pre-lubed switches feel excellent
- Vibrant RGB lighting
- Fiddly and slow software
- Pre-lubed NX Snow switchesFeatures linear NX Snow switches, which are pre-lubricated for a smoother feel
- Enthusiast-level featuresHotswappable and features sound dampening foam for better acoustics
- Dual connectivityUses Bluetooth or the bundled 2.4GHz USB receiver
2023 looks to be the year that Asus is going all in with keyboards that blur the lines between gaming and enthusiast-grade boards – enter their latest creation, the Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless.
It brings with it an intriguing layout choice, as well as lubricated switches and a hot-swappable PCB. There are some excellent and speedy wireless connectivity to offer a well-rounded choice.
Given the brand’s prior efforts with the Asus ROG Azoth, one of the best mechanical keyboards of 2023, this Strix Scope II 96 Wireless has a lot to live up to. Let’s do some digging, and find out how well it performs.
- Solid construction
- 96% layout is an intriguing choice
- Thoughtful interface
The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless provides a solid frame with a plastic chassis and metal top plate. There’s no deck flex to speak of, and Asus’ latest candidate brings with it a decent amount of heft. It’s not as heavy as the likes of the Azoth, though at just over 1kg, but this is a well-made ‘board.
Its 96% layout is an intriguing one, moving the nav cluster to the function row and bringing the number pad and arrow keys closer to the main alphanumeric set of keys. This is an odd layout for a ‘gaming’ board to use, but one that’s become a favourite of enthusiasts over the years. It’s also sometimes known as an ‘1800 layout’, given the origins of this layout lie with the Cherry G80-1800, a keyboard from the German manufacturer that dates from around twenty-five years ago.
Besides this unorthodox layout choice, the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless looks like an ROG product, complete with an aggressive typeface on the keycaps. They’re comprised of a textured PBT, much like the Azoth’s are, and feel excellent under the finger. PBT is a much more durable and hard-wearing plastic than the cheaper ABS, that is more traditionally used in keyboards at varying price points and is also resistant to the shine experienced on cheaper keycaps with extended use.
You don’t get an OLED display, but there are convenient measures elsewhere, including keycaps with dedicated sub-legends for controlling recording functions on Windows Game Bar, as well as a multi-function button and roller for controlling media playback and lighting, which is nice. There is also a comfortable wristrest that goes with the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, too. It attaches via magnets, and stays in place reasonably well, giving you a solution for even better ergonomics.
In terms of its interface and connectivity, things are kept nice and easy, with everything you need to be housed on the keyboard’s top side. There you’ll find a USB-C port for wired connectivity and charging, as well as a switch to turn the keyboard on and choose between connectivity modes. The receiver is housed inside the keyboard, which means you could conceivably use the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless as more of a portable keyboard if you wanted to.
The packaging is comprised of cardboard, with the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless coming in a ROG-branded fabric bag, while the wrist-rest’s plastic bag is the only sign of the material upon closer inspection. Asus makes no environmental claims regarding the materials used in this keyboard, though.
- NX Snow switches are especially smooth
- Hot-swappable PCB means you can swap others in
- Convenient connectivity, and solid endurance
Inside the ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, Asus has bundled its own pre-lubricated NX Snow switches, a light and linear switch with a 45g weight. With that spot of lubrication, they’re supremely smooth, with no form of scratchiness. Compared to the NX Reds, they also offer a ten per cent shorter travel with a total distance of 3.6mm and 1.8mm actuation point (compared to 4mm and 2mm on the NX Red), leading them to feel snappier under the finger, which made them a joy to use in testing.
Lubrication can also make a difference in a keyboard’s acoustics, too. It aids in dampening the sound and removing any pinging or rattling. There isn’t any to speak of with the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, while the addition of layers of foam inside the casing also helps it to offer some excellent acoustics.
Enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is hot-swappable, meaning you can chuck in any switches you like, as long as they conform to the MX standard of 3 or 5-pin mounting. It provides you with virtually infinite customisation of switch choices if you aren’t partial to the NX Snow. Swapping switches out is easy, and can completely change the feel of the keyboard and your experience with it. To change them, you simply grab a switch puller from inside the box, pull gently to get the switch out, and then replace it by making sure the pins line up with the socket, and then push down until it clicks into place.
With the default NX Snows inside, the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless felt comfortable to use with smooth actuation and light force. This also makes them an ideal switch for gaming when taking their shorter travel distance into account, giving them a snappy keypress. They may not be analogue or have adjustable actuation points, but they offer a light keypress, making them a superb all-round choice.
The Strix Scope II 96 Wireless features some excellent wireless connectivity options, working over both Bluetooth and the bundled 2.4GHz receiver. Switching between the two modes isn’t laborious either, thanks to the physical switch on the top of the keyboard. Both connections are also rather reliable, while the 2.4GHz receiver offers a lower latency connection than Bluetooth does.
There’s also some fantastic endurance on offer here. The Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is rated to last for up to 1500 hours when using the 2.4GHz receiver, as long as you’ve got the excellent RGB lighting turned off. That gives you over a year’s worth of charge, and in my weeks of testing, I didn’t have to charge the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless once. If you do turn the lighting on, expect to get between 80 and 90 hours of endurance, which is less impressive, but still gives you two working weeks’ worth of charge before needing to be plugged in.
Software and Lighting
- Vibrant and sharp RGB lighting
- ROG Armoury Crate is okay, but incredibly slow
Asus has delivered on the lighting side of things with the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless, offering a full spectrum of vibrant and vivid lighting that brings out the best in the keyboard’s looks. Asus’ lighting has always been decent, but this latest range of keyboards seems to have taken things to another level.
However, ROG Armoury Crate continues to be a bit of a pain with slow loading times and okay functionality, compared to what other keyboards and their software offer. It’s a requirement, as opposed to being an optional extra, as you need it to update the keyboard’s firmware. You get access to remap keys, as well as to customise the RGB lighting and the functions of the wheel and button in the top right corner. There is only one function layer, though, so power users may want to look elsewhere.
Should you buy it?
You want a customisable keyboard with a great look and feel
The Strix Scope II 96 Wireless provides good looks, a solid chassis and loads of customisation with swappable switches.
You want lots of software-based customisation
The Strix Scope II 96 Wireless provides lots of opportunities for hardware-driven changes, but its software offers less.
The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless continues the brilliance we saw earlier in the year from the ROG Azoth. It adds a more unconventional layout yet most of the same features, all for a much more stomachable price. It’s the complete package, deftly blurring the lines between traditional gaming boards and more unorthodox enthusiast choices with brilliant execution.
This is a well-made keyboard with a solid metal and plastic frame, complete with the fun of an additional magnetic wristrest. What’s more, its pre-lubed linear switches are smooth and great for typing and gaming, although it’s great that Asus has bundled in the option for you to change them virtually at will. It’s here where the Strix Scope II 96 Wireless notches up a notable victory against the recently released Logitech G Pro X TKL Lightspeed.
Combined with this better battery life, an arguably more convenient means of changing between connections, and a keyboard that’s also a little bit cheaper, it’s quite an easy win for Asus over the competition. My only issue is the software, but that’s a small problem in comparison to the rest of what’s on offer here. The Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless really is a class-leading keyboard. For more choices, feel free to check out our list of the best mechanical keyboards.
How we test
We use every keyboard we test for at least a week. During that time, we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through its paces by playing a variety of different genres, including FPS, strategy and MOBAs.
We also check each keyboard’s software to see how easy it is to customise and set up.
Spent at least a week testing
Tested the performance on a variety of games
Compared the build quality with similar priced keyboards.
You might like…
Yes, the Asus ROG Strix Scope II 96 Wireless is hot-swappable, meaning you can change the switches out without any need for soldering or desoldering.