ASUS has a well-earned reputation. Across virtually every product category they're active in, ASUS has a product contending for best in class. In the world of PC gaming peripherals, the Republic of Gamers started as a product line and expanded into a full on community of enthusiasts. Last week, we were sent two of ASUS' premiere products in ROG line. Today, we're looking at the company's flagship mechanical keyboard, the ROG Claymore Core. In an already crowded marketplace, does it have what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
It's clear right from the get-go that the Claymore Core is a premium product. Inside the box, the keyboard is packed in a dense molded foam and with a nice velvet bag. When you actually begin to use it, small marks of quality arise almost immediately: the almost indescribable but extra satisfying “key feel,” and resonance against the aluminum top plate; the way LEDs don't just light up but swell into brightness; even the way the braided USB cable unwinds with zero kinks into a perfectly relaxed cable or that the keycaps are doubleshot ensuring the legends will never fade. These show a level of consideration beyond what most gaming keyboards deliver. The Claymore Core is clearly aiming to be a cut above and that's reflected in the $159.99 MSRP.
The ROG Claymore Core is a tenkeyless keyboard, so it doesn't include a number pad. It features complete per-key RGB backlighting customizable with 8 different effects and 16 million colors. As you might expect from a high end gaming board in 2017, it includes all of the features we've come to expect as well as a few important extras. N-key roll-over, key remapping, macro recording, advanced backlight programming, and Aura Sync are all bulleted on the keyboard's feature list. Under the hood are genuine Cherry MX switches. Our review sample included the clicky blue switches, but can also be found in red or brown.
That's all pretty standard, but the Claymore Core packs a few unique tricks to separate it from the pack. It features a distinctive anodized top plate inscribed with the Mayan pattern seen on other ROG products. Since the keyboard also adopts the “floating key” style exposing the clear switch housing under every cap, it makes for a striking look. Even though the plate is black, it still reflects the LEDs quite well making for bright, vibrant colors. It also features a detachable USB cord, which is great to ensure a broken wire doesn’t mean replacing the whole board. They key caps are also standard sized when most others feature a customized bottom row, which means you can easily switch into a set of custom keycaps if that’s your thing.
The sheer amount of onboard controls is excellent, particularly if you own other ASUS products. If you have other ASUS RGB peripherals, the Aura Sync button will instantly link the lighting schemes across your compatible devices. If you happen to have an ASUS motherboard, you can even control your CPU and RAM overclocks with the push of a button. Below those, smartly mapped to the + and – keys you can adjust the speed of your case fans for on the fly temperature management! You simply don't see this on most other keyboards (or at least none that we've had in), and is one of the clearest advantages to keeping your hardware in-house with ASUS in the ROG family. Several lighting profiles also allow you to adjust RGB levels right onboard, mapping adjustments to Delete, End, and Page Down, lit up with their respective colors.
Secondary functions control all of your media controls, so there's no dedicated buttons here. If you opt for the full-size Claymore, or purchase the number pad separately, you'll have an aluminum volume roller. It's too bad to see these controls missing from the Core, especially at its current price. On the other hand, you do have those controls, as well as four levels of Turbo to use in games or even just to quickly navigate your cursor, mapped to your number and function keys.
That number pad is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Core. On the left and right side, hidden under small rubber sleeves, are small connection points to add a number pad. It's a unique addition. Not only can lefties finally have a number pad in a fitting position, but even right handed users can use it on the left as a defacto macro pad. Like the rest of the keyboard, it's completely programmable and features The numpad, dubbed the Bond, was thought to be released separately; however, as of this writing doesn't seem to be widely available. We have reached out to ASUS for an update on the status of the Bond and will update if we hear back.
On the ever competitive lighting from, you're able to choose from eight preset effects or set your own in the ROG Armoury software. You're able to customize the colors in each of the eight effects and save them to your keyboard, totaling 40 presets at any given time. There's more than enough for the average user to find something they like, from ripples, waves, and reactive typing, to the twinkling lights of Starry Night or the vertical waves of Quicksand. Creating your own effects is more limited than on other boards we've worked with. You can apply any of these effect to individual keys to really make it your own, but there is no layering. Once an effect is set to a key, that's all it can display limiting some of the more creative lighting possibilities we've come to enjoy. You can do an incredible amount with the Claymore Core as is, but this is something we'd love to see delivered in a future update.
The Claymore Core is a joy to type on, even more so than other Cherry MX Blue keyboards I've used. In preparing for this review, I set it next to another favorite keyboard featuring Cherry MX Blue switches and had my initial impressions validated. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why, but a combination of the top plate, keycap density, and overall construction make the Claymore feel more responsive and simply more satisfying to type on. In fact, I intend to swap it with the keyboard I use during my day job, even though it means sacrificing the numpad, a feature that I very much enjoy having.
All of this comes together to make for one very nice keyboard. The question is whether it warrants its $160 price tag. As in anything, that depends on your circumstance, but I believe that, in this case, it also helps if you’re already in the ASUS ecosystem. Being able to overclock or adjust your fan speed on the fly is a very nice addition that saves having to open up software or reboot anytime you want to adjust those settings. For users without ROG peripherals or an ASUS motherboard, you lose some of the functionality cooked into that extra cost. The Claymore Core is designed for the ROG faithful first but if it creates a few converts along the way, that’s a win.
They product discussed in this article was supplied by ASUS for the purposes of review.