For all of the mechanical keyboards available on the market, it’s slim pickings when it comes to compact wireless mechanical keyboards for gaming. Specifically, we’re referring to compact keyboards with 2.4Ghz wireless connectivity. And that’s where the ASUS ROG Falchion comes in.
There are many benefits to having a smaller keyboard. For one, it is a fair bit tidier on the desk, and a cableless desktop is just the business. In the context of gaming, a compact keyboard is far more practical than a full-sized one, especially when you need to carry it around.
The Falchion is a 68-key, 65%-style keyboard, which means that the top row of function keys and the number pad have been removed for a compact footprint. This, along with the 60% format, are amongst the most popular compact layouts for enthusiasts – at least when it comes to wired keyboards.
The tradeoff is that many functions that are coupled with your regular keys and have to be accessed via a combination of keypresses. From a customisation standpoint, this also means that certain keys like Enter, Right-Shift, and Backspace, are smaller than standard-sized keys, which limits your options if you want to swap keycaps. Spoiler alert; the stabilisers for the longer keys aren’t standard, so you’re pretty stuck with the stock keys unless you’re prepared to do some major modding.
On the bright side, Asus gives you doubleshot PBT plastic keycaps. PBT is pretty much what most people try to upgrade to (unless it’s one of those fancy GMK sets that use ABS plastic). PBT is most wear-resistant and you don’t get that ugly shine over time. It’s also characterised by a rough surface texture, which is rather nice. Both the shine-through and printed legends are fairly crisp and the only potential downside to the caps are the fonts – if you don’t like them your only course of action is to get over yourself.
The typing experience is decent, thanks to the tried-and-tested Cherry MX switches. While they aren’t the best the mechanical switch world can offer but they certainly are dependable. More importantly, you know jolly well what you’re in for. Ours came with linear red switches, which had fairly smooth action and. There’s a little wobble but nothing too alarming. Also, do note that the switches aren’t hot-swappable.
The Falchion was designed with portability in mind, so the keyboard is pretty lightweight. It weighs 520g and that also means no fancy aluminium housing. Plastic is the name of the game, but the keyboard nevertheless is fairly rigid structurally. The keyboard doesn’t sound too bad when you type, and the overall typing experience is solid if unspectacular. The Falchion isn’t a tall keyboard, and I think it should be fine for most without a wrist rest. It also has flip-up feet if you need to raise the typing angle slightly.
Asus also provides a polycarbonate protective cover for the keys for transport. What’s neat is that the case can also be flipped over to cradle the keyboard itself. It’s a convenient way to add a bit of height if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m not sure if Asus intended it this way, but you can also flip out the feet and sit the keyboard in the cover for a steeper typing angle. However, access to the volume control will be blocked. Nonetheless, regardless of what configuration you go with, the keyboard stays firmly planted to the table.
The volume control is one of the more interesting features of the Falchion. It’s essentially a touch panel, and you raise or lower the volume by either sliding your finger up and down or tapping on its ends. You can also assign a third input by tapping on the centre. I’d much prefer an actual physical slider or knob, but I suppose I can just get used to this. The downside is that it’s easy to unintentionally raise or lower the volume when your hand brushes past the side of the case.
When it comes to connectivity, the Falchion supports both wired (USB-C) and 2.4GHz RF, and there’s also a magnetic slot for you to store the dongle. There’s no Bluetooth, unfortunately, despite the price tag. Then again, if you’ve been eyeing the Falchion then chances are it’s probably for the 2.4 GHz RF transmission. Gamers will be interested because RF is more dependable than Bluetooth and RF 65% keyboards are fairly rare. I’m glad to report that the response on the Falchion is virtually instantaneous and the connection has been very stable.
The battery life averages about two to three days of full-day use with the LEDs on and about a month (I’ll be honest, I lost track) when you turn them off. Most of the control bits are done via Armoury Crate, which gives you the option to remap your keys and configure your touch slider and macros. The Falchion itself can store up to five profiles, which you can switch between via shortcuts. Aura Creator takes care of the lighting and you can adjust individual keys to taste.
At $279, the Falchion is pretty expensive for what it is. Of the more familiar names, only Durgod has similar specifications (and Bluetooth) – but it’s a retro-looking keyboard that’s hardly compact. Otherwise, it’s off to the world of Aliexpress and its stable of rebranded OEMs, which – largely depends on your expectations – can be hit or miss. While the upside is that they often cost only a third of the price, it’s only really worth it if you get it right the first time.
Asus ROG Falchion
Features - 8/10
Value Proposition - 6/10
Performance - 8/10
Design & Build Quality - 8/10
Overall - 8/10
Well-built keyboard and probably the only 2.4Ghz wireless 65% offering from an established name. But it's too pricey for an automatic recommendation.