Review Of The Asus ROG Falchion NX: Lots Of Features In A Small Package
Almost all of our Best Picks lists include products from Asus’s Republic of Gamers (ROG) line. It talks about so many different kinds of products, most of which are pretty good. Today, we’re going to look at the Falchion NX, which is Asus’s newest ROG mechanical keyboard. This one-of-a-kind board has a 65 percent layout, a cool touch panel, a cool cover, Asus’s new NX switches (there is also a Cherry version), and costs $160. That’s a lot of features for such a small body, but not all of them are great.
The model I got from Asus did not have Cherry MX Blue switches, but instead had NX Blue switches. I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t sure how different the NX switches would feel from a standard MX switch, but to my surprise, they do feel noticeably smoother, though they are also louder.
This is nitpicking at its best, but Asus’s ROG line always has cool names like Gladius or Zephyrus, so it’s a little disappointing that its switches are called “NX.”
Since Asus is a very big company, especially in the world of accessories, I thought this board would have a lot of RGB, but it didn’t. Using per-key RGB is a nightmare with Asus Aura Creator, which I’ll explain in more detail in the software section. This leaves you mostly with presets. On the bright side, this is the first time I’ve used a keyboard whose color changes based on how hot my GPU is. This is also the only place where you can control the “thickness” of RGB.
In this case, “thickness” refers to how wide the rainbow wave on the keyboard is. Almost all RGB keyboards have a way to change the brightness, but rarely do they have a way to change the thickness. Until now, that is. I like my RGB to be somewhere between normal and thin, but you can also choose thick or normal.
Even though the RGB is bright and beautiful, the battery life is terrible when it is turned on. The Falchion NX’s battery will only last up to 53 hours if RGB is turned on, but it will last a whopping 450 hours if RGB is turned off. Even so, that’s to be expected, and 53 hours is a lot for a wireless keyboard with RGB turned on.
Even though the battery life isn’t great when RGB is turned on, remapping can be done wirelessly, so you almost never need a cable unless you’re charging the board.
You can also record macro keys and set up RGB without having to plug anything in. I like this feature a lot because I’ve never seen a wireless keyboard that can do so much.
There are two ways to show off the Falchion NX: with or without the keyboard cover. ROG includes a keyboard cover to keep dust off the board when you’re not using it. When you are using the keyboard, it can be used almost like a shell. Even though it’s cool that ROG came with a cover, I never thought, “Oh, let me cover my keyboard before I go.” Even when I put the cover under the keyboard, I was still unable to use the feet that flip up. This didn’t bother me too much because I almost never use keyboard feet, but if you like to type at an angle but also want to keep the cover under the board, you’re out of luck. It’s cool that it’s there, and putting it under your keyboard can make the RGB look softer, but it’s just one more thing to lose.
Another problem I had with the cover was that it was much taller than the Falchion NX when I put it under the keyboard. It didn’t make it hard to type, but it looks like it doesn’t belong on this keyboard.
The keycaps on top of the switches are double-shot PBT keycaps that let light through perfectly. On the front of the keycaps of the Falchion NX, you can see what the key’s secondary function is in case you forget what the inputs are. But I really don’t like the font that Asus chose for these keycaps. This is more about me, but it seems too much like a gamer thing.
Because the plate on the Falchion NX is only 65 percent big, I couldn’t really look at any parts of it. There are also no big holes for me to look through. But the plate is made of plastic. It would have been nice to see an alloy, but I can’t really complain because I can’t see it.
2. Typing experience
The NX Blue switches feel a lot smoother than a standard MX Blue switch, and I didn’t hear any spring ping when I used them. I could hear how loud the switches are. The NX Blue switches were a bit too loud for me, and I felt like I couldn’t turn them off no matter what. But if you buy this board with the blue switches, you probably like the sound of clicky switches, so you may like the sound. And for what it’s worth, you can get NX Reds or NX Browns with this board instead, though I haven’t had a chance to test those yet.
I just got a set of Kailh Box Navy switches on Black Friday, and since they also click, I thought it would be interesting to compare them to the NX Blues.
The springs in the Box Navy switches are 90g, while the springs in the NX Blue switches are 65g. Now that I’ve healed from an injury to my right hand (it’s a long story, but I want you all to know that I’ve been studying through the pain), I could test my typing speed on Monkeytype again.
I’d like to point out that I also put the Box Navy switches in the NT68, which is another 65 percent keyboard. It’s not a surprise that I was faster with the NX Blues, getting 89 words per minute, than with the Box Navy Switches, where I only got 82 words per minute.
Tests with Monkeytype confirmed what I already thought about the NX switches: that they are loud, have a good weight for typing, and are smooth.
I don’t know why, but Asus made the Falchion NX with costar stabilizers, which I hate. This is a lot like a problem I had with the NIZ WP87. When I took off the spacebar keycap, the stabilizer wire would pop out of the housing, which was annoying. This was easy to fix, but I’m always messing with keyboards, so a user who wants to remove their spacebar keycap might run into problems. Of course, there was also a lot of stabilizer rattle, which I think is a flaw but has become something I expect from any popular mechanical keyboard.
3. Software and operating system
I said in the typing section that the NX switches felt good for typing, but when it came to gaming, the blues were a bit too heavy when I needed to move quickly.
Normal MX Blue switches weigh 60g, but the ROG NX Blue switches weigh 65g. I found them a bit too heavy while playing games. When it comes to linear switches, I tend to like heavier springs, but when it comes to clicky and tactile switches like the NX Blues, I tend to like lighter springs because of the bumps.
I chose Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ because it had been a while since I had used a rhythm game to test a keyboard (this version of Pac-Man is so hectic that it counts as one, IMO). The NX Blue switches didn’t feel quite right for this game’s need for quick reactions.
I also made mistakes with the touch bar here. I paused Pac-Man to take a break, and when I hit the escape key, I think I hit the middle of the touch panel by accident. This turned on Spotify, and music started to play… If you’re interested, it’s Faith by The Weeknd. “What the heck?” I thought when that happened. “Is The Weeknd in this?” Then I remembered that I had set up the touch panel to control media, so I went to Spotify and stopped the music.
This worries me because I wasn’t going for a personal best on Pac-Man (I’m not even that good at it), but if I had been trying to get a high score, being able to turn on Spotify while playing could have really thrown me off my game.
Software: Asus has put all of its ROG line into one piece of software called Armoury Crate. Armoury Crate is a great way to get PC hardware. I like to use it to speed up my case fans and other things like that, but it doesn’t have per-key RGB.
Installing Aura Creator is the only way to get per-key RGB on the Falchion NX. Armoury Crate’s Aura Creator is an add-on, and it blows my mind that you have to install something so simple to get per-key RGB.
It’s clear that Asus wanted to do more than just make another mechanical keyboard with MX switches and ROG-themed keycaps. The Asus Falchion NX has a lot of cool features, like the touch panel, and even though it makes typing a bit awkward, you have to respect it because it’s really cool. If you don’t rest your pinky on the keyboard like I do, it could be very useful. The NX switches are what I liked most about the Falchion NX, though. Asus didn’t make the MX Blue switch from scratch; instead, it made it better. Even though I don’t like how loud and heavy it is, the NX Blue switch is smoother and better lubricated than the MX.