ASUS ROG Falchion NX Review (Page 2 of 3)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

There is a wide range of compact keyboards on the market today, and they are aimed at different crowds. The ROG Falchion NX has a 65% form factor, meaning there is no separate F-row of keys and no number pad. You still have arrow keys, although they are fairly compact. Making the most of such a small keyboard means you will most likely be using the Fn key quite often. Other than that, the Falchion NX is well-made. It has a metal base with a plastic shell, meaning there is little to no flex observed here. This metal base also adds some weight, so the whole unit stays in place on the table. The gray metal backplate provides a subtle contrast with the black colored keycaps.

One thing that is easy to notice on the Falchion NX is the amount of writing on the keycaps. In addition to the lettering on the keycaps, there are plenty of secondary functions on many of the keys. The lettering is transparent, meaning the RGB lighting will shine through effectively, but if the lighting is off, it is quite difficult to see the lettering. As well, when the lighting is on, it actually makes the white lettering of the secondary functions a little difficult to see with the shadow cast over them. The secondary functions are all printed in dull white color on the side of the keycaps. This issue is nonexistent when the LEDs are set brighter. On lower brightness settings, they become difficult to see. All this will change with time as you get used to where all the secondary functions are. All the different functions of the keys definitely make the keyboard look a little busy. Otherwise, the Falchion NX has a standard QWERTY layout. The Fn key, however, is found on the bottom row to the right of the spacebar. The Insert, Delete, Page Up, and Page Down keys are found top to bottom on the right side of the keyboard. The Control key next to the arrow keys is also smaller to make more room for the arrow keys.

The ROG Falchion NX measures in at 305mm by 101mm by 38.5 mm. These measurements set the Falchion NX squarely in the 65% size range. It definitely achieves its mission to be a compact keyboard and still provides plenty of different functionalities. Compact keyboards, especially wireless ones, can provide a clean and small setup on a desk. The Falchion NX could easily fit in a setup with little space. The keyboard weighs in at 520g, which is quite light and about half the weight of a typical full-size one. Weight definitely becomes an important consideration, since the keyboard is intended to be portable. Something lighter makes it easier to carry around in a backpack. One notable feature lacking is a wrist rest. Overall, the Falchion NX is built well. Its solid construction and smart design make it quite compelling for its portability.

The ROG Falchion NX has a unique feature on the left side. There is a touch panel that runs about three quarters down the left side. By default, this touch panel adjusts the volume. It is easy enough to use, but it is not as precise. To make huge changes to the volume requires you to swipe up or down multiple times. You can also tap close to the top or bottom of the touch panel to either increase or decrease volume. This touch panel can be programmed to other features, but I will detail those later on.

Otherwise, on this end you can see some of the secondary functions. From “Q” to “U” on the keyboard are the media control keys. Play/Pause, Stop, Next Track, Previous Track, Mute, Volume Up, and Volume Down are all found here. I generally found myself using the media keys for volume control more often than the touch panel, since they were more precise. Below that, from “A” to “H”, you will find the profile keys. You can switch between six different profiles. All of these keys can be programmed in the Armory Crate software, which we will be taking a look at later in the review.

From this end of the ASUS ROG Falchion NX, we mostly find the RGB lighting controls. The arrow keys have all of the controls. Using the Fn key in conjunction with the Up or Down Key increases or decreases the brightness, while the left and right arrow keys change the lighting modes. There are quite a few options, but they are better adjusted in software. Otherwise, as you can tell from the photo, there are some other secondary functions here, but they are fairly straightforward. The Falchion NX also features N-key rollover, which means you should be able to press as many buttons as you like, and they will all be registered. This is an important and helpful feature for playing games or if you can type really fast, since it will avoid any keys being missed.

The Falchion NX features PBT keycaps, which are better quality compared to the cheaper option, ABS. ABS is generally softer, which actually also changes the sound of the key switch as it clangs against a metal backplate. PBT is usually more resistant to wear and tear, and the keys are thicker on the surfaces. Over time, the softer plastic keycaps will grow shiny due to constant use, while the harder one will not. Most of this will depend on personal preference and what you want from the keycaps. If you are looking for longer lasting keys, PBT is the way to go. The keycaps are also slightly different from normal mechanical keyboards to continue with reducing the size of the ROG Falchion NX. The keycaps are mid-height with a shorter stem. If you are buying replacement keycaps for this keyboard, be sure you buy ones that are compatible with the shorter stem.

One of the main draws of any mechanical keyboard are the key switches. There are often a few different options to decide on depending on how you prefer the keys to respond. The Falchion NX offers three different types of key switches, Red, Blue, and Brown. They are ROG NX switches, which are different from the usual Cherry MX or Gateron. I have the Brown version of the switches, which have a 2mm actuation point, tactile force of 58 gf, and a click ratio of 33%. One gf is approximately 0.98 cN. Brown switches are in between Red and Blue. Red switches have a shorter actuation point and has a 40 gf tactile force, meaning it is much easier to push the switch down and it will actuate earlier. If you like sensitive key switches, then Red is for you. Blue switches have an actuation point of 2.3 mm and a tactile force of 65 gf, making them harder to press. These Blue switches will probably be preferred by typists. The Brown switches feel great. They have a crisp sound when pressed and provide great feedback.

All of the keys were consistent in feel, even the longer keys like the spacebar. Pressing these ones on the side did not change the consistent feel. The Falchion NX features Costar stabilizers under the wider keys, like the spacebar or the shift keys. These have a wire that lead from one side of the key to the other to ensure stability. Costar stabilizers are more difficult to put back after they are removed. It requires you to line up a few stems and insert the wire into its designated clips. They can have more of a rattle compared to Cherry stabilizers, since they have a metal wire, but they performed well in the Falchion NX. Overall, the Falchion NX is a great mechanical keyboard with excellent key switches.

The bottom of the ROG Falchion NX feature four large rubber feet. There are also two kickstands with small rubber feet at the ends to help keep the keyboard in place no matter what the orientation is. The rubber feet are definitely appreciated to help keep the Falchion NX in place. The rest of the bottom is slightly stylized. There is a bit of a texture on the bottom as well as the ROG logo. In one corner, we find the usual product information.

If you look closely at the edges of the keyboard, you will see the case for the Falchion NX. The case has been designed to be placed over the keycaps when you transport it and placed underneath the keyboard when in use. This elevates the whole unit slightly, but I found it was enough for your wrists to have to have to be held up an awkward angle to type. There is a slot for the touch panel at the side to still be accessible. The case also features four rubber feet to ensure it will not move around. It is well constructed with a metal cover and a soft rubber interior to protect the keycaps. However, with the keyboard on top of the case, the ASUS ROG Falchion NX becomes a bit uncomfortable for typing.

The Falchion NX is a wireless keyboard, so it has a small USB dongle to connect it to your computer. It features a 2.4 GHz connection with a 1ms response time. According to ASUS, it has a 450-hour battery life when the RGB LEDs are off. When they are on, the battery life will be reduced considerably. When it needs to be charged, the braided USB Type-C cable can be used. As you can see in the photo above, there is an on/off switch and a compartment for the USB dongle. It is magnetic, so it easily slides back into its assigned compartment. Throughout my use, the wireless capabilities were great. You can adjust the time it takes for the keyboard to go into sleep mode through the Armory Crate software. Waking the keyboard from sleep mode was easy and the keyboard would always register the first key pressed. Going into sleep mode was a hit-or-miss though. Even though I set the keyboard to sleep after a certain amount of time, often it would not go to sleep and this would drain the battery. Without turning the keyboard off, it would last about a week. The LED on the touch panel will indicate the battery life. When the battery gets too low, the LEDs will turn off. The Falchion NX is a great wireless keyboard, but there are some glitches to iron out.

There are many effects for the RGB lighting, including Rainbow, Static, Breathing, Color Cycle, Reactive, Ripple, Starry Night, Quicksand, Current, Raindrop, and Aura Sync. Aura Sync is useful if you have multiple ASUS products with RGB LEDs, so that each of them can be synchronized to have the same effects. The rest of the effects are the classic RGB LED effects. There are also many different colors to choose from. You can change the speed of the effects, the direction if applicable, and the brightness. All of these can be easily adjusted in the Armory Crate software, which is much easier to use compared to my past experience with older versions. The LEDs shine through the top of the keycap, illuminating the translucent lettering. The lighting on the Falchion NX is consistent unless there are second line or side labels, which do not get illuminated because of the opaque stems.

Many of my gripes with the Armory Crate software in the ASUS TUF M4 Air has mostly been dealt with in the ROG Falchion NX. The software was easy to find on Falchion NX’s product page and it has been functioning much smoother. Load times with launching the software was still a bit slow, since there are so many extra functions. Through the software, you can look at news, your game library, and deals. I think anyone would be hard pressed to use the Armory Crate instead of the other programs they already use for these functions.

You can change any of the keyboard keys to anything you want through the software. You can disable Alt+Tab and Alt+F4 functions to avoid accidentally activating them in games. The touch panel can also be programmed for different functions. There are five different functions to change: Swipe up, swipe down, tap top, tap center, and tap bottom. I have changed these settings, but they are extremely difficult to use in terms of accuracy. Tapping the top will often not register, while tapping the center will often register as top or bottom. In addition, sometimes a tap will register as swiping. The touch panel is best left as volume control, which it does best, although still not as good as a scroll wheel or just classic buttons. Otherwise, the other settings you can change in Armory Crate has been covered already, including key assignments, lighting effects, and power settings.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Conclusion