ASUS TUF Gaming K5 review: An affordable keyboard with RGB illumination

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

The ASUS TUF family of gaming peripherals includes a keyboard called K5, which we tested for about ten days of daily use. The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard features RGB illumination with AURA Sync compatibility and Mech-Brane key switches that are said to offer excellent tactile feedback, similar to mechanical switches, although they are using domes. It also has media buttons, a wrist pad, and support for macro actions. All these features come at a very decent price that many can afford. Are these promises backed up by real-life experience? Find out in our review for ASUS TUF Gaming K5:

ASUS TUF Gaming K5: Who is it good for?

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 is a good keyboard for:

  • Gamers who want a membrane keyboard but prefer the feedback of mechanical switches
  • People who type a lot
  • Users who want RGB illumination on their accessories
  • Budget-conscious gamers who want a reliable keyboard

Pros and cons

There are several positives about the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard:

  • It is sold at an affordable price
  • The materials used are of good quality, and definitely feel reliable
  • It offers a good user experience in games
  • The keys are full-height, and their surfaces are concave, making it great for typing
  • The coating used makes the keyboard pleasant to touch and should also protect it from wear and accidentally spilled liquids
  • It has onboard memory, which means that the customizations you make are saved even if you disconnect it from your PC

There are a few negatives to consider too:

  • It does not have individually lit keys - only five lighting zones
  • The wrist pad is not detachable. This may be a problem for users with a small desk
  • The RoG Armoury software needs updates and improvements, to be on par with similar software from the competition
Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard shapes up to be a solid membrane keyboard. We like its sturdiness, and the tactile feedback you get from its Mech-Brane keys. It feels similar to a mechanical keyboard while, at the same time, it is not as noisy as one. The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard has bright RGB illumination, which is nice, but its keys are not independently lit. Instead, this keyboard has five lighted zones. We believe that the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard is a good choice for any budget conscious gamer.

Unboxing the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard arrives in a matte gray cardboard box that features a large and glossy picture of the keyboard on its upper side. In a corner, you can also see right from the start that the keyboard supports the AURA Sync lighting technology.

The top of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 package

On the back of the box, you can see some of the keyboard's features and hardware specifications.

The bottom of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 package

Open the package and inside you find the keyboard and a quick start guide for it.

The package contents of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard comes in a regular cardboard box that looks good. The package contains only the essentials: the keyboard and the user documentation. That probably helps in keeping the price low.

Design and hardware specifications

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard uses membrane switches, which ASUS calls "tactile TUF Gaming Mech-Brane" key switches. In other words, that means that the switches have membrane domes, but the feedback you should get from them is that of mechanical switches.

Bird view of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The keyboard also features anti-ghosting with 24-key rollover, which should be enough for any gamer. You can see the keys that support anti-ghosting in the table below.

The 24 keys that support anti-ghosting on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

Talking about looks, the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard feels sturdy. Although it is made from plastic materials only, the plastic is one of high quality. There is also some sort of coating on its body as well as on the keys. That should help against accidental spills with which most gamers are familiar.

The keys are full-height and have a travel distance of 3.7 mm. Add the fact that the keycaps have slightly concave surfaces and the spacing between is generous, and you should get an excellent experience both when gaming and when typing.

A view of the concave surfaces of the keys on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5

All the keys on the keyboard and the TUF logo that sits on the top-center are backlit. Although the keyboard supports RGB illumination, which means that you can choose whatever color you prefer for them, you cannot select different light for each key. The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard has five illumination zones, and each of them can be assigned one color. It gives an excellent overall effect and customization, but forget about actions like coloring the WASD keys in a different color than the rest of the keyboard.

The five illumination zones on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

Besides the regular keys that you find on any keyboard, the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 also offers a few additional buttons found on its top-left corner: volume keys and an illumination toggle. It is worth noting that these buttons are not illuminated, but they should be easy to find as they are a lot smaller than the other ones.

The media buttons found on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The keyboard also has a built-in wrist pad which is not detachable. It does its job well and manages to keep your wrists in a comfortable position.

A perspective view of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The bottom of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 has six rubber legs that keep it steady on your desk. It is nice to see that ASUS etched a TUF logo here too, although most of us do not look at the back of our keyboards once we have them on our desks. However, it proves the manufacturer's attention to details.

The bottom side of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard benefits from an onboard memory module. With its help, the keyboard lets you program the keys on it as you see fit, allowing on-the-fly macro recordings which are saved even if you disconnect the keyboard from your PC and take it away with you to play at a friend's home or anywhere else.

Regarding its size and weight, this keyboard is large but light. Its dimensions are 18.11 x 8.58 x 1.57 inches or 460 x 218 x 40 mm in length x width x height. ASUS TUF Gaming K5 only weighs 2.31 pounds or 1050 grams.

If you want to see more details about the features and hardware specifications, visit this web page: ASUS TUF Gaming K5 Specifications.

Using the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

Right from the start, we have to say that the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 is an excellent keyboard both for gaming and for typing. We used it for playing League of Legends and Tomb Raider, and using it was a satisfying experience in both. The keys have pronounced tactile feedback even though they are ultimately membrane keys.

We also did a lot of writing, an activity that we felt to be just as fast as when we were using a mechanical keyboard. Here is a short video in which you can see and hear how typing sounds on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard.

How typing sounds on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

We also like some things about the illumination of the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard. It is bright and powerful enough to make the keys visible even in daylight, and that is good. However, the illumination behind the etched characters does not spread evenly. Although they look perfect from the top, if you look at your keyboard from a perspective like you do when the keyboard sits on your desk and you on your chair, this uneven light spread is impossible to miss.

A perspective view of keys, in which you can see the light spreading

Unfortunately, the illumination is not that great if you are a hardcore gamer. It is great for typing, but the fact that its keys are not individually lit makes it impossible to use color to differentiate only the keys you use in your favorite game. You cannot color or light up only the WASD keys used in shooters, or the QWERX keys used in MOBA games such as League of Legends. If you are curious, in the video below, you can see how the illumination looks on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard.

How the illumination looks on the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

The wrist pad has a subtle coating on it, just like all the rest of the keyboard. It felt good and helped us use the keyboard comfortably. The coating also helped our hands not to sweat. However, we would have preferred a detachable wrist pad. If you have limited desk space and every inch matters to you, just like it does to us, the space taken by the keyboard can prove to be too much.

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 proved to be an excellent membrane keyboard, although it has a few weak points. We like the tactile feedback and the keycaps, and we also like the backlight when typing. However, the zone illumination is not that great in games, and we would have preferred a detachable wrist pad.

Drivers and software

To customize the keyboard features, ASUS offers an app called Armoury II. You can use it to get new firmware as well as configure the way your TUF Gaming K5 works. Armoury II is available on the keyboard's support page, here: ASUS TUF Gaming K5 Driver & Utility.

ASUS Armoury II lets you create up to five different profiles for the TUF Gaming K5 keyboard. It also lets you assign different actions to each of the keys on it, except the media and illumination buttons from its top-left corner.

Customization options offered by the Armoury II software

There are also illumination settings to play with: Static, Breathing, Color Cycle, and Wave effects, and you can change colors and LED brightness for each of the five illuminated zones.

The illumination effects and settings for the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard

If you want macro actions, you should know that the Armoury II software lets you create and use as many as you want. The software can also record statistics such as how many times you press the keys on your keyboard. Unfortunately, the statistics are not recorded automatically: if you want them, you must manually open Armoury II and start recording.

The statistics recorded by the Armoury II software

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard supports Aura Sync, but the bad thing about it is that, when you enable it, all the other customization options are no longer usable. Although that is normal for the illumination, it is not normal to not be able to configure the buttons, create and assign macros or see the statistics.

A bug caused by AURA Sync in Armoury II

The ASUS Armoury II software offers everything you need to customize the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard. However, it still has some bugs that the company should repair as quickly as possible.

What is your opinion about the ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard?

The ASUS TUF Gaming K5 keyboard shapes up to be a good keyboard for everyday use, as well as for casual gamers. For its price, we believe it to be a good acquisition. What do you think of it? Would you buy it? Share your opinions in the comments section below.