The K5 is one of the more expensive membrane keyboards in this Labs – the only pricier model, the SteelSeries Apex 3, is just one pound more. Read our ASUS TUF GAMING K5 Review.
The Asus is also one of the loudest-looking units in this group. At the top is a patterned section with the TUF logo, and in the top-right corner, there are five large status lights. There are more TUF gaming logos elsewhere, and the large wrist rest is part of the main body of the keyboard, so can’t be detached.
The bold physical design is paired with large dimensions, thanks in large part to that wrist rest. At 460mm wide and 218mm deep, this is one of the biggest units in the Labs. It’s 40mm tall without its feet extended, too, making it the bulkiest keyboard here.
The Gaming K5 is sturdier than most of the other membrane, plastic keyboards in the Labs, but its plastic body still can’t compare to the rock-solid aluminium of the Logitech G413 or the tenkeyless HyperX.
The K5 has five-zone RGB LED lighting that includes a handful of common effects – so it’s immediately more versatile than the G413. The lighting is weak and inconsistent on each key. though, and the SteelSeries is better – its illumination is stronger, and it has twice as many lighting zones.
Elsewhere, it has dedicated buttons to adjust the backlight strength and your PC’s volume, and it uses a spill-resistant frame that is designed to cope with drinks and sweat. There isn’t any USB pass-through, though, and no macro keys.
The K5 can store three different profiles and record macros, and it has 24-key rollover and anti-ghosting, and it uses membrane switches that are designed to mimic tactile, mechanical hardware.
The buttons strike a good balance between membrane and mechanical hardware. They’re light, fast, and consistent, with an action that’s snappier than most other membrane units. The keys have a 3.7mm travel distance, which is half a millimetre more than the Logitech, and almost level with the HyperX unit.
The K5’s buttons have a pronounced tactile bump – even when compared with mechanical units – which adds to their solid feeling. In terms of popular mechanical hardware, the Asus is closest to Cherry MX Brown switches.
The Asus’ keys are just as fast as the keys on the SteelSeries, although the SteelSeries does have bouncier buttons – if you play fast-paced games, the Apex will be a little better. Overall, though, the K5 has a fast, crisp gaming action, and it’s better in this regard than the Romer-G mechanical switches inside the Logitech G413.
Elsewhere there are only minor problems. The keys have a good weight to them, but they feel a little off-balance and wobble a bit too much. The space bar isn’t impressive, either. It feels hollow and markedly different from the rest of the buttons. The K5 is very loud, too.
The Gaming K5 is a rather inconsistent budget keyboard. Its buttons are just as quick as the SteelSeries’ keys without the potentially annoying bounceback, and they’re better than the Logitech’s mechanical keys. The K5 also offers RGB LED lighting, profile storage, and a few extra buttons.
The decent, mechanical-style buttons are undermined by loud operation, underwhelming lighting, and divisive design – as well as the proper mechanical buttons on the similarly priced HyperX.
The Asus is hard-wearing and more versatile than the SteelSeries, but mechanical devices will still provide a purer typing experience for only a little more cash.