Asus’ range of pre-built mechanical keyboards have steadily improved over the years, and the new Asus ROG Azoth is the Taiwanese company’s most refined keyboard yet. Not only does it provide a refined typing experience and sound profile, it also combines several features of a custom keyboard with the creature comforts of a pre-built.
However, in comparison to a “proper” custom keyboard – especially at the same price point – the ROG Azoth still has some ways to go. But if you want the convenience of a pre-built keyboard with elements of a custom keyboard, the Azoth is worth looking into.
What It Is
At a glance, the ROG Azoth is a 75% keyboard with a mounting style more commonly found on custom keyboards. Instead of a tray-mount system typically found on pre-built keyboards, it has a more sophisticated gasket-mount design instead. However, it still offers a relatively stiff typing experience, which can be attributed to its use of silicone gaskets – more on this later.
Aside from that, the Azoth also has an OLED display on the top right corner. It can show various information, including system information, audio visualisation, or just a nice animation. There’s a three-way toggle too with a side button to the right of the OLED screen to control certain functions.
Other features of the ROG Azoth include wireless support via a 2.4GHz dongle or Bluetooth, a hotswap PCB with three choices of ROG NX switches (linear, tactile, clicky), three layers of dampening foam to reduce case ping, and double shot see-through PBT keycaps. Oh, the keyboard is also bundled with a lube kit.
Unfortunately, there are no details on the pricing and availability of the ROG Azoth at the moment, though an Asus representative told me it would sit around the RM1,000 price point. That’s not too far from the launch price of Asus’ other high-end keyboards like the ROG Claymore II.
The Good Stuff
Let’s start with the sound profile of the Asus ROG Azoth, which is…well, surprisingly solid! While it still has some of the “plasticky” sound signature typically found on pre-built keyboards, it’s not quite as pronounced with the Azoth. Evidently, the dampening foams used in the keyboard work, not to mention the gasket mounting system.
Speaking of which, the gasket-mount of the ROG Azoth is implemented in such a way that the typing experience is quite stiff. This is due to the use of silicone gaskets instead of a softer material like PORON; there’s also the fact that this keyboard uses a rather stiff steel plate.
Of course, a stiff typing experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all comes down to preference, and one advantage of the Azoth’s gasket-mount system is a more “even” typing feel across the keyboard. This is in contrast to a typical tray-mount keyboard, which usually has uneven typing feel around the mounting points.
As for the Azoth’s ROG NX Red switch on this review unit, it’s…a decent linear switch. The factory lube is quite good and consistent, though there’s still a hint of scratchiness. But that’s where the bundled lube kit comes in.
It’s actually very, very impressive that a mainstream brand like Asus is providing such a robust set of equipment in the ROG Azoth’s lube kit. There’s a bottle of Krytox 205g0 – a popular lube in the custom keyboard hobby – a switch opener, a switch holder, and of course, a brush. Everything you need to start lubing switches for a more refined typing experience, basically.
Besides that, I also appreciate the option to use the Azoth in three different typing angles, thanks to the inclusion of two feet with different heights. This is a feature not commonly found on custom keyboards, so that’s an added advantage for the Azoth.
And then there’s the ROG Azoth’s stabiliser, which is surprisingly good with little to no ticking out of the box. Still, I’m not thrilled by the proprietary, costar-style design of the plate-mounted stabilisers, so thankfully enough, the PCB of the Azoth actually has cutouts that allow the installation of popular screw-in stabilisers like the Staebies or TX stabilisers.
Last but definitely not least is the OLED screen of the Azoth. While it may seem gimmicky at a glance, it is actually quite functional. Its ability to show vital system information, battery life, or even just an animation is a nice novelty. I absolutely love the practicality of the three-way toggle and side button to the right of the screen too, which allows me to control the volume, lighting, and even media playback.
The Bad Stuff
As much as Asus has improved the typing experience and sound profile of the Asus ROG Azoth, its double shot PBT keycap set is still not particularly polished. Not only does it have an overly rough texture, the see-through legends don’t look great either, though I understand it’s there for the RGB lighting of the keyboard to come through. With that in mind, yes, the PCB does have north-facing LEDs, which may cause interference with lower profile keycaps.
Build quality of the Azoth could use some work too. Don’t get me wrong, it feels like a robust, solid keyboard, but the plastic bottom housing does affect the perceived quality of the Azoth. Granted, the use of this material is to maximise the wireless performance of the keyboard, and in this regard, it does serve its function. There’s no perceivable input delay at all in wireless mode.
While this is not a completely fair comparison, I do have to put the ROG Azoth against an equivalent custom keyboard for the same amount of money. While there’s no official pricing yet for the Azoth, we can take the RM1,000 estimated pricing as a ballpark figure.
For that kind of money, there’s no denying that you can get better typing experience and sound profile with a custom keyboard, such as the Qwertykeys QK75. Yes, custom keyboards are not as widely available as the Azoth, but if you value typing feel, sound profile, and customisation above all else, a custom keyboard offers just that.
Is It Worth It?
Well, it depends. At the time of writing, the Asus ROG Azoth has no pricing or release detail yet, so it’s tough to gauge the worthiness of the keyboard. But I do thoroughly enjoy using the keyboard as my daily driver – much more than any other pre-built keyboard I’ve tested from a mainstream brand.
The ROG Azoth is a fantastic effort by Asus to implement desirable features of a custom keyboard on a mainstream, widely available pre-built keyboard. While it’s still not quite on the same level as a custom keyboard yet when it comes to typing feel or sound profile, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Hopefully, Asus Malaysia will reveal the local availability and pricing of the Azoth in the near future. In my opinion, it is Asus’ most refined keyboard yet, and it does have some modding potential.