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Asus TUF Gaming K3 review

An affordable mechanical keyboard with lacklustre design

Full shot of the Asus TUF Gaming K3 with RGB lighting turned on
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 is an affordable mechanical keyboard that’ll give your gaming a boost, though the design is a little bland and customization is confusing.

For

  • Affordable
  • Red switches

Against

  • No macros
  • Customization is clunky/confusing
  • A little noisy
  • Bland design

Two minute review 

The Asus TUF Gaming keyboard is a good gaming keyboard with a full array of keys that make it perfect for gaming and work. However, if you’re after a peripheral with a standout design like one from Razer, this isn’t it.

The Red mechanical switches mean that the keys are speedy and responsive enough to help you navigate tense gaming sessions. Unfortunately, the keyboard frame housing them is a little bland, with a mostly plasticky feel.

You’ll also miss out on some premium features like dedicated macro keys - but you can always customize other keys to create your own macro keys or a completely unique layout for each game you play.

If you’re a fan of RGB color customization, you’re in luck as there are extensive settings and options available that’ll let you create designs suited to your favorite games and even blink in time with your music. Unfortunately, it can be a little confusing to set this up, but if you have time it’s well worth the effort.

A closeup look at the keys on the Asus TUF Gaming K3

(Image credit: Future)

Fans of Asus will also find that their color customization from their other products can be synced up through Aura Sense to create a cohesive aesthetic throughout your setup. 

At just $89.99 / £99.99 / $129, the Asus TUF Gaming K3 won’t blow you away, but for the price, it still has a lot to offer.

Price and availability 

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is priced at  $89.99 / £99.99 / $129 at various retailers. This means it sits firmly at the more affordable end of the gaming keyboard spectrum. 

At that price, you should expect a decent, full-mechanical keyboard with some RGB lighting flare thrown in for good measure, and that’s what Asus delivers.

We know that $90 for a peripheral isn’t ‘cheap’, but when you consider that some of the best gaming keyboards sell for $200 plus, this is much more affordable, and still delivers a good experience overall.

Design 

Straight away the Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard seems to live up to its ‘TUF’ name thanks to its sturdy design and weighty feel. Those strong first impressions lose some of their initial oomph after a bit, though. The casing is mostly plastic with only the top panel being aluminum, and the overall look of the keyboard is a little on the bland side.

The wrist guard falls into the same trap too. While it does make typing more comfortable, the plasticky feel and simple design (just the words “TUF Gaming” written in bold) mean that you’ll probably want to swap it for an alternative if you have one.

A closeup look at the Asus TUF Gaming K3 wrist guard

(Image credit: Future)

On a more positive note, the keys are well placed, and don’t feel cramped nor too spaced out on the board. The clicky noise of typing with them is a little loud, but it’s by no means unbearable.

The TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is powered by a fixed USB cable with two ports. One (that says ‘Keyboard’) powers up the device itself while another powers up a USB 2.0 port found on the back of the keyboard.

Apart from dedicated macro keys (which are lacking), you’ll find every key you need on this device. The media keys are well placed and the layout, in general, is what you’d expect from a standard WIndows keyboard for your region.

If you’re a fan of customization, the TUF Gaming K3’s RGB options have you covered. You can create numerous profiles and setups to suit every game you play, and can even create a setup that makes your keys glow in time with your favorite tracks as you listen to them. 

The only major downside is how complex the system is. To achieve the most interesting customized RGB light settings you’ll need to download two different apps, and getting to grips with everything can take some time if you haven’t used them before.

The USB 2.0 port on the back right side of the Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

However, for any Asus fans out there who already own a few accessories and peripherals, you can sync up your RGB design through Aura Sense - a neat little feature if you appreciate consistency across your hardware and peripherals.

Performance 

The Red (linear) switches are pretty responsive and work great. Keyboard switches always come down to the user’s own personal preference, but these keys performed well during testing. The 50g of actuation force, a 1.9mm actuation point, and a total travel distance of 4.0mm aren’t as slick as some options out there, but should still give you gaming a boost in the tensest situations.

We tested this keyboard in Fortnite and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, an odd combo for sure, but the TUF Gaming K3 performed great in both. During the wild gunfights we always felt in control of our character, and the responsive key inputs meant that we could keep ourselves in the fight.

Once you’ve got to grips with the keyboard customization, you can give yourself even more of an edge. RGB color can highlight the game’s important keys and custom key mappings can ensure that everything you’d need is in easy reach.

Ignoring the gaming for a second, the full-keyboard is great for people who want to use this for their home workstation. We’ve been using this as our primary keyboard for the past week or so and it has served us well throughout. 

The directional keycaps have been removed to reveal the red switches of the Asus TUF Gaming K3

(Image credit: Future)

Final verdict 

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is a fine mechanical keyboard for those who want to upgrade their gaming setup on a budget. Sure there are issues, the casing isn't the most premium and customization could be simpler but you find many more affordable options.

The mechanical Red switches are perfect for giving you an edge when you need to fire off inputs quickly and once you've worked it out the RGB options are awesome. Be on the lookout for discounts as any deals that show up will only make this a better option for those getting started in the world of PC gaming.

Buy it if… 

You want an affordable gaming keyboard
At just $89.99 / £99.99 / $129.00 this is definitely one of the more affordable options out there as far as gaming keyboards go and it performs well.

You need a responsive peripheral
Thanks to the Red switches, this keyboard offers quick responses to key inputs that’ll help you out during your next gaming session.

You need a peripheral for work and play
Not only will this keyboard support you during intense gaming moments but it doubles as an excellent choice for the more mundane aspects of your life.

Don’t buy it if… 

You want an iconic design
Unlike offerings from brands like Razer, there isn't any kind of iconic design to this keyboard leaving it feeling a little bland.

You want simple customization
While extensive customization options are available, they can be a little complex to setup and get the most out of the RGB keys.

You need a quiet keyboard
While the keys aren’t unbearable, the clicky sound these ones give off won’t suit every environment. If quiet typing is a must have, you’ll need something else. 

Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar, responsible for covering the latest news across the site.