Asus TUF Gaming K3 review: a premium gaming keyboard with plenty of features

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 gets a lot more right than it gets wrong

Asus TUF Gaming K3
(Image credit: Asus)
T3 Verdict

From the RGB lighting to the USB passthrough, the Asus TUF Gaming K3 is packed with useful features and functionality, and it's responsive and capable in use as well. It's another very fine gaming keyboard from Asus, but we don't think it's quite the very best.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Speedy and responsive

  • +

    Flexible lighting controls

  • +

    Included wrist rest

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Lots of competition

  • -

    Not the cheapest

  • -

    Slightly suspect software

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As the Asus TUF Gaming K3 shows, Asus isn't afraid to put plenty of products out there on the market – it has not one but two gaming keyboard line-ups for you to pick from (the other being the Asus ROG Strix Scope RX), and the K3 is available alongside the K1, K5 and K7 models in the TUF series. That's a lot of choice.

Having all those different models also means there's likely to be something for everyone in there, and the TUF Gaming K3 is likely to appeal to those who are after a decent balance between price, performance and features – as we'll explain in our full review set out below.

Will the Asus TUF Gaming K3 make it into T3's prestigious best gaming keyboards guide? Read on to find out.

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard certainly impresses in terms of its design and build quality – that's to be expected from Asus, but it's still worth noting. It's a full size keyboard, and then you get a host of extras with the standard Asus Armoury Crate Windows software.

This is a wired, USB keyboard that has USB passthrough if you need it, though only at USB 2.0 speeds. That sums up the keyboard as a whole really – there are some neat touches here and plenty of quality, but it's not quite up there with the very best gaming keyboards.

Asus TUF Gaming K3 review: design and setup

Asus TUF Gaming K3

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is a solid, reliable-feeling chunk of plastic and metal: Asus says its keys are good for 50 million keystrokes, and we can well believe that. It's a sharp, well put together input device that's going to have a dramatic impact on your desk, without being overwhelming. In fact it finds a nice balance between boldness and ostentation that we rather like.

This is a full size keyboard, complete with number pad, but it's still relatively compact – it's by no means the biggest gaming keyboard that we've come across in recent months. It's also relatively light, tipping the scales at just 1.11 kg. In the top right-hand corner as it sits on the desk is a USB passthrough cable, which you can use to connect up another accessory, charge your smartphone, and so on.

There's a magnetic wrist rest included in the retail package, which is always welcome, and overall we've got no complaints about the design or the build quality of the TUF Gaming K3 keyboard. Asus of course has years of experience when it comes to putting hardware together, so we wouldn't really expect anything else – but from the quality feel of the keys to the backlights peeking out from underneath, we were impressed.

Setup proved to be a bit of a pain – whether it was the Armoury Crate software from Asus or our rather ageing Windows computer we're not sure, but it took a few goes to get all the software up and running. The keyboard will start working as soon as you plug it into a USB-A slot of course (there's no wireless option here), but for setting macros and controlling the RGB lighting on board the keyboard you need to download the relevant software from the web and get it installed.

Asus TUF Gaming K3 review: features and performance

Asus TUF Gaming K3

(Image credit: Future)

The TUF Gaming K3 keyboard from Asus comes with a choice of blue, brown or red heavy duty Kailh mechanical switches, with 4 mm travel distance and 50-60 g of activation force. These are tall, robust keys, and while the noise that comes off them is definitely noticeable, typing on this keyboard isn't overly loud.

Typing in general is a comfortable, responsive experience, with the keys instantly reacting to the touch and providing a pleasing level of give as they're operated. Integrated anti-ghosting and n-key rollover (NKRO) technology prevents your games and other applications from ever being confused about which key you're actually trying to hit, which makes for a precise user experience.

We tested the Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard out with numerous games, and found it a pleasure to use throughout – if you fail to beat your high scores or get caught out in enemy territory then you certainly won't be able to blame it on your keyboard. Thanks to the compactness of the design, the keys are all within easy reach too (provided you've got relatively large hands, that is).

On the software side, you get eight keys that can be specifically programmed, dedicated media keys, on-the-fly macro recording support and a whole host of RGB lighting effects to pick from (including breathing, rainbow, reactive and static). Once we got the Armoury Crate software up and running, we found it simple enough to use.

Asus TUF Gaming K3 review: price and verdict

Asus TUF Gaming K3

(Image credit: Asus)

There's a lot to like about the Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard, and that includes the price – it's by no means the cheapest gaming keyboard out there, but considering the specs and the features of this model, we still think you're getting plenty of value for money – check the widgets embedded on this price for the latest online deals, but at the time of writing you're typically going to pay around the £100 mark.

You would expect a bit of flamboyance from a gaming keyboard, and the TUF Gaming K3 doesn't disappoint with its Aura Sync RGB lighting capabilities and aluminium alloy finish – but at the same time it doesn't take the aesthetics too far, and this can easily do double duty as a keyboard for professional and creative tasks as well.

Whatever you're using the Asus TUF Gaming K3 for, it impresses with its comfort and its responsiveness – keystrokes are registered in an instant, and if you're the kind of gamer (or typer) who can hit keys at a top-level pace, this is a keyboard that's going to be able to keep up with you. The anti-ghosting and NKRO tech seems to work without a problem, so you don't get distracted from whatever you're doing.

The macro programming, USB passthrough and other bonus features are just icing on top of what's already a very good cake. Perhaps the biggest issue with the Asus TUF Gaming K3 keyboard is that there are so many other good gaming keyboards around at the moment (many of them made by Asus), so be sure to check out the alternatives before buying.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.