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SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Keyboard Review

By Damien Gula on December 01, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Keyboard Review

Back in May, SteelSeries announced a new Pro line of Apex keyboards. With promises of variable actuation points and a brand new style of switches, SteelSeries declared the Apex Pro as the world’s fastest keyboard. We got our hands on one for review and we’re about to find out if this holds true!

Specifications

  • MSRP: $199.99 USD
  • Switches: OmniPoint
  • Actuation Force: 45cN
  • Actuation Point: 0.4mm to 3.6mm
  • Response Time: 0.7ms
  • Key Caps: Plastic
  • RGB: Dynamic Per-key illumination
  • Software: SteelSeries Engine
  • Anti-ghosting, 104 N key roll-over
  • Air-craft grade aluminum alloy top plate
  • Magnetic wrist rest
  • USB Pass-through port

SteelSeries’ new line up of Apex Pro keyboards includes both full-size and ten-keyless version. Both keyboards have a premium features set built into them. From an OLED Smart display, the Series 5000 aluminum alloy frame, USB passthrough port, and the brand new OmniPoint adjustable switches, this update to the line-up aims to put the “pro” in the name.

While it sounds like some form of technomantic wizardry, the ability to set variable actuation points on keyboard switches is not new. We saw a similar, albeit limited, form of this on the REALFORCE RGB with it’s Topre switches. However, the OmniPoint switches work a bit differently that the Topre ones.

Rather than relying on an optical sensor or mechanical switch, the OmniPoint switches leverages the Hall effect. Using magnetic fields to judge the distance between two pole pieces, the Apex Pro is able to set the right sensitivity for the task at hand. And that was the push for SteelSeries - to create a single switch for any purpose. Need super sensitive keys for the heat of competitive gaming? The Apex Pro has got you covered. Need to hammer out some e-mails or a term paper. The Apex Pro can handle that, too.

So, how does this function in the real world? Pretty well.

With the SteelSeries engine, you can set the Apex Pro to switch sensitivities in between 0.4mm and 3.6mm, done on a 10-scale. These settings can also be tied to specific applications, so if you’re looking for high reaction time in Destiny but be want to chill things out in Microsoft Word, you can set up a profile to do just that. When is comes to the sensitivity settings, only thing we aren’t quite clear on with the Apex Pro is what increment change happens at per level.

Speaking of customization, the SteelSeries Apex Pro offers per key RGB control. Much like the accusation settings, RGB lighting can be programmed by application and saved to a preset. It’s a pretty robust system. Through the SteelSeries Engine, you can select one of eleven base effect, such as a Color Shift and add one of three reactive layers on top of that. Go deeper in your customization by adding an AFK color scheme with timers.

The Apex Pro is also equipped with an OLED Smart Display. When partnered with an application, the display can show vital information and game data. For example, the OLED can display information from Discord that could be helpful in an MMO raid setting as someone calls out for healing… unless you’re the guy always crying, “Heal on Belzad!” You can also use it for memes… whatever suits your needs. The setup of the OLD feature is a bit less intuitive than the rest of the keyboard and does require partner apps to function well.

Fast, variable switches, Smart Displays, and RGB lighting are great but just how sturdy is the Apex Pro?

Well, that depends on which part you are talking about.

From a top plate standpoint, the Apex Pro is a decently solid keyboard. The aluminum alloy frame is said to be “aircraft grade” and the magnetic wrist rest has a smooth, high quality feel to it. However, once you start poking below the surface, things get a bit underwhelming. The base and key caps are made out of a light plastic that feels out of place on a keyboard of this caliber. That being said, the Apex Pro has virtually zero flex in the board itself; the aluminum top keeps the interior protected.

Final Thoughts

The Apex Pro is an impressive specimen. SteelSeries was no joking when they said they were aiming to create one of the most versatile keyboards on the market. While we have seen similar functionality and fast actuation speeds in other keyboards, the OmniPoint switches represent a new evolution in keyboard switches.

While there are some build decisions made that feel slightly less-than-Pro, the aluminum top of one of the better tops that I have seen on a mechanical keyboard. It’s wrap around design provides stability and protection where it is needed the most.

If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard that can switch on the fly between productivity and play, the Apex Pro is worth a deeper look. With high levels of customization, application-base behavior, and USB pass-trough, the Apex Pro could be a go-to board for people who use their system for more than gaming without having to compromising on function in either space.

Pros

  • Highly versatile with customizable options (Per-key RGB and actuation)
  • USB pass-through give connectivity right on your desktop
  • Sturdy aluminum top

Cons

  • Key caps and base feel a little lackluster compared to the rest of the board
  • OLED Smart Display seems underutilized

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.