Ah, the feeling of a new mechanical keyboard. If you’ve never used a mechanical keyboard before, then you are in for a treat. That satisfying clunk as you push in each key as opposed to a dull thud.
Anyone in the market for a high-quality mechanical gaming keyboard will probably already be aware of SteelSeries. Their Apex 7 offers a full-sized keyboard with full features and somehow manages to squeeze it into a remarkably compact design.
We take a closer look in our SteelSeries Apex 7 review to see if it deserves to sit on your desktop, providing full control over your rig.
This is certainly an attractive keyboard with its low-profile, borderless design. It somehow manages to squeeze everything into a 17.2” x 5.3” (437 x 135 mm) chassis without it feeling too tight or cramped.
Aircraft-grade aluminum is used on the keyframe. For the base, SteelSeries has instead used high-quality ABS plastic during construction. It still feels rigid and sturdy and should handle daily abuse with ease.
Playing in the right key…
Elevated keycaps give you a peek towards the mechanical switches which lay below. The keycaps themselves are also molded from ABS plastic. Each key has a slight curvature for your finger to rest into, along with laser etching for the legend.
There is a choice of in-house SteelSeries switches depending on your preference during purchase. Choose between Blue for tactile and clicky, Brown for tactile and quiet, or Red for linear and quiet. All popular choices are covered.
Functions and customization…
You will notice additional functions doubled up on some of the keys, such as media controls and macro shortcuts. These can all be accessed using the SteelSeries button down in the bottom right, used like a Function Shift button.
For additional function possibilities, in the top right corner of the keyboard is a small OLED screen. A wheel and button are just to the side of it, which are used to control a range of options that we will look at more closely later.
You’ll be pleased to know that a magnetic wrist rest is included with the Apex 7. Something that, for some reason, is lacking in many of today’s keyboards. Not only is it included, but it’s also made of soft-touch material and is surprisingly comfortable.
No matter which mechanical switch you choose, they all feature 2 mm actuation. This allows for quick input when either typing or entering game commands. Unfortunately, all of the switches do feel like they lack some resistance, giving them a slightly spongy feel.
Having a USB port easily accessible is undoubtedly handy and saves potentially needing to crawl under a desk. At the very top left of the Apex 7, you’ll find a single USB 2.0 port that can be used for a flash drive, transmitter, or other USB devices.
As another added convenience, the Apex 7 offers 100% anti-ghosting with 104 key rollover. No keypresses will ever be lost, no matter how fast inputs are made. Every press will register, allowing you to put more concentration into your gaming.
OLED screen menu system…
Performing like a command center, the OLED display can help guide you through a range of functions. These include adjusting volume or screen brightness, choosing game profiles, recording customized key macros, and more.
All of these commands can be controlled using the clickable metal scroll wheel and programmable button. Many of the commands can also be achieved using keyboard shortcuts or with the included software if you prefer.
One standout feature if you’re into this type of thing is the RGB lighting. It is exceptionally bright and vibrant. It is easily set through the desktop software offering per-key illumination. You can choose from a range of built-in effects or even create your own.
Once you have all your own personal settings dialed in, you can save up to five different profiles. These are all saved directly to the keyboard itself, so no matter where you take it, it’s ready to go when you are.
Downloading SteelSeries’ Engine 3 software will allow you to perform a range of tasks. Everything from Firmware updates, RGB lighting effects, profile settings, as well as more advanced user-defined functions.
Some particular settings are only available through the use of this software; however, most can still be performed without. But who wants to miss out on uploading custom images and GIFs to the OLED display?
Easy to navigate…
Compared with other software packages, Engine 3 is cleanly laid out. It is broken into three main sections, which are Key Bindings, Illumination, plus OLED & Settings. Accessing both simple and more advanced options is straightforward and easy to navigate.
Everything is possible within this software that you could possibly need when it comes to customizing your Apex 7. From preset profiles up to individual key remapping, including repeat pressing and delay selection.
While there are a few minor drawbacks, like the spongy key feeling mentioned earlier, this keyboard performs where it should. It is a pleasure to use while gaming and provides incredibly pleasing results across a range of gaming genres.
Above all else, while entering commands, the Apex 7 is comfortable, responsive, and precise. This is all possible in combination with the detachable wrist rest, short actuation on the keys, and quality switches.
Record on the fly…
One of our favorite gaming features is the ability to record macros on-the-fly. This is particularly useful if you are into MMO games. The only notable downside of this feature is that there are no dedicated macro keys.
For non-gaming operations, typing on this keyboard is still an accurate and comfortable prospect. Although it has been primarily designed as a gaming keyboard, most will only suffer around a 3 to 5 word per minute loss with no effect in accuracy.
There are a few factors making this keyboard stand out from the rest. Our favorites are the OLED display and metal scroll wheel. It makes quickly accessing features easy without having to add too many additional buttons.
We also believe that the individual key illumination provided by the RGB lighting is some of the best in the business. The legends on the keys are large and easy to identify, but when that magical RGB is added, it really becomes something else.
Pros And Cons Of SteelSeries Apex 7
- Full-sized keyboard in a compact design.
- Convenience of USB passthrough.
- Bright and vivid customizable RGB lighting.
- Easy to navigate, comprehensive software.
- OLED for easy access to profiles and functions.
- Solid and reliable performance during gaming.\
- Mechanical switches can feel spongy.
- Metal only used in the frame, not the base.
- Keycaps are not the most comfortable available.
- Many other options are available in the price range.
Other Excellent Gaming Keyboard Options?
If you’d like to get a comprehensive picture of what’s truly out there in the world of superb gaming keyboards, head to our Best Membrane Keyboards Review, the Best Topre Mechanical Keyboards Review, the Best Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Reviews, or even our Best Expensive Gaming Keyboards Review!
Creating your ideal gaming setup is now easier than ever. Check out the Best Silent Mouse for Gaming Review, the Smallest ATX Cases Review, the Best 140mm Case Fans Review, the Best Powerline Adapters for Gaming Review, the Best Motherboard CPU Combos Review, or our Best Gaming Desks Reviews in 2021!
Big and tall and can’t get comfortable at your gaming desk? No problemo! Simply read our Best Gaming Chairs for Big and Tall Men Review!
Back to today’s review…
SteelSeries Apex 7 Review – Our Verdict
In a very competitive market, keyboard manufacturers need to provide a high-quality product with useful features at a great price. SteelSeries is one of the leaders for this very reason, offering a range of fantastic products.
We feel that on this occasion, the SteelSeries Apex 7 will be suitable for most gamers with its easily customizable features. In a very busy market, though, we are lucky to have so many great options available.
If you think that a compact, full-sized keyboard with awesome RGB and clever function controls is just what you want, then this product is definitely for you.