Since being founded in 2001, SteelSeries have become one of the leading manufacturers of gaming keyboards, mice, and headsets. And in 2019, they released the SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard, which features state-of-the-art mechanical switches, an OLED screen, and full RGB lighting.
But, in the ever-growing gaming component market, how does the Apex Pro stand up to the competition? Let’s go through our in-depth SteelSeries Apex Pro review to find out…
- 1 Design
- 2 OmniPoint Switches
- 3 SteelSeries Engine
- 4 Performance
- 5 SteelSeries Apex Pro Review Pros and Cons
- 6 Top Gaming Gear
- 7 SteelSeries Apex Pro Review – Final Thoughts
At first glance, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is roughly the same size as an ordinary office keyboard. Until you attach the rather large magnetic wrist rest that comes included, that is.
SteelSeries crafted the Apex Pro from aircraft-grade aluminum that measures 17.2” wide by 4.4” deep. Space is managed well enough for them to incorporate 104 keys as well as an OLED display and media wheel on to the keyboard.
It features adjustable feet that allow you to position it at one of two angles for increased ergonomics. This is great to see since it allows for a more comfortable experience during long gaming sessions.
Running out from the back of the keyboard just above the OLED display, you will find a thick 7’ long USB cable. This USB cable splits into two USB-A connections at its end. One of the USB connections is needed to power the keyboard. The other is used in conjunction with the USB pass-through port found on the keyboard’s top left-hand side.
The wrist rest…
Along the front of the keyboard, you will notice a small magnetic strip that secures the included wrist rest in place. When you attach this to the keyboard, it will increase the keyboard’s overall depth by a further 3.9”.
The overall size of the keyboard is relatively compact compared to other full-sized gaming keyboards. SteelSeries has done a terrific job of keeping the keyboard bezels as small as possible. The keyboard layout truly maximizes the amount of space it has without looking cramped and cluttered either. At just over two pounds, it feels solid and doesn’t flex when being used.
The highlight of this keyboard is the OmniPoint switches SteelSeries has equipped the Apex Pro with. What sets an OmniPoint switch apart from other mechanical switches is its adjustability.
Let us explain…
On your standard mechanical keyboard, you may have to depress the key 2.0mm and wait up to 6.0 milliseconds for it to be registered. While that may not seem exceptionally long to you, it is a whole different story for a professional gamer.
With SteelSeries OmniPoint switches, the time to actuate a key is much less since it uses a magnetic field to register a keypress. This allows for key response times to be eight times faster, taking as little as 0.7 milliseconds to register!
OmniPoint switches also have adjustable actuation. You can set the travel distance required to be as little as 0.4mm or as much as 3.6mm!
Not all the keys on the Apex Pro have adjustable actuation, though. Adjustable actuation is only available on the main keyboard section to the left of the direction keys and below the function keys.
These OmniPoint switches are also more durable than standard mechanical switches since there is no metal-on-metal contact. This also makes them relatively quiet, no matter what the actuation point is set to.
Your typical mechanical switch will start to degrade after 20 million key presses. SteelSeries has tested these switches to be just as responsive after 100 million key presses.
Backlighting and OLED…
One of the most differential things about a gaming keyboard is its backlighting. Unlike your typical office keyboard with basic one-color backlighting, a gaming keyboard usually has RGB lighting.
The Apex Pro features dynamic per-key RGB lighting, which is integrated on the keyboard’s body under the keycaps.
The backlighting supplies a warm glow around each key while still illuminating the letters or numbers on each keycap. Therefore, even in a pitch-black room, you can easily make out each key on the keyboard.
That’s not all…
Another thing that lights up is the little OLED screen on the top right of the keyboard. This screen can be used to play your favorite gif or to adjust a few settings like the actuation or backlight brightness directly from the keyboard.
It will not give you complete control over the keyboard like the SteelSeries Engine software will, though. However, we found it particularly helpful when adjusting the key actuation on the fly.
How does that work?
When you pull up the actuation settings on the OLED, it will show you a bar that goes from one to ten. The smaller the number, the shallower the actuation point will be.
As you scroll through the different sensitivity levels, you can also test out the key response. Simply press down a key, and the bar on the OLED screen will move, allowing you to see when the key is registered, making it super easy to fine-tune.
It is also worth noting that you can use the OLED interface to select and change keyboard profiles. The Apex Pro has integrated memory that will allow you to save up to five profiles directly to the keyboard.
To get the most out of this keyboard, you will need to download and install the SteelSeries Engine software. It is available to both Windows and Mac operating systems directly from the SteelSeries website.
To customize the keyboard, you will see a key binding, illumination, actuation, and an OLED menu. The key binding section allows you to remap pretty much every key on the keyboard.
You can also use the menu to create custom one-touch macros or even disable keys entirely. It even allows you to adjust the meta-layer keys you have access to when you press down the SteelSeries button as well.
The actuation menu will allow you to adjust the sensitivity of your keys individually or in groups. Once you select the keys, you would like to modify, simply choose an actuation level between one and ten, save, and you are all set.
The third menu allows you to adjust the backlighting of the keyboard. Just like how you could individually set the actuation of each key, you can also adjust the lighting of each key as well.
Lastly, you have the OLED menu, which allows you to upload custom made GIFs to the screen. You could upload pretty much any image you find on the web, and the SteelSeries Engine will automatically convert it for you.
All the profiles you create for your keyboard will be saved online to the SteelSeries CloudSync. This will allow you to share and access your custom profiles no matter where you are.
The software that works in coordination with your keyboard is essential to the keyboard’s useability. SteelSeries has really nailed it. We find their Engine software to be the best out there when it comes to ease of use and overall customization.
Also, with their Engine software, you can download their Discord app. It will notify you of missed messages and even allow you to see who is speaking right on the keyboard’s OLED screen.
They also have apps for games like CS:GO and League of Legends. These game-specific apps will optimize the lighting of the keyboard and its sensitivity allowing for quicker response times.
According to SteelSeries, the OmniPoint switches are the fastest mechanical switches ever created, and we would not doubt it.
We tested this keyboard out by playing some exceedingly popular games like Fortnight and World of Warcraft, and even in the office while typing up this review.
What we found…
First, we recommend having a few different profiles set up for when you are gaming and when you are not. Thanks to the integrated OLED, you can easily change between profiles quickly without even needing to load up the SteelSeries Engine software.
Depending on how sensitive you have the key’s actuation set to, typing can be rather challenging, to say the least.
When the actuation is set to its limits, accidental key presses can quickly occur when you are merely typing up an email. It almost seems hard to keep up with the keyboard; it just registers everything so quickly. However, once you decide to load up a first-person shooter like Fortnight, you will definitely welcome the increased sensitivity.
How long it takes to register a keypress can make the difference between winning a match or not. And with the Apex Pro, every move you make is lightning quick!
Another thing with the Apex Pro that will help you achieve victory is the anti-ghosting technology it has. On your average keyboard, you may only be able to press down four keys at a time and have them all register. With the Apex Pro, you can press down every single key simultaneously, and they will all register!
While we could not imagine ever needing to press down on every key at once, it still is nice knowing that long key combinations will always register.
SteelSeries Apex Pro Review Pros and Cons
- Ease of use.
- Dynamic per-key RGB lighting.
- Superior customization options.
- Set key response time down to 0.7 milliseconds!
- Anti-ghosting technology.
- Discord app for extra features.
- Access stored profiles anywhere with SteelSeries CloudSync.
- On the expensive side.
- Not the latest technology out there.
Top Gaming Gear
Speaking of the top gaming keyboards, why not compare this model to those in our Best Expensive Gaming Keyboards Review?
Or, you might be interested in our Best Silent Mouse for Gaming Review, our Best Sound Card Review, our Best CPU for Gaming Reviews, our Best Powerline Adapters for Gaming Review, our Best Network Switches for Gaming Review, or our Best Motherboard CPU Combos Review?
Big and tall and can’t find a comfortable chair for your gaming? No problem! Read our Best Gaming Chairs for Big and Tall Men Review! On a tight budget but want a second monitor? Have no fear! Just read about the Best Gaming Monitor Under 300 dollars, the Best Gaming Monitors Under 200 dollars, or even our Best Gaming Monitor Under 100 Review for 2021.
Back to today’s review…
SteelSeries Apex Pro Review – Final Thoughts
So, should you buy a SteelSeries Apex Pro?
Well, the price of the Apex Pro has not really changed much since it was initially released. It still comes at a premium price, but considering it is one of, if not the best keyboard available, we are not surprised.
SteelSeries Apex Pro’s OmniPoint switches are still the best out there. Thanks to their adjustable actuation, anyone can benefit from the precision this keyboard offers.
For the die-hard gamers, we think the Apex Pro is pretty much a no brainer. With the Apex Pro at your fingertips, your competition will not stand a chance.