SteelSeries Apex Pro Review
One of the finest gaming keyboards available right now offering excellent build quality, endless customisation options and some innovative new ideas.
- Keys are absurdly responsive and ripe for customisation
- OLED smart display is compelling and well executed
- Robust and stylish build quality
- RGB lighting is subtle and explosive in equal measure
- Making the most of its customisation features requires investment
- Lacks dual-function keys
- Review Price: £199.99
- Adjustable mechanical key switches
- 0.4 to 3.6mm actuation point
- Aluminium chassis with magnetic wrist-rest
- OLED Smart Display
- Customisable RGB lighting
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a premium gaming keyboard with a rare talent: customisable actuation points for every key.
While this won’t alter the feel of the keyboard, it will allow you to customise the sensitivity of each key. For example, you could set the WASD keys to be super sensitive so they trigger from the slightest of presses, while you could configure the ‘G’ key to require a deeper press to avoid accidental grenade tosses.
While this new gaming keyboard innovation is certainly impressive, it’s not quite as fleshed out as the likes of the Wooting One or Razer Huntsman V2 Analog, which can bind multiple inputs to a single key at different actuation points. But the SteelSeries Apex Pro is £50 cheaper than the latter, with an RRP of £199.99.
While it’s expensive, the Apex Pro more than justifies its asking price with a range of impressive features and build quality that sits among the higher echelon of devices I’ve reviewed in recent years. Those looking for a comfortable, robust and customisable keyboard of the highest calibre needn’t look much further than this.
Price and availability
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is available right now, from both the official SteelSeries store and third-party retailers such as Amazon.
The Apex Pro is officially priced at £199.99/$199.99/€229.99, although it is possible to get it even cheaper from the likes of Amazon Renewed.
Design and build
- A £200 gaming keyboard clearly aimed at enthusiasts
- Sports an aluminium alloy frame described as “aircraft” grade
- Comes with an optional magnetic wrist-rest for extra comfort
Upon removing it from the packaging, the Apex Pro left an immediately striking impression. It possesses a notable heft, landing on my desk with a ‘thunk’ as I plugged it in and was greeted by a gorgeous display of RGB lighting. The aluminium-alloy frame has been described as “aircraft” grade, meaning it could likely withstand a lot of punishment, although I wouldn’t recommend hurling it against a wall if you want all the keys to remain intact.
That aside, knowing the Apex Pro will certainly last through a decent amount of wear and tear makes it feel like a premium product, a facet further reinforced by its slick OLED smart display, scroll wheel and assortment of other features that elevate it above a standard gaming keyboard. You’ll also find a USB passthrough port on the back, ideal for plugging in controllers or other devices that may be removed in quick succession.
You can customise the aforementioned OLED display with a number of different statistics, or even modify it yourself to display bespoke images or text to fit your preferences. I’ll admit, it’s a fairly needless feature for the majority of gamers, but when used correctly, it’s a delightfully complimentary element that I’ve come to appreciate during my time with it.
By standard, the OLED screen will flip between the current temperature and usage of your GPU, CPU and RAM. This is great for testing how hard the latest games might be pushing your rig, or evaluating how many Google Chrome tabs it can withstand before buckling.
Delve into the customisation settings, however, and this display becomes an overwhelming basket of possibilities. It can be used to show your current music, control the actuation points of different keys, or even offer an easy way to switch between different profiles at the touch of a button
You can also adjust volume and pause videos and other media with the scroll wheel and accompanying button. It only takes up a small amount of the keyboard’s overall real estate, but this smart display is arguably what makes the Apex Pro stand out next to much of the competition. Animated GIFs and images can even be transplanted onto the display, but such a feat will require plentiful determination and extremely small custom resolution formats.
- Actuation point can be customised for every key
- Key actuation points range from 0.4 to 3.6mm
- Smart display creates a compelling multimedia experience
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is easily one of the best gaming keyboards I’ve used in recent years, possessing so many unique features and a blazing fast performance that it’s honestly hard to fault.
The keyboard is built using SteelSeries’ distinct OmniPoint switches. These boast a very snappy 0.7 millisecond response time, with an actuation point of just 0.4 millimetres. As a result, the Apex Pro feels supremely satisfying to use on a daily basis, whether smacking thousands of words into Google Docs, or playing a few rounds of Overwatch in the evening. This isn’t simply a peripheral for gamers, although it certainly leans heavily in that direction.
Each key features an actuation point ranging from 0.4 to 3.6mm, which can be customised to your liking. Bespoke actuation points housed in their own switchable profiles will be ideal for gamers who are seriously specific about the responsiveness of their keyboard. For example, competitive players could have one profile focused on Overwatch, while another can be dedicated to League of Legends. Switching between them is performed with a couple of button presses, so long as everything is confirmed in SteelSeries Engine beforehand.
It’s relatively seamless, and the difference you can make in how keys respond to your touch is genuinely astonishing at times. More casual gamers will likely be happy with the Apex Pro’s default setup, since it feels perfectly snappy outside of the box with minimal fiddling, although ignoring this feature arguably defeats the point of buying such an expensive peripheral.
The only major issue here is that customising the actuation point for every key for individual games can be a lengthy and intimidating process, so it’s probably best reserved for your most played games. The added time required to use this keyboard to its full potential might deter some, but I really think the extra bit of education is more than worthwhile. However, it is a shame that you can’t bind two functions to a single key like you can with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and Wooting One.
SteelSeries has said the Apex Pro will withstand over 100 million keypresses, so expect to keep it around for years to come upon throwing down £200. I’ve been using it for several weeks now, and I haven’t noticed any drop in performance or ease of use. If anything, the Apex Pro has only grown more intuitive as I’ve begun to gel with its unique design sensibilities, only strengthened further by sensitive yet durable keys that allow me to type at blistering speeds with little to no mistakes.
Software and lighting
- The RGB customisation options are almost limitless
- You can have it sync to music and a selection of games
- Easy to play around with in SteelSeries Engine
The Apex Pro’s RGB lighting possesses the same level of absurd customisation as the keys themselves, with all of your options being housed in SteelSeries’ bespoke programme. It’s easy to use, allowing you to register a number of profiles, each with their own distinct lighting patterns. Individual keys can be adorned with their own colour, so you could potentially make any image you like, so long as it worked within the space offered.
RGB lighting can be made to pulse or explode in a cavalcade of bright colours if you so desire, or even pulse alongside music, games and applications to make the experience more immersive. Once again, you’ll need to dedicate a bit of your own time to learn how the Apex Pro works best, but in my opinion it’s worth the investment. This is some of the best RGB lighting I’ve seen on a gaming keyboard in some time, proving itself to be both explosive and subtle in equal measure.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a fantastic gaming keyboard, featuring fast and snappy mechanical switches, while also bragging innovative features such as configurable actuation points and an OLED display.
It’s a shame that the Apex Pro misses out on dual-key functions, making the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog a more tempting proposition if you’re prepared to fork out an extra £50, yet the SteelSeries Apex Pro is still one of the absolute best gaming keyboard options you can currently buy.
You should buy it if…
- You want one of the best gaming keyboards around
The SteelSeries Apex Pro has received significant praise from players and critics alike, and such reception is more than deserved. If you want one of the best keyboards available right now, this is one well worth considering.
- Customisation is important to you
This is a keyboard that offers a robust level of customisation, not only for its RGB lighting, but also for the actuation of the keys themselves. You can dig incredibly deep here if you so desire, so this could be one for hardcore tech fans.
- You’re a competitive player
The ability to switch between different performance profiles at the touch of a button makes the Apex Pro an ideal keyboard for competitive gamers. It’s sharp, accurate and comfortable to use in a way that would hugely benefit such an environment.
You should not buy it if…
- Price is an obstacle
Coming in at £200, this is a very high-end gaming keyboard, and honestly provides an experience that reflects such an asking price. But if you want something cheaper, there are plenty of great options out there.
- You want something simple
A time investment is required to use the SteelSeries Apex Pro to its full potential, so consumers looking for a keyboard that is simply “plug in and play” might want to look elsewhere. That being said, the vanilla offering here remains stunning in spite of this.
- You want dual functions per key
The SteelSeries Apex Pro has an abundance of features, but misses out on the capability of assigning two functions to a single key with differing actuation points. If you’re willing to spend extra for this feature, check out the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog.