SteelSeries Apex Keyboard Reviewed

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When SteelSeries asked if I wanted to review their fancy new Apex keyboard I absolutely jumped at the idea. I’ve never reviewed a keyboard before and this one has lights and extra buttons and everything so this should be a lot of fun.

Shiny

It isn’t. It’s hard work. I mean how do you go about reviewing a keyboard, especially if you are mainly a software reviewer?

It has all the keys you need and when you click them they work.. there are also lights and stuff and yeah we’re done. A+? No there has to be more to this surely?

So I took a look at the marketing video for the Apex

Okay so let’s look into what you actually get with the SteelSeries Apex Keyboard

First up you’ll notice that the keyboard comes with two USB ports at the top and seeing that I never have enough USB ports this is a nice addition. Next up you will notice the lights but we’ll get back to those. SteelSeries have also added two new arrow keys which you can use for forwards and left or right.

It’s one of those little additions that makes you wonder why everyone didn’t do it? You also get 22 special programmable macro keys and 20 ghosting keys… Now I had to go find out what a ghosting key is but the idea is brilliant. Basically there are 20 keys that they have chosen where if you press up to 6 of them simultaneously the commands will still be received and they won’t block each other. This is handy, because the Apex isn’t  a mechanical keyboard.

Apex4-300x250That can give you that split second advantage in a competitive game whereas on a normal keyboard you would just stop in the open and beg to be shot. The keys chosen as ghost keys are

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Q, W, E, R, A, S, D, F
  • Left-Ctrl
  • Left Shift
  • Space bar
  • 4 arrow keys

So what about those lights?

The lighting on the edge of the keyboard is purely for show. You can change it to anyone of 16.8 million colours and change the brightness level between 8 preset options.

However the key colour isn’t purely for aesthetic purposes with the keys split into 5 independent zones and each zone’s colouring able to be set using the Apex software. You also have 4 quick access key that allow you to customise each layers colour and macro’s independently.

For example I have a soft blue hue for my programming work with some programming useful macro’s setup. Then I have my online shooter mode with red for Death in the middle and green around so I can easily keep track of where my macro’s and normal keys are.

For people who play DOTA or LoL or whatever, they are all the same anyway, you would likely use a layout specifically for your games.

Then utilising the SteelSeries engine you can also track how many button pushes you are doing and where the concentration of the keystrokes are. If you constantly miss the one key then you will be able to see exactly where you are going wrong and either remap your keys to where you naturally hit or stop being an idiot and missing your keys.

That’s the crux of the software but there are a ton of mini features that make this keyboard even better. The windows button is where you expect to find it but you can quickly disable it while gaming to ensure you don’t suddenly end up back at windows. The angle of the keyboard can be changed, you have independent media keys to control volume while gaming. And there are tactile dimples on the W key just in case your fingers get lost.

It’s not perfect though, the enter button is far too small for my liking and it’s a monster sized keyboard so if you are someone who travels a lot with your keyboard then it’s not ideal. But that’s not what it is made for.

The keyboard will set you back around R1300 and is obviously targeted at the hard-core market. It’s a lot of money but at the same time you are guaranteed to make a splash at any LAN and the quality of SteelSeries speaks for itself. This is definitely a solid piece of equipment to add to your setup.

Last Updated: November 27, 2013

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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