SteelSeries Apex Keyboard Reviewed

4 min read
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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

  • Admiral Chief Duke

    “this one has lights and extra buttons and everything so this should be a lot of fun.”

    Oh dear, now this is going to be interesting 😉

    *goes off to read*

  • Admiral Chief Duke

    “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.”

    This is rather cool!

    • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

      16.8 million colours? I call bull

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        I don’t think bull is a color choice mate

        • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

          Hmmff

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            although I guess it’s as good a name as any to give one of the thousands of shades of brown you can create I guess

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Personally I only create about four shades.

          • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

            What about Kapoen or Sharkie?

            Kapoen= A colour between Kak and Pampoen
            Sharkie= A colour between Shit and khaki

          • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

            Isn’t Sharkie the same color as “Baby Shit Green”?

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Well, shit and khaki beat all the other rugby teams this season. How embarrassing.

      • Lourens Jordaan

        Let me count them…. one…. two ….. threeeeeee…..oh crap…. one, two, three, four, hey it’s pursday….. aaaaaaah!!!……1, 2, 3, etc…..

        • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

          59! one hundred sixty seven!
          Ten!
          One!
          NINE THOUSAND!

          • Lourens Jordaan

            You asshole. Lost count. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. I have to say that this would have been easier if I weren’t colour blind.

          • Admiral Chief Duke

            5 8 3 9 6 3 13

          • Lourens Jordaan

            58396314, 58396315, 58396316, 58396317……

          • Lourens Jordaan

            I was almost up to the fiftieth shade of grey when you interrupted me.

      • Any colour wheel can give you 16.8 million colours.. it’s an old marketing BS tactic that is true

        • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

          Haha. Quite. I have to use a pantone daily.

  • Admiral Chief Duke

    Out of 10, what would you rate it Gav?

    Looks like a solid, awesome keyboard (this is a lot coming from a Razer fan like myself)

    • I avoid rating hardware with points because I honestly don’t think I’m qualified… it is the best keyboard I’ve personally used but I’d prefer mechanical with a larger enter button so say 9?

      • Admiral Chief Duke

        Noted, thanks

        • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

          He is not qualified, he does not have an AMBE degree.(Articulating Male Bovine Excrement)

          (a.k.a Talking Bullshit)

  • ProtestTheMossel

    So if I just so happen to want to crouch (c), throw a granade (g) and do a melee attack (v) I’m pretty screwed.

    • Admiral Chief Duke

      You want to melee your grenade?

      I’d say in your case that’s a safety feature, and you should be thankful

      😛

      • ProtestTheMossel

        Im hardcore like that. I kill granades with knives! Kamakazi style!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Do you also rocket-crouch? 😉

          • ProtestTheMossel

            DO YOU NOT?!

        • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

          Makes me think of this…

          • ProtestTheMossel

            hahaha!!! Talos save us! It’s so pointy!

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            hehehe that made me giggle

          • Unavengedavo(aka. MadeYouLook)

            Hehe, but what if he trips and falls?

          • Vampyric Squirrel of the Sith

            He becomes a hedgehog

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Then he rolls up in a ball and becomes a human morning star

          • Matthew Holliday

            poor ground

      • HvR

        He is a hardcore Fruit Ninja.

    • Admiral Chief Duke

      Oh, and its GRENADE

    • Matthew Holliday

      youd be surprised, in competative gaming, how limiting it is only being able to use 3 keys.
      I used to play CoD4 semi competatively in 2008/9, and situations like strafing diagonally left, holding breath with a sniper and going for a jump shot, and suddenly i dont jump, end up shooting the empty wall in front of my face, and the enemy just rocks up at my doorstep with an SMG because i revealed myself on the map.

      keyboards also have reaction times, have you ever watched a korean starcraft player with their amazing APM, and wonder what would happen if they had a shitty normal keyboard?

      • Andy-Jay Johnson

        I know it’s about five months after your comment, however I’d like to draw your attention to this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aNNqCc3GS4

        Those keyboards will set you back about $10-15 in Korea, anc they generally replace them fairly regularly since membrane keyboards harden up the more you use them, and DRG averages somewhere between 300-400apm. Recorded earlier this year as well

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    ” hit or stop being an idiot and missing your keys.” made me lol

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    *drool*

  • ProtestTheMossel

    There is but onething that pisses me with a keyboard: A small (one button size) backspace. I keep on hitting the damn key next to it!

    • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

      That and I also say that there is a special place in hell for the guy who decided to make the enter key I shaped instead of the old inverted L. The long flat one like on this keyboard also works though.

      • ProtestTheMossel

        Oh man, I shaped enter key. This sums up my reaction.

  • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

    I actually really need a new keyboard, since I’ve now replaced my mouse. But this is a bit much

    • HvR

      Got my new Tte Saphira yesterday.

      First “gaming mouse” after my MS Optical mouse died after 13 years . RIP

      • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

        My MS mouse is actually still going (first optical mouse I ever owned), but thought I deserved a gaming mouse. I got a DeathTaker now. A gaming mouse really does make a difference.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    I think that Steelseries should play it cool and give one of these to Lazygamer to give away in a lucky draw. Yep. I think that’s the right thing to do

    • Admiral Chief Duke

      Seconded

      • Kensei Seraph

        Thirded.

        Motion accepted.

    • Matthew Holliday

      a Steelseries Christmas giveaway sounds appealing.

      • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

        I will take it, no need to fight over such a thing.

        • Matthew Holliday

          I would fight you if you won
          meet you outside bayside KFC?

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Where is that? I’m assuming near a bay somewhere?

          • Kensei Seraph

            We’d need to organize some kind of gladiator-style tournament.

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Awesome. Do we at least get food before the fight? It makes losing easier to deal with.

          • Kensei Seraph

            Too expensive to feed several hundred gamers.

            I mean think of the hospital fees alone.

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            True. Though I’m sure people would pay to watch. What’s not funny about a bunch of gamers (99% of which have never been in a fight) trying to box?

          • Kensei Seraph

            I’m sure most gamers have played some form of fighting game.
            Imagine all the people who will try to do a Shinkou Hadouken.

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I’m more curious to see someone do the Johnny Cage split-punch

          • Matthew Holliday

            We’ll find out who really lifts.

          • Kensei Seraph

            Not me.

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I lift glasses of wine. One after the other

      • Kensei Seraph

        Throw in a Siberia Elite headset and a mouse and it would be perfect.

        • Matthew Holliday

          Those Elites
          ermagurd

  • Matthew Holliday

    been staring at this keyboard for weeks, a few thoughts:

    -i like the positioning of the volume and stuff buttons on the right, right next to your mouse hand, nice and big aswell.
    -the 2 bumps on the ‘s’ key is fantastic, really simple but REALLY usefull.

    -the colour specific macros is actually really usefull for gaming, having the left panel a different colour for your micro’d units, just to see in your peripheral vision is amazing.
    Ive been struggling with my dota lately because i simply dont have enough buttons to macro everything to. makes controlling heroes like chen and lon druid way simpler.
    but i dont see too much benefit for shooters etc.

    Really considering spoiling myself.

    • The only benefit I could think off for shooters is the missed key engine and then changing the lights so your brain recognises you are in a different shooter?

      • Matthew Holliday

        the miss key and being able to push up to 6 is pretty usefull for shooters, but thats available with other cheaper keyboards aswell.
        the lights on my Lycosa have never made much of a difference in shooters for me.

        • Kensei Seraph

          I’ve only ever used 2 light settings on my Lycosa.
          All on for when I’m using it or all off for when I leave my PC on overnight.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            lol me too!

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            I thought you put it on dim when you get intimate.

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            No. That’s the pulsate light function you are thinking of

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            O_o

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            along with some soft Barry White music playing through those steel series headphones

          • John’s (JJ’s) finest excuse

            Barry White can make any person in any situation feel hot and flustered.

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Just don’t become too flustered and drop that… mouse

          • Admiral Chief Duke

            Lol. same tactic here dude!

    • hairyknees

      I have this keyboard. Its awesome 😀

      • Admiral Chief Duke

        So your insane DOTAS has not broken it?

        😛

        • hairyknees

          Hahaha not just yet. I actually haven’t sat and worked out and macros yet 😡

          • Matthew Holliday

            do it, makes it much easier to control bear, while keeping your regular item slot hotkeys.

      • Matthew Holliday

        then ysobad at Lone Druid =D?

        • Admiral Chief Duke

          LOOOOOL

        • ToshZA

          hahahahaha

          • hairyknees

            PSH! Admiral Bulldog is my stage name! 😛

  • Rags

    Bit expensive for non mechanical. Also the ghosting keys do not apply to Tony Hawk keys C, V and B 🙁

  • ToshZA

    There’s always one question I have to ask for keyboards, because so far every keyboard I’ve ever had has died for one reason alone: Is it spill resistant? Can I mess my coffee or coke on the thing, and still expect it to work?

    • hmm not sure how happy SteelSeries would be if I did that…

      • Admiral Chief Duke

        Take one for the team!

        • ToshZA

          R1300 is a lot to take for the team man. That’s kinda why I ask, because I’m loath to spend so much on something that could die on me next week. Totally my fault as well, so warranties don’t cover my clumsy ass.

        • Kensei Seraph

          *ring ring*
          Hello?
          Um, hi I’m just phoning to ask if the Apex keyboard you gave us to review is spill resistant?
          Sorry but no it isn’t. Why do you ask?
          Oh, no reason.
          *beep beep*

          Dammit Darry why’d you have to spill you coffee on the keyboard?

          • ToshZA

            If it was Darryn, it wouldn’t be coffee that got spilled. *RUNS*

          • Admiral Chief Duke

            O_O

          • Kensei Seraph

            Coffee is used as an euphemism. This is a family website after all.
            *cloaks and sprints*

          • ToshZA

            Gives a new meaning to brown sugar. AMIRITE?! hahahaha. *RUNS AGAIN*

          • Admiral Chief Duke

            For some reason I thought the reply was gonna be something like

            q209348yla
            1324
            f452woiu4a
            35[a;ds
            we57;o3tew
            43’rkqqerw
            twer

  • Sk3tz0

    Right Now any keyboard be better than my crusty outdated Z Board.. lol.. But 1300 Coin rather much.. any1 know of a cheaper option. thats good for gaming and typing..

  • Dominik

    steelaeries apex key V and f didnt work help me pls

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