SteelSeries Apex Illuminated Gaming Keyboard Review

by Ryan Perry on July 3, 2014 in Peripherals

The way the gaming keyboard market has been lately, you’d almost have to guess that rubber-domed models simply no longer existed. In fact, we haven’t taken a look at a non-mechanical keyboard in over two-and-a-half years. Believe it or not though, non-mechs still exist, and as SteelSeries’ Apex proves, they can still be very good.

Page 2 – Testing & Final Thoughts

In-game testing for the Apex comes courtesy of my new favourite MMO, WildStar. Carbine Studios has done a fantastic job with keeping what many of us love about standard MMOs, and jazzed it up with active combat telegraphs – meaning there’s no more standing still and hitting the same keys in sequence until the target goes down. You’re always on the move, and always firing, which means I need to make some changes to the default layout.

Without going into too much detail, the first thing I did was to create a profile for WildStar, set this profile to load when the game is loaded, and then set specific colours for the two macro zones on each layer, which should help keep track of which layer is active since there’s no indicator. Next were a few custom macros, some single button key bindings, and the rest is setup history.

SteelSeries Apex Gaming Keyboard

Overall, I find the SteelSeries Engine 2 software to be very slick and intuitive. It’s not overly complicated for the average gamer, but hardcore gamers are able to drill down and create anything that will hopefully give them the edge on the battlefield.

In-game performance was great. Each key press registered properly, there was no locking even when mashing multiple keys at the same time, and all of my macros and key bindings functioned properly. Thanks to the layout I was able to have all of my skills in close proximity to the WASD keys, which made for an easier time killing and healing… and dying.

When it comes to general use such as typing, there were no issues to report. Even though the keys are low profile, the travel distance is typical for rubber domed keyboards, as is the feel. At first it felt as if the keys were shifted ever so slightly to the left, which made them feel almost crowded. There always seems to be an adjustment period with any new keyboard, so after toughing it out and using the Apex for a few weeks I’ve adapted to it nicely.

Something else to note is that the multimedia keys function in applications other than Windows Media Player, which is something that Rob noted (and complained about lacking) in a previous product review. The multimedia keys did exactly what they needed to do when viewing videos in VLC Media Player.

For those who like a little bit of show with their go, the customizable back lighting looks fantastic. Since the Apex uses individual LEDs, it doesn’t suffer from the shortcomings of electroluminescent lighting, which can cause only part of the key to appear lit depending on the viewing angle.

SteelSeries Apex Gaming Keyboard

If I had to find fault with anything, it would be that the SteelSeries logo above the number pad is much brighter and the colour is slightly different compared to the other keys, but this can be tweaked using the available options. Also, it would have been nice to see the Apex supported by the latest SteelSeries Engine software, but progress marches on, and version 2 is certainly no slouch.

If this is all I have to complain about, then the Apex is a dream for those who don’t want to switch over to a mechanical keyboard. The build quality is fantastic with every little flex, and there’s enough heft to the keyboard to give it a premium feel. The software is well-thought-out and easy to understand, and during our testing time there were no problems whatsoever.

As mentioned near the beginning of this review, the Apex is a wide keyboard, but if you have the desk space, and the ~$88 US needed to pick one up, I suggest you do so.

To the rest of the mechanical keyboard-loving Techgage staff, I thumb my nose at all of you because it looks like I’ll be able to spare myself and my sleeping family from the clickity clack of mechanical keyboards for a little while longer.

SteelSeries Apex Illuminated Gaming Keyboard - Techgage Editor's Choice
SteelSeries Apex Illuminated Gaming Keyboard

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