The Apex keyboard is the flagship model of the SteelSeries keyboard line. With this keyboard having such a distinction, you know this is going to have some serious customization options. It features 22 macro keys with 4 layers each giving you a total of 88 macro keys ready for your programming. This is a ton of keys to program your favorite macros into and you can rest assured that you’ll always have room for one more programmable button. All the macros are stored in the software that comes with the unit. This makes recording and executing macros easy to do and convenient to modify. Since there are so many extra buttons, this keyboard is very large. While this doesn’t affect our score for this particular item, it is something to think about if you plan on using this keyboard with space constraints.
The Apex is priced for a very reasonable, $99. This gives you a tremendous value for your money. With many gaming keyboards reaching well into the mid-to-upper $100 range and beyond, this keyboard is priced to sell. However, it should be noted that SteelSeries does offer a slightly cheaper option than then Apex called the Apex Raw. This keyboard doesn’t have some of the more high-end options like the illuminated keys and a few less programmable keys, but it is priced about $20 lower than this model. If you are tight on space or don’t need a lot of macros, that is the keyboard you want. If you want to spend a little more and get a keyboard that is a lot nicer looking and has a few more bells-and-whistles, this is keyboard you should consider.
This keyboard has a number of great features that should appeal to both hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike. First thing to consider is the illuminated keys. Having your keyboard glow allows you to use your keyboard without a problem in low-lighting conditions. Thankfully, every key on this keyboard glows but it does more than that. There are five different color zones on the keyboard with eight different intensity levels for each zone and you can control what zone glows what color with one of the four pre-arranged lighting keys on the board itself, or you can create your own scheme using the software provided. They keyboard looks beautiful and it is one of the most visually customizable keyboards on the market today.
Once you move past the visuals, there is plenty to love about the keyboard itself. The keys themselves are flat and it closely resembles a laptop style of key. If you are used to an older keyboard, using the Apex will take some getting used to since the feel is quite different. Thankfully, it shouldn’t take too long to fully adjust to the modified key feel and layout. Once you adjust to the new layout, you’ll quickly realize that this keyboard has lots of features that make sure your gaming experience is smooth. The keyboard has anti-ghosting technology built-in to 20 of the most frequently used gaming keys that allows the keyboard to register multiple key presses. While you should be gaming with a controller, if you had to use the gaming keyboard, you can rest assured that it will do the job. Along the right side of the board is the media control keys and they are designed to control your favorite music software. It worked with everything we tried including iTunes, Windows Media Player and Winamp. Every key worked in every situation so we really enjoyed being able to control the music right on the keyboard.
Finally, the board does have two USB ports on the back of the board. If you decide to use the integrated hub, you will have to sacrifice two USB plugs in the back of your computer. One to run the board itself and the other to power the hub. However, you do get two ports on the keyboard for the price of one USB port on the back of your computer. It is very convenient to have these plugs so close and it makes it easier to plug in controllers, thumb drives or anything else you need.
As we mentioned earlier, when switching to the Apex, there is a little bit of an adjustment period. We happen to be used to an older keyboard that used big keys that were concave. The Apex features smaller, flat keys so mastering this keyboard out of the box may not be a smooth transition for everyone. However, once you give it some time and watch yourself type for a few sessions, you’ll come to appreciate the form and function of the keyboard.
We also mentioned that this keyboard is very big, but it makes using they keyboard very comfortable. There is a built in area on the bottom of the board where you can rest your wrist on and it makes lining up your hands a little easier. We also really enjoy the oversized space bar. It isn’t any longer than your standard space bar but it is about twice as deep allowing you to space your fingers further away from your thumbs. As someone with particularly long fingers, this made typing a lot more comfortable than the normal claw typing position I normally have to use.
While the board doesn’t have much padding or higher-end ergonomic design, it does the job well and provide a surprisingly comfortable way to type.
Overall, the SteelSeries Apex is a solid keyboard for most application you’ll encounter. It is a rather large keyboard, with all the macro buttons, so if you don’t have a lot of space this keyboard could take over your gaming area. However, if you need a lot of keys for your gaming or you want something that looks flashy, this keyboard is definitely for you. You get a great looking keyboard with some great gaming touches and the best part is that this keyboard is very affordable. Therefore, if you need a keyboard, you just can’t go wrong with the SteelSeries Apex!