There’s so much packed into the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL that it’s hard to know where to start. Read our SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Review.
SteelSeries’ own adjustable OmniPoint switches? The built-in OLED display? The swish magnetic wrist rest? The illuminated USB socket? All are worthy candidates, but first impressions are so often what count, and its the design of this keyboard that strikes the first chord.
The TKL layout helps here, as this more compact form factor always looks more appealing than the sprawling mess of full-sized models. The edges of the keyboard are also cleverly cut at various angles in order to slim down the overall look, although in practice the Apex Pro isn’t significantly more low-profile than the other models on test. The top also includes a slab of aluminium, with a lovely sandblasted and anodised finish, which attractively diffuses the RGB lighting that spills out onto it. Even the wrist rest adds to the overall premium and stylish impression, with its thick rubber top, sharp angles and magnetic attachment.
This keyboard isn’t all about show either. There are practical additions, such as the inclusion of cable-routing options on the underside, so the cable can exit from the left, middle or right of the back of the keyboard. And yes, there’s that illuminated USB pass-through socket we mentioned too.
Next up on the hit list is the top-right corner of the keyboard with its lovely tiny, knurled, metal volume wheel (which you can press to mute) and little play/pause button below it. Left of these controls sits the OLED display. Packing in 128×40 pixels, this black and white panel will show whatever image you like (including GIF animations) or you can sketch an image in SteelSeries’ software.
The display can also be used to change settings, using the volume wheel and adjacent button. It’s a little fiddly, and we didn’t encounter any function that made it feel like an essential addition, but its a neat extra feature.
The final big piece to the Apex Pro puzzle is its key switches. The main cluster (from the number row down and enter key left) all use SteelSeries’ OmniPoint switches, which use a magnetic actuation technology, where the key senses the distance of the plunger from the magnet in the switch’s base. This not only makes for a reliable switching system (with a 100 million+ actuation rating), but it also means the actuation point can be changed in software.
You can opt for one of ten settings that translate to an actuation distance of between 0.4mm and 3.6mm, making for either a very sensitive switch or one that requires a very deliberate press. The feel of the switch doesn’t change, just the trigger point. Fans of very heavy, tactile or clicky switches need not apply though – the 50g linear action is the only option.
We didn’t feel the need to change the actuation point from its default middle point, as this felt like a great keyboard for typing and gaming on from the off. The switches are compatible with Cherry MX keycaps, and although the ones included look good, they’re basic ABS plastic with painted black legends.
The APX Pro TKL is a stunning keyboard. It’s stylish, well-built, svelte and packed with useful and fun features – just about the only fault we can level is its use of basic keycaps. Plus, of course, it doesn’t come cheap. At £ for the full-sized version and with a saving of only £ for the TKL version, this is a very pricey keyboard, but if you have the money you won’t be disappointed.