SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Updated Jan 20, 2020 at 09:11 am
SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL Picture
9.0
Gaming
4.2
Mobile/Tablet
8.0
Office
8.0
Programming
5.6
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
TenKeyLess (80%)
Mechanical
Yes

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL (tenkeyless) is an exceptional gaming keyboard with an outstanding set of features and software support. It has full RGB backlighting, dedicated macro keys, and an OLED screen that lets you access various settings without having to minimize your game. It has an excellent build quality that's nearly identical to the SteelSeries Apex Pro, and the tactile switches offer a light typing experience that doesn't cause any fatigue, though some may find them a bit mushy. While this keyboard is available with different switches, we tested the tactile variant of this keyboard, and with the exception of typing quality, we expect most of the results to be applicable to the other variants as well.

Our Verdict

9.0 Gaming

The Apex 7 TKL is an outstanding gaming keyboard. The tactile switches react quickly to every keystroke without much force, and they provide a tactile feedback so you know that the keystroke was registered. The doubleshot keycaps ensure the longevity of the key legends, and the full RGB backlight is great for dark room gaming, as well as to highlight important keys. Additionally, the OLED screen lets you change settings without having to minimize your game and can be customized to show anything you want.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Outstanding gaming features.
  • Great typing experience.
  • Superb software support.
Cons
  • Dust magnet.
4.2 Mobile/Tablet

The Apex 7 TKL can't be used with mobile devices, as it has no wireless capabilities.

8.0 Office

The Apex 7 TKL is a good office keyboard. It's comfortable to type on and doesn't cause any fatigue when typing for a long time. It comes with a very nice wrist rest that attaches to the keyboard magnetically, and it has good compatibility with most desktop operating systems. Typing noise is minimal and the keys are very stable, with no sign of rattling at all.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Outstanding gaming features.
  • Great typing experience.
  • Superb software support.
Cons
  • Dust magnet.
8.0 Programming

The Apex 7 TKL is good for programming. It offers a soft and light typing experience, while keeping noise to a minimum. There are programmable macro keys that can be customized with SteelSeries' Engine software, though it's only available on Windows and macOS. The overall build quality is excellent and the included wrist rest feels very soft and comfortable.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Outstanding gaming features.
  • Great typing experience.
  • Superb software support.
Cons
  • Dust magnet.
5.6 Entertainment / HTPC

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Outstanding gaming features.
  • Great typing experience.
  • Superb software support.
Cons
  • Dust magnet.
  • 9.0 Gaming
  • 4.2 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.0 Office
  • 8.0 Programming
  • 5.6 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Feb 04, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.6" (4.0 cm)
Width 14.0" (35.5 cm)
Depth
5.5" (13.9 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
8.3" (21.0 cm)
Weight
1.54 lbs (0.700 kg)

The Apex 7 TKL has a small footprint, as it's a tenkeyless keyboard, but will take up more space if you choose to use the included wrist rest. If you prefer a full-size keyboard, then check out the SteelSeries Apex Pro.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material ABS

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL's build quality is identical to the Apex Pro and it's excellent. While most of the keyboard is made of plastic, it has an aluminum plate on top to provide rigidity. The aluminum plate has a soft finish to it and the keyboard uses doubleshot ABS keycaps, which is great for durability of the key legends. The key stabilizers are excellent and there's no sign of wobbling or rattling. It comes with a wrist rest that attaches to the keyboard magnetically and the wrist rest has a soft finish as well. Unfortunately, this keyboard is a dust magnet, but the overall build feels durable and shouldn't cause any issues with long term use.

7.5
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
4 °
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
10.5 °
Wrist Rest Detachable

This keyboard has good ergonomics. Although it only has one incline setting, the keyboard comes with a very nice wrist rest that attaches to the keyboard magnetically and has a soft finish that's very comfortable. The keys feel very light to type on and doesn't cause any fatigue when typing for an extended period of time.

10
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
RGB
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
Great
Effects
Yes
Programmable
Yes

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL has full RGB backlighting and it can be customized via SteelSeries' Engine software, where each key can be customized individually. The backlight is bright enough to see in a well-lit room and perfect for those with a dark room setting.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
No
Length 6.2 ft (1.9 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
Not Detachable

This keyboard's cable is not removable and has two USB connectors. Both need to be connected in order to use the USB passthrough feature. If you want a TKL keyboard with a detachable cable you can replace in case it gets damaged, check out the Cooler Master MK730.

0
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
No
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
No
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
No Batteries

This is a wired-only keyboard.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Dedicated
Macro Programmable Keys
All
Trackpad / Trackball No
Wheel Yes
USB Passthrough
Yes
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
Yes
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL has an outstanding set of features. There are dedicated media control keys as well as dedicated macro keys. The macro keys can be programmed with SteelSeries' Engine software or directly on the keyboard. The wheel is used to control media volume and to navigate the various menus on the OLED screen. This OLED screen allows you to change settings and profiles without having to minimize the game, or it can be customized to show virtually anything you want.

Design
In The Box

  • SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL keyboard
  • Wrist rest
  • User guide

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
SteelSeries Brown
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
44 gf
Actuation Force
37 gf
Pre-Travel
2.4 mm
Total Travel
4.1 mm

Although the pre-travel distance is slightly higher than the advertised 2mm, most people won't notice the difference. It requires very little force to actuate the keys, which results in a light typing experience.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL's typing experience is great. We tested the tactile model, which is similar to Cherry MX brown switches; however, the tactile bump is less pronounced and feels softer. The keys are stable and they have a fairly standard spacing, which is great for typing accuracy, but they also feel less responsive, as they don't spring back as quickly. Overall, these switches feel light to type on and doesn't cause any fatigue, but they may be a bit too mushy for some.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

Typing noise on the Apex 7 TKL (Tactile) is quiet and shouldn't be bothersome to those around you, even in a quiet office setting. However, it can be louder if you choose the clicky variant.

8.5
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
6.8 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A
Software and Operating System
10
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name Steelseries Engine
Account Required
No
Profiles
5
Onboard Memory
Yes
Cloud Sync
Yes
Macro Programming
Software and Onboard
Ease Of Use
Easy
Software Windows Compatible
Yes
Software macOS Compatible
Yes

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL has outstanding software support. The SteelSeries Engine software lets you customize the backlight of each key individually and program the dedicated macro keys. It can save up to five different profiles and has a cloud sync feature as well, which allows you to carry your settings over to another computer, though this feature requires an account.

7.8
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Full
Linux Partial
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS No

The Apex 7 TKL has good compatibility. It has full functionality with all desktop operating systems, but the SteelSeries Engine software isn't available for Linux; as such, Linux users won't be able to customize the keyboard, though all the keys function.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is one of many keyboards in the Apex lineup, which includes the SteelSeries Apex 7, the SteelSeries Apex Pro, and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL. With the exception of the Apex Pro and the Apex Pro TKL, all other models can be purchased with your preferred type of switch: clicky (blue), tactile (brown), or linear (red). We tested the Apex 7 TKL with tactile switches.

Compared To Other Keyboards

Much like the SteelSeries Apex Pro, the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is packed with features and you can get it with the switches you prefer. It's well-built and it comes with a wrist rest, which is a nice touch for a gaming keyboard. Despite being designed as a gaming keyboard, it's more versatile than most keyboards and should please people using it in their home office setup. Also see our recommendations for the best keyboards for programming, the best keyboards, and best gaming keyboards.

SteelSeries Apex Pro

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL are similarly performing keyboards. The Apex Pro is a full-size keyboard, while the Apex 7 TKL is an 80%, without the numpad. Their typing experiences are both great, but are different as the Apex Pro we tested uses linear keys, while our Apex 7 TKL unit uses Tactile keys. They both have customizable RGB lighting and a small OLED screen that can be programmed to display a variety of things.

SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better than the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The Apex 7 is a TKL keyboard that you can get with clicky, tactile, or silent switches, depending on your gaming needs. They require less actuation force than the hybrid switches on the Apex 5, which are a mix between rubber dome and mechanical switches, and could get tiring to use. The features between the two are the same, so the difference comes down to your size and switch preference.

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a better keyboard for mixed usage than the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition, but they're both excellent options for gaming. The SteelSeries is more comfortable to use thanks to its included wrist rest, and its tactile key switches provide a much better typing experience. It also features a small OLED screen in the top right corner, though this likely won't add too much extra functionality for most people. The Razer uses a detachable USB-C cable for its connection, which is nice, and some people may prefer its linear switches with much less pre-travel.

Razer BlackWidow Elite

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL and the Razer BlackWidow Elite are two amazing gaming keyboards. The SteelSeries doesn't have a NumPad due to its TKL design, while the Razer is a full-size board. The pre-travel distance is shorter on the Razer, but the keys of the SteelSeries feel lighter. Also, the RGB lighting of the SteelSeries bleeds a lot more than the Razer's.

Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a much better keyboard than the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The Apex 7 TKL has dedicated macro programmable keys and is fully compatible with Windows and macOS. Although the pre-travel distance is slightly shorter on the Logitech, the SteelSeries' keys require less force to actuate. The Logitech has lower latency, but not by much. Logitech's G HUB software allows you to save more custom profiles for keybindings or RGB lighting.

HyperX Alloy Origins

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a marginally better gaming keyboard than the HyperX Alloy Origins. The Apex 7 TKL is a small keyboard with dedicated macro keys, and the tactile switches give it a good typing experience. However, the linear switches on the Alloy Origins require little actuation force and their responsiveness should please most gamers.

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better overall than the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2. The SteelSeries is available as both a full-sized and TKL keyboard, it's better-built, and the SteelSeries Brown switches we tested are lighter to press than the Cherry MX Brown switches we tested on the Corsair.

Ducky One 2 Mini

The Ducky One 2 Mini and the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL are similarly performing keyboards. The Ducky Mini is a compact 60% keyboard, while the Apex 7 TKL is an 80% TenKeyLess keyboard. The ergonomics of the Apex 7 TKL are better thanks to its detachable wrist rest. While the Apex's wire is built-in, the Ducky is powered through a detachable USB-C cable. Both of the units we tested use tactile Brown switches, but the Ducky provided a better overall typing experience. The SteelSeries has a piece of companion software available for both Windows and macOS, while the Ducky has no software and all customization is done through the keyboard itself, which can be more difficult.

Corsair K95 PLATINUM

The Corsair K95 and the SteelSeries Apex 7 are both amazing keyboard, but for different reasons. The K95 is a full-size board, with extremely low pre-travel distance. It features linear Cherry MX Speed switches, while the Apex 7 is a smaller, but better-built, TKL board and it has SteelSeries Brown switches. 

Razer Huntsman Mini

The Razer Huntsman Mini is better than the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL for gaming. The Razer's Clicky Optical switches have a shorter pre-travel distance than the SteelSeries Brown switches on the SteelSeries, but they require a bit more force to actuate. The Razer has lower input lag and provides a better typing experience; however, its slightly cramped layout and high profile can cause fatigue over time, and it doesn't come with a wrist rest like the SteelSeries does. The SteelSeries has more features, such as a customizable OLED screen, a USB passthrough, and a volume wheel. It also has software support for macOS, which the Razer lacks.

Razer Huntsman

The Razer Huntsman is better than the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL for gaming, mainly because the Razer has lower latency, and its Clicky Optical switches are more responsive due to their shorter pre-travel distance. Both keyboards provide a great typing experience; however, the SteelSeries is better for office use because the SteelSeries Brown switches make less noise, and it has software support for macOS. The SteelSeries has more features, like an OLED screen, a volume wheel, a USB passthrough, and it comes with a wrist rest.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL and the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 are both excellent mechanic keyboards for gaming. The Apex 7 TKL is a larger 80% keyboard, while the Anne Pro 2 is a compact 60%. The ergonomics of the Apex 7 TKL are a lot better thanks to its detachable wrist rest and adjustable incline settings, both of which the Anne Pro 2 doesn't have. On the other hand, the Anne Pro 2 can be used wired or wirelessly, while the Apex 7 TKL is wired-only. While both keyboards offer a great typing experience, the Gatreon Browns on the Anne Pro 2 are slightly more enjoyable than the SteelSeries Brown on the Apex 7 TKL.

Corsair K65 LUX RGB

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better than the Corsair K65 LUX RGB. The SteelSeries feels better built and it's fully compatible with macOS. Also, the SteelSeries Brown tactile switches on our unit might feel more responsive for gaming than the Cherry MX Red linear switches thanks to the lower actuation force and pre-travel distance. However, the Corsair has a Windows Key lock and it might present better value for some people.

Cooler Master MK730

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better overall than the Cooler Master MK730. Both keyboards are available with tactile, clicky, and linear switches, and the SteelSeries is better built. It also has better ergonomics and the SteelSeries software is available on macOS. However, the Cooler Master has a detachable cable if you ever need to replace it.

Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a bit better than the Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The Apex 7 TKL has more features, like an OLED screen, a USB passthrough, and it has full RGB backlighting. It also has full compatibility with macOS and its build quality is significantly better, but since it's a wired keyboard, it doesn't have a multi-device pairing feature.

Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a slightly better gaming keyboard than the Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT. At a smaller size, the SteelSeries is more suited for gamers who also need to move their mouse around a lot. However, the Corsair has six dedicated macro keys for MMO gamers.

Corsair K70 RAPIDFIRE

For most uses, the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better than the Corsair K70 RAPIDFIRE. The SteelSeries has full RGB backlighting, a customizable OLED screen, and its build quality is significantly better. The typing experience is very different between the Cherry MX Speed switches on the Corsair and the SteelSeries Brown switches on the SteelSeries. The MX Speeds are linear, they have a much shorter pre-travel distance, and don't make a lot of typing noise. The SteelSeries Brown switches act more like Cherry MX Browns, which are tactile but quiet. The SteelSeries is available with other switch options, but the Corsair is only available with the Cherry MX Speeds.

Corsair K68 RGB

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a significantly better keyboard than the Corsair K68 RGB in all aspects. Gamers will love the dedicated macro keys, the tactile switches provide good feedback, and they're quick to react at every keystroke. The SteelSeries is a silent keyboard when typing, so it's good for an office use as well. The Corsair is bigger with a well-built design, but the clicky switches might be too loud for an office.

Ducky Mecha Mini

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better than the Ducky Mecha Mini. The SteelSeries has dedicated software for customization while all programming for the Ducky has to be done on the keyboard itself. It also has better ergonomics since it comes with a wrist rest. The Ducky is better-built and it offers better typing quality, but both keyboards are available in different switches, so you can get the switch you prefer.

Razer BlackWidow Lite

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a better gaming keyboard than the Razer BlackWidow Lite, which is more aimed at work and office usage. The SteelSeries features full RGB lighting while the Razer only has white backlighting. The SteelSeries Engine also offers more customization options than Razer Synapse. The SteelSeries also comes with a wrist rest, while the Razer lacks one.

Das Keyboard X50Q

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is better than the Das Keyboard X50Q. The Apex 7 TKL has a much better build quality, and its customization software has a lot more options. Typing quality is very similar on both and they're equally comfortable, but the Apex 7 TKL has more extra features, such as a USB passthrough, an OLED screen, and better compatibility with macOS.

HyperX Alloy FPS RGB

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is a better overall keyboard than the HyperX Alloy FPS RGB, though both are exceptional for gaming. The SteelSeries is a TenKeyLess keyboard, so it’s smaller and lighter. It comes with a detachable wrist rest and has dedicated media keys, a volume wheel, and a USB passthrough. It’s also fully compatible with Windows and macOS. That said, the HyperX is full-sized, so it has a numpad and a Windows key lock, and the companion software allows you to create more profiles than the SteelSeries.

Corsair STRAFE RGB MK.2

The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL and the Corsair STRAFE RGB MK.2 are both outstanding keyboards. The Cherry MX Red switches on our Corsair unit are provide no feedback and fairly light to type on, while the SteelSeries Brown switches do provide feedback and are even lighter to type on.  The Corsair has a numpad since it's a full-sized keyboard, and the SteelSeries is fully compatible with macOS, unlike the Corsair.

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