SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Jan 20, 2020 at 09:11 am
SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL Picture
Test Methodology v0.8
8.1
Mixed usage
9.3
Gaming
1.8
Mobile/Tablet
7.9
Office
8.2
Programming
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

8.1 Mixed usage

The Apex 7 TKL is a great keyboard for mixed usage. It has tons of features like programmable keys and full RGB backlighting that will surely satisfy both gamers and programmers alike. It offers a satisfying typing experience without making much noise, which is great for office use, but the lack of compatibility with mobile devices and multi-device pairing may be disappointing for multitaskers.

9.3 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.

See our Gaming recommendations
1.8 Mobile/Tablet

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

7.9 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.

8.2 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.

  • 8.1 Mixed usage
  • 9.3 Gaming
  • 1.8 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.9 Office
  • 8.2 Programming
Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Outstanding gaming features.
  • Great typing experience.
  • Superb software support.
Cons
  • Dust magnet.

Check Price

Black Apex 7 TKL
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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)
Weight 1.5 lbs (0.7 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.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

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 aluminium plate on top to provide rigidity. The aluminium 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
Incline Settings
1
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
Brightness Settings
Yes
Individually Backlit Keys
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
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.

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

This is a wired-only keyboard.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Dedicated
Macro Programmable Keys
All
Extra Controls
Wheel
USB Passthrough
Yes
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
No

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
Actuation Force
34.6 gf
Pre-Travel
2.34 mm
Total Travel
3.98 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.

Software and Operating System
10
Software and Operating System
Software
Software Name SteelSeries Engine
Account Required
No
Profiles
5
Onboard Memory
Yes
Cloud Sync
Yes
RGB Programming
Yes
Macro Programming
Yes
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

SteelSeries Apex Pro
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Razer BlackWidow Elite
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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

Corsair K95 PLATINUM
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 Tournament Edition
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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. On the other hand, 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.

Ducky One 2 Mini
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

HyperX Alloy Origins
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 K68 RGB
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

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