SteelSeries Apex Pro Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Jan 20, 2020 at 09:11 am
SteelSeries Apex Pro Picture
9.5
Gaming
2.9
Mobile/Tablet
8.0
Office
8.0
Programming
5.6
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
Full-size (100%)
Mechanical
Yes

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is an outstanding keyboard for gamers but it's quite versatile too. It has a unique setting that lets you change the amount of pre-travel distance needed to input a keystroke, which in turns increases and decreases its actuation force. You can lower it for a more responsive experience in games, or you can raise it up to reduce the number of typos and accidental keystrokes when typing text. This keyboard is very well-built and features dedicated media keys and comes with a nice magnetic wrist rest.

Our Verdict

9.5 Gaming

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is an outstanding gaming keyboard. It's responsive and you can set the pre-travel distance of your keys to your preferred setting. It's also very well-built and is fully customizable inside its excellent software. The backlighting is also great for gaming in the dark.

Pros
  • Adjustable pre-travel distance.
  • Very well-built design.
  • Great typing quality.
  • Full RGB backlighting.
Cons
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
  • No dedicated macro keys.
2.9 Mobile/Tablet

The SteelSeries Apex Pro isn't designed to be used with a mobile device or a tablet. It's a wired-only keyboard that is meant to be used with a PC.

8.0 Office

The Apex Pro is very good for an office environment. It has a nice wrist rest that offers a comfortable ergonomic design. Also, typing on this keyboard is satisfying and it doesn't make too much noise either.

Pros
  • Very well-built design.
  • Quiet mechanical keyboard.
  • Great typing quality.
Cons
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
  • Wired-only.
8.0 Programming

The Apex Pro is a great programming keyboard. Typing is satisfying and you can also set the pre-travel distance of each key, meaning you can find your preferred setting to reduce the number of typos. You can also program every key and customize the keyboard inside its software.

Pros
  • Very well-built design.
  • Great typing quality.
  • Full RGB backlighting.
Cons
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
  • Wired-only.
5.6 Entertainment / HTPC

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is inadequate for use with a home theater PC. You can only use it wired, which isn't ideal if you're worried about tripping over wires. Also, it lacks a trackpad, so you'll need a separate mouse. On the upside, it has dedicated media controls and backlighting.

Pros
  • Very well-built design.
  • Great typing quality.
  • Full RGB backlighting.
Cons
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
  • Wired-only.
  • No trackpad.
  • 9.5 Gaming
  • 2.9 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.0 Office
  • 8.0 Programming
  • 5.6 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Feb 04, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  2. Updated Feb 13, 2020: After a change in our methodology, we've retested the keystrokes with a lower actuation setting.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.6" (4.0 cm)
Width 17.2" (43.7 cm)
Depth
5.5" (13.9 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
8.3" (21.1 cm)
Weight
2.14 lbs (0.970 kg)

This full-size keyboard is rather large, and will take even more space if you use the magnetic wrist rest. There's also a tenkeyless (TKL) version available, which is shorter. We expect the TKL model to perform similarly to the full-size.

8.5
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material ABS

The SteelSeries Apex Pro's build quality is excellent. It has an aluminum body that feels very solid. It has great ABS double shot keycaps that feel durable too. It comes with a magnetic wrist rest that's covered by a rubber coating, but unfortunately, it's a dust magnet.

7.5
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
4.5 °
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
11 °
Wrist Rest Detachable

The ergonomics are good. The keyboard comes with a nice magnetic, detachable wrist rest but only features a single incline setting. Unfortunately, the feet open up vertically, meaning they can fold back in if you push your keyboard forward. For an even more ergonomic design, check out the split design of the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB.

9.9
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
RGB
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
Good
Effects
Yes
Programmable
Yes

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a full RGB keyboard. You can select your preferred lighting option directly on the keyboard with the menu button and also control the brightness level. The black frame creates a nice contrast with the colors and makes the keys easy to read in the dark.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
No
Length 5.9 ft (1.8 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
Not Detachable

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a wired-only keyboard. The cable is rubber-coated and should be long enough for most setups. This cable ends in two USB plugs, as one is needed for the USB passthrough on the keyboard.

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

This keyboard is wired-only and can't be used wirelessly.

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

The SteelSeries Apex Pro has a lot of amazing extra features. It has dedicated media keys like volume control and playback control with the wheel and menu button. You can also program every key to the function that you want and the OLED screen is fully customizable. You can show off anything you want, whether it's an image or a GIF. If you prefer having extra dedicated macro keys, check out the Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT.

Design
In The Box

  • SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard
  • Magnetic wrist rest
  • Manuals

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
OmniPoint
Feel
Linear
Operating Force
37 gf
Actuation Force
37 gf
Pre-Travel
1.4 mm
Total Travel
4.1 mm

The OmniPoint are proprietary switches from SteelSeries. You can set the operating force to your preference inside the SteelSeries Engine software. The test results shown were measured with the 'Setting 2' as it offers the best overall performance.

The minimal setting's results were 1mm of pre-travel and 34g of force, which might be too sensitive for some. The maximum setting's results were 3.8mm of pre-travel, with 50g of force needed. If you like optical switches, you can check out the Wooting one , which also allows you to have analog inputs where the input depends on how much force you apply on the key, just like a controller.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The typing experience on the SteelSeries Apex Pro is great, especially thanks to the fact you can set your preferred pre-travel distance. This can prevent typos efficiently once you find the right settings for you. The keys feel stable when typing, although some people may not like the soft finish of the keys Also, note that the Omipoint switches are linear and don't provide any tactile feedback. If you prefer a simple keyboard with outstanding typing quality, check out the IBM Model M.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

Since there's no bump in the pressing of the keys, the SteelSeries Apex Pro isn't very loud or clicky. You should be able to use this mechanical keyboard in an office environment without bothering colleagues around you.

9.8
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
3.4 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The SteelSeries Apex Pro has exceptionally low latency. Most people shouldn't feel any delay.

Software and Operating System
10
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name Steelseries Engine
Account Required
No
Profiles
6+
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 Engine is an outstanding piece of software. It has many configurations settings and you can even save your preferred profile on the keyboard's onboard memory, meaning you won't have to redownload the software if you use the keyboard with another computer.

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

Very good overall compatibility. The software is available on macOS, so you can customize the keyboard how you like it, but unfortunately, it isn't available for Linux users. On the upside, the keyboard still works on this OS with its default settings, but you won't be able to customize it fully.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. There's a TenKeyLess version available, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL, which we expect to perform similarly. This is one of many keyboards in the SteelSeries Apex lineup, which includes the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL, the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, and the SteelSeries Apex 3.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is an exceptional gaming keyboard and among the best that we've tested. However, some people may not like its linear switches for general typing due to the lack of tactile feedback. If you want tactile switches, then it's better to go with the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best gaming keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best keyboards for writers.

Razer Huntsman Elite

For most uses, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the Razer Huntsman Elite. The SteelSeries has a customizable OLED screen, a USB passthrough, and its Omnipoint switches provide a better typing experience than the Linear Optical switches on our unit of the Razer. You can get the Razer with Clicky Optical switches if you want, but they generate more typing noise. The SteelSeries has better compatibility, as its customization software is available for macOS.

Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED are two incredible gaming keyboards. The SteelSeries has a better build quality and more features, like an OLED screen and the ability to customize each switch's pre-travel distance. This allows you to set it at its minimum for a quick gaming experience or at its max for better typing accuracy. Every key is macro-programmable on the SteelSeries, while you can only reprogram the dedicated macro keys on the Logitech. On the other hand, the Logitech is a wireless keyboard, allowing you to connect with any Bluetooth-compatible device, and it's available with different switches, so you can choose the one that you like.

Razer Huntsman Mini

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Razer Huntsman Mini are very different keyboards. The SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard with more features, such as dedicated media controls, a USB passthrough, and an OLED screen that you can customize to show anything you want. Also, it comes with a wrist rest and has better compatibility with macOS. The Razer's Razer Clicky Optical switches provide a better typing experience, and there's a Linear Optical switch option as well. However, they're also much louder and not ideal for quiet offices. The SteelSeries is only available with one switch type, but it allows you to customize the pre-travel distance.

SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better gaming keyboard than the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, mainly because it has significantly lower latency. The Apex Pro has linear Omnipoint switches and allows you to customize the pre-travel distance on a per-key basis to suit your preference. It provides a better typing experience overall, but its switches don't give tactile feedback, which the Hybrid Blue Mechanical switches on the Apex 5 do. That said, the Apex 5 is much louder and might not be ideal for quiet offices. Both keyboards have excellent build quality, full RGB backlighting, and include a wrist rest. The only other difference is that the Apex Pro has a USB passthrough, which the Apex 5 lacks.

HyperX Alloy Elite 2

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is much better than the HyperX Alloy Elite 2. The SteelSeries has unique optical switches that you can customize the pre-travel distance, and at its lowest, they offer a quick gaming experience. Its software is also compatible with macOS and it has better ergonomics. However, the HyperX has a Windows Key Lock.

SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL are wired, mechanical gaming keyboards with very similar build qualities and many features in common. Their major differences are in size and available switch types. The Apex Pro has OmniPoint linear switches that allow you to adjust the pre-travel distanced needed to input keystrokes to your liking. While the version we tested was the full-sized version, there’s also a TenKeyLess variant available. On the other hand, the Apex 7 TKL we tested is a TenKeyLess design, but a full-sized variant, the SteelSeries Apex 7, is also available. The unit we tested has tactile SteelSeries Brown switches that feel similar to Cherry MX Brown switches, and It’s also available with clicky SteelSeries Blue or linear SteelSeries Red switches.

Corsair K100 RGB

The Corsair K100 RGB and the SteelSeries Apex Pro are both exceptional gaming keyboards. Both are excellently built and highly programmable, but the Corsair has six dedicated macro keys, whereas the SteelSeries doesn't. However, the SteelSeries has a unique feature that lets you customize the pre-travel distance for each key.

Razer Huntsman

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Razer Huntsman are both exceptional gaming keyboards. The main difference between them is that the SteelSeries uses linear switches that allow you to adjust the pre-travel distance to your liking, while the Razer uses clicky optical switches. The SteelSeries has more features, like a customizable OLED screen, dedicated media controls, and a USB passthrough. Also, it includes a wrist rest, which the Razer doesn't.

Razer BlackWidow Elite

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Razer BlackWidow Elite perform very similarly overall. The SteelSeries' Omnipoint switches have a customizable pre-travel distance and are easier to actuate. However, the typing quality is better on the Razer because the Razer Orange switches provide tactile feedback, and you can also get the keyboard with clicky or linear switches if you prefer.

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better keyboard than the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition overall. Both keyboards use linear switches, but the SteelSeries provides a much better typing experience. It's also full-sized, and it comes with a wrist rest and more extra features. Also, the companion software is compatible with both Windows and macOS. That said, the Razer is an 80% TKL, so it takes less space on your desk. It also has a shorter pre-travel and a lower latency, giving you an extremely responsive gaming experience.

Corsair K95 PLATINUM

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Corsair K95 PLATINUM are very similarly performing keyboards. They're both full-sized, straight keyboards that feel very well-built, though the SteelSeries feels even a bit more durable. They both feature a detachable wrist rest and full RGB lighting. The SteelSeries features a small OLED screen on the top right corner that can be programmed to display a wide variety of things. Both keyboards use linear keys, but the Corsair has much less pre-travel before the pre-travel distance.

Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better gaming keyboard than the Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT. The SteelSeries has linear switches that let you change the pre-travel distance to suit your needs, and the keys are easier to actuate. However, they don't provide any tactile feedback like Cherry MX Blue switches on the Corsair. Also, you can get the Corsair with Cherry MX Browns or Speeds if you prefer. Feature-wise, the SteelSeries has an OLED screen, while the Corsair has a column of dedicated macro keys. Latency is much lower on the SteelSeries, although the Corsair's isn't bad either.

Logitech G815 LIGHTSYNC RGB

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a slightly better gaming keyboard than the Logitech G815 LIGHTSYNC RGB. The SteelSeries lets you set macros to any of its keys, is better built, and has better ergonomics thanks to the included magnetic wrist rest. Also, its Omnipoint switches let you set your preferred pre-travel distance. The typing experience is very different on these keyboards, as we tested the GL tactile switches on the Logitech, while the SteelSeries has linear switches. That said, you can get the Logitech with clicky and linear switches if you prefer. The SteelSeries has a customizable OLED screen, while the Logitech has a column of dedicated macro keys for MMOs.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and the SteelSeries Apex Pro are exceptional gaming keyboards with fairly similar features. Razer's Analog Optical and SteelSeries' Omnipoint switches are both linear with adjustable pre-travel distances. The difference is that the Analog Optical lets you program two actions in one keypress or use it like an analog joystick. Other than that, the SteelSeries has a customizable OLED screen and software support for macOS, which the Razer lacks.

ROCCAT Vulcan Pro

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the ROCCAT Vulcan Pro. The SteelSeries has unique optical linear switches that allow you to customize the pre-travel distance, for a quick and responsive gaming experience. Every key is also macro-programmable. However, the ROCCAT's wrist rest isn't a dust magnet like on the SteelSeries.

Ducky One 2 Mini V1

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Ducky One 2 Mini V1 are very different. The SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard, while the Ducky has a compact 60% design. The SteelSeries has a better build quality and is more comfortable to type on. It also has more features, like an OLED screen, dedicated media controls, and a USB passthrough. The SteelSeries is better for gaming because it has lower latency, and it lets you customize the pre-travel distance to your liking. That said, the Ducky provides a better typing experience, and you can choose the type of switch that you want.

Corsair K70 RGB MK.2

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2. The SteelSeries is a featured-packed keyboard that allows you to customize the pre-travel needed on a per-key basis, and at its minimum setting, it offers a really quick gaming experience. However, the Corsair is available in a wide variety of switches, so you can get the ones you feel most comfortable with.

Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a much better keyboard than the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The SteelSeries has a customizable pre-travel distance and operating force to ensure that you have the quickest actuation while gaming. Also, it has lower latency than the Logitech. The SteelSeries uses linear switches, but if you prefer switches with tactile feedback, the Logitech is available with clicky (GX Blue) and tactile (Romer-G) switches; plus, it's a smaller keyboard if you need the space.

HyperX Alloy Origins

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the HyperX Alloy Origins. The SteelSeries has linear switches, which you can change its pre-travel distance on a per-key basis for better responsiveness. It comes with a wrist rest and has more features, like an OLED screen and a USB passthrough. The HyperX provides a better typing experience, but it doesn't come with a wrist rest like the SteelSeries.

Wooting one

The Wooting one and SteelSeries Apex Pro are similar but different keyboards. Those two boards are the only ones we've tested that allow switch pre-travel distance customization. However, the Wooting also offers the possibility to use analog inputs, which the SteelSeries can't do. On the other hand, the SteelSeries comes with a comfortable wrist rest and its overall build quality feels superior. The board also allows for macro customization, which you can't seem to be able to do on the Wooting.

Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro

Although the SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro are both full-size gaming keyboards, they're actually quite different. The SteelSeries is wired-only, and its Omnipoint switches allow users to set their preferred pre-travel distance. The Razer is a wireless keyboard with multi-device pairing capability, and it's available with Razer Green or Yellow switches. Unlike the Omnipoint switches, which are linear, the Razer Greens that we tested provide tactile and audio feedback. The Razer has lower latency, but it doesn't have features like an OLED screen and USB passthrough, which the SteelSeries does.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

Both the Obinslab Anne Pro 2 and the SteelSeries Apex Pro are excellent mechanical keyboards for gaming. The SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard that offers much better ergonomics thanks to its adjustable incline settings and detachable wrist rest. On the other hand, the Obinslab is a much smaller compact 60% keyboard with a slightly better typing experience due to its Gateron Brown switches, as opposed to the SteelSeries' OmniPoint switches.

Corsair K68 RGB

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a much better keyboard than the Corsair K68 RGB. It's better-built, fully compatible with macOS, and you can customize its pre-travel distance, which is very unique to this keyboard. The Corsair is still a great gaming keyboard at a more affordable price point, but the SteelSeries performs better.

Corsair K65 RGB MINI

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Corsair K65 RGB MINI are both exceptional mechanical gaming keyboards, but the SteelSeries is a more versatile keyboard. The SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard with an adjustable incline setting and a detachable wrist rest. It also has ABS keycaps, a keyboard wheel, a USB passthrough, and its companion software allows you to sync settings with the cloud. It has linear Razer OmniPoint switches that let you adjust the pre-travel distance, but they have no tactile feedback. The Corsair is a compact 60% keyboard with PBT keycaps. It has linear Cherry MX Speed switches with low pre-travel and feel very responsive but also provide no tactile feedback. Both keyboards have exceptionally low latency, and while the Corsair's is lower, it's unlikely to be a noticeable difference.

Corsair STRAFE RGB MK.2

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Corsair STRAFE RGB MK.2 are both fantastic gaming keyboards, but the SteelSeries has a unique feature that allows you to set the operating force and pre-travel distance on a per-key basis. However, the Corsair has a Windows Key Lock button to prevent you from minimizing your game, and it comes with extra keycaps.

AUKEY KM-G9 Mechanical Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better gaming keyboard than the AUKEY KM-G9 Mechanical Keyboard. It features unique switches that let you adjust the pre-travel distance to your preference. It also has full RGB lighting and has a full-size design. On the other hand, the AUKEY has a TKL layout and is very well-built for its price point, but doesn't have as many features.

IBM Model M

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is much better than the IBM Model M. You can change the keys' pre-travel distance, it has customizable RGB lighting, all keys are macro programmable, and it has an included wrist rest. On the other hand, the IBM still has a much better typing experience.

Razer Pro Type

The Razer Pro Type and the SteelSeries Apex Pro are very different. The Razer is a wireless productivity keyboard with multi-device pairing capability, while the SteelSeries is a wired gaming keyboard. The Razer has tactile switches and provides a better typing experience. On the other hand, the SteelSeries has more features, such as dedicated media controls, a customizable OLED screen, and a USB passthrough. Also, the SteelSeries has lower latency, and it lets you customize the pre-travel distance to your liking.

EVGA Z15

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the EVGA Z15 are both fantastic wired gaming keyboards. The SteelSeries uses proprietary OmniPoint linear switches, which let you customize the pre-travel distance of every key. Also, it has a small, customizable OLED screen that lets you access keyboard functions or even display game stats, CPU operations, and gifs. Unfortunately, it isn't available with other switch types. On the other hand, the EVGA is available in more switch types. It's a hot-swappable board that lets you replace the stock switches with any type you prefer. It also has one of the lowest latencies we've tested.

Razer BlackWidow Lite

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the Razer BlackWidow Lite are very different. The SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard with more features, like an OLED screen, dedicated media controls, and a USB passthrough. It also has full RGB backlighting and comes with a wrist rest. The SteelSeries uses linear Omnipoint switches that let you adjust the pre-travel distance to your liking; however, they don't provide any tactile feedback like the Razer Orange switches on the Razer. The SteelSeries' latency is much lower, and it has better compatibility because it has software support for macOS.

EVGA Z20

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the EVGA Z20 are remarkable mechanical gaming keyboards that offer similar performance but have notable features that differentiate the two. The SteelSeries has unique linear OmniPoint switches that let you adjust the amount of pre-travel distance required to input a keystroke. It also has better companion software that's compatible with both Windows and macOS. The EVGA has better latency and a time-of-flight sensor that you can program to perform certain functions as you physically approach or move away from your keyboard. It's available with either clicky or linear Light Strike LK Optical switches.

Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better gaming keyboard than the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB. You can customize its linear switches' pre-travel distance to better suit your preference. On the other hand, the Kinesis is available in a wider range of switches, and you can even put the right half of its split keyboard away to make more room for your mouse.

Logitech K840 Mechanical Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is significantly better than the Logitech K840 Mechanical Keyboard. The SteelSeries has doubleshot keycaps, which means that the key legends are unlikely to fade or chip with daily use, and it has full RGB backlighting, as well as dedicated media control keys. There's also a fully customizable OLED screen that lets you access various settings. SteelSeries' software is feature-rich and the omnipoint switches allow you to choose your preferred pre-travel distance.

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