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 actuation force setting that lets you change the amount of pre-travel distance and actuation force needed to input a keystroke. 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 actuation point 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
  • Unique adjustable force actuation setting.
  • Amazing compatible software.
  • Very well-built design.
  • Quiet mechanical keyboard.
Cons
  • No dedicated macro keys.
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
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
  • Unique adjustable force actuation setting.
  • Amazing compatible software.
  • Very well-built design.
  • Quiet mechanical keyboard.
Cons
  • No dedicated macro keys.
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
8.0 Programming

The Apex Pro is a great programming keyboard. Typing is satisfying and you can also set the actuation force 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
  • Unique adjustable force actuation setting.
  • Amazing compatible software.
  • Very well-built design.
  • Quiet mechanical keyboard.
Cons
  • No dedicated macro keys.
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
5.6 Entertainment / HTPC

Pros
  • Unique adjustable force actuation setting.
  • Amazing compatible software.
  • Very well-built design.
  • Quiet mechanical keyboard.
Cons
  • No dedicated macro keys.
  • Wrist rest is a dust magnet.
  • 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 decent. 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 when 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 should be long enough for most setups and is covered by a rubber coating. 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 your desired actuation force setting 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 the idea of having 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 actuation point. 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 great 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
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. There are no other variants with the same switch type; however, it's 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 much better than the Razer Huntsman Elite. The SteelSeries has a customizable OLED screen, 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 is a better gaming keyboard than the Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED. The SteelSeries is a wired keyboard with a very well-built design with customizable pre-travel distance settings. On the other hand, the Logitech is wireless with dedicated macro keys and multi-device pairing.

Corsair K95 PLATINUM

The SteelSeries Apex Peo 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 actuation point.

Ducky One 2 Mini

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a slightly better overall keyboard than the Ducky One 2 Mini. The customizable pre-travel distance on the switches makes the SteelSeries an outstanding gaming keyboard. The SteelSeries is a full-sized keyboard, but the Ducky is available in compact, 60%, 65%, TKL, or full-sized variations, so depending on the size, it doesn't take up as much space as the Apex Pro.

Razer BlackWidow Elite

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a slightly better keyboard than the Razer BlackWidow Elite. The Apex Pro has customizable pre-travel distance on each key, delivering a responsive gaming experience. It's also fully compatible with macOS, while the Elite isn't. However, the typing quality is better on the Elite, plus it has a cushion-like wrist rest and two incline settings.

SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a higher-end keyboard than the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, but their differences come down to their switches. The Apex Pro has linear switches which you can customize the pre-travel distance on a per-key basis, ensuring a quick gaming experience. The Apex 5 has hybrid switches, which are a mix between mechanical and rubber dome, but still provide a low actuation force. Both keyboards are very well-made, have full RGB backlighting, and come with a wrist rest.

SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL

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 Huntsman

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the Razer Huntsman. It has amazing features and customization options as you can set the pre-travel distance on a per-key basis. The switches are linear, so you don't get tactile feedback, but at their lowest setting, they provide a really quick press for gaming. The SteelSeries also has a comfortable wrist rest. The Razer has clicky switches, which might be too loud for an office environment, but are still light and responsive for gaming.

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better keyboard than the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition. Both keyboards use linear keys, but the Apex Pro provides a much better overall typing experience. The Apex Pro is a fullsize keyboard and its software is compatible with Windows and macOS, while the 80% TenKeyLess Huntsman's software can only be used on Windows.

Logitech G815 LIGHTSYNC RGB

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a slightly better gaming keyboard than the Logitech G815 LIGHTSYNC RGB. You can program any of its keys to a macro, it's better built, and it has better ergonomics thanks to the included magnetic wrist rest. Also, you can set your preferred actuation point for all keys using the SteelSeries Engine, which is great. The keystrokes are very different, as we tested the GL tacile switches on the Logitech G815, while the Apex Pro has linear OmniPoint switches. The RGB lighting of the Apex Pro bleeds a lot more than the G815's.

Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better gaming keyboard than the Corsair K95 RGB PLATINUM XT. The SteelSeries Engine software allows you to change your pre-travel distance on each key, and its lowest setting, pre-travel is minimal. The Corsair has six dedicated macro keys, and the keycaps are made with doubleshot PBT, which are more durable than the double-shot ABS on the SteelSeries.

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 actuation force and travel distance to your preferences.

Razer Huntsman Mini

Overall, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is a bit better than the Razer Huntsman Mini. The SteelSeries has more features, such as dedicated media controls, 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. The SteelSeries is only available with one switch type, but it allows you to customize the actuation point.

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.

Wooting one

The Wooting one and SteelSeries Apex Pro are similar but different keyboards. Those two boards are the only ones we've tested so far that allow switch pre-travel distance customization. However, the Wooting one also offers the possibility to use analog inputs, which the Apex Pro can't do. On the other hand, the Apex Pro 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 one. 

Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a much better keyboard than the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. The Apex Pro has a customizable pre-travel distance that ensures you have the quickest actuation while gaming. The programmable software offers a ton of personalization options on both macOS and Windows. The Apex uses linear switches, but if you prefer switches with tactile feedback, the Logitech uses mechanical switches, plus it's a smaller keyboard if you need the space.

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.

HyperX Alloy Origins

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is better than the HyperX Alloy Origins. It has linear switches which you can change its pre-travel distance on a per-key basis, so at its lowest setting, it provides a low actuation force. It comes with a wrist rest and its software is compatible with macOS. The HyperX has a Windows Key Lock that prevents you from accidentally closing your game, and the typing experience is better.

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 actuation point and force. 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 Apex Pro 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 Anne Pro 2 is a much smaller 60% compact keyboard with a slightly better typing experience due to its Gatreon Brown switches, as opposed to the Apex Pro's OmniPoint switches.

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.

Corsair K68 RGB

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

Razer BlackWidow Lite

The SteelSeries Apex Pro is a better keyboard than the Razer BlackWidow Lite. You can adjust the actuation point of its keys, it features full RGB lighting, is compatible with macOS, and even comes with a wrist rest. The Razer only has white backlighting and is a TKL design, without a NumPad. 

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 actuation 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.

Razer Pro Type

The Razer Pro Type is marginally better than the SteelSeries Apex Pro overall; however, they're quite different. The Razer is a wireless keyboard with multi-device pairing capability, and it provides a better typing experience. The SteelSeries has more features, such as dedicated media controls, a customizable OLED screen, and a USB passthrough. Also, it has full RGB backlighting and comes with a wrist rest.

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 Model M still has a much better typing experience.

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 actuation point 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.

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' actuation point 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. The Apex Pro has double shot 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 allows you to choose your preferred actuation point.

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