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SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.3.1
Reviewed Mar 09, 2023 at 11:04 am
Latest change: Writing modified May 24, 2024 at 01:04 pm
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) Picture
8.6
Gaming
6.9
Office
2.1
Mobile/Tablet
7.5
Programming
3.3
Entertainment / HTPC
8.6
Raw Performance

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is a wired gaming keyboard that continues SteelSeries' Apex Pro (2023) lineup. Like previous entries in the Apex Pro series, this keyboard uses OmniPoint switches, which let you customize the actuation point of individual switches. Several new features were introduced from the previous generation Apex Pro TKL, released in 2019. New features with this generation include a wider range of adjustable actuation points (now between 0.2mm-3.8mm) and the ability to program two functions to activate at different actuation points in a single keypress. SteelSeries has also added a Rapid Trigger feature via a firmware update post-launch, which allows you to set how far your switches need to travel back up before you can register another keystroke. For more details about this mode, see the Single-Key Latency section later in this review.

We bought and tested the wired version of this keyboard, but there is also a wireless version available called the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023). We expect our test results to also largely apply to the wireless version.

Our Verdict

8.6 Gaming

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL 2023 is an excellent gaming keyboard. It has remarkably low latency, and the OmniPoint switches allow you to fine-tune the sensitivity of your keypresses to best suit your preferences and the game you're playing. It also feels well-built, and the PBT keycaps have a pleasant texture for added grip. There's also an included wrist rest for added comfort, a rare feature on smaller TKL keyboards.

Pros
  • Remarkably low latency.
  • Switches have adjustable actuation points.
  • Impressive build quality.
Cons
  • Keys wobble slightly.
  • No tactile switch options.
6.9 Office

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL 2023 is an impressive keyboard for office work, but it isn't explicitly designed for this use. It feels well-built and has good ergonomics with two incline settings and an included wrist rest, which is a rare feature for a keyboard of this size. The companion software is also fully compatible with Windows and macOS, and you can customize the sensitivity of keypresses to find a sensitivity that best suits your workflow. While this is a wired-only model, a wireless version of this keyboard is available that connects with a USB receiver or via Bluetooth, which can help reduce the clutter on your desk as there isn't a cable to worry about.

Pros
  • Switches have adjustable actuation points.
  • Impressive build quality.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • Keys wobble slightly.
  • No tactile switch options.
2.1 Mobile/Tablet

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL 2023 isn't suitable for use with mobile devices or tablets.

7.5 Programming

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL 2023 is great for programming use. It feels well-built, has full RGB backlighting, and offers impressive typing quality with the ability to customize the sensitivity of your keypresses to suit your preferences. It also has good ergonomics with two incline settings and an included wrist rest, which is a rare feature for a TKL keyboard. You can program macros to any key directly on the board or use the customization software compatible with Windows and macOS.

Pros
  • Switches have adjustable actuation points.
  • Impressive build quality.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • Keys wobble slightly.
  • No tactile switch options.
3.3 Entertainment / HTPC

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL is inadequate for an entertainment or home theater PC setup. While it feels well-built and has full RGB backlighting, it's a wired-only model, so you have to sit fairly close to your PC to use it. That said, there's a wireless version of this keyboard available called the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) that would be better suited for this use.

Pros
  • Impressive build quality.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • Keys wobble slightly.
8.6 Raw Performance
  • 8.6 Gaming
  • 6.9 Office
  • 2.1 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.5 Programming
  • 3.3 Entertainment / HTPC
  • 8.6 Raw Performance
  1. Updated May 24, 2024: We've added a link to the newly-reviewed Keychron Q1 HE in the Build Quality section of this review.
  2. Updated Jan 16, 2024: We've added new text to this review regarding this keyboard's Rapid Trigger feature in several sections. We've also added details about the specific Rapid Trigger settings we used for our tests in the Single Key Latency and Multi-Key Latency section of this review.
  3. Updated Nov 29, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.3.1, which adds a new estimated PCB latency test to the Single-Key Latency section and a new Analog test to the Switches section of this review. You can see the full changelog here.
  4. Updated Oct 16, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.3, which overhauls how key input is evaluated. We've added new tests for Single Key Latency, Multi Key Latency, Data Transmission, and Chord Split. We've also introduced a new Raw Performance usage and adjusted how the Gaming and Office usage scores are calculated. You can see the full changelog here.
  5. Updated Jun 12, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.2. This update introduces new Backlight Features and Backlight Clarity test boxes. We've also added a new Switches test box, added additional test comparisons to our Hardware Customizability test box that we introduced with our last Test Bench. For an in-depth look at our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  6. Updated May 01, 2023: After updating this keyboard onto our newest test bench, we've made a small change to the Typing Noise section of this review to clarify our results.
  7. Updated Apr 26, 2023: We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.1. This update adds several new tests addressing Hardware Customization, Macro Keys And Programming, and Wireless Mobile Compatibility. We've also added new objective evaluations to the Typing Noise test, and we've simplified several tests and removed several others that were no longer relevant. For an in-depth look at all our changes, you can see our full changelog here.
  8. Updated Apr 18, 2023: We've added a link to the newly-reviewed Wooting 60HE in the Keystrokes section of this review.
  9. Updated Mar 22, 2023: We've corrected an error in the Pros and Cons section where 'no tactile switch options' was listed as a Pro instead of a Con.
  10. Updated Mar 09, 2023: Review published.
  11. Updated Mar 03, 2023: Early access published.
  12. Updated Mar 01, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  13. Updated Feb 24, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  14. Updated Feb 16, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is only available in a black colorway and with OmniPoint 2.0 switches. There's also a wireless version of this keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023). We expect our test results to apply broadly to the wireless version too. You can see the label for the unit we bought and tested here.

If you come across another variant of this keyboard that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is a mechanical gaming keyboard that continues SteelSeries' Apex Pro (2023) lineup. Like other models in the lineup, this board uses SteelSeries' proprietary OmniPoint 2.0 switches. Unlike standard mechanical switches, these switches allow you to adjust the actuation point of individual keys. In other words, this lets you adjust how sensitive your keys feel. You can set certain keys to be ultra-sensitive for playing competitive FPS or other fast-paced games and then switch to a much less sensitive setting for everyday typing to help prevent typos. These OmniPoint switches use hall effect sensors to register keypresses, and while this technology is still fairly rare to find in gaming keyboards, there are several other examples of models with similar switches, including the Wooting two HE and Wooting 60HE, which also use hall effect switches, and the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog which uses optical switches to achieve the same effect.

For more recommendations, see our picks for the best keyboards, the best gaming keyboards, and the best mechanical keyboards.

Wooting 60HE

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the Wooting 60HE are mechanical gaming keyboards with outstanding gaming performance and analog switch functionality that allow you to adjust the pre-travel distance of individual keys. The SteelSeries is a TenKeyLess (80%) model and has an included wrist rest. It also has an OLED screen and a control wheel, which the Wooting lacks. On the other hand, the Wooting 60HE is a smaller, Compact (60%) model. The Wooting has several software features the SteelSeries doesn't, including a low latency Tachyon Mode and an Analog Mode that reproduces the gradual inputs of controller joysticks.

Razer Huntsman V3 Pro [Mini, TKL]

The Razer Huntsman V3 Pro TKL and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) are tenkeyless wired gaming keyboards that use analog optical switches that allow you to customize pre-travel and reset distance of individual keys. Both keyboards provide similar gaming performance. The SteelSeries has an OLED screen and programmable scroll wheel, which the Razer lacks. On the other hand, the Razer has dedicated media keys and a programmable control knob, which the SteelSeries lacks.

SteelSeries Apex Pro

The SteelSeries Apex Pro and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) are mechanical gaming keyboards that belong to the same lineup and use OmniPoint switches that allow you to customize the actuation point of individual keys. The Apex Pro is an older, full-size model. On the other hand, the Apex Pro TKL (2023) is a newer TKL form-factor model. It also features higher-quality PBT keycaps and improved switches with a slightly wider range of actuation points.

SteelSeries Apex 9

The SteelSeries Apex 9 and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) are TenKeyLess mechanical gaming keyboards with switches that allow you to adjust the auction point of individual keys. The Apex 9 uses OptiPoint switches that offer only two actuation point settings. On the other hand, the Apex Pro TKL (2023) uses OmniPoint switches which let you adjust the actuation point more precisely by increments of 0.1mm within a wider range. It also has an OLED screen and an included wrist rest, both of which the Apex 9 lacks.

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini

The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) are mechanical gaming keyboards that belong to the same lineup and use OmniPoint switches that allow you to customize the actuation point of individual keys. The Apex Pro Mini has a smaller Compact (60%) form factor. On the other hand, the Apex Pro TKL (2023) has a TenKeyLess (80%) form factor. It also has an OLED screen and an included wrist rest, which the Apex Pro Mini lacks.

ASUS ROG Azoth

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the ASUS ROG Azoth are mechanical gaming keyboards with programmable OLED screens and similarly outstanding gaming performance. The SteelSeries is a wired-only model that allows you to adjust the pre-travel distance of individual switches. On the other hand, the ASUS is a wireless model that provides a better overall typing experience due to its gasket-mounted design and layers of sound-dampening material.

Wooting two HE

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the Wooting two HE are mechanical gaming keyboards with switches that allow you to customize the actuation point of individual keys. The Wooting is a full-size keyboard, and its Gateron Lekker switches are a bit more precise, allowing you to adjust the actuation point of switches within a slightly wider range. Its switches also have some functionality that the SteelSeries switches lack, including the ability for keypresses to mimic analog joystick inputs. On the other hand, the SteelSeries has a smaller TKL (80%) form factor and includes a wrist rest, which the Wooting lacks.

DrunkDeer A75

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the DrunkDeer A75 are wired gaming keyboards that use hall-effect switches, allowing you to customize the pre-travel distance of individual switches. The SteelSeries is a TKL (80%) model with better build quality and generally more intuitive software. It also includes a wrist rest and has a programmable OLED screen with a control wheel on the top right corner. On the other hand, the DrunkDeer has a Compact (75%) form factor and a rotary control knob on the top right corner. It doesn't include a wrist rest, but DrunkDeer sells wrist rests separately on its website.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) are mechanical gaming keyboards with switches that allow you to adjust the actuation point of individual keys. The Razer is a full-size model that uses Razer Analog Optical switches. In addition to being able to adjust the actuation point, this keyboard also allows you to set an analog mode which makes keys mimic analog joystick controls. On the other hand, the SteelSeries has a smaller TKL (80%) form factor and has OmniPoint 2.0 switches. While these switches don't have an analog mode, the adjustable actuation points are more precise and predictable than those on the Razer, and you can adjust the action points within a wider range. The SteelSeries also has an OLED screen which the Razer lacks.

Keychron Q1 HE

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the Keychron Q1 HE are gaming keyboards with Hall effect switches that allow you to adjust individual switches' actuation and reset distance. The SteelSeries has a slightly larger TKL (80%) form factor. It also includes a wrist rest and has a customizable OLED display and shine-through keycaps, all features that the Keychron lacks. Comparatively, the Keychron has a smaller compact (75%) form factor and has added wireless support. The Keychron also has a programmable control knob, a more premium-feeling aluminum case, and a double-gasket mount design that produces a somewhat softer-feeling typing experience.

8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) and the 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard are gaming keyboards with tenkeyless layouts but are otherwise very different. The SteelSeries has better overall performance and uses hall-effect switches that allow you to adjust individual keys' actuation and reset distance. The 8BitDo has a much more retro-inspired look and feel and uses clicky mechanical switches. It also includes a separate two-button gamepad module. The SteelSeries also has full RGB backlighting, which the 8BitDo lacks.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Size
TenKeyLess (80%)
Height
1.7" (4.2 cm)
Width 13.9" (35.4 cm)
Depth
5.1" (12.8 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
8.3" (21.1 cm)
Weight
1.62 lbs (0.737 kg)

It's a fairly compact keyboard that doesn't take up much space on your desk compared to most full-size keyboards, including the original full-size SteelSeries Apex Pro. It isn't as compact as the Apex Pro Mini Wireless. You can also choose to remove the included wrist rest if you prefer.

8.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

This keyboard has impressive build quality. The chassis is made of plastic with only a small degree of flexibility, and the top plate is made of aluminum, which looks and feels high-quality. The keycaps are made of PBT plastic. They feel nice to the touch and have a textured finish for added grip. There's some wobbling on the keys, but it isn't very noticeable while typing. On the back of the keyboard, there's an indent in the case for storing the included keycap puller.

If you're interested in a similar gaming keyboard with Hall effect switches but with more premium-feeling build quality, check out the Keychron Q1 HE.

6.0
Design
Ergonomics
Curved/Angled
No
Split Keyboard
No
Key Alignment
Staggered
Minimum Incline
4°
Medium Incline
7°
Maximum Incline
11°
Home Row Height
34.1 mm (1.3")

This keyboard has good ergonomics. There are two plastic incline feet on the back of the keyboard that offer two incline angles. There's also an included wrist rest, which is unusual for keyboards of this size. The wrist rest attaches magnetically and provides good support.

6.0
Design
Hardware Customizability
Replaceable Cherry Stabilizers
Yes
Stabilizer Fixation
Plate-Mounted
Spacebar Stabilizer Size
6.25u
Size Of Right Mod Keys
1.25u
Hot-Swappable Switches
No
Switch Stem Shape
Cherry MX Style
Switch PCB Socket
Soldered
North-Facing Cherry MX Interference
Yes
10
Design
Backlight Features
Backlighting Yes
RGB
Yes
Per-Key Backlighting
Yes
Effects
Yes
Software Controllable
Yes

This keyboard has outstanding full RGB backlighting with individually lit keys. You can use the companion software to customize lighting effects and colors on a per-key basis.

9.0
Design
Backlight Clarity

The keycaps have shine-through legends, making them easy to read in darker rooms. Unfortunately, the color mixing is poor, and the white lighting has a strong blue tint.

Design
Cable & Connector
Connectivity Wired
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length 7.4 ft (2.3 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
USB type-C

This keyboard has a detachable, braided USB-A to USB-C cable. The cable feels high quality but retains some kinks from its packaging.

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

This is a wired-only keyboard, but there's also a wireless version of this keyboard available called the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023).

5.5
Design
Macro Keys And Programming
Dedicated Macro Keys Count 0
Onboard Macro Programming
Yes
Macro Programming With Software
Yes
Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Non-Dedicated
Trackpad / Trackball No
Scroll Wheel
Yes
Control Knob
No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
Yes
Lock Indicator Caps Lock

This keyboard has various extra features, some of which are fairly standard on similar gaming keyboards at this price point, like Full Key NKRO and anti-ghosting, storage for onboard profiles, and media hotkeys keys.

One of the more unique features this keyboard offers is the ability to adjust the actuation point of its OmniPoint 2.0 switches within a range of 0.2mm-3.8mm. You can also program dual bindings for two separate actions at different actuation points. Note that you can only adjust the actuation point on the keyboard's 61 alphanumeric keys, as seen in this image. You can't adjust the actuation point of the function keys, navigation keys, and arrow keys.

There's an OLED screen on the right side of the keyboard that you can use to customize select options directly on your keyboard without using software, custom profile, RGB lighting, and actuation point settings. You can also use it to display custom images or short animations.

Design
In The Box

  • SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023)
  • Wrist rest
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Keycap puller
  • User documentation

Typing Experience
8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality
Key Spacing
19.0 mm (0.748")

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) offers a great typing experience. The keycaps feel high quality and are made of PBT plastic with pleasantly textured surfaces for added grip. The keys wobble a bit, but it's hard to notice while typing. The switches themselves have a smooth linear feel without any tactile feedback. You can also adjust your typing experience somewhat by adjusting the actuation point of switches between more sensitive or deliberate pre-travel distances, and the switches have a smooth linear feel.

6.9
Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Average Loudness
55.2 dBA
High Pitch Clicks
No

This keyboard is at the upper limit of what we would consider quiet. If you're concerned about noise, you may want to check out our recommendations for the best quiet keyboards for alternatives.

Typing Experience
Switches
Switch Name
OmniPoint 2.0
Switch Type
Hall-effect
Feel
Linear
Analog
Yes
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Operating Force
40 gf
Actuation Force
40 gf
Pre-Travel
2.1 mm
Total Travel
4.2 mm

This keyboard uses switches that allow you to change the actuation point of the 61 alphanumeric keys (highlighted in this picture). Note that the function, navigation, and arrow keys aren't adjustable and have a default linear feel.

By default, the actuation point of the switches is set to 1.8 mm, which is the setting we used to test this keyboard. You can adjust the pre-travel distance of keys within a range of 0.2mm–3.8mm, which is an improvement over previous generation OmniPoint switches found on earlier models in this lineup with an actuation range between 0.4mm–3.6mm. It's important to note that during testing with this adjustable pre-travel distance, the recorded measurement varied slightly between 0.1 mm and 0.3 mm longer than the measurement set in the software. However, these differences are very marginal, so you're unlikely to notice the difference, and it doesn't present issues during gameplay. However, you may need to slightly fine-tune individual keypresses to achieve your desired sensitivity levels.

If you're interested in a keyboard that offers similar functionality, allowing you to adjust the pre-travel of individual keys more consistently and precisely, check out the Wooting 60HE.

Performance
9.0
Performance
Single-Key Latency
Best Connection
3.8 ms
Best Connection Std Dev ±0.6 ms
Wired
3.8 ms
Receiver
N/A
Bluetooth
N/A
PCB (Estimated)
N/A

This keyboard has remarkably low latency. It delivers an extremely responsive-feeling experience for games in any genre and casual or competitive play.

SteelSeries added a Rapid Trigger feature to this keyboard via a firmware update post-launch. This feature allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the switch reset point or how far the switch needs to travel back up and reset before you can register another keystroke. This feature can help you register repeated keystrokes more quickly.

We tested the latency of this keyboard with the actuation point set to its lowest setting (0.2mm) and with Rapid Trigger set to its most sensitive setting (0.1mm).

8.7
Performance
Multi-Key Latency
Connection Evaluated Wired
Key Press
3.7 ms
Key Release
11.1 ms

This keyboard offers excellent multi-key latency performance, making it very well-suited for playing games requiring additional inputs while multiple keys are already being pressed and held down.

We tested the latency of this keyboard with the actuation point set to its lowest setting (0.2mm) and with Rapid Trigger set to its most sensitive setting (0.1mm).

8.7
Performance
Data Transmission
Connection Evaluated Wired
USB Polling Rate
1,000 Hz
Effective Update Rate
1,000 Hz
N-Key Rollover (NKRO)
Yes
Multiple Keys Per USB Report
Yes
7.7
Performance
Chord Split
4 Chord Split Delay
5.6 ms
8 Chord Split Delay
16.1 ms
Software and Operating System
Software and Operating System
Configuration Software
Software Name SteelSeries GG
Software Windows Compatible
Yes
Software macOS Compatible
Yes
Onboard Memory
Yes
Profiles
6+

This keyboard uses SteelSeries GG software. The software is well laid out, easy to use, and provides a wide range of adjustable options. You can rebind keys, program macros, adjust the pre-travel distance of individual switches, and adjust RGB lighting settings. You can also adjust the actuation point of these switches or record macros directly on the keyboard without using the software if you prefer. Note that certain settings, including custom RGB settings, can't be saved to onboard memory and require the software to run in the background.

Similar to the software options from other major manufacturers, this software receives criticism for requiring frequent updates and taking up disproportionate system resources. You may find this software frustrating if you prefer more lightweight software options or no software at all.

10
Software and Operating System
Computer Compatibility
Windows
Fully Compatible
macOS
Fully Compatible
Linux (Ubuntu 22)
Fully Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Windows, MacOS & Linux

All default functions on this keyboard work in Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, the customization software is only compatible with Windows and macOS.

0
Software and Operating System
Wireless Mobile Compatibility
Android
Not Compatible
iOS
Not Compatible
iPadOS
Not Compatible
Media Key Compatibility
Not Compatible