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SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Mar 09, 2023 at 11:04 am
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) Picture
9.2
Gaming
4.1
Mobile/Tablet
8.0
Office
8.0
Programming
5.6
Entertainment / HTPC

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 OmnmiPoint switches which let you customize the actuation point of individual switches. There are several new features 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. Additionally, while the previous-generation models have lower-quality ABS plastic keycaps, this keyboard has doubleshot PBT plastic keycaps with a pleasant textured top for added grip.

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 be largely applicable to the wireless version too.

Our Verdict

9.2 Gaming

The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL 2023 is an outstanding 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.
  • No tactile switch options.
Cons
  • Keys wobble slightly.
4.1 Mobile/Tablet

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

8.0 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.
  • No tactile switch options.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • Keys wobble slightly.
8.0 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.
  • No tactile switch options.
Cons
  • Wired-only.
  • Keys wobble slightly.
5.6 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.
  • 9.2 Gaming
  • 4.1 Mobile/Tablet
  • 8.0 Office
  • 8.0 Programming
  • 5.6 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Mar 09, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Mar 03, 2023: Early access published.

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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 60 HE, 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

7.5
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
4°
Medium Incline
7°
Maximum Incline
11°
Wrist Rest Detachable

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.

9.6
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting Yes
Color
RGB
Individually Backlit Keys
Yes
Color Mixing
Poor
Effects
Yes
Programmable
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. 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).

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Dedicated
Macro Programmable Keys
All
Trackpad / Trackball No
Wheel Yes
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
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
OmniPoint 2.0
Mechanical
Yes
Feel
Linear
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.

8.0
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

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.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

This keyboard is fairly quiet to type on, and the noise is unlikely to bother those around you while using it. Note that this keyboard is at the upper limit of what we would consider quiet, so if you're concerned about noise, you may want to check out our recommendations for the best quiet keyboards for alternatives.

10
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
2.0 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
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.

Software and Operating System
10
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name SteelSeries GG
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

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.

8.2
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Full
Linux Full
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS No

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

Discussions