166
144 shares, 166 points


Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $44.99

Eric Schoon

Budget gaming keyboards may be iffy, to say the least. Walking the tightrope between affordability and high quality is a difficult factor, and one in every of them often winds up being left behind. The Apex 3, nevertheless, manages to stability each elegantly.

Here’s What We Like

  • Nice rubber-dome switches
  • Solid {hardware}
  • Water resistance
  • Good RGB lighting and options

We’re reviewing the tenkeyless (TKL) mannequin, to be particular, however the full-sized mannequin is principally the identical product with a Numpad and magnetic wrist relaxation. The full-sized mannequin prices $49.99, whereas the TLK mannequin we’re testing will set you again $44.99. That’s not an enormous worth distinction, so it’s best to get whichever format you like. Almost each phrase on this overview can apply to each, so it’s not an enormous deal which one you get on the finish of the day. I like TKL keyboards, so I desire this one whatever the minor worth minimize (though an included wrist relaxation would’ve been good).

Besides the format, for lower than $50, thoughts you, you’re getting rather a lot right here: media controls, software program options, RGB lighting, water resistance, and it’s accessible in six totally different languages. Which begs the query: how did SteelSeries that worth in a gaming keyboard? Well, not like most gaming keyboards, this isn’t mechanical—it’s rubber-dome, extra just like cheaper keyboards you’d discover in places of work the world over. Rubber-dome switches often aren’t an ideal signal for a gaming keyboard however wait, as a result of the Apex 3 pulls this off surprisingly nicely.

Surprisingly Satisfying Switches

Rubber dome (or membrane) switches get a foul rep lots of the time, and for primarily justified causes—lots of actually low-cost keyboards that don’t really feel good use them. As I simply talked about, you’ve probably used a membrane board earlier than in an workplace or hooked up to a laptop computer. They’re often characterised by a shallow, mushy feeling that doesn’t compete with most gaming keyboards’ mechanical switches. I’m an enormous fan of mechanical switches, however the Apex 3’s is a good instance of how you can do a gaming keyboard proper with out them.

Eric Schoon

This is definitely among the best membrane keyboards I’ve ever used; it nonetheless retains a stunning quantity of tactility and depth to every keypress, eradicating lots of points with membrane switches whereas maintaining the advantages just like the low noise issue. It’s nonetheless a bit mushy, which is to be anticipated, nevertheless it’s clear that SteelSeries put lots of effort into ensuring these switches would assist the finances price ticket whereas nonetheless feeling good to kind on. For gaming, they received’t be nearly as good, even when SteelSeries optimized them for that particularly, however they’re greater than okay when you’re something apart from a hardcore aggressive gamer.

You may take into account {that a} failing of the product as a gaming keyboard, and also you wouldn’t essentially be unsuitable. Still, frankly, most individuals don’t absolutely make the most of most gaming advantages mechanical keyboards supply. Mechanical boards are usually most popular for the texture of the switches, with some minor efficiency benefits that can solely be observed by the keenest contact.

Generally talking, typing on the Apex 3 has a really smooth really feel to it. And whereas private choice will in the end make the ultimate name right here, I prefer it. Going from my normal keyboard, which has exceptionally tactile and loud switches, to this doesn’t really feel worse per se, simply totally different, and there’s lots of worth in that. If you’ve by no means absolutely understood the enchantment of mechanical keyboards, and even when you do and have a tendency to desire smoother switches smoother with much less tactility, I believe there’s a superb probability you’ll like these switches as nicely.

That’s to not point out the worth tag—there are $50 mechanical keyboards, however not solely are they missing options, they often don’t really feel nice. For the cash, it’s simply not practical to have the construct high quality a superb mechanical keyboard wants. While it’s not the very best, the Apex 3 affords a considerably higher typing expertise than most finances mechanical keyboards, alongside as you’re keen to satisfy it on its phrases.

The Rest of the Hardware is Great too

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL on desk
Eric Schoon

But let’s not cease there; the Apex 3 as a bodily product is nice in virtually each mark. While many of the keyboard is made from plastic, making it remarkably gentle, it nonetheless feels fairly stable and doesn’t flex whereas typing. The keyboard’s physique has the identical smooth really feel because the switches, and the keycaps daring legends make it look sharp with out being overly “gamer.” Thanks to the membrane base contained in the keyboard, RGB lighting can easily glow below all of the keys, which seems to be nice whatever the settings you’ve utilized.

There are even some media controls right here, with a quantity dial and pause/play button positioned above the navigation keys. The play/pause button lacks any labels, which is type of unusual, and urgent it’s a bit awkward resulting from how shut it’s to the navigation keys, nevertheless it’s useful to have. As is the truth that you’ll be able to push down on the quantity dial to mute audio.

Close-up of media controls on the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL
The quantity dial and play/pause button. Eric Schoon

Besides that, there’s additionally a pair of high quality kick-out ft on the underside for angling the board alongside some cable routes. Pretty normal, however what isn’t is that this keyboard is waterproof. According to SteelSeries, this keyboard can deal with some gentle splashes and possibly even an enormous spill or two, so that you is usually a bit extra comfy ingesting issues at your desk. That mentioned, don’t anticipate it to outlive full submersion by any means.

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL close-up of kickout feet
Eric Schoon

This is all what I’d hope to see out of a $50 membrane keyboard and much more. Like the switches, I believe the Apex delivers one thing higher than most finances mechanical keyboards can supply right here. It’s spectacular, to say the least, and solely makes the Apex 3 extra engaging.

Software is Kind of Strange Though

SteelSeries Engine software opening page
What you’re greeted by in SteelSeries Engine

Using SteelSeries “Engine” software program for this keyboard is type of unusual. You open it up and get modern-looking, minimalist menus which can be responsive and straightforward to navigate. But when you begin customizing your keyboard, it feels such as you’ve traveled again in time. The software program devolves into this ugly mess of containers and buttons that, whereas hiding some first rate options, doesn’t make you need to spend so much of time right here. I haven’t used SteelSeries’ merchandise prior to now, so I don’t know if that is so for all its peripherals, but when not, the Apex 3 is getting the brief finish of the stick right here. But a minimum of the options nonetheless make this price speaking about.

… and what it seems to be like whereas customizing the keyboard

The main stuff is all right here: You can reprogram keys, modify RGB lighting, and create macros to your coronary heart’s content material. But when you dig within the menus, you too can have keys act as macro shortcuts, open purposes, and act as media controls. All nice, nevertheless it’s a disgrace you’ll be able to’t reprogram the quantity dial or pause/play button—that’s an enormous missed alternative to me, particularly with how dials can be utilized in packages like Photoshop for all types of actions. There’s additionally no solution to apply a number of actions to a single key, so when you needed a key to serve its regular operate however then do one thing additional like adjusting quantity when you pressed together with the “Alt” key, you simply can’t.

That’s a big weak point and makes the reprogramming choices rather a lot much less beneficial as you’ll at all times be buying and selling performance of keys as a substitute of including it. It’s not an enormous deal, nevertheless it does put SteelSeries Engine behind the very best of the very best.

A No-Brainer for the Money

The Apex 3 affords rather a lot for $44.99, and it manages to stay the touchdown on most of it nicely. It’s not a keyboard to shock or impress you, however it’s good. The largest weak point is the software program, and whereas it’s a bit lackluster, it nonetheless delivers the important options you’d need out of a gaming keyboard.

If you’re on the lookout for high-end {hardware} and software program, then this isn’t the keyboard for you or the proper worth bracket, to be frank. I’ve used mechanical keyboards that value lower than $50, and so they don’t supply almost as many options because the Apex 3 nor really feel as refined on the {hardware} entrance. While the shortage of mechanical switches will likely be an enormous draw back for some, the keyboard greater than makes up for it with premium rubber-dome switches and stable {hardware}.

It’s nothing inherently extraordinary, however for the cash, it’s about nearly as good as you’re going to get except you completely want mechanical switches.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $44.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Nice rubber-dome switches
  • Solid {hardware}
  • Water resistance
  • Good RGB lighting and options




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144 shares, 166 points

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