SteelSeries Apex 3 Gaming Keyboard REVIEW
Steelseries Apex 3 Gaming Keyboard REVIEW
Here’s a gaming keyboard that has everything a discerning gamer needs at a wallet-pleasing price point, writes PAT PILCHER.
The SteelSeries Apex 3 gaming keyboard is a curious beast. It looks and feels like a flagship product, but is a wallet pleasing $159 depending on where you shop. It looks good and is well priced, but does it have the QWERTY chops to give you a gaming edge?
It does, but – full disclosure – I am a rubbish gamer, so the point is somewhat moot. That said, SteelSeries is an iconic brand amongst gamers.
Priced as a budget gaming keyboard, it has some unfortunate connotations. For many PC gamers, the term budget usually means “cheap” or “lacking in features”. SteelSeries has changed this for the better with the Apex 3. Its attractive sticker price plus buckets of features make it a compelling option.
Design-wise, it’s a full-size keyboard. It has a number pad and media buttons. It’s also portable (which makes it ideal for lugging to LAN parties). On its underside, it sports sturdy hinged feet. These add a gentle slope to things which makes for more comfy typing.
There’s also a palm-rest bundled. Like the keyboard, it has rubberised feet. It’ll stay put, even during frantic gaming sessions.
Aimed at gamers, the Apex 3 has oodles of RGB LEDs. They’re bright too. These consist of 10 RGB lighting zones. They’re also customisable using the excellent SteelSeries Engine 3 utility. A feature I liked (as 12-year-olds kicked my ass in Counterstrike) was the LED’s ability to change based on in-game action. I also found I was able to customise key presses to add macros. It’s a feature I didn’t expect to see at this price point.
Another less discussed aspect of PC gaming is cable spaghetti. Cables get seen as quicker than wireless, and they’re everywhere. The Apex 3 has cable routing channels. These make a big difference when it comes to keeping gaming workspaces tidy.
About the only thing missing was a USB passthrough option. Being able to plug a mouse into the keyboard would’ve help reduce cable clutter. That said, it isn’t something I expected at this price.
Another nifty touch that’ll appeal to gamers is water resistance. Sugary energy drinks and junk food next to keyboards are commonplace when gaming. Because of this, it’s great to have a keyboard that can take an accidental soaking. I spritzed the keyboard with water out of a squirt bottle and saw no adverse effects. That said, total immersion is likely to be another matter altogether.
So, all told, there’s a lot for gamers to like with the Apex 3 besides its wallet pleasing sticker price. What about the stuff they might not like? Gamers particularly like their keyboards to use mechanical key switches. These give instant tactile feedback, not to mention a reassuring “clunk” when pressed. SteelSeries chose to use membrane switches on the Apex 3. Gamers are likely to balk at this. Membrane keyboards feel mushier and slower. They lack the instant feedback of their mechanical counterparts.
In use, I found that they had nothing to fear. A benefit of a membrane keyboard is that it is quiet. This makes the Apex 3 ideal for night gaming or typing. When others are sleeping nearby, they won’t hear a thing. As my fingers became acclimatised to the membrane setup, I found the Apex 3 a joy to game on and otherwise use.
All told, SteelSeries has pulled off a delicate balancing act. They’ve crammed all the features a gamer is likely to need at a great price. The Apex 3 isn’t perfect, but it packs enough bells and whistles to keep even the most discerning gamers happy. The high-end gaming peripheral market already has far too many stupidly priced widgets. Because of this, it is great to see the Apex 3 proving you don’t need to part with your firstborn to get hold of the good stuff.