- Quiet, comfortable keys
- Dynamic RGB backlighting
- Well developed software
With a lighting scheme made for the gods and keys that give the same pleasurable satisfaction of popping bubble-wrap, the Apex M800 is the best all-round keyboard SteelSeries has created to date.
Despite the frame being constructed purely from plastic, the keyboard feels solid and maintains a sturdy posture while bashing away, fragging your enemies. The keyboard comes with two different sized rubber feet which are interchangeable – a good alternative to the conventional fold-out feet that can often break. This allows customisation of the angle of the keyboard to best suit your RSI riddled hands.
The Apex M800 consists of 110 mechanical keys, using a new design by SteelSeries; the QS1 switch. As explained on the SteelSeries website; this design was made with the goal to “react faster and spend less effort as you destroy your competition”. This new design boasts a 15mm actuation point, meaning less pressure is needed to actually register a key-stroke; providing an edge in high-intensity gaming. Another advantage to gamers, especially those playing FPS games, is that the W key has two raised notches to allow your fingers to find your gaming-space without looking. Additionally, a double-sized spacebar is present to assist with registering a direct-hit for all those bunny-hopping prodigies out there. During use, the keys of the Apex M800 have a soft and satisfying feel which makes for enjoyable use.
Macros are valuable to many professional gamers from all different genres; SteelSeries has included six stand-alone buttons on the left-hand side of the keyboard to allow dedicated macro customisation. Luckily if six aren’t enough, every single key on the keyboard is able to be customised with it’s own macro through the SteelSeries Engine.
Unfortunately, one feature that was not included was the presence of dedicated media keys. Instead, additional functions have been added to the F keys which require the use of the SteelSeries key to be employed – not a biggie as you can still control your media while conducting other activities.
A 2m cable is cloth-wrapped, providing extra strength and durability. The cable includes a double USB connector means two ports must be taken to power and utilise the keyboard – an obvious annoyance if your motherboard doesn’t have many.
The illumination patterns are one of the most obvious and enjoyable features of the keyboard. Every key is illuminated by an 8-bit RGB LED that allows complete customisation with 16.8 million colours. Using the SteelSeries Engine, the keyboard gives an active and passive lighting state with several preset profiles such as; FPS, disco, breathe, and even rainbow waves. This can be fully customisable with specific games to show attributes such as; health, ammunition, and armour states with different colours; allowing situational awareness out of the corner of the player’s eye.
SteelSeries Engine 3.
The current version of the SteelSeries Engine gives users an opportunity to change fine details with their SteelSeries equipment. In particular, each key on the Apex M800 is completely customisable with macros and illumination. Advantageously, profiles for each game can be set which will load at the opening of the respective game. For example, you may create an illumination preset for a FPS game where the WASD are illuminated in blue, and the QER keys are illuminated in green.
Another attribute of this stellar keyboard is that it holds an extra processor to assist with its fluent and lag-less operation. The first processor is an 8-bit processor used to handle all inputs and the second; a 32-bit processor powers the illumination effects. Together, they ensure the integrity of high intensity game play without stutter.
The reduced actuation in the QS1 keys allows quick reactions during game play; a vital advantage for all the hardcore gamers in the audience. Conversely, it takes some getting used to and in the beginning; don’t be surprised if you find some extra characters while you’re typing.
During gaming the keyboard is exceptionally responsive and doesn’t miss a key-stroke. As explained previously, this gives a distinct edge when playing competitively. Additionally, the illumination presets and possibilities give unprecedented flexibility and situational awareness while in-game as well as being aesthetically pleasing on the eyes in general day-to-day activities. The QS1 keys are quieter and feel smoother than traditional mechanical keyboards which may attract an audience that previously did not like the clacking of the conventional mechanical keys.
This keyboard is the best keyboard we’ve reviewed to date and it has the potential to be a long-term addition to our players’ gaming arsenal. Although the price is on the high-end of gaming keyboards, we highly recommend the extra dollars for the additional performance and artistry.