Review: SteelSeries Apex M800 mechanical gaming keyboard
It has been a long time since I first saw the Apex from SteelSeries. The keyboard sported three columns of macro keys and membranes, which were the deal-killer for me. Sure it was bright and comfortable to use but once the lure of mechanical takes you, it is over.
The Apex is back, with a lot of cool things to do with its illumination, as well as mechanical keys. A newly-designed switch, the QS1 requires only 45cN actuation force and they register at 1.5mm. That is a very light, touch of a key to register a press, perfect for games where you are pressing often or want the press to register as quickly as possible. The new switch also has an enjoyable solid sound to them, sounding less like the angry clacking than Cherry MX switches. It is great, the people in TeamSpeak don’t think everything I type is me being angry and killing a keyboard.
Having the LED in the centre of each key, rather than offset for the switch means there is less light leak. This makes the lighting look great, especially as keys change colour as they register keypresses, before slowly fading back to your selected colour. The colours are rich without being overly bright, avoiding the appearance of there being a trance party at your desk. (Either that or there is a party on my desk and I am in denial.)
If you enjoy the illumination it can be modified per key or various other effects but for me the treat was the way the keys automatically interact with the games that you play. Loading up Dota 2 changed the lighting on the keyboard during a match. The QWER keys are unlit if you don’t have a level in that skill or they are passive, with the key changing to green when it is off cooldown. I found that the colours on the keys were just on the edge of my vision, and that flash to green was pretty handy in some fights. Also, to remind you to wake up after you die, the Steelseries logo starts to flash when you are about to respawn. Other games have similar uses on the lights, either showing health on the macro keys or registering a headshot or keeping count of your kills. I can see this working well in situations where people watch others playing games, but it was fun to use, especially so because it took no work on my behalf to get it running properly.
N-Key rollover is great for facerolling DKs in WoW and there is a USB 2.0 hub under the centre of the keyboard for those extra devices you need to plug in. The macro editor is pretty easy to use, with an on the fly record feature. Every key is fully programmable and their low profile is great for long periods of use. The only thing holding me back is its price. Still, if you are in a position where you use your keyboard to game professionally, or make money from it in some way, I think you might want to give it a test. At least find one to feel that actuation and hear the key noise!