Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reviewing the SteelSeries Apex [RAW] gaming keyboard. In that review, I also touched on the better, more awesome older sibling of the [Raw]: the SteelSeries Apex. You can only imagine my glee when a big SteelSeries box came across my desk recently. I may have even danced. Maybe…probably.

ssSpecs

  • Low profile keys for great feel with short travel distance and fast response time
  • Ergonomically elevated F and macro keys – Media Controls
  • 1000 Hz polling rate
  • 1ms response time
  • Anti ghosting (10 N-key rollover)
  • SteelSeries Engine drives everything including illumination, macros, and profiles
  • Zone Lighting (4 zones plus edges, Multi color, Variable Intensity LEDs)
  • Macro keys on the side and top (4 layers – 20keys)

 

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SteelSeries Apex Review: A Sleek, Sexy Step Up From [RAW]

At first glance, the Apex and the Apex [Raw] look a LOT alike and if  you read the last review,  you already know what a huge fan I am of the Apex [RAW]’s sleek, unobtrusive design. Upon opening the Apex’s box, I was pleased to find that the design of the Apex was nearly identical to the Apex [Raw]. You may be thinking, “Hey! I paid more money! Shouldn’t this be different? Better?” Remember, young Padawan, you can’t improve on perfection. The design of the two sibling keyboards is really like nothing the gaming world has ever seen. It’s thin, ergonomic, and all around gorgeous. Forget modular wrist rests and stereotypical “gaming” hardware designs. If I didn’t know better (Hello, copious amounts of macro keys…), I would never peg this keyboard as gaming hardware. As a twenty-something female who needs to keep up the facade of professionalism and grown-up-ness, I couldn’t ask for more. The SteelSeries Apex screams sophistication.

So, what makes the Apex different from the Apex [Raw]? While the keyboard’s physical design is the same, don’t be fooled. I plugged the Apex in and glorious rainbow back lighting greeted me. The 13 year old girl within me squealed as I hurried off to the SteelSeries website to download the ‘SteelSeries Engine’, a piece of software that allows users to customize the back-lighting and macro keys on the Apex.  The download was complete in about 30 seconds and the program was ready to rock and roll in about 1 minute. The UI for the SteelsSeries Engine is incredibly easy to use and in just a few moments, the Apex featured a montage of purples and pinks, then, blues and greens. According to SteelSeries, there are over 16.8 million possible colors for each zone on the keyboard. DISCLAIMER: I did not test them all.

Beyond aesthetics, there are also a few other differences that make the Apex superior to the Apex [RAW]. Check out the chart below:

apex-vs-apex-raw

As you can see, for the extra thirty bucks, you get a lot more keyboard. Frankly, the customizable colors and USB port space was enough for me to justify the extra cost. SteelSeries, however, gives you a few more extras like the anti-tangle cord (you’ll thank yourself later!), a dedicated media key, extra macro keys and layers, and more!

Additional Features

Interchangeable Rubber Feet –  The SteelSeries Apex comes with two sets of interchangable rubber feet that allow the user to selects a 7 or 10 degree incline. I tried both and found that the 10 degree angle suited my needs best. The feet were very easy to change and seem sturdy and secure once in place.

Additional Arrow Keys – If you are a heavy user of the arrow keys (in lieu or in addition to WASD), you will be happy to know that your level 90 Paladin no longer has to run all weird and boxy when moving to the side. SteelSeries had the foresight to include diagonal directional arrow keys that act the same way “E” and”Q” would when using WASD. While I am accustom to using WASD, it is really nice to finally have options! If you are a fan of WASD only, you’ll be happy to know that SteelSeries has placed bumps on the W key to allow for a faster return to WASD.

Macro Keys – 22 macro keys with 4 layers give you a whopping 88 macro keys. While that is probably more than I will ever need, I love that they are there and that I am not cautiously doling out macro real estate with a fear or running out. SteelSeries also took on the popular issue of accidentally hitting an F key, instead of the intended macro key. Taking the initiative, they raised the top row of macro keys slightly, and this tiny change solves the problem almost entirely.

Dedicated Media Key – These independent media keys mean instant control of volume, mute, and other various media actions.

SteelSeries KeyThe Apex also comes equipped with a ‘SteelSeries’ key that allows the user to perform special functions. These functions include the ability to disable the Windows key by holding down the SteelSeries key and then tapping the Windows key. No more special software for that. Yay!

The Bottom Line

For anyone who might be confused about how much I loved the Apex [RAW] and, subsequently, the Apex, let me break it down for you:

YOU NEED THIS.

I’m not trying to sound biased here, because generally it takes an awesome piece of hardware to impress me, but if you are looking for a sleek and unobtrusive shell that harbors one of the most incredible gaming keyboards that I have had the pleasure of coming into contact with, the Apex is it. With it’s fully customizable lighting, 88 macro keys, special dedicated keys, and built in ergonomic wrist rest…what’s not to love? Not to mention all of the extras that come along with the Apex. It is as powerful as it is beautiful and makes you wonder how you ever lived without it.

What I Loved – Custom lighting, insane amount of macro keys, adjustable incline, overall appearance

What I Didn’t – Can we get this in mechanical? Please?…PLEASE?!

If you would like to learn more about SteelSeries’ products or if you are in the market for an awesome keyboard, check out their website here.