Steelseries are well known for some high-end gaming keyboards, and they often go toe-to-toe with Razer, Roccat and other competitors. Most of their releases are premium and fairly expensive keyboards.
However, an alternative option to the more expensive Apex Pro is the Apex 3. This is the brand’s budget model, and although it’s considerably cheaper than many other gaming keyboards, it’s still received a fair amount of praise.
But just how does it compare to other options out there, like the mechanical Keychron K2? Well, we’re going to have a quick look at this wired keyboard to see how it fares.
Steelseries Apex 3 review
The Steelseries Apex 3 is a budget friendly gaming keyboard that’s well made and responsive. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, and it stands out with its 10 zone RGB illumination and whisper quiet gaming switches.
Although it’s often mistaken for a mechanical keyboard because of its appearance, it’s actually a membrane keyboard. Whilst this does mean that there’s less customization options with it, it does help to shave the price down a little.
The 10-zone illumination gives you a lot of variation when you’re playing around with the Steelseries software. More importantly though, let’s look at the overall build quality of the keyboard.
Design and Build
In terms of appearance, I actually think that it looks pretty good for a big and bulky wired keyboard. The good thing about a wired keyboard is that you can have the RGB lighting running 24/7 without having to worry about the battery dying on you.
The keys are made from a plastic material, though the whole design of the keyboard is made to a high standard. It is definitely durable and made to last. Although it misses out on some of the features and advantages of more expensive Steelseries keyboards, it’s still well made and reliable.
The magnetic wrist rest is designed to snap into place and give you more support for your hands. Whilst it does help, it probably isn’t going to be the most comfortable choice for long hours of gameplay. So whilst it’s not uncomfortable to use, it’s probably not going to be as plush as some other options.
If you enjoy gaming in the evening in darker conditions, then this is when the Apex 3 comes to life. It’s looks great when it’s illuminated fully, and this is probably one of the standout features of this keyboard.
Performance and Use
The keys are fairly high, and they have a substantial travel distance too. Unlike some popular keyboards that have a 1mm or shorter travel distance (like the Magic keyboard), your keys have a longer way to go with the Apex 3.
This is good in one sense as it means that you won’t accidentally register and key presses when you’re using the keyboard. Though on the other hand, it can also make fast paced gaming a little tougher. This really comes down to your own preference.
Though they keys have a fairly high travel distance, this is one of the most quiet keyboards for gaming that you’ll currently find. Traditionally, gaming keyboards can be quite loud, so it’s nice to have an option for those that prefer silence.
Steelseries brand their keyboards as giving you a “whisper-quiet” gaming experience, and it’s fair to say that the Apex 3 does this pretty well. The lack of mechanical switches will be a deal-breaker for some though, as obviously it gives quite a different feel.
As you’d want from a gaming keyboard, it has a high 24-key rollover. This means that there’s no need for you to worry about any of your keys not registering, which is sometimes referred to as ghosting or a phantom tap.
In terms of performance, I think it’s going to work fine as a standard gaming keyboard. Because of the high travel, I’m not sure I’d advise it as the best option if you’re looking for something to play fps games with. For that, I’d usually go for something with shallow keys that are easy to register.
But for general gameplay and day to day use, it’s still a worthy option for the average user. You do get quite a lot of feedback when registering a key even though it’s quiet. The rubber dome style of the keys make this into a well made and easy to use keyboard.
All in all, as wired gaming keyboard go the Apex 3 is one of the better choices if we’re talking on a value for cost basis.
If you have more cash then you can look at the Apex 5 or even the Apex Pro if you’re trying to be competitive when you’re gaming. Or, you could consider moving away from membrane switches and change over to mechanical.
But for beginners or those not looking to spend a lot on a new keyboard, the Apex 3 does a great job. It definitely looks great with a full 10 zone RGB illumination setup and a premium magnetic wrist rest. It’s responsive, has fully programmable keys and it has almost silent switches that help to keep noise to a minimum.