SteelSeries Apex 3 Review
In an age where mechanical keyboards dominate the gaming scene, it is easy to forget that there are other options on the market. Sure, the performance of a mechanical switch is unparalleled, but are we all professional gamers where every millisecond counts? Well, apart from myself, most gamers aren’t. In fact, there are several quality options on the market that not only offer great performance, but also include a number of features all without breaking the bank. This describes the SteelSeries Apex 3 gaming keyboard almost to a tee, but just how good is the Apex 3? Let’s find out.
Glow Up is SteelSeries’ newest campaign that promotes their latest range of ‘best-in-class’ affordable products that feature cutting-edge innovation and premium performance, so it should come as no surprise that the Apex 3 features all these charactistics. The problem is that the Apex range is already boasts a number of hi-end products such as the Apex Pro and Apex 7, but the Apex 3 finds itself at the other end of the scale as the entry level product to the range. So it would be safe to assume that this keyboard would only contain the bare essentials with no bells and whistles, right? Wrong. The Apex 3 features everything you would expect from a quality gaming keyboard, but without the inflated price tag — 10-zone RGB illumination, dedicated multimedia controls, IP32 water and dust resistant, magnetic wrist pad, and support for SteelSeries Engine 3. Honestly, what else would you want from a gaming keyboard?
It’s quiet, a little too quiet…
Let’s kick off with the fact that it is quiet, whisper quiet. This is thanks to SteelSeries’ Whisper-Quiet Switches rather than the hybrid mechanical switch seen in the Apex 5 or the OmniPoint adjustable mechanical switches featured in the Apex Pro. So what exactly are SteelSeries Whisper-Quiet Switches? Well, these switches are made from a highly durable rubber dome sheet, this in turn lowers acoustic vibrations and reduces noise. The results speak for themselves and prove that these switches definetly live up to their name.
As you would expect, I am typing this review up on the Apex 3 and it is an absolute pleasure — It is quiet, responsive, and comfortable. There isn’t the sharp response or satisfying click that comes with a mechanical switch, but rather a soft, cushiony feel to keystrokes that is in its own way, is rather satisfying. There is a noticeable difference in actuation depth when compared to a traditional mechanical switch (let alone the Apex Pro’s OmniPoint switch), but again this is to be expected and in all honestly, most people won’t even notice the difference… unless you are a serious gamer. I did notice the difference when I fired up a few rounds of Call of Duty: Warzone with the rest of the MEF TECH boys. Did it impact my score? Not at all — I was still t
opping the server average.
Simple, yet effective
There is no denying it, the Apex 3 is one attractive keyboard; It is sleek, simple, and its illuminated rubber underlay that gives off the illusion that the keys are floating above the keyboard. Speaking of the rubber underlay, not only is it aesthetically pleasing to look at, it also adds IP32 protection to the keyboard; something mechanical switches cannot provide. This means that the Apex 3 is water and dust resistant and technically, can withstand a water spray from less than 15 degrees from vertical. But before you go and grab your water hose, this basically means you don’t need to worry about spilling your drink all over your keyboard when Jimmy fails to clutch 1v5 in CS:GO and the anger begins to rise.
The Apex 3 is a full-sized keyboard by design that incorporates some basic multimedia controls and a magnetic wrist pad that also feature rubber feet, meaning it won’t slip around when gaming. This is the same wrist pad that you see in the more expensive models and is makes using the keyboard an absolute pleasure.
SteelSeries fans may have noticed that the Apex 3 doesn’t get an OLED display, nor the aircraft grade aluminium alloy frame, instead opting for a polymer frame that features some innovative cable routing options. This allows for a variety of desk layouts thanks to the 3 different paths you route your cable. It is a nice addition that I am sure will please all you OCD cable-routing enthusiasts.
Let there be light
If I can tinker with it, I will — This is why as soon as I plugged the Apex 3 in I opened up the SteelSeries Engine 3 and began exploring what software support was included. If you haven’t used SteelSeries Engine 3 before, then you are missing out; It is fantastic and includes complete support for the Apex 3. I was able to adjust every aspect of the keyboard from each of its 10-zone RGB illumination, to key-press and text macros, to enabling all your favourite apps such as Prismsync, Discord and Audiovisualizer.
Did I mention games? SteelSeries Engine 3 incorporates all your favourite games by displaying feedback in the way of RGB illumination to reflect your status in-game. Low on health in Dota 2? Set up your Apex 3 so it displays bright red when you are under 20% HP. Fancy yourself at CS:GO? Set up your RGB illumination to change colours as you bank up the kills. This is a great feature that SteelSeries have incorporated into a number of their products (Especially products that feature an OLED display), and it is good to see that the Apex 3 gets plenty of software love from the Danish brand.
Should I buy the Apex 3?
I can’t help but feel that the Apex 3 is the perfect content creator keyboard, rather than your hardcore gamers — It is ultra-quiet, won’t interrupt those late night streams with loud clicking noises, looks fantastic and its performance is comparable with mechanical switch keyboards. From a pricing point of view, it costs $149 AUD RRP, which means it is considerable cheaper than comparable rivals such as the Corsair K68, Logitech G512 and the HyperX Alloy Origins. Each of these keyboards has their strengths and weaknesses, but If i had $150 to spend on a keyboard I would honestly pick the SteelSeries Apex 3 every day of the week!
- PERFORMANCE - 81%81%
- QUALITY - 83%83%
- DESIGN - 90%90%
- VALUE - 90%90%
The Apex 3 has features that make it feel more luxurious than its price tag and ensures that the Apex range of gaming keyboards has something to offer for everyone. It may not be the perfect gaming keyboard, but you will find none better for streamers and content creators who want performance, but not the noise of mechanical keys constantly clicking in the background of their content.
For more information on SteelSeries, please check out our previous coverage here.