(Pocket-lint) - SteelSeries' Apex keyboards have long been favoured among gamers - and for good reason, too.
The range boasts various a number of premium options; each of them packed with tons of features and impressive specs. And, as you might expect, the 'Pro' versions are the most appealing, with their adjustable actuation switches making them the most customisable keyboards on the market.
Now, with the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, SteelSeries has bowed to the will of the people and crafted a model with a compact 60 per cent form factor. With it, the company also promises 11 times faster response time and 10 times faster actuation than keyboards with standard mechanical switches.
Does it live up to the hype, though? We've been working, surfing and gaming with it to find out.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini wireless is a flagship keyboard at a flagship price. It may well be too expensive for many, but you do get a lot of awesome features and specs for your money here.
The customisable meta layer, tweakable actuation levels, dual bindings and more help make it a very appealing option.
It's not without some minor flaws - such as the noisy typing experience and so-so RGB lighting - but this is a great option to consider for those on the hunt for a 60 per cent gaming keyboard.
SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless
- Easy connectivity and interesting customisation
- Nice looking design
- Reasonable typing experience
- Feels like Cherry MX switches
- Standard keycaps obscure RGB
- Slightly noisy
The fastest keystrokes in the world
- OmniPoint 2.0 Adjustable Mechanical Switches adjustable from 0.2- 3.8mm
- Dual-action customisation options
- 60% form factor with meta layer options
On the face of it, the Apex Pro Mini Wireless could be dismissed as being similar to any other 60 per cent keyboard.
Out of the box, it's not much to look at, but the beauty here is hidden in its features and specs. Pop off some of the PBT double shot keycaps and you'll be greeted by SteelSeries OmniPoint 2.0 adjustable switches.
These give a wider range of adjustments on a per-key basis, meaning you can change the actuation within 37 potential levels ranging from 0.2 mm to 3.8mm. The actuation point is where the key sends the signal to your PC to register the keypress - so, the shorter the actuation point, the faster the press is registered.
SteelSeries claims that with the actuation set to just 0.2mm actuation, the Apex Pro Mini wireless manages a 0.54 ms response time.
For the average gamer, this means only a gentle touch is required to activate the keys, which is, on paper, different to the standard 2mm actuation of Cherry MX Red switches found on many gaming keyboards. Even as standard, the Apex Pro Mini's switches are set to 1.8mm, so it's already responsive even before you start tweaking things.
The interest doesn't stop there, either, as you also have the option to set a dual actuation for some of the keys. This means you can set two different levels of actuation and then program dual bindings for those keys, meaning you can perform things like an in-game run and walk with the same button. This is tied to actuation, so, one level of keypress activates the first action, while a deeper push on the key gets you the second action.
We found this worked well with macros, but it was a bit finicky otherwise. Still, it's an interesting highlight and a potentially cool feature for a small form-factor keyboard which naturally has fewer keys to play around with.
To help combat some of the issues of this smaller board, you'll find some of the usual actions buried in a second layer, and you'll need to press and hold the FN key (SteelSeries logo) in order to activate it. Delete, for example, needs FN and backspace to work. The function row is also buried in the number buttons and directional arrows in WASD. This is a faff, but a necessary evil of this size of keyboard.
The labelling for each of these extra actions is clearly printed on the sides, though, so it's not too much trouble. Also, when you press the FN key, the RGB lighting changes on keys with extra actions, so you can see them more easily too. We think this is a nice touch.
Dive into the SteelSeries engine, meanwhile, and you can add your own secondary actions to the so-called 'Meta Layer'. This is a real bonus, as it opens up the possibilities of more actions, macros and more with ease. We used this to move the directional arrows closer to the right-hand side of the keyboard (where they should be), and it's nice to be able to tweak the keyboard in this way.
Reasonable typing experience
- 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Wireless and Bluetooth 5.0
- 30 hours battery life
- Five onboard memory profiles
- Detachable USB-C cable
We generally find 60 per cent keyboards to be a mixed bag for productivity purposes, as the loss of keys can make you less efficient. Generally, though, we found the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless to be both comfortable and responsive. Obviously, your experience may vary based on the actuation you've set, but it's certainly pleasant enough as standard.
That said, despite all the nice things we've said about the OmniPoint switches above, we do find them a bit bland when it comes to typing feedback. Really, these switches just feel like Cherry MX Reds to type on, and, at this price point, you'd expect more.
The Apex Pro Mini Wireless also has PBT double shot keycaps, and the stabilisers are a little rattly. It's not the worst keyboard we've ever heard, but it's still far from quiet.
So although it's not bad to type on, we do wish it was a bit more pleasant - especially at this price. It's definitely something to consider if you're looking for a genuine all-rounder, but, for gaming, it's undeniably accurate and won't let you down.
Another small downside is that the RGB lighting isn't as impressive as we'd like. We've seen much more enjoyable lighting from the likes of the SteelSeries Apex 7 Ghost Edition.
The PBT keycaps on this board block some of the lighting, and it's also not as layered and customisable as it could be, either. So, that's a shame, even if it probably helps to eke out a bit more battery.
You can, however, make the keyboard look a lot nicer if you purchase and throw on a set of SteelSeries PrismCaps. These pudding keycaps add a much nicer aesthetic to the keyboard, in our mind, and are well worth considering.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini is a fantastic little keyboard with a lot on offer, but it also has a fairly large price tag. Whether you have the need for speed really depends on your circumstances, but there's a lot to like here.