Over the past two years, I’ve really had my eyes opened to the world of keyboards. Used to be, I’d just roll with whatever work would issue with a computer, and at home I tended towards vanilla options from Logitech. Now that I’ve been playing with more mechanical keyboards, though, I can’t go back to the before times. They can be pricey, though, so I might suggest something like the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL as a stepping stone.

Now, to be perfectly clear – the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is NOT a mechanical keyboard. It’s a membrane keyboard (which is how it can get that water resistant rating), but in terms of key height, travel, and just overall typing feel, it comes a lot closer to a mechanical than you might expect. Sure, you don’t have that “click” you can get on a mechanical, but it’s a decent tradeoff, especially if you’re just trying to get something that’ll give you a better typing experience.

Mechanical keyboards can also be noisy – there’s no disputing that. For me, that’s part of the joy of using one, but sometimes you just need it to be quieter, especially if you’re around other folks as you type. Here again, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL will help you out. I’ll say, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is a bit louder than most non-mechanical keyboards that I’ve used, but nowhere near as noisy as a mechanical (in other words, I don’t have to mute myself on calls to type). However, words are just words; here’s a few videos that can let you judge for yourself.

And don’t worry that you can’t reconfigure the keyboard to your preferences because it’s not mechanical. In fact, I used my key puller to swap the keys around on the board to match the layout of the Mac I was hooking it to. You still need to get into the SteelSeries GG software to remap it, but that’s easy enough to do. You’re going to be in there setting your RGB patterns (and updating firmware) so why not reconfigure the key mappings to what you’re used to? Or, you know, record macros as needed.

On the keys, they’re not using standard MX stems, so you won’t be swapping in your own custom keycaps on the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL (but you can order another set from SteelSeries for just $15). Also, do note with the keys – you don’t have the number pad over to the right. AKA, it’s tenkeyless (which is the TKL in the name). So long as you’re not in Excel all day, you probably won’t miss those, and it does make for a more compact work space. Combine that with the three cable routing channels under it (yup, it’s wired) and you can have a clean and tidy workspace in a cinch.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is also a very affordable keyboard, coming in at $44.99 direct from the brand. Frankly, it’ll be a massive upgrade over any stock keyboard you have, and is great for small workspaces, especially with the built-in media controls. And hey, if you think you might be interested in the feel of a mechanical, this is about as close as you can get (to try it out) without actually going mechanical, not to mention getting a great dose of RGB in the mix. steelseries.com

Editor’s Note: Come back tomorrow, and you’ll see a review for a mouse that pairs great with this keyboard

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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