The other week, when we reviewed a mouse and mousepad from SteelSeries (seen here), observant readers would have noticed a keyboard showing up in some of the photos. Well, wouldn’t you know it, we had a keyboard show up as well, the SteelSeries Apex 7.
More precisely, it was the SteelSeries Apex 7 Ghost that arrived. This was a $149.99 limited edition (no longer available) version of the SteelSeries Apex 7 ($129.99). By and large, they are the same keyboard. The Ghost version comes with red switches, while the regular one has the choice of red, blue, or brown mechanical switches. The big visual change, of course, is that the keycaps are in white, while the aluminum body is left in its silvery finish.
In our review of the SteelSeries Apex 3, I noted that it gave you the feel of a mechanical keyboard without actually going fully mechanical. That said, when I swapped out the 3 for the SteelSeries Apex 7, it’s a very noticeable difference. Sure, it’s a slightly louder keyboard (see the video below), but it’s a much more pleasurable typing experience. This is both from a tactile sensation, as well as the audible inclusion of the clicking. It just gives you that sense of yes, I AM doing something now (even if it’s just typing out an email).
The SteelSeries Apex 7 also comes with a magnetically-attached wrist rest, which I was initially unsure about. I remember those flimsy plastic rests that came with every work computer for a long time, and they just seemed to get in the way. Sure, it takes up a little more space, but I grew to like how it raised my hands up just a bit more to get at the keys. Of course, if you don’t always want it, or just need more desk space, the magnets make it super simple to remove.
Another notable inclusion on the SteelSeries Apex 7 is the small OLED display. With it, you can dive in and change settings on your keyboard without needing to open the SteelSeries GG software (so, you don’t need to exit your game). You can also have it display information from Discord (and some games), and you can change out the graphic it shows with one of your own, if you so choose. To get into the menus, a long press on the button below the scroll wheel drops you in, then the scroll wheel moves through the menu, with a click of the wheel making a selection. All told, pretty simple, and surely a boon if you want or need to make changes quickly and on the fly.
I also really liked that the SteelSeries Apex 7 included a USB-A port on its frame. Surprisingly, this also meant that the cord coming off of the keyboard had a two-plug split; one for the keyboard itself, and another for the USB port. A little odd that it wasn’t a single plug, or didn’t give you more ports on the keyboard (since you’ve got a dedicated connection for it), but there must have been some engineering reason for it. And hey, the white backlight on it means there’s no problem seeing what you’re plugging in.
Speaking of lighting, the SteelSeries Apex 7 does offer full RGB customization, with a variety of presets and effects (say, like having key presses light up in a different color and ripple out), or the ability to customize your own. And you can truly customize it, controlling each key, directions of pulses, and even the timing on the cycles. After playing with it a bit, I ended up settling on a simpler configuration through PrismSync, which allowed me to put the same color patterns onto the keyboard, mouse, and mouse pad. It’s one thing to apply the same profile separately, but to have them all cycle in sync is a delight. I also liked that the PrismSync software has a setting that shuts all the lighting off when the display turns off, letting you know that the machine is asleep.
Compatibility-wise, the SteelSeries Apex 7 will work with just about any platform (see the full list below), and I tested this one out on a Mac. It worked just fine, just required swapping the key caps (and then remapping them in the software) to match a Mac-specific layout. Surprisingly, though you can get replacement keycaps (a full set, in black or white), there’s no option to get Mac-specific keys. I mean, these work as they are, and I get that Windows users are probably a large part of the customer base. Still, would be nice to see them whip up some for us Mac folks as well.
If you’re looking for a solid, well-designed keyboard, it’d be hard not to tell you to look at the SteelSeries Apex 7. I like the compact TKL style, and the lower profile body with the keys floating on top of it helps it look like a much smaller keyboard (and let a lot of light out, with those translucent sides). If you’re coming to it from a non-mechanical, you will notice a difference right away. Myself, I’ve become a fan of the mechanical typing experience, and the SteelSeries Apex 7 has a great mix of form and function. At $129 the standard versions are not an inexpensive keyboard, but they do provide a high-end typing experience at a reasonable pricepoint. Not to mention, those switches are going to last for a long, long time to come, so you’ve got that going for you. You can check the SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL out – as well as their other options – directly at steelseries.com
Tech Specs from SteelSeries
- Top Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum Alloy Frame
- N-Key Roll Over: 84-Key
- Anti-Ghosting: 100%
- Illumination: Dynamic Per Key RGB Illumination
- Weight: 1.7 lbs
- Height: 40.44 mm
- Width: 139.26 mm
- Depth: 355.44 mm
- Type & Name: SteelSeries Red Linear Mechanical RGB Switch
- Switch Actuation: 2 mm
- Total Travel: 4 mm
- Force: 45cN
- Lifetime: 50 Million Keypresses
- OS: Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox, and PlayStation. USB port required
- Software: SteelSeries Engine 3.15+ (coming soon) for Windows (7 or newer) and Mac OS X (10.11 or newer)