SteelSeries Apex 150 Review Leave a comment

My introduction to SteelSeries came at a time when I was young and naïve, and addicted to Neopets–No, wait! Please don’t leave, I promise I don’t play Neopets anymore!

Moving on… I remember going up to the room of my oldest brother (probably to annoy him) and seeing him stare in absolute awe at what appeared to be a giant slab of obsidian on his desk. In fact, he was so taken by this shiny rock that he even invited me in to observe (a rare occurrence). As it turns out, this was no rock but a brand new SteelSeries keyboard 7G. The thing was heavy and solid, a potential weapon with which to defend myself when I was home alone. Now, almost 16 years later, I am the proud owner of my own shiny rock – the SteelSeries Apex 150 (cheers Foxytech ^_~). Today, I’m going to shed a little light on one of the cheapest keyboards SteelSeries has to offer, and trust me you’ll get more than what you paid for.

Design

The SteelSeries Apex 150 is a high-quality gaming keyboard with quick tension membrane switches, five zone RGB illumination and spill-resistant construction. The keyboard’s outward appearance is a mixture of professional and minimalism, sporting a matte black finish with sleek glossy accents. At first glance you may not think that the Apex 150 weighs as much as it does (1.1kg) given its standard layout and clean-cut design. Unlike other brands whose hefty keyboards can sometimes look like they were crafted for weird science fiction crab-like creatures, SteelSeries is known for simple yet aesthetically pleasing designs that get the job done.

The five zone RGB lighting is an excellent feature for those wanting a practical keyboard with what I’d consider is beginner level illumination. The SteelSeries Engine 3 software is incredibly easy to use, making the RGB lighting set-up fascinating and enjoyable rather than a chore. It’s clear to see how much time and effort SteelSeries have put into their Engine 3 software, which makes sense given that the application is compatible with all SteelSeries headsets, mics, controllers, and keyboards. The Engine 3 software for RGB lighting can also be configured with Engine Apps, such as SteelSeries’ Audio Visualiser. For example, if you would like to have a keyboard rave party, Discord notifications can now be configured with RGB illumination via the Engine Apps tab.  Or if you’d like to give yourself a false sense of control in CS:GO or Dota 2, you can configure the RGB lighting according to in-game notifications or activities.

The Apex 150’s silky smooth construction is also spill-resistant, boasting a uniquely designed hydrophobic membrane layer within the quick tension switches to prevent liquid damage on the internal electronics, while heavier spills can be removed from the front of the keyboard through two drainage cavities. At 0.5mm in diameter and 1.8m in length, the brawny USB cable is also worthy of a mention for asking my other noodley cables “Do you even digitally communicate bro?”.

Functionality

Before I ordered the Apex 150, I spent hours researching keyboards online and reading reviews. I wanted a reliable and professional keyboard as I spend a fair amount of time writing reports in addition to gaming. To be honest, I wouldn’t consider myself to be the target audience for most gaming peripherals – I have a habit of seeing through the hi-tech bells and whistles and looking at equipment from a much more practical standpoint. Now, the Apex 150 offers what SteelSeries calls “Quick Tension” switches (or QuickSwitches) that incorporate the best qualities of membrane and mechanical switches into a unique hybrid. The keys are soft to the touch, and incredibly quiet, which was a defining factor for me; the minute Foxytech told me this baby was quiet, I was sold. The anti-ghosting (24 keys) is particularly helpful and I never saw signs of unregistered keystrokes whether I was in-game or working on my thesis. With some keyboards, anti-ghosting technology translates into incredibly stubborn keys that require a fair amount of pressure to register – but this isn’t the case with the Apex 150. If anything, I actually use less pressure when typing on the Apex 150 compared to my old keyboard. Although I know that if my old keyboard were alive and sentient it would politely remind me of all the times I drowned it with coffee or X Gamer. I suppose if my new Apex 150 was sentient it’d probably brag to my old keyboard about how liquid resistant it is and how it drinks X Gamer for breakfast *imagines keyboard gladiator* Okay, I’ll wind it up. The quick tension switches are also backed by a durability of 20 million clicks, but that’s not to say the Apex 150 is flawless…

Limitations

Unlike the majority of SteelSeries’ keyboards, the Apex 150 does not come with or support a wrist rest. This was not an issue for me, as the two keyboard legs in conjunction with the ever so curved design of quick tension switches allow for a comfortable angle when typing. Once you set the keyboard down, it isn’t going to move without a fight. If I want to free up some desk space to eat pizza or micronap (as you do), I need to pick up the entire keyboard. I consider this a bonus because it prevents desk damage from keyboard sliding and forces me to do exercise, heh. But if you have a preference for a wrist rest, or a keyboard with mad drifting skills, you may want to rethink the Apex 150.

The Apex 150 is however, lacking when it comes to the selection of media and macro keys. Personally, I prefer not to have an excessive number of keys on my keyboard, so I wouldn’t consider this a flaw. What I will say though, is that the keyboard’s matte black finish has led to a defragmented population of dust particles. Dust and debris are more likely to settle on a matte finish, perhaps due to the increased friction when compared to a glossy or satin finish. The friction in the matte black finish also increases the likelihood of damage from keyboard scratching. After only one car adventure with the Apex 150 I have already seen two scratch marks in the top corner, and I like to think I’m pretty cautious in handling my equipment.

Final Thoughts

If you’re interested in a reliable gaming keyboard that offers introductory level RGB illumination and hybrid membrane switches, or if you’re a gamer on a budget and don’t want to settle for aesthetics over practicality – the SteelSeries Apex 150 is for you. The Apex 150 goes for around R1000 and offers unbeatable quality and design, which cannot be said for many other brands in the same price bracket. Affordability aside, the superior construction and functionality of SteelSeries’ products are thriving in the Apex 150 and it definitely gets my recommendation.

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