The Apex Pro gaming keyboard from SteelSeries started a real revolution by using mechanical switches with an adjustable trigger point. This innovation had us already pulling out the Gold Award in the test about three years ago. The new edition relies on even faster adjustable switches and comes in a compact ten-keyless design. Is that still enough for a top place today? Our SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) test clarifies this question.
|Key switch type||SteelSeries OmniPoint 2.0|
|Switch types offered||Linear|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||355 mm x 128 mm x 42 mm|
|Onboard memory||5 profiles|
|Cable connector||USB Type-C|
|Rollover technology||N-Key Rollover|
|Key Caps||PBT Double-Shot|
|Operating Modes||Typing; Gaming|
|Features||Replaceable keycaps; OLED display|
|Price||€ 169.00 *|
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) review: the scope of delivery
The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) arrives at our door in the manufacturer’s typical gray-orange box. When it comes to the scope of delivery, there is a small, positive surprise. In addition to the keyboard, the detachable and fabric-covered USB-A to USB-C cable and the manual, a magnetic palm rest is hidden underneath the keyboard, which was still conspicuous by its absence in the recently reviewed SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL/Mini.
Design and finish
- High-quality, sleek black design
- Media buttons, volume wheel, and OLED display
With a price beyond the 200 euro mark, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) definitely settles in the premium segment. Even for a gaming keyboard. However, the keyboard definitely lives up to the high price tag, which is already evident in the high-quality design and excellent build quality.
Basically, the design looks quite plain and unobtrusive. The keyboard is black, the lettering of the keys is gray. Everything is as we know and are used to from the manufacturer SteelSeries.
Due to the TKL design, the keyboard does without the number pad, while the print, scroll-lock and pause keys also had to give way to a small OLED display in the upper right corner. We already know this from other keyboards from the manufacturer, but it has been expanded by a few functions.
With the help of the Smart Display, you can set all the parameters of the Apex Pro TKL without having to go through the software. If you wish, you can even create and display your own logo or play a game of the classic mobile game Snake (here “Snek”). On the keyboard. Crazy.
Next to the OLED display, you’ll find a grooved wheel that you can use to adjust the volume or navigate through the menu. Below that sits a media button that you can use to start or pause playback.
The TKL keyboard weighs in at 960 grams and measures 355 mm x 128 mm x 42 mm (length x depth x height). The manufacturer’s logo is in the center of the upper side, as well as the USB-C port for connecting the cable on the left edge.
At the bottom, the Apex Pro TKL finds a secure hold thanks to six rubberized feet, while the fold-out rubber feet allow for angling in two additional steps. In the middle of the bottom, as known from the manufacturer’s last keyboards, there is a rubber cover that houses the keycap removal tool.
Processing quality of the Apex Pro TKL (2023)
- Excellent build quality
- High-quality, textured PBT keycaps
- Non-slip palm rest; vulnerable to dust
SteelSeries keyboards have long been in the top league when it comes to build quality. This is no different with the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023). The comparatively high weight already indicates the quality of the materials.
The keyswitches rest on a sturdy aerospace-grade aluminum plate, which is supposed to be particularly robust and durable. In addition, there are the already known, high-quality PBT keycaps that are not only light-resistant, but also have a unique and grippy texture that provides a pleasant feel and supports the typing experience.
What strikes me in particular is how stably the keys and their caps are processed and installed. Normally, they have a certain amount of play in almost all manufacturers – but not here. Of course, especially the single keys like Escape or the arrow keys can be moved a bit, but much less than it is the case with most keyboards.
This makes a robust and very high-quality impression. However, the wrist-rest has to endure minimal criticism. It is very pleasant that SteelSeries once again relies on a non-slip surface. However, it is as susceptible to dirt, scratches and dust as ever. The first dust grains already collect here after unpacking – so regular cleaning is unfortunately an (annoying) duty.
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) in a practical test
- Adjustable trigger point for each individual button
- Dual Actuation: two actions per button possible
- Linear, mechanical switches
Like the Apex Pro Mini and its wireless counterpart, which we were able to test back in August 2022, the new SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) also relies on the manufacturer’s OmniPoint 2.0 key switches.
Compared to the first generation, these offer even more leeway in adjusting the trigger points. You can now freely adjust them between 0.2 mm and 3.8 mm. And that’s for each key individually and separately.
Why would you want that? Example from gaming: In a shooter, you can set the trigger point for weapon selection or movements (WASD or arrow keys) particularly low, for example, but trigger the switch from run to walk or the duck key more slowly to avoid accidentally pressing them.
But that’s not all. Thanks to the 2-in-1 action keys, you can set a second trigger point – also for each individual key. If you only press a button lightly, you can perform a different action than if you press it fully.
SteelSeries itself cites a light button press for walking forward and a firm press for sprinting as an example. Whether you really need this as a normal gamer remains to be seen. However, the possibilities are almost endless and this “dual actuation” feature is always practical.
The mechanical switches themselves are linear in nature, so they trigger quickly and with low pressure without feedback. Interestingly, the manufacturer uses specially developed red switches for the arrow keys, while white switches are used for the rest of the keyboard.
Both are linear, but it feels like the red switches require minimally less trigger pressure. Otherwise, they are very similar, almost identical.
Otherwise, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) offers everything you would expect from a high-quality gaming keyboard. You can create macros, add second and meta bindings to all keys (the latter is output from a combination of the FN key and the corresponding key), and of course there’s also extensively customizable RGB lighting.
How good is the typing and typing feel?
- Very good typing and writing feel
- Pleasant, quite quiet typing noise
Since the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is built on the same switches as the Apex Pro Mini, it also results in the same excellent typing feel. The quite quiet linear mechanical switches trigger quickly and precisely.
How fast, of course, is something you can conveniently choose yourself thanks to the OmniPoint 2.0 switches, and you can even specify two different settings, for example for gaming and for typing.
In addition, the keys score with a pleasant feel thanks to the grippy surface and the successful PBT keycaps. The palm rest, which simply magnetically attaches to the keyboard and provides good relief, also proves to be very practical. In combination with the fold-out feet, which can be set up completely without or at two different angles, this ensures pleasant ergonomics.
- Comprehensively customizable RGB lighting in various effects
The customizable RGB lighting comes up, typical for the manufacturer, with many individualization options. Lighting effects can be set separately in the companion software both active and reactive (i.e. reacting to your keystrokes) and passive, i.e. idle.
You can adjust not only the effects like gradients and waves or single colors, but also the size, speed and direction of the effects. Who likes it colorful, comes here in any case fully at his expense.
Software Connection: SteelSeries GG
As always with SteelSeries, the companion software used is GG along with its accompanying SteelSeries Engine. And this is, at least for us, still one of the most pleasant and tidiest software solutions in the peripheral field.
It is possible to create up to five individual profiles and store them in the onboard memory. All keys can be reconfigured and assigned with macros if desired. In addition, you can set the necessary triggering force of all keys under the menu item “Actuation” and even individually if desired.
If desired, you can even create second key bindings (dual bindings) and the already mentioned dual actuations and meta bindings as commands in connection with the FN key.
You can also customize the logo displayed on the OLED screen. You can upload your own small logos or doodle something yourself with the mouse. Even animations can be displayed with a maximum of 10 frames per second.
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) review: conclusion
With the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023), the manufacturer finally brings the excellent OmniPoint 2.0 key switches to a slightly larger ten-keyless design. I already liked the customizable linear mechanical switches during the review of the Apex Pro Mini, only the compact 60-percent layout was (and is) not my cup of tea.
In combination with the very high-quality build, the robust and haptically convincing keycaps and the included palm rest, an excellent overall picture emerges. Even the OLED display proves to be very practical and allows all settings without having to go through the software.
SteelSeries only does without replaceable switches in this case, which would have been nice due to the high price. The fact that the keyboard can only be used wired will please some, but annoy others. However, this does not detract from the quality.
If you are looking for a highly customizable and high-quality keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is a very good choice. However, everyone has to decide for themselves whether the total package is worth around 220 Euros.