The SteelSeries Apex Pro is currently one of the best and most ambitious gaming keyboards right now, with the customizable per-key operation – and charging $200 for that privilege. If you want a high-quality keyboard, but aren’t ready to share so much money, the re’s always the SteelSeries Apex 7 ($160), a more modestly priced option that retains most of the goodness of the Apex Pro. This is our SteelSeries Apex 7 Review.
Like the Pro, the Apex 7 has an attractive design, durable key switches, and beautiful RGB lighting. However, like the Pro, the Apex has a spongy feel when typing, a mostly redundant OLED screen, and a general feeling that you can do much better for $160. While the Apex 7 is generally an excellent keyboard, primarily if you’ve already invested in the SteelSeries ecosystem, it misses offering many advantages over the comparably priced Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 or the significantly cheaper Logitech G513.
SteelSeries Apex 7 Review: Design
The Apex 7 looks almost similar to the Apex Pro. Regardless of a steel chassis, the Apex 7 is made of black plastic, but still measures 17.2 x 5.3-inches and has an attractive, low-profile base with raised keys. There is almost no rim, which keeps the design compact.
At the bottom, there is a removable magnetic wrist rest, and at the top right, there is a small OLED display. You can use the OLED display to manipulate the lighting and record macros, but just like with the Apex Pro, it is just as easy to do most of these things in the Engine software. However, there is also a volume control, which is legitimately useful.
The re’s something about the key design of the SteelSeries that doesn’t match the way I type. You can choose from red (linear, quit), brown (tactile, silent) or blue (tactile, clicky) switches, which are all in-house SteelSeries models. All three colors are activated at 2 mm, so you can type or enter commands in a game quite quickly. On paper, the re’s not much wrong with the switches (although Corsair offers better Cherry MX switches for the corresponding price).
However, something about the keys does not feel right. As with the Apex Pro, the keys of the Apex 7 feel spongy and almost irresistible. Of course, you don’t want to have to press a key every time you type a letter, but a little resistance prevents your fingers from flying over the keyboard too fast and accidentally pressing adjacent keys. I tested the SteelSeries Apex 7 with red switches and felt I had to slow down and think about what I was typing; otherwise, I risk clumsy keystroke errors.
SteelSeries Apex 7 Review: Features
There are two ways to manipulate the numerous options of the Apex 7: the SteelSeries Engine software or the OLED screen. Engine software is one of the best gaming programs on the market, making it easy to reprogram keys, create macros, adjust the backlight, and so on. You can also create profiles for particular games or programs and synchronize the lighting of the Apex 7 with the rest of your RGB SteelSeries equipment. Everything is quite simple, and there are five on-board profiles if you want to move your Apex 7 from machine to machine.
The OLED display can do most of the same things, except that it is a lot smaller and more challenging to navigate. So I don’t know precisely what the advantages of the screen are. You can program macros on the go, which is useful if you don’t have two monitors set up – but there are also shortcut keys that allow you to do the same thing.
Games like Counter-Strike: GO, and apps like Spotify can also use the OLED display to show information like kill/death ratio or song title and artist. But, as I mentioned in the Apex Pro review, this information pulls your eyes away from the laptop/desktop screen, where that information is already immediately available. The OLED display could be situationally useful, but I have the feeling that the Apex keyboards could have been more reliable, cheaper products without it.
SteelSeries Apex 7 Review: Performance
An area in which the Apex 7 does not disappoint is the performance in the game. I led the keyboard through Age of Empires: Final Edition, Overwatch, Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, and World of Warcraft to test the features, and was very satisfied across the board. Whether creating control groups of Yamato soldiers or racing across the battlefield in D.Va’s mech suit, the SteelSeries Apex 7 was comfortable, responsive, and accurate.
Since the keyboard also provides on-the-fly macro recording, it can be useful for hardened MMO players, who frequently need to automate complex skill rotations. However, there are no additional macro keys, so you will probably have to use another key for that functionality, at least temporarily.
The Apex 7 doesn’t aim as high as the Apex Pro, but it doesn’t cost as much. Overall, however, I found the two keyboards very similar. They are both well designed, high-quality peripherals from a trusted manufacturer that doesn’t offer as much bang for your money as other gaming keyboards in the same price range. The Apex 7 is worth it if you like the idea of a mini-OLED display, or if you want to synchronize RGB lighting with other SteelSeries accessories. Otherwise, Corsair K83 is still one of the best options to go for.
Pick up the SteelSeries Apex 7 if you want a keyboard with a mini-OLED screen and you don't care about keypad operation. Otherwise, the Corsair K70 RGB Mk.2 is a better peripheral for the same price.
- Compact design
- Choice of key switches
- Smart software
- OLED screen doesn't add much
- Keycaps don't feel great