An Opportunity Budget Keyboard – Review Geek

Classification:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolutely hot garbage
  • 2 – Light hot garbage
  • 3 – Strictly defective design
  • 4 – Some advantages, many disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptable incomplete
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale.
  • 7 – Great, but not the best in the class.
  • 8 – Great, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute design nirvana

Price: 44.99

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL on desk mat
Eric Shawn

At the very least, budget gaming boards can suffice. Walking the narrow path between affordability and quality is a difficult thing, and one of them is usually left behind. However, the Apex 3 manages to balance the two beautifully.

What we like here

  • Nice rubber dome switches
  • Solid hardware
  • Water resistance
  • Good RGB lighting and features

We’re reviewing the Tankless (TKL) model to be specific, but the full size model is basically the same product with a numped and magnetic wrist rest. The full size model is priced at $ 49.99, while the TLK model we are testing will refund you $ 44.99. It’s not a big difference in price, so you should get whatever layout you like. Almost every word of this review can be applied to both, so it is not a big deal which word you will get at the end of the day. I like the TKL keyboards, so I prefer it over the slight reduction in price (although it would be nice to have a wrist rest).

In addition to the layout, for less than $ 50, you remember, there’s a lot more to be found here: media control, software features, RGB lighting, water resistance, and it’s available in six different languages. Which begs the question: How did the Steel Series cost the gaming keyboard? Well, unlike most gaming keyboards, it’s not mechanical – it’s a rubber dome, more like the cheap keyboards you find in offices around the world. Rubber-domed switches aren’t usually the best sign for a gaming keyboard, but wait, the Apex 3 pulls it off surprisingly well.

Surprisingly satisfactory switches

Rubber dome (or membrane) switches break down a lot of the time, and mainly for legitimate reasons – a lot of really cheap keyboards that don’t feel good to use. As I just mentioned, you may have used a membrane board attached to an office or laptop before. They are usually characterized by a shallow, dark feeling that does not compete with the mechanical switches of most gaming keyboards. I’m a big fan of mechanical switches, but the Apex 3 is a great example of how to do a gaming keyboard without them.

Close up of SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL membrane switches
Eric Shawn

It’s easily one of the best membrane keyboards I’ve ever used. It still has an amazing amount of softness and depth on each press, eliminating many of the problems with membrane switches while retaining benefits such as the low noise factor. This is still a bit ridiculous, which is to be expected, but it is clear that SteelSeries has put a lot of effort into ensuring that these switches will support the budget price tag while It feels good to type. For gaming, they may not be so good, even if SteelSeries has made them especially good for it, but if you are anything but a fiercely competitive gamer then they are fine.

You can consider the failure of the gaming keyboard as a product, and you are not necessarily wrong. Yet, frankly, most people do not take full advantage of the gaming benefits offered by mechanical keyboards. Mechanical boards are preferred for the sense of the switch, with some modest performance benefits that will only be visible with a deep touch.

In general, the feeling of typing on Apex 3 is very soft. And while personal preference will ultimately make the final call here, I like it. Going from my usual keyboard, which has unusually tactile and loud switches, doesn’t feel too bad, quite different, and that’s very important. If you have never fully understood the appeal of mechanical keyboards, or even if you do and prefer smooth switches with less flexibility, I think there is a good chance that you You will also like the switches.

Not to mention the price tag – there are $ 50 mechanical keyboards, but not only do they lack features, they don’t usually feel good. For the money, it’s not realistic that construction standards require a good mechanical keyboard. While not a groundbreaking contribution to the genre, Apex 3 offers a significantly better typing experience than most budget mechanical keyboards, as well as being ready to meet its requirements.

The rest of the hardware is great too.

Steel series on Apex 3TKL desk
Eric Shawn

But let’s not stop there. Apex 3 is great in almost every way as a physical product. Although most keyboards are made of plastic, which makes it significantly lighter, it still feels reasonably solid and does not have the flexibility to type. The body of the keyboard feels soft like a switch, and the bold legends of the key caps look sharp without making it too “gamer”. Thanks to the membrane base inside the keyboard, RGB lighting can easily shine under all the keys, which look great no matter what settings you have.

There are even some media controls, with a volume dial on top of the navigation keys and a pause / play button. The play / pause button doesn’t have a label, which is kind of weird, and the closeness of the navigation keys makes it a little harder to press, but it’s useful. As a matter of fact, you can push the volume dial down to mute the audio.

Close up of media controls on SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL
Volume dial and play / pz button. Eric Shawn

In addition, there is a pair of standard kickout feet at the bottom to angle the board along some cable routes. Very standard, but not that this keyboard is water resistant.. According to SteelSeries, this keyboard can handle some light splashing and maybe even one or two large splashes, so you can have something more comfortable to drink on your desk. “Don’t expect it to sink in any way,” he said.

Close up of SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL kickout foot
Eric Shawn

This is what I would expect to see a $ 50 membrane keyboard and more. Like switches, I think Apex offers something better than most budget mechanical keyboards. It’s impressive, to say the least, and just makes Apex 3 more attractive.

The software is kind of weird though.

Steel Series Engine Software Opening Page
Welcome to SteelSeries Engine.

The use of SteelSeries “Engine” software for its keyboard is strange in a way. You open it and get modern looking, minimalist menus that are responsive and easy to navigate. But once you start customizing your keyboard, it feels like you’ve traveled back in time. The software turns into this ugly mess of boxes and buttons that, while hiding some decent features, doesn’t make you want to spend much time here. I haven’t used SteelSeries products in the past, so I don’t know if this is the case for all of its peripherals, but if not, the Apex 3 is getting the short end of the stick here. But at least the features are still worth talking about.

… And what it looks like when customizing the keyboard.

Here’s the key: You can reprogram the keys, adjust the RGB lighting, and create macros to your heart’s content. But if you dig into the menu, the keys you have can act as macro shortcuts, open applications, and media control. Great, but it’s a shame you can’t reprogram the volume dial or pause / play button – it was a great opportunity for me, especially since programs like Photoshop How to use dials for tasks. There is no way to perform multiple actions on a single key, so if you want the key to perform its normal function but then do something extra like adjusting the volume if you use the “Alt” key. Press together, you can’t do that.

This is a significant weakness and makes reprogramming options much less valuable as you will always trade key functionality instead of adding it. It’s not a big deal, but it does put the Steel Series engine behind the best of the best.

A nun brainer for money

The Apex 3 offers a lot at $ 44.99, and it manages to keep the landing well on most of it. It’s not a keyboard to surprise or impress you, but it’s good. The biggest weakness is the software, and although it is a bit weak, it still provides the essential features you want off the gaming keyboard.

If you’re looking for advanced hardware and software, this isn’t the keyboard or the right price bracket for you, obviously. I’ve used mechanical keyboards that cost less than $ 50, and they don’t offer nearly as many features as the Apex 3 nor do they feel so good on the hardware front. While the lack of mechanical switches will be a big downside for some, the keyboard complements it with premium rubber dome switches and solid hardware.

This is not uncommon, but for the money, it is as good as you get unless you need mechanical switches at all.

Classification: 9/10

Price: 44.99

What we like here

  • Nice rubber dome switches
  • Solid hardware
  • Water resistance
  • Good RGB lighting and features

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