Non-mechanical gaming keyboard: SteelSeries Apex 3

Sairui SteelSeries Apex3 is the best gaming keyboard with non-mechanical switches we have tested. Thanks to the magnetic wrist rest, this full-size keyboard has a good ergonomic design and feels particularly good, especially in terms of price. The key caps are made of ABS plastic, the surface is soft, the keys are stable and will not shake at all.

The rubber dome switch it uses has touchable bumps and a fairly long travel front distance, which can help reduce typing errors, but it is not ideal for a responsive gaming experience. The typing quality is not bad, but at least the noise-sensitive environment should be quiet enough. It has a 10-zone RGB backlight that can be customized through the SteelSeries Engine software, and with the help of hot keys, you can directly control the backlight brightness, set macros and change configuration files on the keyboard. It also uses the scroll wheel and buttons in the upper right corner to provide media control.

Unfortunately, the tactile feedback is not very obvious, and the keys may feel mushy. Moreover, there are no dedicated macro keys, and it has no onboard memory, which makes it more difficult to switch to another computer. In other words, if you like non-mechanical switches, then it is a good gaming keyboard.

Apex 3 is a large full-size keyboard. If you choose to use the included wrist rest, it will take up more space. The build quality is great. It has a full plastic frame, showing a considerable degree of curvature, and the keycap is made of ABS plastic with a soft surface. The overall build quality feel is slightly worse than other Apex products. SteelSeries advertises that this keyboard is IP32 waterproof and dustproof, although this is not what we want to test.

Ergonomics is good. The keyboard does not have a particularly high profile, but if you need additional support, you can fix the wrist rest magnetically.

Apex 3 has a 10-zone RGB backlight. It can be customized through SteelSeries Engine software, and you can control the brightness directly on the keyboard. You can choose some lighting presets, as well as a rainbow effect that does not show the start and end positions of each area.

Apex 3 has dedicated media controls. The buttons below the volume knob allow you to play, pause, skip a track or go to the previous track. There are some hot keys that allow you to control the brightness of the backlight, set macros and change configuration files. You can also lock the Windows key by pressing the SteelSeries key and the Windows key at the same time to prevent accidentally minimizing the game.

Apex 3 uses rubber dome switches. They have tactile bumps to indicate the start state, and the travel distance is quite long, which can improve the accuracy of typing because there are fewer chances of registering accidental keystrokes.

Typing on the keyboard is decent, although because the tactile feedback is not obvious, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a key has been registered. The buttons are very stable and won’t shake at all, but they are a bit mushy. The high drive to overcome tactile bumps may fatigue some people, but this is better than the typing experience on the Razer Cynosa Chroma.

Software and operating system

The SteelSeries Engine software is great. It allows you to customize the backlight, set macros and save configuration files. The keyboard does not have onboard memory, so it is difficult to switch to another computer. However, there is a cloud sync option, although it requires an account.

Apex 3 has good compatibility. It can run fully on Windows, but Scroll Lock and Pause / Break will not work on macOS. All keys can run normally on Linux, but because this platform has no software and no onboard memory, Linux users will not be able to customize the keyboard.

Compared with other keyboards

Since SteelSeries Apex 3 is a membrane keyboard, it is difficult to compare it with a mechanical gaming keyboard, because the mechanical gaming keyboard has a shorter response distance and therefore has a faster response speed. However, SteelSeries has a better typing experience than similar keyboards such as the Razer Cynosa Chroma, although Razer has a more customizable RGB backlight because it is individually lit.

Brief summary

SteelSeries Apex 3 is a decent gaming keyboard with rubber dome switches and RGB backlighting. Although it is cheap, it has good manufacturing quality and is also equipped with a beautiful magnetic wrist rest. Its rubber dome switch may not be the best choice for a responsive gaming experience. However, their quiet typing noise makes them suitable for any office environment. Each key can be reprogrammed, but sadly, the RGB backlight is area-lit, although SteelSeries’ excellent software still provides a lot of customization options. Overall, this is a good choice for people who have a limited budget or don’t like mechanical keyboards.

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