Pros: Custom Lighting Zones, 88 Programmable Keys, Solid Software, Lot's of Features
Cons: Size, Physical Key Feel, Minimal 3rd Party Software Support
My last couple keyboards were a Microsoft ergonomic something and more recently the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard. Going from the Logitech to the new Apex keyboard has taken quite an adjustment. The layout is just different enough that you have to pay attention to what you’re doing.
Upon first eyes and hands on you will instantly notice this keyboard is huge. Make sure you have some clear desk space. It has 88 programmable keys, five different customizable light up zones, four light up buttons where you can program up to four custom light up designs and then change the color configuration based on the task or your mood. There are also six media keys, and anti-ghosting for the 20 most commonly used keys. The palm rest is also built in and is of larger size than most other keyboards. One last feature that I have come to like is the Windows Key disable button. That way you don't accidently drop out of your multiplayer mayhem into your Windows desktop.
These are the main features I that brought me to this keyboard, having an Alienware laptop, I really like the customization of the laptop and wanted something similar for my desktop. This keyboard does a good job with that task. Once plugged into a USB connector the keyboard lights up to life. You get five of what SteelSeries calls Active Lighting Zones, which are customizable up to 16.8 million colors. These five different illumination zones make this keyboard really stand out.
For the actual keyboard use I have found it a little difficult to get used to as the keys do not have the same slope that most keyboards have. It is more of a flat slate and the keys are cut with a small space between the keys. I often find I hit the key next to the one I want or turn on the caps lock unintentionally. Over the past couple months it has become more comfortable and these errors have been happening less. I just think it is something to pay attention to.
I have played a handful of games on this keyboard and have no complaints in that department. For the FPS out there the "W" key has a double little bump to help you quickly find your movement keys. I am not a big MMO gamer, but my girlfriend is a World of WarCraft junkie and she has tried the macros on this keyboard and she really liked them for that game. It gives you plenty of extra keys to make macros for just about any task.
The software is where most people complain about this keyboard. I haven’t found there to be any issues with SteelSeries engine. I was able to jump in, make a few different lighting schemes and few macro keys order of operations and set up a couple different profiles. I really like this software more than I did the Razer Synapse 2.0 software that you have to log into to get your details or make changes.
Something I would also like to point out is the macros do not all have to be game related. I do a fair amount of web design and video/photo editing and the macros can created to repeat writing code or something of the sort. Being in college and with most classes all the headings or some tasks repeat from week to week, program a macro to drop your name into a paper with all the college details and save yourself a bit of time. Write once, use as often as you wish.
Over all, I am satisfied with my SteelSeries Apex Gaming Keyboard. I like my Alienware Laptop keyboard more, but compared to all the other keyboards I either use on a daily basis from work, school, and other computers I enjoy sitting at my computer and using the Apex keyboard. I rate it four stars as it was the learning curve and the sheer size. I also slightly miss the LCD from the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard.
What I would like to see it some gaming companies or even Adobe or Microsoft make some light up color profiles that tie into the software. Something similar to the Alienware Lighting FX that a few companies actually program for.
Build Quality: 8