Since the legendary SteelSeries 6G V2 and 7G mechanical keyboards were finally discontinued, the company has begun a long period of “search for itself” in this area. The model range of keyboards was first renamed, then updated, then updated again, but nothing worthy or competitively capable appeared there. Apex M500 and Apex M800 stood out, in general they were not bad, but slightly outdated for their time. And the public took them coolly, because these keyboards disappeared from the assortment very quickly. And so, at the end of 2019, SteelSeries shook themselves off, took a closer look at the successful models of competitors, and released a series of Apex PRO and Apex 7 mechanics in regular and TKL versions. In addition to a nice and very modern design, the PRO modification is equipped with new OmniPoint switches, in which the actuation height is adjustable. But on our review today we have a simpler version with traditional mechanical buttons — SteelSeries Apex 7. Let’s take a closer look at it.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Specifications

Model SteelSeries Apex 7
Product page steelseries.com
Connection Wired
Interface USB 2.0
Polling frequency, Hz 1000
Type gaming
Number of keys 104
Additional buttons 2
Keystroke resource, mln. 50
Key type Mechanical
Switch type SteelSeries QX2 RGB Red
Changing the angle of the body +
Built-in memory, KB + (five profiles)
Ability to record macros +
Handling rollovers NKRO
Backlight + (RGB)
USB cable length, m 1,9
Braid material No tangles
Built-in display +
Material Plastic / Aluminum
Color Black gray
Software + (SteelSeries Engine 3)
Removable palm rest +
External interfaces 1 х USB 2.0
Dimensions (L x W x H), mm 436 x 138 (210) x 40
Weight, g 950
OS Compatibility Windows 7 (or higher), Mac OS X 10.11 (or higher), XBOX One / PS4
Peculiarities 3-way cable exit from the keyboard case, OLED display, scroll wheel, detachable magnetic palm rest, built-in 32-bit ARM processor
Average cost, $ 160

Contents of delivery

The color of the box is white and orange. On the front and back of the package there are images of the product, a description of its advantages and even some technical characteristics. There is no delivery set, more precisely, there should have been an instruction in it, but it was probably lost on the way to us.

SteelSeries Apex 7SteelSeries Apex 7

Appearance

Looks SteelSeries Apex 7 strictly and elegantly. It is easy to see that the design of this device was made with an eye on the Logitech G513. The keyboard is made according to the «skeleton» scheme, the top panel is completely made of thick aluminum alloy, painted in dark gray and rounded on the front and back edges. The case turned out to be relatively light and very durable. No squeaks and not the slightest hint of bends when twisting diagonally. The set includes a magnetic palm rest, which you just need to draw attention to separately.

SteelSeries Apex 7

I anticipate being biased, but this is the best palm rest I’ve seen in years. The width of the stand in profile is 80 mm, the back face is 20 mm in height, and the front is 10 mm. The entire front surface is completely flat and hard, covered with soft-touch rubber that feels velvety to the touch. Hands on it are held just nicely, they do not slip, do not sweat, do not rub. The height and angle of elevation are perfect in my opinion. The volumetric case of the stand is made of elastic plastic, which only slightly bends under pressure, then taking on its original shape. There are eight rubber feet on the base, and two powerful magnets on the left and right on the back face are responsible for attaching to the keyboard. It is convenient to move the keyboard together with the stand, only lightly holding it with the edges of your palm.

SteelSeries Apex 7SteelSeries Apex 7

The keyboard layout is made according to the ANSI standard for 104 keys with long Shift and single-row Enter. The F1 button is located exactly above the number «2». The shape of the keycaps is standard, with a cylindrical recess in the center. Large Latin characters are laser engraved in the upper left corner of the caps, while thin Cyrillic characters are placed at the bottom right. Instead of the right button of the context menu, a key with the SteelSeries logo is built in, it is assigned the role of Fn.

SteelSeries Apex 7

The digital and pointer block look standard. But in the upper right corner, instead of lock indicators, there is a white OLED display with a resolution of 128×40 pixels. To the right is a metal scroll wheel, with corrugated threads. It is pressed. Below it is the OSD key, which is always highlighted in white during operation.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Since SteelSeries Apex 7 is a simplified version compared to Apex Pro, the buttons here are the most ordinary, mechanical ones. They are marked as SteelSeries QX2, but it is quite obvious that this is an OEM product. Whose exactly? The answer to this can be found on the official product page — the manufacturer is Gateron. It is their mechanisms that have now begun to enjoy great popularity among players, due to the softer and more consistent keystroke compared to Cherry or Kailh. The switch pin is painted red, the characteristics are quite familiar: linear travel, 45 grams of force and 2 mm of actuation travel, 4 mm full travel and 50 million clicks MTBF. The case of the mechanism is transparent, a rounded RGB LED is built into the upper part. The stabilizers are internal, there should not be any problems with removing the keycaps even without a special key. Long keys are generally well stabilized. Least of all in this regard, of course, the space bar was lucky, but at least it does not dangle as it did on earlier versions of the M750 keyboards. The caps are made of ABS plastic and painted on the outside.

SteelSeries Apex 7SteelSeries Apex 7

The keyboard has a wedge-shaped profile. Sheer recesses on the sides make it easy to lift and rearrange it if necessary. The legs in the unfolded position raise the keyboard from 40 to 54 mm, as measured by the back row of keys. The rows of buttons are tilted minimally.

SteelSeries Apex 7SteelSeries Apex 7

The metal back face is a continuation of the front panel.

SteelSeries Apex 7

On the right side, a screen window and a scroll wheel flow onto the back face. The wheel appears to be recessed into the panel. It rotates with the right amount of force, quietly snapping each turn position. Pressed hard.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Cord without braid, thick and solid. Easily remembers the given shape. Its length is 1.9 meters, towards the end the cable is divided through a characteristic «slingshot» into two thinner wires, one of which connects the device itself, and the second is responsible for the through USB port. There is also Velcro on the cable to adjust its length.

SteelSeries Apex 7

On the left side of the back is a pass-through USB 2.0 port with white backlighting along the rim of the connector. You can easily connect a variety of peripherals to it.

SteelSeries Apex 7

The reverse side is made of pleasant to the touch and durable plastic. There are three small rubber feet on the front and two folding feet on the back. The serial number sticker is traditionally located in the center. At the rear there is a cable management channel with an exit in the middle, on the left or right side. And the thick wire holds surprisingly well in it.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Folding legs are rubberized at the bottom, on the contact edge and at the back.

SteelSeries Apex 7

The RGB backlighting of the keys looks good and even the white color in it is remotely similar to itself. Cyrillic and Latin engravings are clearly visible, it is possible to adjust the brightness. The screen, menu access key, and USB port glow solid white. The screen brightness can be adjusted, the key is not adjustable in any way, and the glow of the USB connector can only be turned off by disconnecting the cord responsible for it. There are no separate lock LEDs. When you activate Num, Caps or Scroll, the corresponding buttons are highlighted in white, or you can display a notification about the activation of these functions on the built-in screen.

SteelSeries Apex 7SteelSeries Apex 7

Functionality

With bead profiles, an embedded ARM processor, and an OLED screen, the SteelSeries Apex 7 keyboard is highly customizable without software installation. The table below shows the commands that we were able to reproduce.

Combination: Function:
Fn+F9 Switching the current profile
Fn+F10 Macro Recording
Fn+F11 Decrease key backlight brightness
Fn+F12 Increasing the brightness of the key backlight
Fn+Win (left) Lock/Unlock Win Button
Scroll up Increase sound volume. In OSD — Scroll up menu items
Scroll down Decreasing the sound volume. In OSD — Scroll down menu items
Clicking the scroll wheel Mute/Unmute sound. In OSD menu — go forward
Pressing the menu button Hold for more than three seconds — call the OSD menu. On the OSD, one press to go back or cancel. When the media application is running, the button functions as play or pause

Macros are recorded in the following way. Hold Fn + F10 for two seconds, then type the necessary command, press Fn + F10 again and press the key with which the macro will be executed. That’s all. Macro deletion and recording is also possible through the on-screen menu.

The on-screen menu is completely in English and has no localization. To get into it, you need to hold the menu button for more than three seconds. The list of main items includes four tabs: Illumination (backlight), Macros (macros), Profiles (profiles), Settings (Settings).

The Illumination section has the following sub-items: 1) Presets (effects) — Vapors, Coast, Haze, Prism, Orange. 2) Custom (setting) — 2.1) Base: Full Color (constant illumination, seven colors), Breathe Color (color breathing, seven colors), Breathe Multi (colorful breathing, Prizm or Faze modes), Lights off ( backlight off). 2.2) Reactive (backlight when pressed), Ripple (splash), Line (line), Fade (fading), None (no effect) modes. 2.3) AFK (backlight when idle), Dim modes (fading), Lights off (backlight off), Full Color (constant color, seven colors), Breathe Color (color breathing, seven colors), Breathe Multi (colorful breathing, modes » Prizm» or «Faze»). 2.4) Timeout (delay to idle mode) for 5, 10, 30 seconds, 1, 5, 10, 15, 30, 45 minutes, 1, 2, 3, 5, never. 3) Brightness — the slider for adjusting the brightness of the backlight of the keys.

In the Macros section there are Record (record) and Delete (delete) sub-items.

There are four sub-items in the Profiles section: Load Profiles (loading profiles 1 to 5), Save Profiles (saving profiles to slots 1 to 5), Profile key action: Toggle / List (profile button action — switching or opening a list of profiles on the screen) , Deactivate profiles (disabling profiles from the selection list, slots 1 to 5).

In the Settings section, in the Display item, you can select Timeout (the time it turns off) after 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes or never, adjust the Brightness (slider for adjusting the brightness of the screen backlight), set the Lock Indicator On / Off (display Lock- on-screen indicators on or off). In the About sub-item, you can see the current version of the keyboard firmware and backlight diodes, in both cases it was designated as 3.8.12.

Software

SteelSeries Apex 7 runs alongside SteelSeries Engine 3 universal software in the current version 3.15.2. It is downloaded from the official site and installed as an application.

SteelSeries Apex 7

In the driver settings, you can select one of 12 interface languages, including Russian, choose the option to download updates automatically or with a request, set the application to automatically start when the operating system starts, and allow collecting usage statistics and errors in the application. The rest of the settings are for the mouse, not the keyboard.

SteelSeries Apex 7

On the main screen, you can select one of the connected devices and immediately set its configuration. The applications section activates and configures programs that work with this driver and SteelSeries devices. And the library stores a list of games with which you can associate certain device profiles for their automatic activation.

In the keyboard layout section, you can remap all keys except for the two screen buttons and the Fn button. Keyboard buttons, macros, media commands, mouse buttons, operating system hotkeys, launching programs, launching driver applications, applying configurations, quick macro recording, and completely deactivating a key are available for assignment. All changes are stored in one of the five on-board profiles.

SteelSeries Apex 7

The macro editor is very simple. Here you can create any number of separate commands, writing them sequentially with or without a delay. Both keyboard and mouse clicks are sensed, but scroll wheel rotation is not registered.

SteelSeries Apex 7

In the backlight settings, you can set any colors and lighting effects for all standard buttons, and do it in two layers. In addition, the behavior of the backlight when the keyboard is idle is configured.

SteelSeries Apex 7

In setting up the OLED screen, you can draw on it or select a ready-made picture in the format of 128×40 pixels. In addition, the regional setting of the keyboard layout is selected here. The only pity is that this does not affect the display command language.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Ergonomics and testing

Ergonomics SteelSeries Apex 7 is able to fall in love with the owner of this keyboard from the first minutes of use. What’s more, the charm begins from the moment you take the device out of the box, as you immediately feel how light and durable it is in your hands. Actually, everything went smoothly with the installation — we connected both cords, magnetized the stand and that’s it, the keyboard is ready to go. A thick cable, which causes concern at first glance, turns out to be convenient in practice. It easily bends in the mounting channel and is displayed in any of three directions. In addition, the wire remembers the given shape and can be bent and laid exactly as needed. The device is held very firmly on the table, and with a magnetized stand, it is completely difficult to move it anywhere. However, by taking hold of the sloping sides and lightly holding the stand with your palm, the keyboard can be easily lifted and rearranged. It is unnecessary to talk about the convenience of a backlit USB port, even without direct visibility, focusing on the white light of the diodes, it is very easy to get into it. And once again I want to mention the palm rest. She is perfect. Sturdy, stable, with the right height and slope. The soft-touch surface does not warm hands when it is hot and does not freeze when it is cold. Moreover, there are no problems with its cleaning from dust and dirt. At least in the beginning, because over time, the soft-touch coating can wear out and lose its beautiful appearance.

As for the use of the keyboard for its intended purpose, I did not have any comments. The layout is completely standard, it takes no time to get used to it and you can immediately type blindly. For those who have not mastered this method, there is a clear engraving in English, Russian and Ukrainian, and well-defined illumination of all characters. Switches SteelSeries QX2 in red version turned out to be quite decent. Compared to Cherry MX Red, they are softer and quieter in terms of operation, but not in terms of pressing force, but rather in terms of the smoothness of the button. There is no feeling that the pin rubs when pressed. It may be true that their Duracon special plastic technology creates a more pleasant tactile sensation. Otherwise, these are ordinary linear mechanical buttons. The stabilization of long keys could be a little better, but on average it is at an acceptable level. Thanks to a comfortable stand, your hands do not get tired even if you spend a day working or playing on this keyboard.

The built-in OLED screen in the keyboard turns out to be much more convenient in practice than, for example, on the Rival 710 mouse. All settings that are made with the device are immediately visible on the screen, no need to remember key combinations or anything else. This is especially noticeable in how much easier it is to record macros on the fly and switch the built-in memory profiles. The only remark to the screen is its location. Nevertheless, in the upper right corner you have to look at it specially. The screen in the center and in a slightly larger size would look much better and give more information opportunities. The same can be said about the scroll wheel. It’s well done on its own, but reaching for it to the far right is raising your hand from the mouse or keyboard. On the left side of the hull, it would be substantially more comfortable.

SteelSeries Apex 7 supports full NKRO mode and is able to handle all keystrokes simultaneously, and in any arbitrary combination with each other.

SteelSeries Apex 7

Results

The SteelSeries Apex 7 mechanical keyboard turned out to be very successful. It has a beautiful and sophisticated exterior design, a solid body, comfortable keys, a comfortable magnetic palm rest, an integrated screen, a scroll wheel and a USB pass-through port. Plus on-board memory, intuitive software and beautiful RGB lighting. Against the backdrop of what the company has released recently, Apex 7 is a huge step forward towards demanding users.

Does this keyboard have significant drawbacks? With the exception of the inflated retail value, I could not find them. If abroad, excluding taxes, the price of Apex 7 looks tolerable, then here, at the start of sales, it turns out to be simply “gold”. And for such amounts, I would like to see at least keycaps made of PBT plastic here.

With the new Apex Pro and Apex 7 series, SteelSeries has every chance to regain its lost position in the top tier of mechanical keyboard manufacturers. And buyers will have a choice of several more wonderful devices.

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