back to article SteelSeries Apex Pro plays both sides of the mechanical keyboard fence – and wins

Personal taste plays a huge role in one's mechanical keyboard of choice. While some drool over tactile feedback and samba-like clacking, others prefer silent, linear switches. Until recently, the only way to pick a keyboard that pandered to your preferences was to select one with the appropriate key switches. Cherry MX Blues …

  1. Valeyard

    software

    with customisation delivered by software

    when it comes to keyboards i just assume the software doesn't exist, because even if you're a windows user you'll still have the keyboard long after your ability to remember which OS update broke it

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: software

      I didn't get on at all with the Steelseries software that came with the mouse I tried from them.

      Decent mouse, but the software support let them down.

  2. GraXXoR

    I'm worried about longevity.

    We live in a throwaway world these days with fancy gadgets that can't be repaired and soon break down.

    I am a sucker for mechanical, LED backlit keyboards, but over the last ten years I have gone through no less than four brands and am on my fifth.

    I started off with a Roccat... within weeks the LEDs started to flake out. two replacements made within the warranty period.

    Then I got a Logitec... Again 2 LEDs stopped working. two replacements made.

    I then got a steel series... a whole row of LEDs stopped working in the second year.

    I the bought a Razer RGB keyboard... two swaps needed after multiple LEDs failed and several switches became unresponsive.

    I'm now on a Corsair K70 SE mk 2 with PBT keycaps... The most expensive one I've bought. Bought in Feb... already one key's LED has no green sub element. RMA in progress...

    If they can't even get LEDs to work reliably, I fear that adding to switch complexity by making them effectively analogue will only make the situation worse and create even less reliable keyboards.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: I'm worried about longevity.

      ... a throwaway world these days with fancy gadgets that can't be repaired ...

      Quite so ...

      I've had a good number of keyboards on my home desk, the first being an MS Natural keyboard+mouse combo which I will always regret spending good money on.

      A couple of second hand samples from Wise workstations I purchased at an office sale ended up being surprisingly good and lasted a few years but the major disappointment came from a pair of as new Sun Type 7s which cost me a pretty penny and ended up being a POS.

      The best of them all by far has been a used US made IBM Type 'M' from 1995 which I purchased not too long ago for a whooping US$29.00.

      Cleaned it up, changed a malfunctioning spring and adapted it to USB, it works a wonder.

      And will probably outlive me.

      A.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I'm worried about longevity.

      I have a Logitech G15 since a few years now.

      Amber backlighting only, which is fine by me, and it is working like a charm.

      I hope it will keep working like a charm for another good few years.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: I'm worried about longevity.

        My G15 is 15 years old and still works fine.

        My G910 is functionally fantastic several years in but two of the LEDs have lost one of their colours so deviate from the rest. I concur that this is shoddy manufacturing but the primary purpose of a keyboard is reliable effective input of keystrokes and it's still by far the nicest keyboard I've used for that.

    3. mono

      Re: I'm worried about longevity.

      Roccat, Logitech, SteelSeries, Razer and Corsair. You might want to look into brands other than the usual gimmicky gaming peripheral makers.

      If you're tech savvy (if you're on this site, I'd say that's a given), there are plenty of DIY builds out there that give great quality and customisation. Many of them have hot-swappable switches, meaning a dead switch or LED takes a few seconds to resolve. As a bonus, most support the QMK firmware, so you can customise them to your heart's delight without having to run annoying bloatware on each system you want to use the keyboard with.

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: I'm worried about longevity.

      I've got a QPAD k-85 that's still doing fine (apart from the rubberised coating that's now been scraped off) after 12 years.

      That's using CHERRY-MX blues and still feels as crisp as the day I bought it. Not one of the blue LED's have failed either.

      My only gripe (save for the coating obvs) is it's in AZERTY layout but muscle memory makes it mostly a non-issue.

      I've also got an Apple Bluetooth keyboard... Happily telling me it's now into its 18th year (yes I'm surprised too).

      So they're really making em bad if you're not even making it to the first decade.

  3. msknight

    If it works with KVM's and Linux...

    ...then I'm interested. So few keyboards do, even in the high price bracket.

    Who do I ask?

    1. mono

      Re: If it works with KVM's and Linux...

      I can't comment on compatibility with Linux but I've been happy with the QMK firmware on my Drop Alt keyboard (it works with many others too). I regularly switch between PC and Mac via a KVM and have layers set up on the keyboard to handle the switched position of the Win/Cmd keys.

      There's a massive price range when it comes to keyboards that support QMK but they start quite reasonable (especially compared to all these stupid RBG gaming keyboards).

  4. Terje

    You will wrest my Cherry MX Brown Das keybord 4 professional from my cold dead hands...

  5. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Good non-clicky soft keyboard preferred

    At the age of 67, millisecond delays in key activation do not matter, quiet operation with low activation pressure and travel are preferred for comfort. Simple white backlight to make the keys easy to read without distracting from the content on the display is also desired. The money spent on bling, I would prefer to leave in my pocket.

    (In my youth I used what must have been one of the worst mechanical keyboards ever devised on an ASR33 teletype - the activation pressure was well over 1 pound per key!! The nice soft keyboard that came with a VT220 (the LK201) was still one of the best keyboards that I have ever used. (The LK201 also set the keyboard layout that has been used ever since in desktop PCs.))

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good non-clicky soft keyboard preferred

      The transition from ASR33 teletype to video terminal meant the latter's keyboards took a pounding from some users.

    2. John Sturdy
      Happy

      Re: Good non-clicky soft keyboard preferred

      I remember those (and indeed have one in the shed, awaiting restoration)... I quite liked them, they gave you some exercise, and kept the circulation going --- as far as I remember, nobody got RSI back then.

  6. naive

    Good mechanical keyboards are worth it

    The reviewed Razer keyboard is for sure a s*xy device. They make some good stuff, that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Very happy with their Deathadder elite mouse, which after years of heavy gaming still clicks and moves like a Swiss watch.

    For the money, the Corsair K63 keyboard, which doesn't have a numerical keypad, worked out very well for me, same story as with the Razer DeathAdder Elite.

    All the LED's keep working, just the keycaps are a bit loose, when vacuum cleaning, one has to take care they don't get sucked up.

    The noise it generates could perhaps be acceptable in an office setting.

  7. Cynic_999

    Key spacing

    One problem I find with keyboards that have fairly large gaps between the keys, and keys that stand proud of the base is that it is easy for cables (headphone, USB etc) to fall between the keys and get caught up under them.

  8. FIA Silver badge

    Cherry MX Blues are adored by programmers and writers

    It's Cherry MX Brown for this programmer, for that 1990s BBC Master feel....

  9. VTAMguy

    Multi-colored flashing lights on keyboards

    I'm a programmer. I write code. As soon as I see lights flashing all over a keyboard (of all things) I'm headed for the door. If the configuration program doesn't run under Linux, I'm not even entering the building as neither Windows nor OSX exist for me. I'll continue to pound out code my with my HHKB Pro2 keyboard (the same one that has worked flawlessly for years). Somehow, I will manage without this latest bit of nonsense, which will almost certainly be discontinued junk in a short period of time.

  10. Dropper

    Not convinced

    I believe Razer has released something similar with their new Huntsman keyboard, and it has an equally eye-watering price tag. I'm not really convinced by either, but I can see the appeal. Personally I need to feel the actuation, but I also don't want the keyboard to be too noisy - so I just prefer the razer orange / mx brown switches.

    If someone doesn't care about typos - and their gaming requires an instant response - then I understand why they'd prefer these linear style switches. I can't see myself being converted though. I've tried a linear switch keyboard and I ended up hating it, because it was too horrible to type with.

  11. suburbazine

    Steelseries is so... 2000 and late?

    I think Reg ought to demo a Wooting 2 Lekker or HE edition (when available). It will utterly dominate the Apex Pro in every way except maybe less OLED. Software is mature, everything just works but has ridiculous amounts of customization available. MUCH higher sensitivity range (0.1mm to 4mm) with full analog translation over the entire keystroke if needed. Can also fire multi actions based on key travel.

    https://wooting.io/wooting_two_lekker

    PS: Linux is supported natively

  12. Old Used Programmer

    On the other hand...

    I'm a retired programmer and my wife writes. We are both very happy users of Unicomp Classic keyboards.

  13. Down not across Silver badge

    200 quid and not even USB hub

    You'd think at that price they could chuck in a USB hub with 2-3 ports (like Sun did on the USB keyboards). Would be much nicer to plug mouse/USB stick/headset etc to the keyboard rather than box under the desk (or worse try to find free port on a laptop).

    And its Razer. Perhaps have been unlucky, but most Razer peripherals I've had (mice, keyboards) years ago all died pretty quick.

  14. Zebo-the-Fat

    Flashy

    I want a keyboard... maybe with a fairly low backlight, I don't want the thing flashing multi colured strobe effects at me when I'm trying to work. Same goes for the PC, power on and HD indicator lights are all it needs... who ever thought RGB lights on a ram chip was a good idea? (and no... I don't need a window on the side of the PC either!)

    (maybe I'm just a boring old fart who gets distracted easily)

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