Steelseries apex 3 reviews: SteelSeries Apex 3 Review —

SteelSeries Apex 3 Review —

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Our Verdict
  4. Test Results
  5. Differences
  6. Compared To Others
  7. Deals
  8. Discussions

Tested using
Methodology v1.0

Feb 17, 2020 at 08:53 am

By Shaqil Hossain, Ryan Lim, Yannick Khong







7. 0



Entertainment / HTPC

test results

Current deal: The SteelSeries Apex 3 has dropped in price on See all Keyboards deals




Full-size (100%)



The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a good gaming keyboard with rubber dome switches. It has a good build quality despite its budget price, and it also comes with a nice magnetic wrist rest. It provides a decent typing experience that isn’t fatiguing, but some people might find the keys slightly mushy and that they lack distinct tactile feedback.  Unfortunately, its latency is a bit high for a wired keyboard, and its rubber dome switches have a long pre-travel distance, so it’s not the most responsive. The RGB backlight is zone-lit, although there’s still a decent number of customization options through SteelSeries’ Engine software. Overall, it’s a good option for those on a budget or just don’t like mechanical keyboards.

Our Verdict



The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a good gaming keyboard. However, even though the keys are relatively easy to actuate, the rubber dome switches have a long pre-travel distance, and the keyboard’s latency is fairly high, making it feel a bit unresponsive. You can set macros to any key, but it doesn’t have dedicated macro keys for MMO players. Additionally, the RGB backlight is zone-lit, so you won’t be able to customize each key individually.


  • Good build quality.

  • Great software support.

  • Decent typing experience.


  • High latency for a wired keyboard.

  • Zone-lit backlighting.

See our Gaming Recommendations



The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a wired-only keyboard and can’t be used with mobile devices.



The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a good office keyboard. The rubber dome switches offer a decent typing experience, though some may find it a bit mushy. Typing noise is minimal, so it shouldn’t bother your surrounding colleagues, even in the most noise-sensitive environments. Build quality is good and shouldn’t cause any issues in the long run, and it’s compatible with all desktop operating systems, though some keys don’t work on macOS.


  • Good build quality.

  • Great software support.

  • Decent typing experience.

See our Office Recommendations



The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a decent keyboard for programming. Every key is macro-programmable, although it’s limited to Windows and macOS users only because its customization software isn’t available for Linux, and there’s no onboard memory. Typing on it feels decent, but some people may find the rubber dome switches a bit mushy, and the tactile feedback isn’t as obvious.


  • Good build quality.

  • Great software support.

  • Decent typing experience.


  • Zone-lit backlighting.

  • Wired-only.

  • Keys feel a bit mushy and lack distinct tactile feedback.

See our Programming Recommendations


Entertainment / HTPC

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is bad for use with a home theater PC. You can only use it wired, so you need to run a cable from the couch to the computer, which isn’t ideal if you have kids or pets. Also, it lacks a trackpad, so you’ll need a separate mouse to navigate. It has backlighting for those who like to watch TV in the dark, but the keys aren’t individually-lit.


  • Great software support.

  • Decent typing experience.

  • 7.7


  • 3.2


  • 7. 6


  • 7.0


  • 4.6

    Entertainment / HTPC

+ Create your own

  1. Updated Feb 04, 2021:
    Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  2. Updated Feb 17, 2020:
    Review published.
  3. Updated Feb 12, 2020:
    Early access published.

Check Price

Apex 3



Test Results

Sort Category───────────RATINGSGamingMobile/TabletOfficeProgrammingEntertainment / HTPC

Category AllDesignTyping ExperienceSoftware and Operating System



1.5″ (3.7 cm)


17.5″ (44.4 cm)


5.9″ (15.0 cm)

Depth With Wrist Rest

8.8″ (22.3 cm)


1.76 lbs (0.800 kg)

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a large, full-size keyboard. It’ll take up significantly more space if you choose to use the included wrist rest.

Keycap Material


Build quality is good. It has a fully plastic frame that exhibits a decent amount of flex, and the keycaps are made of ABS plastic with a soft finish. The overall build quality feels slightly worse than the rest of the Apex lineup. SteelSeries advertises this keyboard as having an IP32 water and dust resistance, though this isn’t something we test for.

Board Design


Minimum Incline

Medium Incline


Maximum Incline


Wrist Rest


The ergonomics are good. The keyboard doesn’t have a particularly high profile, but if you need the extra support, it does come with a wrist rest that attaches magnetically.





Individually Backlit Keys


Color Mixing






The SteelSeries Apex 3 has a 10-zone RGB backlighting. It can be customized through SteelSeries’ Engine software, and you can control the brightness directly on the keyboard. There are a few lighting presets that you can choose from, as well as a rainbow effect that doesn’t show where each zone starts and ends. If you want individually-lit keys, check out the SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.




5.9 ft (1.8 m)

Connector (Keyboard side)

Not Detachable

The cable is rubberized and it’s not detachable.



Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing


Proprietary Receiver


Battery Type

No Batteries

This is a wired-only keyboard.

Media Keys


Macro Programmable Keys


Trackpad / Trackball




USB Passthrough




Windows Key Lock


Lock Indicator

Caps, Scroll & Num lock

The SteelSeries Apex 3 has dedicated media controls. The button located below the volume wheel lets you play, pause, skip tracks or go to the previous track. There are hotkeys that allow you to control the brightness of the backlight, set macros, and change your profile. You can also lock the Windows key to prevent accidentally minimizing your game by pressing the SteelSeries key and the Windows key at the same time.

  • SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard
  • Wrist rest
  • User guide

Typing Experience

Key Switches

Rubber Dome



Operating Force

56 gf

Actuation Force

31 gf


2.4 mm

Total Travel

3. 9 mm

The SteelSeries Apex 3 uses rubber dome switches. They have a fairly high pre-travel distance, which can lead to better typing accuracy, as there’s less of a chance for unintended keystrokes to be registered. It requires a moderate amount of force to get over the tactile bump, but not to the point that we would consider them heavy. If you want a mechanical keyboard that’s affordable like the Apex 3, check out the AUKEY KM-G9 or the Redragon K552 KUMARA RGB.

The typing experience is decent. The keys are very stable and don’t wobble at all, but they do feel a bit mushy, and it can be difficult to tell if a keypress was registered at times because the tactile feedback is not as obvious. The wrist rest helps a lot in preventing fatigue. It’s a better typing experience than on other membrane keyboards like the Razer Cynosa Chroma. If you prefer the feel of mechanical switches while typing, then look into the NPET K20.


Very Quiet

Typing noise is very quiet, making this keyboard suitable for quiet office environments.

Latency Wired

10.7 ms

Latency Receiver


Latency Bluetooth


The SteelSeries Apex 3’s latency is decent, a bit high for a wired keyboard. It should be fine for most people, but it might not be good enough for competitive gamers. If you want a non-mechanical board with lower latency, check out the ROCCAT Magma. If you want an exceptionally low latency and don’t mind a mechanical board, check out the EVGA Z20.

Software and Operating System

Software Name

Steelseries Engine

Account Required




Onboard Memory


Cloud Sync


Macro Programming

Software and Onboard

Ease Of Use


Software Windows Compatible


Software macOS Compatible


The SteelSeries Engine software is good. It lets you customize the backlight, set macros, and save profiles. The keyboard doesn’t have onboard memory, which makes it harder to switch to another computer. There’s a cloud sync option, though it requires an account. If you’re interested in a keyboard with onboard memory for settings, check out the Corsair K55 RGB PRO XT.













The SteelSeries Apex 3 has decent compatibility. It works fully on Windows, but Scroll Lock and Pause/Break don’t work on macOS. All keys function properly on Linux, but since there’s no software for that platform and there’s no onboard memory, Linux users won’t be able to customize the keyboard.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the SteelSeries Apex 3 in black, which is the only variant in this size. There’s a TenKeyLess variant, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL, and there are many keyboards with various configurations in the Apex lineup, like the Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, the Apex 7 TKL, and the Apex Pro.

Compared To Other Keyboards

Since the SteelSeries Apex 3 is a membrane keyboard, it can be difficult to compare it to mechanical gaming keyboards, as the latter are much more responsive due to their shorter pre-travel distance. However, compared to a similar keyboard such as the Razer Cynosa Chroma, the SteelSeries has a much better typing experience, though the Razer has a more customizable RGB backlight, as it’s individually lit. For other options, check out our recommendations for the best keyboards for writers, the best RGB keyboards, and the best gaming keyboards. 


For most uses, the SteelSeries Apex 3 is significantly better than the Logitech G213 Prodigy. The SteelSeries’ build quality is much better, it has full RGB backlighting with brightness control, and every key is macro-programmable. The SteelSeries also provides a better typing experience, it produces less typing noise, and the included wrist rest is detachable if you don’t want to use it.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 and the Razer Cynosa V2 are both full-size membrane gaming keyboards. While the Razer scores higher for gaming, it’s only so because it has individually-lit keys, while the SteelSeries has 10-zone backlighting. The SteelSeries has a lower input lag, and its keys are a bit easier to actuate because they require less force. It allows for higher incline settings and includes a wrist rest to provide a more comfortable typing experience. Also, its build quality is much better than the Razer.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 and the Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard are both full-sized gaming keyboards with rubber dome switches. The SteelSeries has a sturdier-feeling build quality and keystrokes that require less operating force. The Corsair has substantially lower latency, and though its keystrokes require a higher operating force, they also have better tactile feedback, although that can tire your fingers more quickly.


The Razer Ornata Chroma is a better keyboard than the SteelSeries Apex 3. The Razer uses hybrid membrane switches that give you the clicky feedback of a mechanical switch with the feel of a rubber dome switch. It has a better overall typing experience, and the keys are individually lit. On the other hand, the SteelSeries uses typical rubber dome switches that are quiet to use in an office, and the keyboard has a better build quality.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 is significantly better than the Razer Cynosa Chroma in most uses. The typing experience and build quality are much better on the SteelSeries, and it comes with a wrist rest for better comfort. However, the Razer has individually lit RGB backlighting, but its customization software is only available for Windows users, while the SteelSeries Engine software is available for Windows and macOS.


The SteelSeries Apex 5 Hybrid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the SteelSeries Apex 3 are very different despite being from the same lineup. In terms of gaming performance, the Apex 5’s hybrid mechanical switches have a shorter pre-travel distance and a slightly lower operating force than the rubber dome switches on the Apex 3, making them more responsive and easier to actuate. However, the Apex 5’s latency is much higher than the Apex 3’s and likely a dealbreaker for some. Other than that, the Apex 5 has an OLED screen, individually-lit RGB backlighting, and onboard memory, all features that the Apex 3 lacks.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 is much better than the HyperX Alloy Core RGB. The SteelSeries has a significantly better build quality, typing experience, and ergonomics. Also, it comes with a wrist rest, and the keyboard is much more customizable since every key can be reprogrammed and has software support, which the HyperX doesn’t have.


The Corsair K55 RGB PRO XT and the SteelSeries Apex 3 are non-mechanical gaming keyboards with comparable performance. The Corsair has significantly lower latency, individually-lit keys that are independently customizable, and its companion software has onboard memory, but you can’t sync settings to the cloud. On the other hand, the SteelSeries has ten zone RGB backlighting, but the keys aren’t individually backlit. That said, it feels sturdier, it has a wheel on the top right, and it has more stable keys that offer a better typing experience than the Corsair.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 is essentially a bigger version of the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL, but there are a few differences. The Apex 3 has a numpad, and it comes with a wrist rest for better ergonomics. However, typing feels the same on each because they use the same rubber dome switches. They each have zone-lit RGB lighting, but the Apex 3 has ten customizable zones due to its bigger size compared to the TKL’s eight zones. The TKL version uses the new SteelSeries GG software, which includes the Engine software that the Apex 3 uses. Other than that, both keyboards are very similar.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 and the ROCCAT Magma are both similar-performing non-mechanical gaming keyboards. They use rubber dome switches, which feel light, but they require some force to get over the tactile bump. Both have customizable RGB backlighting with only five zones, but the ROCCAT has a semi-transparent base plate that lets more lighting through. The ROCCAT also has a much lower latency and onboard memory, but it lacks the dedicated media keys and volume control wheel that the SteelSeries has. Also, you can only set macros to certain keys on the ROCCAT, while you can set them to any key on the SteelSeries.


The SteelSeries Apex 3 and the Redragon K552 KUMARA RGB are very different keyboards. The SteelSeries is a full-size membrane keyboard, while the Redragon is a TKL mechanical keyboard. The SteelSeries is more comfortable to type on because it has a lower profile and comes with a wrist rest. The typing experience is also very different. The SteelSeries’ rubber dome switches feel a bit mushy, and the tactile feedback doesn’t feel as distinct as on the Redragon’s Outemu Blue switches. The Outemu switches have a shorter pre-travel distance but require more force to actuate. While the SteelSeries has lower latency, it’s still relatively high for a wired keyboard and might not be ideal for serious gamers. You can’t program any macros on the Redragon, and customizing the RGB backlight can be somewhat complicated because there’s no software.


The EVGA Z12 is a better entry-level gaming keyboard than the SteelSeries Apex 3. They’re both non-mechanical with rubber dome switches, but the EVGA Membrane switches are lighter to press and have a lower pre-travel distance. On the other hand, the SteelSeries feels better built and has better typing quality because the keys are more stable. The SteelSeries has a dedicated volume wheel, which the EVGA doesn’t have, and it comes with a wrist rest, but you can buy one separately for the EVGA.


The AUKEY KM-G9 Mechanical Keyboard is pretty different than the SteelSeries Apex 3. While both keyboards are very affordable, you have to choose between the mechanical clicky switches of the AUKEY or the RGB lighting and the rubber dome switches of the SteelSeries. Also, the SteelSeries is a full-size keyboard with a NumPad, and it comes with a nice wrist rest.


The Corsair K57 RGB Wireless Gaming Keyboard is slightly better than the SteelSeries Apex 3. The Corsair is wireless, has dedicated macro keys, and has individually-lit keys, while the SteelSeries has a better typing quality since the keys are lighter to press. The SteelSeries is also better built, and its software offers a cloud sync feature. 


The SteelSeries Apex 3 and the NPET K20 are both good cheap gaming keyboards but with different switches. The SteelSeries has rubber dome switches, while the NPET is a mechanical keyboard available with three different switch types, and typing feels better. The SteelSeries has macro-programmable keys, which the NPET doesn’t have. They also have backlighting with limited customization; the SteelSeries is zone-lit, so you can’t customize the RGB backlighting on a per-key basis. While the NPET has individually lit keys, it’s multi-colored, so you can’t change the colors of the keys.

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SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL Review: Can Do More than Most for Less

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Water-resistant, media keys and only $45

Editor’s Choice

(Image: © Tom’s Hardware)

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

SteelSeries’ new Apex 3 TKL is waterproof, quiet and unlike any other keyboard that I have used at this low of a price. It easily does more than most other $45 gaming keyboards.

  • +

    + Adjustable feet

  • +

    + Affordable

  • +

    + Dedicated media keys

  • +

    + Silent switches

  • +

    + User-friendly software

Today’s best SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL deals

$44. 99



Reduced Price




Reduced Price

Constant chatter with your friends during extensive gaming sessions or Zoom meetings calls for proper hydration, but every time we bring liquids to our desks, we take on a big risk of destroying our keyboards with one little spill. Fortunately, SteelSeries eliminates that risk with its new Apex 3 TKL gaming keyboard, which is IP32 water resistant.

This keyboard also features shockingly good Whisper-Quiet membrane switches, and it’s rare to find a typing experience you love for just $45.

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL Keyboard

Switches SteelSeries Whisper-Quiet Switches
Lighting Addressable
Onboard Storage 1 Profile
Media Keys Yes
Connectivity USB Type-A
Cable 6-feet, rubber
Additional Ports N/A
Keycaps N/A
Software SteelSeries Engine
Dimensions (LxWxH) 364mm x 150mm x 40mm
Weight  1. 41 pounds

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Image 1 of 3

When I first sat down to review the Apex 3 TKL , I didn’t know what to expect given its $45 price tag. I thought it was either going to be hot garbage or, at best, good but not great. But the design of this keyboard proved to me that the best gaming keyboards don’t need to cost an arm and a leg.

  • SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL at Amazon for $35.99

This entire keyboard is composed of slightly glossy plastic, but it doesn’t attract fingerprints nearly as much as competitors like the Wooting Two HE, which is impressive given that it costs less than half as much as Wooting’s board.

The plastic build is a featherweight. With a weight of just 1.41 pounds (639 g), it’s a bit too light for its own good, as its lack of heft caused its small ten-keyless frame to occasionally move around on my desk during use.

There are cable routing trenches on the underside, which I really appreciated because the Apex’s USB-A cable is non-removable. The Apex 3 also has two flip-up feet on its underside to help give you a comfortable typing angle. I appreciated that these were coated in rubber, but while that does give them some extra grip, it isn’t enough to counteract the keyboard’s lightness.

At first, I was a bit bothered that the Apex 3 lacked a removable cable, but that may be because the keyboard is IP32 water-resistant, and a detachable cable could be another way for water to get in.

To test the keyboard’s water resistance, I filled a cup of water, and with the Apex 3 connected to my laptop, I spilled water on the keyboard. After giving the Apex 3 a quick wipe-down with a napkin, it worked as usual, which is very cool and can be very practical if you’re clumsy.

There isn’t a whole lot I don’t like about the Apex 3’s design, but I didn’t appreciate that the company flipped some of the legends around. For example, the 1 is above the exclamation mark, where it typically is underneath it. 

Unlike too many gaming keyboards, we have dedicated media keys here. While they’re a bit awkward to operate, they are better than nothing. 

On the top right of the keyboard is a notched volume wheel and a little black square that controls your media. If you press the square once, it’ll pause your media; a double press will skip a track and a triple press will go back to the previous track.

I will say that the media “square” works well until you have to press it three times to go back to a previous track. I can deal with two presses, but three clicks felt very awkward.

Typing Experience on the Apex 3 TKL

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL features the company’s Whisper-Quiet gaming switches that are rated for 20 million keystrokes, which is a lot less than the other switches we test. But for $45, I think 20 million strokes is more than enough.

Like their name implies, these switches are silent, and that’s partially due to them being membrane, rather than mechanical. Before you jump ship, let me tell you that I actually really enjoyed these switches, and I do not usually enjoy tactile bumps that much.

Typing with the Apex 3 was relaxing; I am so used to fat tactile bumps and ASMR-like linear switches that the feeling of membrane switches feels foreign. Unlike most membrane switches, though, the Whisper-Quiet switches do have some tactility to them, which made the typing experience feel elegant and responsive.

The only unpleasant noise I experienced with this keyboard was with the stabilizers, and to be honest, they didn’t sound that bad. It’s just that, because the switches are so silent, the stabilizer rattle is more noticeable on this board than on most other boards. But for $45, what do you expect?

Gaming Experience on the Apex 3 TKL

SteelSeries has proven itself when it comes to gaming peripherals, so even though the Apex 3 TKL is $45, I had relatively high expectations when it came to in-game performance.

Funny thing is, I performed better with the Apex 3 in-game than I did on any other keyboard I have reviewed. On Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, I got to round 50 on Firebase Z, and to give some perspective, round 40 is where the extra powerful Wonder Weapons become barely more effective than a normal rifle. I’m sure my friend and I could’ve made it to round 55 at least, but it was over two hours and we hit our record so it was time to exfiltrate.

The Apex 3’s membrane nature didn’t take away from its capability on the battlefield even though I had become so accustomed to mechanical switches, which is evident in my performance in Zombies. If I were to compare the Whisper-Quiet switches to mechanical switches, I would say that they felt a bit similar to Zeal Zilents, which are silent tactile switches.


(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

SteelSeries’ Apex 3 TKL operates on its SteelSeries Engine, and right off the bat I noticed it looks almost too much like the Epic Games software.

This keyboard’s software is pretty similar to Razer’s Synapse software as it lets you add some apps to it like PrismSync, which can be used to match your Apex 3’s lighting to any of SteelSeries’ compatible peripherals and even some motherboards. Unfortunately, my motherboard wasn’t cool enough to work with PrismSync, but that’s alright.

The Apex 3 has six onboard macro-keys. I set up one of them to boot up OBS studio, which allowed me to conveniently start streaming the trek to round 50 on Cold War

You can adjust the RGB on this board, but it is not on a per-key basis. Instead, it’s on an eight-zone basis, like a pizza! There are eight segments on the Apex 3 where you can adjust the RGB, and I think this is fair and looks great.

Besides that, SteelSeries Engine lets you remap any key you want and has many other features, like System Monitor which provides real-time thermal readings but is more suited for higher-end boards like the Apex Pro.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

I was at Staples a few days ago to pick up over-priced printer ink, and on my way out I took a look at the prices of the basic membrane office keyboards they had. And a lot of them either matched the price of the Apex 3 or were more expensive.  

After looking at these keyboards, I realized that the Apex 3 would be a great keyboard to bring to work even if you’re not a gamer because it is extremely silent, dirt cheap and water-resistant.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is ultimately a very humble gaming keyboard because it doesn’t try to do too much and it doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to your battlestation. But it does do more than I anticipated, and I love it for that. The Whisper-Quiet membrane switches are very relaxing to type with, the plastic construction is very solid and it doesn’t creak like a door in a horror movie like in other boards I’ve used. 

If SteelSeries just adds a bit of weight to it and figure out a better media key implementation, then we could have the perfect budget gaming keyboard.

Myles Goldman is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews keyboards and cases.

Tom’s Hardware is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site .

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SteelSeries Apex 3 review | Tom’s Guide

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The SteelSeries Apex 3 will get the job done

(Image: © SteelSeries)

Tom’s Guide Verdict

The SteelSeries Apex 3 will get the job done, but a cheap office keyboard would serve almost as well.

  • +


  • +

    Reprogrammable keys

  • +


  • Unsatisfying keystrokes

  • No game mode

  • Disappointing lighting

Today’s best SteelSeries Apex 3 deals


$39. 99


Reduced Price



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The SteelSeries Apex 3 ($50) is part of the Danish manufacturer’s new lineup of budget-friendly gaming gear. This membrane keyboard sounds good on paper, with a reasonable price, RGB lighting, water resistance and an included wrist rest. But, like most membrane keyboards, it’s simply not that comfortable for either typing or gaming, and most of its features feel half-baked.

Granted, no one should expect a top-of-the-line gaming keyboard for $50, and I understand how the Apex 3 could be a good stepping stone for young, cash-strapped gamers who want some of the bells and whistles of a higher-end device. Comparable mechanical keyboards tend to cost between $100 and $120 — but if possible, I’d still recommend saving up for one of those. The Apex 3 will get the job done, but a cheap office keyboard would serve almost as well — and a mechanical-gaming keyboard would serve much better.

  • Logitech G Pro X Keyboard review
  • SteelSeries Apex 7 Keyboard review
  • SteelSeries Apex 3 at Amazon for $39.99

The Apex 3 measures 17.5 x 5.5 inches, although the width can increase a bit, thanks to a magnetic, detachable, 3.1-inch wrist rest. The black plastic chassis feels thin, light and a little cheap, as to the humdrum keycaps. The wrist rest, though, is surprisingly solid, offering sturdy, comfortable support.

As the keyboard is a little on the small side, there’s not much room for extra keys. In the upper-right corner, there’s a volume dial (very handy) and a «multimedia button,» which can theoretically play, pause and skip songs, depending on how many times you press it in rapid succession. In my tests, though, I couldn’t get the button to do anything, even after updating the firmware and trying it out with different media players. However, SteelSeries tried to replicate my issue on a variety of machines, and wasn’t able to, so this could be an issue unique to my system. Either way, the multimedia button is nice to have, but it isn’t a make-or-break feature.

SteelSeries Apex 3 keys

I compared the typing experience on the SteelSeries Apex 3 with cheap membrane keyboards from Dell and Microsoft; the Apex 3 was actually a little more difficult to use. The keys are workable, sure, but they feel stiff at first, and mushy once depressed.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

Even though they’re not that comfortable, the keys are effective for typing. With the Apex 3, I scored 117 words per minute with 98% accuracy on a test, as opposed to 119 wpm with 98% accuracy on my regular Logitech G913. This difference is negligible, considering my familiarity with the latter device.

SteelSeries Apex 3 features

For a $50 keyboard, the Apex 3 has fairly robust software. That’s because it runs on SteelSeries Engine 3, which has been one of the better gaming-peripheral programs on the market over the last few years. You can use this software to adjust the lighting, program macros and remap keys. In fact, you can reprogram almost every key on the device, which is something that even many fancier keyboards don’t offer.

On the other hand, the RGB lighting leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of per-key lighting, you get 10 different «zones» to customize. This is par for the course among cheaper keyboards. But the lighting itself looks a little anemic, especially in bright rooms. None of the colors are especially vibrant, and the lighting effects are pretty tame.

  • How to Buy a Gaming Keyboard

There’s also not much synchronicity between devices. I tested the Apex 3 alongside the SteelSeries Rival 3 mouse, but there was no way to sync the lighting or to create gaming profiles that would encompass both gadgets.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

One feature that is worth discussing is the Apex 3’s IP32 water resistance. This means that «vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position. » In practical terms, this means that if your keyboard is tilted upward (it has two adjustable feet in the back), it can probably survive an accidental water spill.

  • Best gaming keyboards 2020

I tested this claim and found that the keyboard did indeed spring back from half a bottle of water splashed over its surface (after letting it dry first, of course). This could come in handy if you’re accident-prone — although, to be fair, all keyboards are somewhat resistant to water damage, as the keycaps tend to protect the switches.

SteelSeries Apex 3 performance

The Apex 3 performed well in-game, from zipping around the battlefield in Overwatch to building up an army in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Comfort aside, the keys were responsive and never missed one of my commands. The device is also suitable for a wide variety of games, since you can program macros and assign them to lesser-used keys.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

One quibble, however, is that the Apex 3 doesn’t offer a «game mode,» which many comparable models do. These modes disable the Windows key, Alt + Tab and similar commands, so that you’ll never accidentally minimize a game window in the middle of a heated session. It’s usually one of the big reasons to buy a gaming keyboard over an office model, so its absence here is disappointing.

The Apex 3 isn’t the kind of keyboard I’d buy. The keys don’t feel great, it doesn’t have many extra features, and the lighting isn’t very pretty. But for the price, it does what it’s supposed to. In the same price range, you could consider the Razer Cynosa ($60), which has better lighting and somewhat more comprehensive software. But, if you can save for a mechanical selection from our best gaming keyboards instead, that’d be my primary recommendation.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom’s Guide, overseeing the site’s coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

Tom’s Guide is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site .

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SteelSeries Apex 3 review | GamesRadar+

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(Image: © SteelSeries)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Durable and affordable, the SteelSeries Apex 3 and its near-silent switches make it great for late-night gaming.

Coming in hot at just $49.99 (£60 in the UK, and around AU$76) is the SteelSeries Apex 3, a budget-conscious option from the company’s excellent Apex line. That immediately makes it a great choice for anyone who wants a flashy gaming experience but is keen not to break the bank.

Despite the lower price meaning some features have been dropped from this model, the build quality of the SteelSeries Apex 3  is undeniably still up to snuff, with a durable polymer frame and pleasingly grippy plastic keycaps.

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Essential info

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

Price: $49.99 / £59.99
Form factor: Full
Switches: SteelSeries Whisper-Quiet Switches
Keystroke lifespan: 20 million presses
Media keys: Dedicated roller
Wrist-rest: Magnetic rubberized
USB passthrough: None
Connectivity: Wired

Yes, the SteelSeries Apex 3 lacks some of the fancy add-ons boasted by its more expensive siblings. There’s no tiny OLED display for quick customization here as per the SteelSeries Apex 5 (one of our picks for the best gaming keyboard), nor is there a USB passthrough, the latter of which is a shame but unsurprising in a more affordable keyboard.

It does retain a lot of features, though. That includes three-way cable routing channels along the underside and 10-zone RGB lighting, which looks great and is good to see in a budget gaming keyboard.

Also returning from other Apex models is the dedicated media wheel, a dinky metallic roller in the top-right corner that can be used for scrolling and clicking. It’s ideal for swift volume adjustments.

The big design ‘flaw’ here for many potential buyers is the lack of mechanical key switches. The membrane switches in the Apex 3 are SteelSeries’ own ‘whisper-quiet’ design, and that does ring true; much like the Razer Cynosa V2, the keys feel a bit spongy, but make little to no noise.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

One benefit of these switches is that they make the keyboard waterproof; or at least, IP32-rated dust and water resistant. There are channels under the keycaps running to small drainage holes on the base of the chassis, allowing a spilled drink to drain out harmlessly.

On the whole, the aesthetic choices and manufacturing standard hold up well against both more expensive keyboards and the Apex 3’s immediate competitors in the $50 range. We do wish it had a braided cable, but this is really a minor gripe.


In gameplay terms, the SteelSeries Apex 3 feels fine to use. It doesn’t have the same immediately snappy response that mechanical keyboards do, but the keys are as quiet as advertised and feel fantastic to use (after a brief adjustment period). Typing is also excellent, making this a great choice for anyone who works or games late at night. Because it’s so much cheaper than other membrane keyboard options like the Corsair K57 RGB Wireless, that’s a pretty big deal.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

We do wish the keys had a little less travel, however; in twitchy first-person shooters like Valorant, we missed the definitive feedback of linear red mechanical switches that you’d find on slightly more expensive keyboards.

Overall — should you buy it?

Unless you’re very selective when it comes to the switches on your keyboard, the SteelSeries Apex 3 is an excellent choice. With great durability and a decent amount of features, it’s hard to claim that this keyboard is anything other than amazing value for money.

If you were in any doubt, SteelSeries has one last trick up its sleeve: an included palmrest with a comfortable rubberized finish that snaps magnetically onto the base of the keyboard. It’s a final flourish that sets the Apex 3 apart from the crowd, and we love it.

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Available platforms PC


Christian is a writer for Maximum PC, but also writes in a freelance capacity for a number of other sites including GamesRadar, PC Gamer, and TechRadar. He knows the PC gaming space inside out, particularly when it comes to hardware including PC builds, keyboards, and other peripherals. 

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SteelSeries Apex 3 review | TechRadar

TechRadar Verdict

SteelSeries’ new budget-minded keyboard boasts some impressive features, even if they come with a few concessions. However, a lack of mechanical switches can’t keep us from whole-heartedly recommending the Apex 3.

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    Great RGB lighting

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The Steelseries Apex 3 gaming keyboard – boasting an MSRP of $49.99 (£39, around AU$76) – is one of the line’s flagship products, and we found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the robust feature set and ergonomic comfort of this budget peripheral.

The term “budget” comes with some unfortunate connotations in the world of PC gaming peripherals. Exclamations of “cheaply made,” or “lacking in features and comfort” often characterize consumer perception around such branding. SteelSeries is out to change this sentiment with its new suite of budget gaming devices, however, which the Apex 3 is part of.

At its price point, the Steelseries Apex 3 is up against some stiff competition in the budget keyboard market, such as Havit’s RGB Mechanical Keyboard and pretty much the entire line of Pictek keyboards. However, the Steelseries Apex 3 has a sizable marketing advantage thanks to bearing the SteelSeries name; the company is responsible for some truly iconic devices, such as its Arctis headsets and the Sensei line of gaming mice. 

That’s a lot for the Steelseries Apex 3 to live up to, but it’s certainly up to the task, and even manages to minimize the concessions it makes along the way.

  • SteelSeries Apex 3 at Amazon for $39. 99

(Image credit: Future)

The Steelseries Apex 3 is a full-size keyboard, sporting a tenkey number pad, a dedicated media button and knob, and it’s even fairly lightweight, especially when compared to some of the more high-end mechanical boards. It does sit up a bit higher than we’d like, but the bottom of the board comes equipped with some surprisingly sturdy hinged feet. Deploying these lends a nice slope to the unit, but even then the keys can feel just a bit too tall.

(Image credit: Future)

Luckily, SteelSeries has included an absolutely fantastic palmrest in the box. It magnetically snaps to the front of the board and has eight rubber-padded feet, which prevents it from sliding around during gaming sessions. It sounds like a minor thing, but this palmrest is legitimately one of our favorite parts of this keyboard.

RGB lighting has become nearly synonymous with luxury gaming peripherals, but SteelSeries has managed to cram a full-featured lighting suite into a budget board. The Apex 3 boasts 10-zone RGB illumination that’s fully customizable via the SteelSeries Engine 3 software. A handful of fun effects make your board feel dynamic and far more luxurious than the price might suggest. In addition, you can program the lighting to react to in-game action, such taking damage or losing durability in Minecraft. Elsewhere in the software, you can edit macros and the unit’s polling rate—standard features, but worth mentioning.

(Image credit: Future)

The bottom of the board includes a three-way cable routing channel, which is nice for keeping your workspace tidy. Unfortunately, the cord itself is fairly low quality. It would have been nice to see a braided cable or something similar, but this is something SteelSeries doesn’t seem too concerned with: even the company’s high-end peripherals—like the Apex Pro and Rival 600—use this very basic cable. This is frustrating because we found that it’s prone to knotting.  

Another notable omission is the lack of USB passthrough. This isn’t something you expect to see on budget units like the Steelseries Apex 3, but the absence is a bit of a bummer considering how full-featured the board is otherwise. 


(Image credit: Future)

A lot of the marketing surrounding the Steelseries Apex 3 touts the unit’s durability features, and we’re glad to report that the board mostly lives up to the claims. The water resistance in particular was a priority for SteelSeries here, and while it’s hard to judge long-term endurance, light sprays of water had no observable adverse effects. 

(Image credit: Future)

Gaming-focused consumers are likely to decry SteelSeries’ choice to opt for membrane switches on the Apex 3 rather than mechanical ones, especially considering the fact that there exists a market for budget-minded mechanical boards. Admittedly, this was a primary concern of ours as we unboxed the unit, and it persisted even as we began typing and gaming. After using mechanical boards for so long, the Steelseries Apex 3’s softer switches felt slow and chunky.

However, quiet performance is one of the Apex 3’s checkmark features, and it’s hard to achieve that with the clickiness of mechanical switches. SteelSeries’ Whisper-Quiet membrane switches most definitely live up to their name, making the Apex 3 a good choice if you play or type a lot at night while others are sleeping nearby. After a bit, our fingers acclimated to the Whisper-Quiet switches. Once we took the time to consider that SteelSeries sacrificed the high-speed performance of mechanical switches in the name of relative silence, whatever mental block that was preventing us from truly appreciating the Whisper-Quiet design dissolved immediately. Truly, the Steelseries Apex 3 is a joy to game and work on.

Final verdict

(Image credit: Future)

SteelSeries has managed to fit a full suite of features into the budget-friendly Apex 3 keyboard, and the result is an impressively robust peripheral. There are a few drawbacks along the way (no passthrough, cheap cable, membrane switches), but there’s enough here to easily satisfy all but the most discerning gamers. The luxury peripheral market is awash in exorbitantly-priced devices, but the Apex 3 proves that you don’t need to break the bank for a keyboard that looks and performs fantastically. 

Sam Desatoff is the Editor-in-Chief at, a games news site focused on B2B and industry-side writing. He was a freelancer for several years, and his portfolio includes work for IGN, Kotaku, Variety, PC Gamer, PCGamesN, and more. Sam also have experience covering events, such as GDC in San Francisco, and the Borderlands 3 reveal event in Hollywood. His particular expertise lies with business writing and guide writing. 

Excellent Features with an Aggressive Price


1 month ago

by Taimoor Mohsin

Are you on a budget and looking to buy a gaming keyboard with excellent RGB lighting, switches with no noise, magnetic wrist rest, multimedia controls, and IP32 water resistance with many more features? This can cause fatigue as the market is full of these keyboards but what if we show you a reliable and known brand? Well, you don’t need to worry because in this article we will review the Steel Series Apex 3 which is an affordable choice with some of the best features.

Review of Steel Series Apex 3

Steel Series Apex 3 is one of the members of the famous steel series gaming keyboards and it is the best you can find with a price tag of just $48.99. It looks beautiful thanks to 10-Zone RGB lighting which can easily be customized using Steel Series Engine software which can be downloaded here.

In this review, we will discuss the features, specifications, pros, cons, and a summarized final verdict from our team.

Specifications of Steel Series Apex 3

We will now discuss the specifications of Steel Series Apex 3

General Specifications

  • Brand: Steel Series
  • Model no: 64812
  • Weight: 2.79 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.94L x 17.52W x 1.57H (inches)


  • Anti-ghosting: Yes, gaming-grade
  • RGB Lighting: Yes, 10-Zone RGB lighting customizable with Steel Series Engine
  • Switches: Steel Series Whisper-Quiet switches
  • Durability: Up to 20 million key presses
  • Wrist rest: Yes, Premium quality soft magnetic wrist rest


  • OS: Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox, and PS4

Features of Steel Series Apex 3

Steel Series Apex 3 comes loaded with the following features, mostly gaming and comfort centric.

IP32 Water Resistance

It is an IP32 Water Resistance certified keyboard that is responsible to protect it from daily life accidents although it is still not recommended to dip the keyboard in water because it can only protect your keyboard from spills that can happen as a result of an accident during gaming because we gamers like to eat and drink during game breaks, right? It has built-in water drainage holes on the bottom of the keyboard through which the water escapes.

It is also dust and dirt resistant so you don’t need to worry about the dust and dirt piling up that can result in malfunction.

10-Zone RGB Lighting

It gets even better when it comes to RGB lighting and its customization through Steel Series Engine. It also comes with Reactive RGB Effects in which you get alerts for durability, HP, and much more in Minecraft and it also gives alerts from Discord.

Whisper Quiet Gaming Switches

SteelSeries claims that Apex 3 has low friction switches for reduced noise during use but it does produce a little noise which is almost the same as you hear on the keyboards of gaming laptops so it is quite enough. It is switches are also very durable as they can work for over 20 million keypresses as claimed by the company.

Credits: SteelSeries

Premium Magnetic Wrist Rest

There is a premium magnetic right below the keys for your wrist to rest during long gaming marathons as it is soft and extremely comfortable with full palm support so you can game as long as you want without getting your hands tired.

Dedicated Media Controls

Steel Series Apex 3 has dedicated media controls like a clickable metal roller for your volume control and there are buttons available for rewind, skip pause, etc.

Three-Way Cable Routing

There is a three-way routing at the back for you to keep your desk tidy and three-way routing means that there are three routes for your keyboard’s cable to come out.

Reasons to Buy Steel Series Apex 3

  • Affordable
  • Water, dust, and dirt resistant (IP32 certified)
  • Faint noise while pressing keys
  • Solid build quality
  • Dedicated media keys
  • Good software support (Steel Series Engine)
  • 3-Way cable routing
  • Beautiful and customizable RGB

Reasons not to Buy Steel Series Apex 3

  • No USB passthrough
  • No per-key RGB

Final Verdict and Recommendation

Steel Series Apex 3 is an affordable yet premium-looking keyboard with some good features that we have discussed above. It has more than everything that you can demand from the keyboard in this price range.

Although it needed to have a few more features like USB passthrough and per-key RGB, it is still a good keyboard if you are looking to buy a good gaming keyboard on a budget.

In the end, we conclude that Steel Series Apex 3 is a good deal and it has all the features for the budget gaming keyboard so don’t be afraid to buy it because it is from the famous Steel Series Brand.

About the author

Taimoor Mohsin

Hi there! I’m an avid writer who loves to help others in finding solutions by writing high-quality content about technology and gaming. In my spare time, I enjoy reading books and watching movies.

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Review of the SteelSeries Apex 3 Membrane Gaming Keyboard And the essence of its concept is to unify the form with a variety of functions, materials and switch mechanisms.

We have already had the honor to get acquainted with the central Apex 7 keyboard in the line. Now we have got the most budget (within $ 50, according to the official website) version of the device called Apex 3. They look almost the same, but where does the threefold difference in cost? Let’s take a closer look.


Model SteelSeries Apex 3
Product page
Connection Wired
Interface USB 2.0
Polling frequency, Hz 1000
Type Gaming room
Number of keys 105
Additional buttons 2
Keystroke resource, million 20
Key type Membrane
Switch type
Changing the angle of the housing +
Built-in memory, KB
Macro recording capability +
Handling rollover 24
Light +, 10 zones (RGB, 16. 8M colors)
USB cable length, m 1.8
Braid material Without braid
Integral display included
Material Plastic
Color Black
Software + (SteelSeries Engine 3)
Removable palm rest +
External interfaces
Dimensions (L x W x H), mm 445 x 152 (222 with stand) x 40
Weight, g 760 (189)
Compatible with OS Windows 7 or higher / Mac OS X 10.8 or higher
Features IP32 water/dust resistant, detachable magnetic palm rest, metal volume wheel, 3-way cable management
Average cost, $ 50

Scope of delivery

The box of the device is white and orange. Product images are on the front and on the back. The main advantages of the keyboard are listed on the back, and on the side there are some technical specifications.

Supplied only with short instruction manual and magnetic palm rest.


As mentioned above, Apex 3 looks very similar to Apex 7 at first glance. Just a little larger in size. But the first impression is deceptive, because Apex 3 is a membrane keyboard. Moreover, the classical type, although it tries to look like a «skeleton». The top panel is not made of metal, but of thick and durable matte plastic. Under the keys is built-in substrate of translucent white plastic. But what remains unchanged is the magnetic palm rest. And she’s still good. The entire front surface of the stand is completely flat and solid, covered with soft-touch, similar to velvety rubber to the touch. Hands on it are held just nicely, they do not slip, do not sweat, do not rub. Although it is worth recognizing, such a coating gets dirty quickly.

The width of the stand in profile is 80 mm, the back edge is 20 mm high and the front edge is 10 mm. The volumetric body is made of elastic plastic, which is almost not subject to deformation. There are eight rubber feet on the base. Two powerful magnets on the left and right on the back face are responsible for attaching to the keyboard. You can move the keyboard along with the stand by lightly holding it with the edges of your palm.

Keypad layout according to the ISO standard for 105 keys. Not a very good solution for a gaming keyboard. Although the double-row Enter is good, but avid FPS gamers are unlikely to appreciate the very short left Shift. Well, at least the F1 key is not offset relative to the number «2». The symbols are applied by laser engraving, namely burned into the paint. Latin with thick contours is shifted to the upper left corner of the keycaps. Cyrillic is located in the upper right corner. Without illumination, the inscriptions are almost indistinguishable. A functional button with a logo takes the place of the «Menu» near the right Ctrl. And there are Win keys on both sides of the spacebar, which is extremely atypical for modern gaming keyboards.

The block of numeric keys is standard, all keys are located in their places. There is no screen here, in its place is the SteelSeries inscription with the logo. But the metal volume roller and the multifunctional button under it have not gone anywhere. The wheel works with a quiet solid click, clearly practicing all fixation positions. It is also pressed, performing the Mute function. Four Lock-indicators are extremely unsuccessfully placed. They are dotted and recessed as far as possible down to the number block, which is why only the leftmost one is visible from the usual position of the keyboard user. In order, there are Num, Caps, Scroll and Win Lock.

Membrane keyboard, with all the advantages and disadvantages arising from this fact. Of the improvements, we note the plastic guide shafts along which the button pins move. Thanks to this device, they are pressed in a straight line and do not hang out to the sides. The rubber caps of the membrane are made in the form of a donut, with a notch in the center. Therefore, when pressed, a finishing effect occurs, when the key at a certain moment falls completely down, until it is actuated. This creates a pleasant tactile sensation when typing. Naturally, all pressings are accompanied by a very quiet sound, and a significant part of it appears during the reverse stroke of the button. Long key stabilizers are made in the form of a regular wire, which is held by wedging plastic fasteners in the button caps. It is difficult to say how durable this design is, but it copes well with its direct duties and all buttons are pressed extremely evenly, without distortions in any direction. The keycaps are made of ABS plastic, painted on the outside.

In profile, the keyboard has a standard overall height and wedge-shaped body, although visually it appears flat. Folding legs are set in one level and change the slope of the body and the height of its rear from 40 mm to 52 mm. The rise is largely offset by the palm rest. The sides of the keyboard are slanted inward, making them easy to grab when you need to rearrange the device.

The keyboard does not have additional external ports. The signal cord can be brought into the case in the center, or closer to the left or right edge, thanks to the system of channels on the base of the device.

Signal cord of medium thickness, relatively flexible. Its length is 1.8 meters when exiting in the middle or left, and 1.6 meters when pulled through the right side. There is no ferrite ring on the cord, but there is a reusable Velcro tape in order to wind the extra length of the cable.

The back of the keyboard has several embossed ribs and a 3-way cable management channel at the back. One of the advantages of the device is the protection against dust and moisture according to the IP32 standard. In this regard, there are four drains in front of the base. For stability, there are three rubber feet on the front and rubberized on the back of the two folding legs. If you keep it all clean, then the keyboard clings to the surface quite well.

The edges of the folding legs are also rubberised. The legs unfold in one level with a proud click.

The keyboard has full RGB backlighting on all keys. The signal LEDs and the multifunction key are illuminated in a soft white color. The backlight is divided into ten vertical zones across the entire width of the device, so the buttons can only be illuminated in groups, not individually. The brightness is not too high, but sufficient not to be interrupted by daylight. White is rendered as light blue.


SteelSeries Apex 3 features are quite limited without software. But the keyboard can still do something without a driver. Most combinations of additional commands are activated using the Fn button (keys with the SteelSeries logo). Below is a list of features that we were able to replicate.

lights up

Combination: Function:
Fn+F9 Profile change
Fn+F10 Quick macro recording (saved in editor memory)
Fn+F11 Reduce brightness
Fn+F12 Increase brightness
Fn+Win Enable or disable game mode. The Win key is disabled by default. The corresponding indicator
Scroll wheel up Increase volume
Scroll wheel down Volume down
Scroll wheel presses Mute/Unmute Sound
One press multimedia button Play / Pause
Multimedia button twice Forward / Next track
Three press multimedia button Back / Previous track


The SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard uses the universal SteelSeries Engine 3 driver (the current version at the time of writing this review is 3.17.4), which must be downloaded from the official website and installed.

In the driver settings, you can select one of 12 interface languages, select the option to download updates automatically or with a prompt, 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.

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 multifunction button, scroll wheel, and SteelSeries (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 saved in the current profile (you can create an unlimited number of them in the driver).

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. All commands recorded via Fn + F10 are automatically saved to the editor’s memory, you can find them in the tab on the left.

Ten separate vertical zones are available for control in the backlight setting section. If desired, you can select them all together. Zones can be individually assigned any of 16.8 million colors or one of three effects — static glow, spectrum change or pulsation. You can turn off the backlight completely. The brightness control is stepless and general, it affects all zones at once.

In the “Settings” tab, the keyboard polling frequency is selected in 125, 250, 500 or 1000 Hz and one of 16 keyboard layout options to match the key assignments.

Ergonomics and testing

Ergonomically, the SteelSeries Apex 3 is one of the most comfortable membrane keyboards I’ve ever used. Its high level of comfort is determined by a set of several factors. First of all — a strong and torsion-resistant body. Secondly — pleasant to the touch and not hot palm rest, which has exactly the angle of elevation that is needed to compensate for the height of the keycaps. With her at the keyboard, it is quite possible to spend the whole day without feeling tired in the fingers and wrists. On the positive side of the stand, quite powerful magnets can be noted, and on the negative side, the high visibility of the soft-touch coating quickly becomes noticeable. The third pleasant moment is the nature of the key operation. The specific design of the concave membrane caps and guide shafts create the effect of finishing the button when pressed. Unlike other membrane keyboards, where the button sometimes may not reach the moment of activation, here if you have already pressed it, it will work. Plus, all the long keys are perfectly stabilized and always move straight, without warping or rattling. The only “fly in the ointment” for active players can be an ISO layout with a short left Shift, but, by and large, this is a matter of habit and I personally had no problems with blind typing here and did not take time to adapt.

As for the side parts, it is worth noting a well-made sound adjustment roller. But with Lock-indicators, the manufacturer made a mistake. Unless they hang directly over the keyboard, then they are simply not visible from the user’s seat. The backlighting isn’t perfect here, but it does its job well, and those who can’t type by touch will be able to use this keyboard normally even in the dark. It is also worth remembering the cable laying system in three directions. And protection against moisture, which, fortunately, I did not have a chance to check. There is no onboard memory, the keyboard relies on standard SteelSeries Engine 3 drivers for everything.

Anti-ghosting support is implemented traditionally for this class of keyboards. Although up to 24 simultaneous keystrokes are declared, in fact they are only possible on the left side of the layout, around WASD. In other places, blocking begins after the third button is pressed next to the others. It’s enough for a normal player, but those with 30 or more tentacles used at the same time will be uncomfortable.


SteelSeries Apex 3 turned out to be a decent membrane keyboard in all respects. Its main advantages include modern design, solid construction, interesting keys from the point of view of tactile sensations, a magnetic palm rest and a volume control wheel. Of the nice bonuses, you can also recall the backlight, resistance to spilling liquids, and a cable management system.

What are the disadvantages? They also exist, although not very significant. In particular, the user does not see Lock-indicators that are hidden behind the high keys. The coating of the palm rest is easily soiled and quickly loses its appearance. ISO layout with a short left shift will not appeal to fans of FPS games.

Given the cost, Apex 3 should not be considered as an option for those who want to save money, but as a good alternative to mechanics for those who, for some reason, prefer a membrane.

User reviews for SteelSeries APEX 3 TKL.

User reviews for SteelSeries APEX 3 TKL.

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    SteelSeries Apex 3 Review

    SteelSeries has been a leader in the gaming peripherals market for a long time, and, obviously, is not going to give up its positions, constantly replenishing its popular collections with interesting new products that quickly win the hearts of a wide audience of users and become bestsellers. According to experts, this prospect is quite real for the next novelty of the brand — the SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard, a review of which is brought to your attention.

    By releasing such a membrane keyboard, the company’s specialists managed to break a lot of stereotypes. In particular, the brand’s developers proved that membrane switches are by no means a relic of the past, that the cost of a quality device can be inexpensive, and that a model equipped with a plastic case can be, imagine, much more reliable and practical than a metal one.

    What’s in the box

    The SteelSeries Apex 3 gaming keyboard comes in an ordinary cardboard box, bright, presentable and neat.

    In the design of the corresponding packaging, manufacturers have not deviated from their traditions — the proof of this was its expressive white-orange background, the presence of photographs, as well as the content of textual information.

    On the front side of the cardboard case, the keyboard is shown close up and slightly to the side. This angle allows you to appreciate its solid appearance and stylish lighting. On the left side of this face there is a vertically located inscription that the device is equipped with IP32 protection, a logo flaunts at the top, and the brand of the model is printed at the bottom right.

    Turning over the box, you will see additional photos of the keyboard and stand (top view), as well as a description of the individual features of the accessory, above which are icon icons.

    The following items are included in the scope of delivery of the product:

    • keyboard itself with a fixed cable 1.8 m long;
    • detachable wrist rest;
    • small user manual written in several languages;
    • warranty card.

    Magnetic stand

    The palm rest is an important part of the SteelSeries Apex 3. This accessory is made of plastic, which has a neutral black matte color and is highly durable. The back edge of the stand is a centimeter higher than the front. It is 20 mm. The width of this stand is 8 cm.

    It is worth mentioning that the plastic case of this ergonomic part is characterized by a significant density that does not allow deformation, and characteristic elasticity, and its coating is equipped with a popular and very practical soft-touch surface. The priority features of this material is that the soft-touch, which has a soft velvety texture, is tactilely pleasant and has a high coefficient of friction, so your palms will not slip on such a stand.

    This stand also prevents rubbing of the hands, and their sweating is extremely unlikely, but the necessary support for your hands in a relaxed state is guaranteed.

    Incredibly comfortable and durable, this stand uses a secure mount. It easily attaches to the keyboard with two magnets. The magnets stick to the device so firmly that you can move the keyboard from place to place without having to remove the stand.

    Multimedia control

    Elements of multimedia settings of the keyboard have taken their traditional place for the models of this line in the upper right corner of the case.

    At the top there is a metal roller with a corrugated surface, which is responsible for controlling the intensity of the volume, and below it, the manufacturers have installed a multifunctional multimedia button.

    The volume control, which works exceptionally well with a soft click, can be scrolled to make the audio louder or quieter, or pressed if you want to turn on the Mute option. Such a wheel rotates with a distinct step, and quite hard, but it is pressed confidently — its work is impeccable.

    The multimedia key is used to activate the pause, and to play the previous or next song, for which you need to press it three or two times in a row, respectively.

    Silent gaming switches

    Obviously, many gaming-specific analogues are quite annoying with their loud keystrokes, but not the SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard. this row of peacefully sleeping members of your family.

    The device’s low-profile keys are equipped with membrane switches, equipped with plastic guide shafts that keep them from dangling, provide smooth, linear clicks, and create a pleasant tactile feedback during pressing.

    The resource potential of these switches is 20 million clicks, which is more than good, so it is clearly impossible to accuse this equipment of fragility and fragility.

    Three-way cable routing

    Another characteristic feature of the novelty, ergonomic and uniting it with other copies of the Apex series, is thoughtful cable management.

    The bottom of the unit has a maze of grooves that allow you to route the keyboard’s hard wire not only in the center, but also to the left or right side of the case. This design solution is by no means a trifle, because thanks to the appropriate three-way cord routing, you can place the device on the tabletop in the most convenient way for yourself and avoid mess at your workplace.

    Multi-zone RGB lighting

    The SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard backlight includes a multi-million color palette and ten custom zones of light divided vertically. LEDs are located under each keycap of the device.

    The glow of such a backlight is distinguished by natural color rendering and an average level of brightness sufficient to look great in daylight and not strain the user’s eyesight in the dark.

    Adjusts the appropriate backlighting, spectacular and colorful, by zones.

    IP32 rating

    The new product supports the IP32 standard, which guarantees its effective protection against dust and moisture. The front part of the base of its case is equipped with four drains, so it is not accidentally spilled coffee or other liquid on the keyboard, let alone dust pollution, this device is not afraid.

    Results (pluses and minuses)

    During the discussion that broke out between professionals about the advantages and disadvantages of this keyboard, a number of its advantages were identified:

    • stylish and practical design;
    • the presence of a complete palm rest;
    • silent operation of switches;
    • convenient multimedia control;
    • protection IP32;
    • Simple Engine 3 software support;
    • attractive price.

    The disadvantages of the accessory were the impossibility of programming the backlight for each button, and the use of a plastic top panel, not a metal one. The low profile of the membrane keys, which not everyone likes, also caused an ambiguous attitude.

    SteelSeries Apex 3 gaming keyboard review

    RGB keyboards are no longer a curiosity, they are massively offered in the budget and mid-budget segments. Such devices can be found on the table of any user who considers himself more or less a gamer. Therefore, experienced players in the gaming accessories market are trying to highlight their products with additional features and functions. A typical example of this approach is the SteelSeries Apex 3 , a keyboard with RGB settings, splash protection and a complete palm rest.

    Thank you for the location for shooting computer accessories store Kiev-IT.

    1. Price and positioning

    2. Supply set

    3. Appearance

    4. Descriptions of the Steelseries APEX 3

    5. Purvery

    6. Operating process

    7. Results for Steelseries Apex 3

    Prices in stores

    8.1. Ukraine

    Price and positioning

    I’ll say right away — the most controversial side of SteelSeries Apex 3 is … the price. Still, the keyboard will cost 2500 hryvnia, or about $100. This puts it on a par with a ton of competitors — right from everywhere, both wired and wireless! So even I am terribly interested in how Apex 3 will perform in such a tough environment.

    Read also: SteelSeries Arctis 1 gaming headset review

    Delivery set

    Inside the box we find a keyboard, as well as a palm rest, and a small multilingual manual.

    It’s nice that the stand is made of plastic with a soft-touch coating in places where it touches the skin, and is attached to the keyboard, for a minute, with two magnets! The second pair of magnets is hidden in the front end of the keyboard housing, so the docking process is simple and pleasant.


    Visually, the SteelSeries Apex 3 looks good. A kind of solid black monster made of matte plastic, with snow-white blocks of buttons at the base.

    Full size keyboard with NumPad, but no extra set of Fn keys. But this is partially offset by the wheel and multimedia button located at the top right.

    Scrolling the wheel up and down is responsible for changing the volume, pressing it to turn off the sound. The multimedia button activates the pause, as well as the playback of the previous and next tracks, on a triple and double press, respectively.

    The wheel, which is nice, is knurled and turns in increments rather than gently, allowing for better control over the volume change process. Thanks to this, it is pressed confidently. I give a like!

    Apex 3 has four status indicators — the usual trinity of Caps, Scroll and Num, as well as the Win blocking indicator. About her a little later.

    The bottom of the keyboard, by the way, is also interesting. Firstly, I want to note the cable tunnel, which goes not only to the center, but also in both directions.

    We also see rubberized retractable legs, which, unfortunately, are too low for me personally.

    Drainage holes are included as the SteelSeries Apex 3 is IP32 splash-proof.

    SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard specifications

    Keyboard dimensions — 39x 444 x 151 mm. Weight — 816 grams. The cable length is 1.8 m, which, by the way, is not mentioned in the official documentation. Switches, according to the manufacturer, Whisper Quiet, slightly reminiscent of Cherry Red in feel.

    The problem is that it is a membrane. Although reinforced with polyformaldehyde (POS), but still. At the same time, the move is more or less linear, the pressure point is not too high and not too low.

    Switches are claimed to last 20 million clicks. Cap stabilization is excellent. Although typing on the keyboard is not at all fun for me — due to getting used to the keyboard of one good laptop — but for a person who needs less getting used to low-profile keys, the Apex 3 should be fine.

    The problem is that for 100 bucks we — me, you, them (whoever they are), and generally everyone — expect to see at least some kind of mechanical switches. Even a Chinese clone. Therefore, for many, a hundred evergreen membrane is too bitter a pill to swallow without lubrication.


    But I boldly put the backlight in the plus of the keyboard. It is, firstly, fully RGB. Secondly, ten-sector. Well, it is configured not only through proprietary software on a computer, but also right on the fly.

    Or rather, a combination of F9 — F12, or M1 — M6, plus a separate button with the SteelSeries logo, between the right Ctrl and Win.

    There are plenty of backlight variations — plus, through the SteelSeries Engine program, you can configure the backlight functionality. For example, weapon/health status in Minecraft, or an incoming message in Discord.

    CS:GO, DotA 2, Mortal Kombat 11, Guts and Glory — and many other games / applications are included in the list of supported by the utility. Plus — there is an automatic setting when a supported game is found.

    I have already said about the process of typing — retraining to a full-size keyboard from a laptop one is absolutely not a thrill. In addition, the membrane for printing is not so perfect. Although noticeably better than my budget wireless from Logitech.

    It’s nice that when connected to a computer, the keyboard and another SteelSeries device — the Rival 3 mouse — «synchronized» the backlight. Quotation marks are needed because they did it somehow uncertainly. That is, I do not feel whether the mouse and keyboard have created a single system with transfusion, or whether transfusion is simply carried out in parallel. But it looks beautiful, I do not argue here.

    Operating procedure

    It is pleasant to play the keyboard, there is no doubt about it either. For me, there were no problems finding the buttons I needed the first time, since SteelSeries did not conduct any mutagenic experiments with the location of Escape or arrows. And yes, the membrane feels quite good in games, and thanks to the stabilization of the caps, I never missed the desired button in a couple of days and four hours in Cuisine Royale.

    The only drawback that I noticed is that some caps, in particular, the Insert / Home / Delete area, as well as Enter, the base of the switch is visible through the marking. And there is a feeling that the luminous inscription is striped.

    This is not critical, even piquant in its own way, but it seems strange and stupid to me — after all, I see this for the first time.

    SteelSeries Apex 3 Summary

    The main thing you need to know and remember about this keyboard is that it is a membrane keyboard. And if this is a problem for you, then I have bad news for you. However, I highly recommend at the first opportunity to try typing with it, or just try out the course of the caps. Because if you miraculously like it, then SteelSeries Apex 3 will blow your mind.

    The keyboard has an excellent body, amazing backlighting, a lot of thoughtful details and a minimum of show off. From afar, it is unrealistic to recognize a membrane in it, and it is easy to confuse it with professional mechanics. So… the disguise was successful!

    Store prices


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    SteelSeries Apex 3 Review — HowTablet

    The SteelSeries Apex 3 is doing its job.

    Verdict : The SteelSeries Apex 3 will do just about anything, but a cheap office keyboard offers pretty much the same.

    • Pros of : Inexpensive | Programmable | Water protection;
    • Cons : Keystrokes | No game mode | backlight;

    SteelSeries Apex
    3 ($50 / 3250r + VAT) becomes part of a series of inexpensive gaming peripherals from
    Danish manufacturer. This membrane keyboard sounds good on paper, with
    reasonable price, RGB backlight,
    waterproof case and wrist rest. But like most
    other membrane keyboards, it’s just not comfortable enough for typing
    or games, and most of the features seem unfinished.

    Of course, no one expects the best gaming keyboard
    will cost $50 (3250r + VAT), we understand that Apex 3 can be a good starting
    playground for young underprivileged players who need a few bells and whistles but
    relatively inexpensive. Comparable mechanical keyboards tend to cost
    from $100 to $120 (6500 — 7800r + VAT), but if possible, we would recommend
    set aside money for one of them. Apex
    3 does the job, but a cheap office keyboard will work
    almost the same, and a mechanical keyboard would be much better.

    | DESIGN

    Apex dimensions
    3 are 44.5 x 14 centimeters, although the depth of the keyboard can grow,
    thanks to the installation of a magnetic 7.8 cm palm rest. Black
    the plastic body feels thin, light, and even a little cheap, just like
    keycaps. However, the wrist rest is surprisingly firm, providing
    reliable and convenient support.

    Because the keyboard is a bit small, space for additional
    few keys. There are volume buttons in the top right corner (very
    convenient solution), as well as a multimedia button, which theoretically can
    play, pause, and scroll through songs, depending on
    the number of clicks on it. In our tests, however, to force the key to execute
    its functions failed, even after updating the firmware and iterating
    media players. We contacted the manufacturer and he could not repeat
    our problem on their test machines, so the problem may be unique
    for our build. In any case, a dedicated media button is nice, but not
    is something out of the ordinary.

    | KEYS

    We compared the SteelSeries Apex 3 typing experience with cheap membrane
    keyboards from Dell and Microsoft;
    Apex 3 for real
    turned out to be even a little more difficult to use. The keys are acceptable, of course, but
    at first they seem hard, and after pressing — soft.

    (Image credit: SteelSeries)

    And while they are not very comfortable, the keys are quite effective in
    typing. With Apex 3
    typing speed reached 117 words per minute with an accuracy of 98% vs 119 words in
    minute with 98% accuracy on the familiar Logitech G913. The difference is insignificant considering
    the novelty of our relationship with the new keyboard.


    For a $50 keyboard, the Apex 3 offers enough
    quality software. This is because the keyboard works with
    SteelSeries Engine 3 application, the best solution for configuring peripherals on
    market in the past few years. You can use this software
    software for backlight customization, macro programming, remapping
    keys. In fact, you can reprogram almost every key
    keyboards, which some more expensive products don’t offer.

    On the other hand, the RGB lighting leaves much to be desired. Instead of highlighting each
    keys you get 10 different «zones» to customize. Norm for relatively
    inexpensive keyboards. The backlight itself looks a little anemic, especially in
    illuminated rooms. None of the colors are bright enough, and the light
    effects remain primitive.

    You will not find additional synchronicity between
    devices. We tested Apex
    3 with a SteelSeries Rival 3 mouse without getting any
    sync lights or create a gaming profile capable of capturing both

    (Image credit: SteelSeries)

    One of the features that should be discussed is
    Apex waterproof nature
    3, which passes under the IP32 certificate. This means that «vertically dripping water must not
    cause damage when the hull is inclined up to 15 degrees from normal
    provisions.» In practice, this means that while your keyboard is tilted (it
    equipped with two adjustable feet), it can survive an accidental spill

    Read : The best gaming keyboards of 2020;

    We checked this statement and found that the keyboard
    really survived half a bottle of water spilled on top of her (of course, we
    tested the keyboard after drying). Might be helpful if you notice
    clumsiness behind them — although, to be honest, all keyboards offer some
    Water resistant as the keycaps tend to protect the switches.


    3 performed well in games: we tested the keyboard on the battlefields of Overwatch, and ended up
    army formation in Age of Empires II: Definition Edition. In addition to comfort,
    the keys remained responsive and never missed our commands. Device
    also suitable for a wide variety of games as you will be able to program
    macros and assign them to rarely used keys.

    (Image credit: SteelSeries)

    One caveat though, Apex 3 doesn’t offer a «game mode»
    as comparable models do. This mode disables the Windows keys, the Alt + Tab combination and
    similar teams that can wind down the game during a fiery battle.
    This is usually the first reason to buy a gaming keyboard instead of an office one, so
    the lack of a feature is disappointing.


    SUMMARY 9The 0002 Apex 3 is not the kind of keyboard we would buy. The keys are not that good, there are no additional functions, the backlight looks mediocre. But for her money, she does what she has to. In the same price range, you might consider the Razer Cynosa ($60 / £3900+VAT), which has better lighting and more comprehensive software. But if you can add on a mechanical keyboard, we would recommend one of the best gaming keyboards for you.

    Overall Score


    SteelSeries’ new budget keyboard boasts some impressive features, even if it comes with a few concessions. However, the lack of mechanical switches prevents us from wholeheartedly recommending the Apex 3.


    SteelSeries Apex 3 Review TKL

    Constant chatter with friends during long gaming sessions or Zoom meetings requires proper hydration, but every time we bring liquids to our desks, we take a big risk of breaking the keyboard with one small shedding. Thankfully, SteelSeries eliminates this risk with their new Apex 3 TKL gaming keyboard, which is IP32 water resistant. caps N / A Software Steelseries Engine Dimensions (DHSHHV) 360 mm


    1,900 1,











    When I first sat down to review the Apex 3 TKL, I didn’t know what to expect given its $45 price tag. I thought it would either be hot bullshit or, at best, good but not great. But the design of this keyboard has proven to me that the best gaming keyboards don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

    This keyboard is all slightly glossy plastic, but it doesn’t get as many fingerprints as rivals like the Wooting Two HE, which is impressive considering it costs half as much as the Wooting board.

    Very lightweight plastic construction. At only 1.41 lbs (639 g), it is too light for its own good, as its light weight kept the small frame with ten keys moving across my desk from time to time during use.

    There are cable management channels on the underside, which I really liked because the USB-A Apex cable is non-removable. Apex 3 also has two flip-out feet on the underside that provide a comfortable typing angle. I appreciated that they were covered in rubber, but while that gives them extra grip, it’s not enough to counteract the lightness of the keyboard.

    At first I was a little worried about the lack of a detachable cable in the Apex 3, but this may be due to the fact that the keyboard is IP32 waterproof and the detachable cable may be another way for water to enter.

    To test the water resistance of the keyboard, I poured a cup of water and plugged the Apex 3 into my laptop and spilled water on the keyboard. After a quick wipe of the Apex 3 with a tissue, it worked as usual, which is very cool and can be very practical if you’re clumsy.

    There’s not much I don’t like about Apex 3’s design, but I didn’t like that the company turned some legends around. For example, 1 is above the exclamation point, but usually below it.

    Unlike many gaming keyboards, it has dedicated multimedia keys. Although they are a little awkward to manage, they are better than nothing.

    The top right corner of the keyboard has a notched volume wheel and a small black square that controls your media. If you click the square once, media playback will pause; a double-click skips a track, and a triple-click returns to the previous track.

    I’ll say that the square media works well until you have to click on it three times to go back to the previous track. I can handle two clicks, but three clicks were very uncomfortable.

    Apex 3 TKL typing experience

    The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL features Whisper-Quiet gaming switches that are rated for 20 million keystrokes, far less than other switches we test. But for $45, I think 20 million swabs is more than enough.

    As their name suggests, these switches are silent, partly because they are membrane rather than mechanical. Before I leave ship, let me tell you that I really, really liked these switches and I don’t usually like tactile bumps very much.

    Apex 3 typing was relaxing; I’m so used to thick tactile bumps and ASMR type linear switches that the feel of membrane switches feels foreign to me. However, unlike most membrane switches, Whisper-Quiet switches do have some tactility that makes typing elegant and responsive.

    The only annoying noise I experienced with this keyboard was from the stabilizers, and to be honest, they didn’t sound that bad. Simply because the switches are so quiet, regulator rattle is more noticeable on this board than on most other boards. But what do you expect from $45?

    Apex 3 TKL gaming experience

    SteelSeries has proven itself when it comes to gaming peripherals, so even though Apex 3 TKL costs $45, I had relatively high expectations when it came to gaming performance.

    The funny thing is, Apex 3 worked better in game than any other keyboard I’ve looked at. In Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, I made it to round 50 on Firebase Z, and to give some perspective, in round 40, the heavy duty wonder weapon becomes barely more effective than a regular rifle. I’m sure my friend and I could have made it to round 55 at least, but it’s been over two hours and we hit our record so it’s time to exfiltrate.

    Apex 3’s membrane nature didn’t limit its ability on the battlefield, though I’m so used to mechanical switches as you can see from my Zombie game. If I were to compare Whisper-Quiet switches to mechanical switches, I would say they are a bit like Zeal Zilents, which are silent tactile switches.


    SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL runs on the SteelSeries Engine, and immediately I noticed that it was too similar to Epic Games software.

    This keyboard’s software is very similar to Razer’s Synapse software in that it allows you to add some applications to it, such as PrismSync, which can be used to match your Apex 3’s lighting to any of the SteelSeries compatible peripherals and even some motherboards . Unfortunately my motherboard wasn’t cool enough to work with PrismSync, but that’s ok.

    Apex 3 has six built-in macro keys. I set one up to boot the OBS studio, which allowed me to conveniently start streaming a pre-Cold War 50 track.

    You can set RGB on this board, but not per key. Instead, it’s based on eight zones, just like a pizza! There are eight segments on the Apex 3 where you can adjust the RGB, and I think it’s fair and looks great.

    In addition, the SteelSeries Engine allows you to remap any key you want and has many other features, such as a system monitor that provides real-time temperature readings, but is more suitable for higher-end boards such as the Apex Pro.


    A few days ago I was at Staples to buy overpriced printer ink, and as I left I looked at the prices of the basic membrane office keyboards they had. And many of them either matched the Apex 3 price or were more expensive.

    After looking at these keyboards, I realized that the Apex 3 would be a great keyboard to work with even if you’re not a gamer because it’s extremely quiet, very cheap and water resistant.