The affordable mechanical alternative.
SteelSeries is known for making some of the best gaming accessories available, but the problem is that with peripherals like this, the price tends to be a little expensive. The good thing though is that SteelSeries has started making affordable alternatives that offer the same experience using fewer premium materials.
In the case of the Apex 5 keyboard, SteelSeries has opted to offer what they call a hybrid mechanical switch that mimics the sound and feel of a mechanical keyboard using the membrane actuation. This change in material easily brings down the cost of the keyboard, making it an ideal alternative to the usually expensive mechanical variant.
If you’re a gamer, then a mechanical keyboard is the way to go. But these new hybrid mechanical keyboards fall between that and a traditional keyboard, which is less costly to produce. In the days I’ve been using the Apex 5, I did find it most similar to my experience on a real mechanical keyboard which is great since I know that I don’t have to spend extra if I want the same mechanical keyboard experience.
Let us look at the features of the Apex 5 first. Design-wise, it’s almost similar to the Apex 7 (a full mechanical keyboard) with 104 keys in a standard form factor. The spaces between the keys are small, but there is a gap that’s enough for the RGB lights to come through. There’s a detachable wrist rest that you can use, though it doesn’t really provide any sort of support when I’m using the Apex 5.
Like all SteelSeries keyboards, you will find a cool media control button next to the OLED screen. It’s a single button that’s used for playback and if you ever used the headphone shortcuts on an iPhone, then you’ll know that the functions are just the same: single tap to pause and play music, double press to skip forward, triple press to skip backward. Just above the media control button, you’ll find a metal volume roller.
The OLED display acts as a status window when you’re changing profiles or configuring other settings. There is even an option to download third-party apps on Discord where it can inform you via the OLED screen if there’s an event happening.
Just like other keyboards in the SteelSeries line, you can easily configure the Apex 5 using the SteelSeries Engine 3 software. This is the central hub where you can create profiles, change key settings, customize the RGB lighting and all the other settings that you can set on the keyboard. We’re personally a fan of the custom RGB lighting options for the keyboard.
Performance has been mainly good: the keys have a snappy feel when pressed and the OLED screen does wonders especially when switching profiles on the fly when playing a game. Overall, our experience has been mainly positive, making the SteelSeries Apex 5 gaming keyboard is a decent alternative to more expensive mechanical keyboards.
+ Great mechanical hardware
+ OLED screen is a nice bonus
– Wrist support could be better
Final Rating: 4/5