- Key switches are great for gaming
- RGB lighting looks great
- Solid build quality
- Very expensive
- No wrist rest, media keys, USB passthrough or dedicated macro buttons
- Key switches not great for typing
- Review Price: £150
- SteelSeries QX2 mech switches
- Full RGB backlighting
- Discord and game RGB integration
- Aluminum core
What is the SteelSeries Apex M750?
The Apex M750 is a large flagship keyboard from SteelSeries, and it’s set to take on Corsair, Razer and Asus ROG. Utilising a new and exclusive keyswitch, the M750 manages to set itself apart from the competition, with rich and vibrant RGB lighting integration merely sweetening the pot.
At this price, though, there’s more to a keyboard than just some fancy lights and high-speed keyboard switches: But SteelSeries has focussed so heavily on performance that some missing features that are merely nice to have on cheaper ‘boards stick out like a sore thumb. That’s not to say this isn’t a good keyboard – the missing features won’t matter to everybody – but as a value-for-money proposition, it’s hard to overlook.
SteelSeries Apex M750 – Design, build and features
For a full size keyboard, the Apex M750 is surprisingly compact, taking up as little space on your desk as possible. Each key rests quite high above the aluminium alloy base plate, which does take some getting used to, but results in a rather striking look when paired with the array of RGB backlighting.
The body of the keyboard is one of the most sturdy I’ve come across to date, with a combination of metals forming the solid structure of the board. However, the backplate is finished in plastic, and you won’t find any flickable stands for position adjustment. Instead, they’re swapped out for thick plastic domes, which do offer an increased level of grip, but at the cost of height flexibility. There’s also no sign of a wrist rest, braided cable, or USB passthrough, all of which can be found on competing keyboards. At the time of review, SteelSeries is shipping the M750 with a wrist rest if you buy direct from its online store, but not if you buy from anywhere else.
Technically speaking, this keyboard has dedicated media buttons, but at the expense of the F-keys on the top row. There’s also no dedicated volume roller; high-end Corsair keyboards manage both dedicated media buttons and volume control with little fuss. There also aren’t any dedicated macro buttons. The feature list is starting to look just a little bare…
SteelSeries Apex M750 – Performance
The majority of manufacturers opt for Cherry as their switch of choice, but SteelSeries has chosen a different road. With the Apex M750, you’ll discover each key is fitted with a unique QX2 switch, which has been designed and manufactured by a partnership between SteelSeries and Gateron. The switches did feel quite different to me upon first use, with characteristics that differ from Kailh and Cherry, but this is by no means a bad thing.
Targeted as a gaming keyboard, the QX2 switches are optimised for gaming – linear and lighting fast. Each key will travel 4mm, though the actuation distance is half that. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is actually identical to the specifications found on Cherry’s MX Red switch – the most widely-used choice for mechanical gaming keyboards. This isn’t quite as fast as the newer MX Speed switch, so if you demand the absolute fastest actuation times, you’ll want to consider something like Corsair’s K70 Rapidfire.
In gaming scenarios, the Apex really steps up the the plate, with a tight feel to each key press, while providing a low level of fatigue. My testing was spread across Call Of Duty, Star Wars Battlefront and Rise Of The Tomb Raider, with each title benefiting from the extra level of mechanical control. If you’ve never used a high-end keyboard like this before, it really does make gaming feel that little bit better. It’s unlikely to transform you into a eSports player overnight, but weapon switches and MOBA abilities will fire that little bit quicker.
If you’re also an avid typist, you should be aware that this isn’t necessarily the best tool for that job. It’s certainly a decent step up over a regular membrane board, but the short travel distances and fast actuation will result in frequent mistakes. As I type this review on the M750, I’m definitely seeing a lot of red squigglies. If you’re a typist first and gamer second, then consider a more tactile switch, such as the Cherry MX Blue.
SteelSeries Apex M750 – Software & Lighting
In terms of RGB lighting and control, this is all tailored with SteelSeries Engine. The software is free to download, and relatively straightforward to use. It’s not quite as intuitive as Corsair’s CUE or Razer’s new Synapse software, but everything you need is here. Reassigning the keys is simple, and there are plenty of functions to choose from.
The RGB lighting has been integrated fantastically well too. Each key shines brightly and vividly, without any real trace of colour separation You can create and manipulate a large array of effects, and even combine them together. There’s even the ability to use animated GIFs to create your own effects. My only gripe here is that there doesn’t seem to be a way of customising lighting on a per-key basis – something that only takes a few seconds on other boards.
On the other hand, a nifty feature that SteelSeries has implemented is integration with Discord and a range of popular esports titles including CS:GO, DOTA 2 and Gigantic. This allows you to get real-time alerts in RGB form for things such as health – a cool touch, but not something that everyone will use.
Should I buy the SteelSeries Apex M750?
SteelSeries must be commended for producing the M750. It’s a great keyboard to use, that’s not only visually appealing, but great across a wide array of gaming titles. The RGB lighting looks great, and I’ve loved having this on my desk for the last few weeks.
It’s a shame that the Apex misses a few tricks though, with the lack of dedicated media keys, macro buttons and USB passthrough sticking out as missed features, as well as the lack of a braided cable. But if these aren’t things that bother you, and you’re already invested in the SteelSeries ecosystem, the Apex M750 is still a fine keyboard, especially if you’re all about fast-paced gaming.
A premium keyboard that delivers a great gaming experience and great RGB lighting, but it needs to do more at this price.