The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless is a “60 percent”-style keyboard that features SteelSeries’ proprietary OmniPoint adjustable switches. The switches use magnetic sensors to let owners adjust the exact distance at which a key registers for faster response times, increased accuracy, and extra durability. The appeal of having different key-switch response times is what separates the Apex Pro Mini Wireless from its competitors (like the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog). While the tech is definitely impressive, the Apex line of keyboards have been using these switches since they were introduced in 2019, and a number of other keyboards, including the Huntsman Mini Analog, have competing gimmicks, such as optical analog switches. So at $239.99, the Apex Pro Mini is on the higher end of 60 percent keyboards but does little to warrant the high price.
I have a confession: This review is actually my first time using a keyboard that’s missing so many keys. I thought I’d miss the breadth of a full-size keyboard, but those thoughts quickly subsided once I put my hands on the board. It was almost like my brain adapted to the change a few minutes into typing. The missing keys are instead accessed via the function key. Arrow keys, media controls, and even the intensity of the RGB lighting are still accessible. I do miss the 10-key number pad at times, but I adjusted as needed. You buy a 60 percent model because this what you know you want, of course: fewer keys, more free desk space.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The keyboard’s OmniPoint adjustable switches can be changed by holding down the function key (the keycap has a neat little SteelSeries logo on it) and hitting one of two keys. “I” will increase the actuation point and “O” will decrease it, and the keycaps have arrows indicating that.
Personally, I like feeling resistance when I type, so I had my level set to the max of 3.8mm while working. At the lowest setting of 0.2mm, even grazing the keys was enough to set them off. I have a bad habit of resting my fingers on the keys after reaching the end of a sentence, which led to a couple of instances of double-typing when I set the actuation point too low.
I noticed a considerable change in responsiveness while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Lara seemed to get out her guns a tad faster and more reliably than on the Durgod K310 full-size keyboard I use at home.
At their lowest setting, the keys have one of the fastest response times among other gaming keyboards of similar sizes. The Razer Huntsman Mini Analog’s key switches, for example, actuate at 1.5mm. The Asus ROG Falchion, another 60 percent keyboard, uses Cherry MX switches which actuate at 2.0mm.
A Pro Look and Feel
The unit is made of plastic, and has a slight flex to it. The keycaps are made of thermoplastic PBT, and feel nice, with little to no wiggle on the switches. The OmniPoint switches have north-facing LEDs, which cycle very smoothly between colors. The keys can also react to different button presses. When I hold the function key, the keyboard switches to a solid orange on any keys with a function assigned to them. The colors can be changed through the SteelSeries GG app to conform to your preferences.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The keyboard has two angled sets of feet, for a total of three typing angles. For connectivity, the keyboard has Bluetooth and supports 2.4GHz wireless via an included dongle. A braided USB-C cable is included for wired mode and charging, with SteelSeries advertising 30 hours of use on a single charge.
Those 30 hours of power come in the form of two batteries nestled in the bottom chassis of the keyboard. The batteries make up a high percentage of the keyboard’s 1.2 pounds, and it’s pretty stable on a desktop, where it takes up little space. The keyboard measures 1.6 by 11.5 by 4.0 inches (HWD), just slightly beating the Happy Hacking Pro Hybrid, a similarly priced premium keyboard, for desk space.
The bottom side has four rubber feet on each corner of the base. With the angled feet deployed, you lose some of that stability, though. The wired version of the Apex Pro Mini includes a trap door to store the included keycap puller, a shame to lose if you’re looking to limit clutter, but the wireless one does not.
Assign Macros and Tweak RGB With SteelSeries GG
The SteelSeries GG app will manage and update all your SteelSeries products as updates come in. Or, at least it’s supposed to.
When I reviewed the Arctis Nova Pro Wired headset, I was able to connect the headset and update the firmware with no headaches. The Apex Mini Pro Wireless needs its USB cable and dongle connected to a PC to update the firmware. I understand why this is necessary, but the wording on the desktop app was confusing as to whether one was needed over the other. I also encountered a small bug where the firmware download had frozen, but restarting the app fixed the issue.
For the Apex Pro Mini, the SteelSeries GG app can be used to assign macros to specific key presses. You can also adjust color schemes with SteelSeries’ preset profiles, or create your own. You can also turn off the RGB, although that makes the keys hard to read.
The keyboard’s onboard memory can store up to five different Bluetooth connections that can be swapped with a macro. The first review unit SteelSeries sent us had some trouble connecting via Bluetooth, but a replacement had no issues.
The software can let you customize each of the six profiles to your preference. Imagine making one profile your laptop keyboard, where you prefer a higher actuation, and setting a second to be your gaming profile where you prefer a hair-trigger feel to the keys. Swapping among Bluetooth profiles takes a while to get used to, but I can’t imagine many scenarios where you’ll be swapping among Bluetooth profiles on your desk. If you plan to toss the keyboard into your bag and swap to a laptop profile while at Starbucks, your bases are covered.
The wireless 2.4GHz connection works extremely well. All I had to do was connect the dongle to my PC’s USB Type-C port, and the keyboard picked up the connection after a few seconds. I even connected the dongle to my OnePlus 9, and it worked almost immediately. The box also includes an input-to-input USB-C adapter to use the USB-C dongle if your PC lacks a USB-C port.
Verdict: A Lot of Money, and a Tough Decision
When considering the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, we’re conflicted. Using a 60 percent key layout for the first time was definitely a learning experience that takes some time to fully master, but once settled it’s hard going back. The extra space on a desk is great for those with clutter, and the OmniPoint switches, which we originally thought were gimmicks, actually resulted in some of the most responsive gaming sessions we’ve had.
Still, it’s a bit pricey for what it is. For $100 less, the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog’s optical switches have a similar response time to the OmniPoint switches at their lowest setting. If response time isn’t an issue and you simply like the aesthetic appeal of a smaller board, the Asus ROG Falchion retails for even less than the Huntsman Mini, with just as much functionality. Back up in ultra-premium territory, the $300 Happy Hacking Pro offers Topre key switches, some of the best switches on the market today. Given this competitive landscape, the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini is a very able effort that simply fails to stand out.
SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless
The Bottom Line
The latest SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless keyboard is a sleek, stylish, and adaptable piece of hardware ready to grace your desk or local café…if you can afford it.
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