The Apex M800 is SteelSeries' first com­pletely new me­chan­i­cal key­board since the leg­endary 7G. The key­board isn't the most at­trac­tive out there with its util­i­tar­ian matte-black plas­tic build but it does the job. On the un­der­side, in­stead of flip-out feet, the M800 has two re­mov­able rub­ber feet – you get a pair of short ones pre-in­stalled, and a longer pair in the box. Along the left side of the key­board, you get six macro keys. The lay­out is fairly stan­dard, ex­cept for an un­usu­ally large space bar. On the back there are two USB 2.0 ports, but their po­si­tion makes them some­what awk­ward to use.

The M800 uses a com­pletely new type of me­chan­i­cal switch that SteelSeries has cus­tom de­signed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kailh. The QS1 switch is de­signed for low-pro­file op­er­a­tion and uses a square plunger and a small spring with enough space in the mid­dle for an LED. The low-pro­file de­sign is ob­vi­ous from the get-go. The key­caps are about half the size of stan­dard me­chan­i­cal key­board key­caps, and the switch it­self only has 3mm of travel. The ac­tu­a­tion and re­set point are also really short at 1.5mm. The ac­tu­a­tion force is 45g – the same as Cherry MX Red and Brown switches. The switch it­self is lin­ear and al­most com­pletely silent. In us­age, it feels like an MX Red switch, but softer, like Red's with a damp­en­ing ring. They ac­tu­ally feel like lin­ear ver­sions of Logitech's Romer-G switches. The QS1 switches are rated for 60 mil­lion clicks, which is 10 mil­lion more than Cherry switches. Due to the low-pro­file keys and cus­tom switch, you won't be able to eas­ily re­place the key­caps on the M800.

LED light­ing can be con­trolled through the key­board it­self or through the M800's SteelSeries En­gine 3 soft­ware. Each key's LED can be cus­tom­ized, and the soft­ware comes with a range of pre-set pat­terns and il­lu­mi­na­tions. We're quite fond of the de­fault light­ing pat­tern, where keys glow blue when they're pressed be­fore fad­ing back to or­ange, which makes the key­board look like a heatmap. The light­ing it­self is bright and even, and the range of cus­tomiza­tion is on par with any­thing else out there. Macro record­ing is also done through the soft­ware, and is easy to use, with op­tions for mul­ti­ple in­puts, de­lays, and other short­cuts.

Un­der the key­caps you'll find SteelSeries' QS1 switches.

The SteelSeries Apex M800 has two USB 2.0 ports on the back.

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