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SteelSeries’ QX2 switches are a ca­pa­ble Cherry MX al­ter­na­tive, but you can get more key­board than this for £150

THE STEELSERIES APEX M500 (Shop­per 349) was a great no-non­sense gam­ing key­board, though this was mainly thanks to its all-round com­pe­tence rather than any ex­cit­ing, stand­out fea­tures.

The Apex M750 is an al­to­gether flashier af­fair. Gone are the M500’s plas­tic chas­sis, solid blue LEDs and mass-pro­duced Cherry MX Red switches – in­stead, this rocks a more durable alu­minium-based build, with fully cus­tomis­able RGB light­ing and SteelSeries’ own QX2 switches.

True, these are ba­si­cally based on ex­ist­ing Gateron switches (which are, in turn, pretty hard to tell apart from Cherry switches), but the main thing is that they’re good for gam­ing and typ­ing. The lin­ear, bump­less de­sign of the QX2s means they don’t have as much tac­tile feed­back as MX Browns or Blues, but they feel ag­ile and ex­tremely re­spon­sive, al­ways ready for ac­tion in fast-paced games.

They’re an im­prove­ment on SteelSeries’ old QX1 switches, as seen on the Apex M400, with travel depth in­creas­ing from 3mm to

4mm. Ac­tu­a­tion force is listed as 45gf, which equates to 44.1Cn – less than one cen­tinew­ton heav­ier than MX Reds. If you’re fa­mil­iar with those, ad­just­ing to QX2s will be easy.

RGB light­ing is a clear up­grade on the Apex M500, though the de­fault set­ting ap­pears to be a rather mad mish-mash of hues with a dis­tract­ing rip­ple ef­fect. Hap­pily, this is eas­ily rec­ti­fied with the SteelSeries En­gine soft­ware.

This util­ity’s most press­ing use is to make the back­light­ing a lit­tle less gaudy, but it’s an im­pres­sively com­pre­hen­sive set of tools on the whole. Be­sides pro­vid­ing con­trol over the light­ing’s colours (right down to sec­tions and even in­di­vid­ual keys), it can raise or lower the key­board’s polling rate, and set up both key­press and text in­put macros. There are no ded­i­cated macro keys, but for most games, the tenkey pad will do the job in­stead.

It also in­ter­faces with other ap­pli­ca­tions, so you can ac­com­pany Dis­cord no­ti­fi­ca­tions with a light-up ef­fect, and colours and ef­fects can sync with other RGB-equipped SteelSeries hard­ware, such as its head­sets and QcK Prism

mouse pad. This sync­ing fea­ture is also cross-com­pat­i­ble with MSI com­po­nents, thanks to an agree­ment be­tween the two firms, so you can ex­tend it to an MSI moth­er­board or graph­ics card.

Sadly, that’s about the sum of the Apex M750’s in­ter­est­ing fea­tures, which are a bit short in num­ber con­sid­er­ing the high price. There are no USB ports, and although the alu­minium de­sign looks nice (and doesn’t take up as much space as many other full-size gam­ing key­boards), it can only be heigh­tad­justed by re­mov­ing and re­plac­ing a pair of rub­ber feet – a much big­ger faff than just flick­ing out a pair of re­tractable legs.

Most of the handy ex­tras that come with the Corsair Strafe RGB MX Si­lent, such as the Win­dows key dis­able hotkey, are ab­sent as well. As a re­sult, the £150 Apex M750 feels a bit too close to the £100 Apex M500; it’s a well-per­form­ing key­board with ex­cel­lent soft­ware, and RGB light­ing is a wel­come ad­di­tion, but if you’re af­ter a truly pre­mium prod­uct, the Corsair board is bet­ter equipped.

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