STEELSERIES Apex M750
£150 From www.steelseries.com
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.