SteelSeries Apex 3: Durable budget RGB gaming keyboard

by Hugo Hsu
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Improvements in computers have often translated into faster processing speeds, greater productivity gains, and overall a better user experience, whether for home or professional purposes. Yet one area of computing that still looks to the past are accessories. We’re talking about keyboards, mice, and other things that you use actually to make the computer work. 

While many of these devices are seemingly stuck in the past, one manufacturer not only takes inspiration from the old mechanical keyboards of yesterday (famed for their durability and ease of use) with the modern style and user considerations of today’s gaming keyboard consumers. That company is SteelSeries, and its Apex 3 keyboard is ideal for gamers and professionals alike. 

Equipped with IP32 water resistance, quiet keyboard operation, and a 10-zone RGB customizable layout with dedicated multimedia controls, this keyboard aims to be the last one you will ever need, and, in this review, we will describe exactly how it does just that. 

A keyboard for the modern gamer

When it comes to gaming keyboards, each user has their own set of must-haves and preferences. That said, this SteelSeries keyboard tries its best to meet as many broad-based needs as possible while still sticking to the gaming keyboard format. In other words, this keyboard is great for other tasks adjacent to and related to gaming. That said, the main focus here is on a premium gaming experience and on that front it delivers in spades. 

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For one, a gaming keyboard needs to be made out of durable material as well as be adaptable to the changing needs of the player. In this regard, the Apex 3 gives you enough options without being overwhelming and should provide enough ease of adaptability that it becomes a gamer’s go-to device for serious performance. 

Alternatively, we have to emphasize that, as a productivity keyboard, this is also a top notch piece of equipment that would do well in any office setting.

Durable, efficient, optimal keys layout 

The keyboard is built to last with durable and efficient build quality as well as a customizable key layout that makes it adaptable and perfect for different use scenarios. 

With IP32 waterproofing, you don’t have to worry about damaging the unit with an accidental spill. Beyond that, the customizable, 10-zone RGB buttons are perfect for optimizing a key layout or even receiving in-game notifications. 

For chat applications like Discord, you can even customize the keyboard to alert you when new messages are received and the like. For games like Minecraft, you have the keyboard alert you when an item’s durability has nearly run out. Those are just a few examples of the kinds of customized actions that users can enable on this keyboard to make their lives easier and gaming experience more efficient but that can also be used in a productivity setting. 

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The whisper-quiet operation of the keyboard combined with the magnetic wrist pad for user comfort means that this unit both operates in near silence and is designed with modern ergonomics in mind. 

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A series of controls built exclusively for multimedia options gives users access to volume and other controls all in one place which is not only good for games but also great for digital media specialists and those who will need to use the keyboard for productivity as well. 

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Excellent build quality and style

The first question that gaming keyboard enthusiasts will want answered, especially when it comes to a “budget” device, is whether or not the keys are mechanical. Unfortunately, the Apex 3 does not have mechanical keys however this does not hold it back in terms of performance and what the keyboard is able to provide from a user standpoint. 

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For some reviewers, this makes the keyboard hard to recommend given how many gamers prefer a mechanical keyboard design. Another glaring omission is the lack of a USB passthrough. This is a pretty big oversight and is somewhat unfortunate. 

To summarize, this economical keyboard does not feel like a “budget” device nor does it convey any semblance of cheap or shoddy craftsmanship. Given the market segment it is aiming at, we think the Apex 3 is a great gaming keyboard for the average gamer. It’s not a high-performance piece but it isn’t intended as such. 

The verdict: SteelSeries Apex 3 

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a great choice for consumers that need a gaming keyboard that does more than just game. If you need a keyboard that will put up with daily wear and tear as well as the more rigorous uses associated with gaming, then you need not look any further than this device. 

With a customizable layout and easy-to-press keys, it’s hard to find a lot to dislike about this keyboard – unless you’re one of the more hardcore consumers out there. For a dedicated gamer who wants a keyboard that does one thing and one thing only, this device might not be the best option. Then again, it isn’t trying to be that. 

Balancing the needs and expectations of what a gaming keyboard is with having a price that most people can afford necessarily results in compromises. Luckily for the consumer, those don’t show up where it matters: Build quality, construction materials, and the unit overall. We are pretty confident that the Apex 3 will stand the test of time and provide more than enough utility to any consumer that chooses to buy it. It is ideal for the person that wants all of the features of a gaming keyboard without the expense. 

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