The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL (TenKeyLess) keyboard is an entry-level gaming keyboard that sits beside its larger sibling, the Apex 3. The Apex 3 TKL does away with the numeric keypad and wrist rest, all while providing a smaller, more compact alternative that holds some nifty features and smooth functionality for genera all-around use, even if it’s a little lacking for the more competitive gamers out there.
The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL keyboard is an admittedly sturdy piece of tech in terms of design. The keyboard rarely flexes under any sort of pressure and the keys feel satisfyingly stable, with plenty of room between them for both gaming and general typing. It’s also worth noting that the Apex 3 TKL is not a mechanical keyboard, SteelSeries whisper quiet keys are most definitely worthy of the name, as opposed to the more aggressive mechanical keys that really give gamers no choice. If you’re looking to use your gaming keyboard to type regularly as I do, it’s something worth considering. For most gamers, key latency is respectable. The Apex 3 TKL also features a lengthy 1.8m cable, allowing for flexibility when choosing a spot to use this within your gaming setup. Above all this, there’s no doubt that the lack of any wrist support can affect longer gaming sessions, even if it goes against the compact approach of the keyboard.
With an input latency of 10.6ms, it’s far from noticeable, although I can imagine hardcore and competitive gamers looking for something a little more snappy. However, given the entry-level price, it’s definitely hard to argue with, providing a more suitable keyboard for everyday use in the process through quieter and well-spaced keys. Like the Apex 3, the Apex 3 TKL is also provides an IP32 rating, making it resistant to most accidental splashes and spills that could occur in the heat of the moment. The travel of each key is most definitely longer than most higher end keyboards, but with an average travel distance of 3.7mm, can feel a little longer than certain mechanical keyboards. That being said, most gamers will barely feel the difference. The scrolling wheel on the top right of the keyboard also provides volume control, while the unmarked button below allows you to pause and play videos.
Thanks to the SteelSeries GG app, you can customise various aspects of the Apex 3 TKL, from RGB lighting to macro programmable keys. Unfortunately, unlike higher end gaming keyboards, the Apex 3 TKL’s RGB lighting can only be customised within eight distinct zones. While some might missed this feature, especially once they’ve been exposed to it, it’s also one that I don’t personally utilise often, and don’t particularly miss. It’s a feature that can prove incredibly handy for those that like to highlight keys of interest, while it may also put hardcore gamers off. Once again, this approach feels more like a budgetary constraint, while I respect the fact that these options are available in the first place. Thankfully, all keys are macro programmable via the SteelSeries GG app or through the keyboard itself, allowing you to chain combinations of keys to a single key, which can prove handy in a multitude of games and situations. It’s also worth noting the the SteelSeries GG app is incredibly user friendly and well laid out.
Verdict & Value
Overall, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL keyboard is an admirable entry-level gaming keyboard that provides a solid build quality, comfortably spaced, quiet keys and a small, compact design. Some lacking features like specific key-based RGB customisation and the fact that the Apex 3 TKL is not a mechanical keyboard do highlight the lower price point and entry-level target audience. That being said, the whisper quiet keys do make this incredibly satisfying to type on. Strangely enough, the IP32 rating does provide a handy resistance against spills, which is something you’ll rarely find in a keyboard within this price range. Above all, the Apex 3 TKL feels like an absolute win for casual gamers, who can take advantage of a comfortable and customisable experience, without missing all the sometimes unnecessary bells and whistles of considerably more expensive keyboards.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Solid build quality; quiet and comfortable keys; macro key programming comes in handy; versatility makes for both gaming and typing.
Lowlights: RGB lighting customisation can feel a little basic; key travel is a little longer than most gaming keyboards in this price range; lack of wrist support could annoy some during longer play sessions.
Review based on unit supplied by SteelSeries.