Taking a leaf out of Apple’s book, SteelSeries has chosen to name its new Apex Pro TKL keyboard the Apex Pro TKL (2023), rather than simply add a ‘2’ to its name or switch to a different moniker entirely. Potential confusion aside, though, this is largely a solid update to what was already a stylish and capable keyboard.
Interestingly, so popular was the company’s previous Apex Pro TKL (SteelSeries proclaims it the best-selling TKL keyboard in the world), that it has chosen to launch its updated design in this smaller form factor first, with a full-size version potentially arriving later.
It’s a very stylish keyboard. The old version had a low-profile, bent aluminium top that was very fetching, but the new version looks even better. The design is simpler, with its black anodised aluminium top plate surrounded by a plastic outer ring and a neat shadow gap between them. The top plate is so subtle you’d never guess it was even aluminium, though, which arguably defeats the purpose.
Greatly helping with the look is the almost complete lack of expanded casing for features such as a company logo. Instead, the SteelSeries logo is shown in the OLED display in the top right corner. The clean font of the keycaps helps the styling too, as does the default backlighting effect, which is gentle and colour-coordinated, rather than a dazzling kaleidoscope.
Alongside the OLED panel is a very small metal volume wheel. Frustratingly, its single-direction knurling and stiff action meant we found our winter-dry fingers often slipped over it rather than gripping and turning it. You can tap it in to provide a mute function, while next to it is a play/pause button. This combo also allows you to adjust backlight brightness, switch profiles, record macros and adjust the switch actuation, with the wheel used to select and adjust each setting, while the OLED screen shows the mode.
The actuation of the switches refers to the ability to set the point at which the keypress is triggered, from 0.2mm all the way up to 3.8mm. Moreover, you can configure two different responses to occur at two different levels, such as a game character walking with a light press then running with a deeper press.
This ability is down to the switches using a magnetic hall effect to actuate, rather than relying on a metal contact or breaking a beam of light. It’s an intriguing and genuinely useful way of adding extra abilities to a keyboard, but we didn’t find it an indispensable feature during our gaming time.
The switches themselves are only available in a linear action but are rated to 100 million presses. Meanwhile, the keycaps are doubleshot PBT so will stand up to years of use without the legends wearing off.
A wrist rest is also included and it magnetically attaches to the front. However, it doesn’t have any padding, which is disappointing for a keyboard at this price. You also don’t get a USB passthrough, but the cable is at least removable and attached via a USB Type-C port to the left rear of the unit. On the underside there’s also a rubber flap that hides a stowage space for the keycap removal tool – the switches themselves aren’t hot-swappable.
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023)
- Stylish design
- Useful secondary key actuation
- Doubleshot PBT keycaps
- Wrist rest not padded
- Slippery volume wheel
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) specs
The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) specs list is:
|Dimensions (mm)||(mm): 355 x 139 x 40 (W x D x H)|
|Weight||1.3kg (without cable and wrist rest)|
|Format||Extended (111 keys + media buttons and control wheel)|
|Switch type||Corsair OPX or Cherry MX Speed|
|Switch life||100 million keystrokes|
|Extras||control wheel, media controls, cushioned magnetic wrist rest, USB passthrough|
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) price
The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) is an expensive keyboard considering it’s missing the whole numpad section of keys. It’s stylish and has some nice extra features but its value is still questionable.
Price: Expect to pay $200 / £190
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (2023) review conclusion
The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL is a stylish and well-built keyboard, and its multi-level actuation switches are a genuinely useful, if rather niche addition. Its price of $200 is steep for a TKL layout with this feature set, though, and you can get a better-balanced feature set for similar money elsewhere. For more keyboard recommendations, check out our best gaming keyboard list.
A premium look and feel with clever switches, but its price is high for a TKL layout.