Compact, lightweight and quiet, the Steelseries Apex 3 TKL is also the manufacturer’s least expensive keyboard. Offered at less than 60€, is it enough to fight against more expensive references? It may well be so.
- Steelseries Apex 3 TKL Overview and Features
- Design, construction: simplicity and efficiency, with some good ideas
- Convenience of use: a silent, but disconcerting keystroke
- Complete Steelseries software, but with a messy interface
Steelseries Apex 3 TKL Overview and Features
Like Logitech, Corsair or Roccat, Steelseries offers a wide range of “gaming” keyboards, at various prices. The top of the basket is embodied by the Apex Pro, a model at 229€, while the Apex 5 – tested last year – is positioned in the middle with its entry price at 129€. But if you really have a limited budget and little space on your desk, the brand offers the Apex 3 TKL, a keyboard without numeric keypad (TKL being the acronym for “Ten Key Less”) very simple in appearance and offered at €54.99. It is currently the most affordable model from Steelseries.
|Backlight||Yes, RGB per zone|
|Multimedia shortcuts||Yes, dedicated|
|Macro shortcuts||Yes, dedicated|
|Anti-ghosting – Simultaneous keystrokes taken into account||Yes, N-KEY|
|Connections required||1 port USB-C|
|Water resistance||Yes (IP32)|
Design, construction: simplicity and efficiency, with some good ideas
When you take the Apex 3 TKL out of its box, the first thing that strikes you is its lightness. The keyboard weighs only 639 grams and feels like a feather in the hands. It does not seem to be built on the cheap and leaves an impression of solidity. The polymer plastic that completely covers the chassis is thus of good quality and does not sound hollow. It also benefits from an effective matte treatment against fingerprints, but dust tends to accumulate quickly. Note that this model has an IP32 certification, which makes it splash resistant. You won’t feel sorry for leaving a full glass next to it.
The general design of the keyboard is very sober, even simple. The Apex 3 TKL goes straight to the point and doesn’t bother with frills. However, it is effective and, above all, offers good ergonomics. We regret that it is not possible to add a wrist rest (even as an option), but we appreciate the retractable feet which allow the whole to be raised on one level. Typing is then very comfortable, with wrists that certainly rest on the table, but keys high enough to be accessible.
On the connector side, a simple straight plastic cable connects to the PC via USB. This one measures 1.8m and is not detachable. Under the keyboard, we really appreciate the three passages for the cable, which allow it to come out on the left, the right or the middle. A stupid idea, but aesthetically very clever.
The Apex 3 TKL may be a compact keyboard at €55, but it still offers multimedia keys. A small wheel in the upper right corner adjusts the volume and mutes the sound if pressed. However, it does not come out enough of the chassis and it often happens that you press it inadvertently, when you want to change the volume. Just below, a square key allows, by default, to pause on a piece of music or a video. A double tap also allows you to go to the next track, while a triple tap will go to the previous track. The key lacks a bit of accessibility, because it’s a little too close to the M3/PG UP key.
In terms of backlighting, the Apex 3 TKL benefits from RGB in 8 zones, which can be finely adjusted via the Steelseries GG application (see below). The colors are well highlighted and do not overflow on each other.
Convenience of use: a silent, but disconcerting keystroke
First of all, an essential clarification: the Steelseries Apex 3 TKL is not a mechanical keyboard. It uses a membrane design and therefore offers very different typing sensations… which can be very confusing when you are used to mechanical switches. But there is a big advantage: silence.
This membrane keyboard thus has no activation “click” and typing is therefore much less noisy. The result is unfailing discretion for a keyboard stamped “gamer”. We are not at the level of a “chiclet” type keyboard (found on laptops or MacBooks), but the difference with, for example, a Corsair K100 or a Logitech G915 (although already a good raises on this point thanks to the low-profile keys) is edifying.
The counterpart, however, is a certain lack of sensations when typing. The feedback is less present and an impression of softness dominates, at least during the first hours of use. This is the price to pay on membrane keyboards: the silence is there, but the typing is less straightforward and may seem less precise. Whether to play or to work, the experience may therefore be confusing at first.
But after a few hours of use and getting used to it, typing becomes rather pleasant and you can write and play without fatigue. It should be noted that the keycaps (the detachable keys) are made of ABS plastic and have a matte and soft coating. The feeling under the fingers is very pleasant, clearly favoring typing comfort.
Complete Steelseries software, but with a messy interface
Before concluding, a few words about the Steelseries GG software, which centralizes all of your brand products for better interaction. Nothing new on this point, since most props offer the same thing (Synapse at Razer, G Hub at Logitech…). For the keyboard, GG will allow you to configure the backlighting quite finely (by zones and not by key, let’s remember) and to create macros. The options are classic and the set is complete, but you have to be ready to have a good time in front of a somewhat messy interface.
- A lightweight, but well-built keyboard
- Simple and efficient design
- Two multimedia keys
- Very quiet hit
- Water resistant thanks to IP32 certification
- Very good value for money
- Volume wheel integration
- A lack of feel when typing due to the membrane design
- The Steelseries GG software, which lacks clarity
The Steelseries Apex 3 TKL is not only a low-cost keyboard (55€), but it is also and above all a very good product, perfect if you are looking for something compact, simple, efficient and, above all, silent. The brand has chosen here a membrane design, which certainly offers less sensations than mechanical, but has the advantage of being very relaxing for your ears and those of others. The workmanship is also of good quality and there are even multimedia keys.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.