If you didn’t already know this, there are a ton of gaming keyboards out there. I’ve reviewed a couple of them myself for Gaming Trend, and thankfully I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with good ones. The problem you can run into with the extreme variety of choices is finding out which ones will work best for you, and reviews won’t always tell you that. Even so, I’m going to try to do just that and tell you why you should pick up a Steelseries Apex 9 TKL, which is a phenomenal piece of equipment.
In the box, you’ll find the Apex 9 TKL keyboard, a detachable braided USB-C cable, and hidden in a clever compartment on the back, a keycap puller. It doesn’t sound like much, but even without the keycap puller you’ve got everything you need to get things rolling. Steelseries also offers replacement keycaps to purchase separately and their “pudding caps” for $30, which isn’t bad. The only thing I don’t like as much about the keycap puller compartment; it has a rubber cover, and with its location on the back it can pick up dust, dirt, or crumbs from your desk.
Once you get everything set up, it’s pretty obvious how easily this keyboard fits on almost any desk. It’s quite small, and even compared to a 60% (of which Steelseries has one of those too), it’s not much bigger. As with most keyboards it’s about optimizing your space, and everything feels nice and tight on the Apex 9 TKL. If you’re like me, you’re going to have a few brain farts with adjusting, given the smaller size pushing everything a bit closer together. But, once you’ve gotten it all down your fingers will skate across this keyboard. Except for the moments you reach for your ten keys.
The feel of the Apex 9 TKL is definitely going to be one of its major draws. For something that is plastic beyond the aluminum top plate, I’m surprised it’s as dense as it is, along with feeling extremely sturdy while still being light. Along with that discovery, I’ve found the matte keycaps on the 9 to be incredible. It’s like the perfect skateboard, where it’s gripping you as opposed to you doing all the work. It makes each key press feel actuated instead of you having to go back to re-enter something. Even when I hit a wrong key, I feel it and know it before I see what’s going through on my monitor. That’s the mark of a great keyboard in my opinion.
Beyond that is the performance of the Apex 9 TKL. The Optipoint switches are amazing linear optical switches that provide nearly instantaneous responses to your clicks. Furthermore, you can even adjust the actuation of your keys, with a gaming mode that responds to the lightest of presses and a typing mode that requires more effort. For both, you aren’t going to have to try too hard though, saving your hands from wear and tear and hopefully decreasing your chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. I type up so many things at my day job and for Gaming Trend, and that’s not even including gaming, so this keyboard feels like a godsend. What’s even better, you can even change out your switches, a first in the space. Now not only can you fix a bad key, you can figure out what switches work best for you and change them out, although for now you should stick with the official Steelseries ones.
While I’m a bit disappointed in no wireless or Bluetooth modes for this particular keyboard, the compact nature does make this one as easy to carry as a 60%. I’ve been using this at home and at work, and I’ve been able to unplug it, wrap my USB cable up, and stick it right under my arm to take with me. It’ll also fit in a backpack easily. Between the design and the braided cable staying untangled, this might be the perfect wired gaming keyboard to carry with you if you don’t want to downsize as far as a 60%. It also works with your PlayStation or Xbox, so the benefits of its size can be realized more than just taking it from PC to PC.
As per usual, all Steelseries products get an extra boost from the GG software. The Apex 9 TKL is no different, with the addition of profiles to set up for different games. Want your Q key to be M? It’s all possible here, and with profile switching available directly from the keyboard, you can have five different ones and be able to change games without even booting up GG or having to make changes manually. Besides that, you can even set up macros on the fly, all by a combo button press. Steelseries has just made everything so easy when it comes to having things set your way, and it’s appreciated.
Lastly, you know we can’t get out of here without talking RGB. The Apex 9 TKL has pretty good RGB, although in a well lit room it doesn’t stand out as much. In the GG app there are plenty of options for fun lighting, and that’s always a bonus for me. I’m using the “Chasing Ghosts” one, where different colors pulse from left to right. The fact that if I want only my T key to be purple, I can do it, is awesome. Customization, especially a high level of it, adds so much value to your accessories, and Steelseries is doing that right through the GG app.
The Steelseries Apex 9 TKL is just an all around fantastic keyboard. It’s a workhorse that comes in, does its job, and then puts in the hours the next time you need it. The keypresses (and keycaps) are the best around, the design is clean and compact, and it’s easy to take with you if the need arises. Steelseries rarely misses, and the Apex 9 TKL is a bullseye.
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.
See below for our list of partners and affiliates: