SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) review: a feature smorgasbord in a wireless package
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023): Two-minute review
The short version of what makes the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) so great is its excellent balance of competitive-level performance and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feature set with a small but not tiny TKL form factor.
Unless you have certain specific demands such as a dedicated number pad or macro keys, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) can go toe-to-toe with any of the best gaming keyboards out there to satisfy your typing needs. That’s doubly so if you’ve been considering the best mini keyboard.
Of course, like most models at the top of a company’s product line, the Apex Pro TKL Wireless comes with a pretty substantial price tag. It’s not more expensive than other premium options from other brands, but it is significant. And, if price is a big factor, you can probably get away with spending less than half for a still excellent keyboard.
That said, if you want everything packed inside this small keyboard, it’s worth it no matter if you’re looking for gaming performance or the best mechanical keyboard.
At first glance, this keyboard looks much like most models from the big-name manufacturers. You’re not getting funky keycaps or colorways. Instead, this all-matte black affair keeps things mostly traditional. Any color you’ll experience comes from the fairly bright RGB lighting.
Where the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) differentiates itself from many other robust but functional keyboards is the OLED display and accompanying control wheel and button. Through the display, it’s easy to make on-the-fly adjustments like changing profiles, adjusting brightness and actuation distance, and even creating macros without having to open the app.
Since this keyboard is made with competitive gamers in mind, it comes with SteelSeries’ own speedy OmniPoint 2.0 switches with up to a 0.2mm actuation. In fact, one of the marquee features of this keyboard is the inclusion of dual actuation, something I think is only possible with having switches that are this fast.
That dual actuation is a welcome addition here. While macro users will delight in setting up all sorts of shortcuts for using spells, I found it to be incredibly useful for every game where you have to hold down the shift key to go from walking to running in-game. Instead of pressing shift, I set the initial actuation at a very quick setting, around 1mm, and then the dual actuation binding at a deeper point, around 2.7mm, freeing up my pinky. Any time I want to run in a game, all I have to do is bottom the key out.
Lastly, it comes with triple connectivity (Wired, 2.4GHz Wireless, Bluetooth 5.0) making it ideal for those with a multiple computer setup like myself. Instead of moving a dongle from one computer to the next, I can just flip a switch on the back of the keyboard to go from wireless to Bluetooth for when I want to go from my gaming computer to my MacBook Pro. Just be aware that Bluetooth, though lag-free, has a polling rate of 125Hz instead of the 1K rate of the other connectivities.
With that 1,000Hz polling rate and up to 0.2mm actuation, the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) can keep up with the pickiest of competitive gamers. I tested this keyboard with a number of games including CS:GO, Battlefield 2042, Rocket League, as well as a number of single-player games. No matter what was required of me, I had no issues with missed presses, latency, or any performance problems.
Additionally, I’m able to set the Apex Pro TKL Wireless for a much quicker actuation. That way, I can get an even faster reaction from the games I play with just a light press. On top of that, having dual actuation available opens up a lot of options for shortcuts so that I don’t have to do any dancing around the keyboard to trigger things like throwing grenades or activating spells.
Adjusting the dual actuation requires the use of SteelSeries’ GG Engine. The app, where you can control all the usual keyboard-related features, such as adjusting RGB lighting and remapping keys (this keyboard is fully remappable), is not the most intuitive when it comes to setting up that dual actuation. That’s because there’s one page where you adjust the initial actuation of the keyboard or individual key, another where you set the dual actuation, and then a third page where you map out what the dual actuation does. Since it’s not streamlined, it took me a little bit to figure out how to properly set up the dual bindings that I wanted.
However, once you understand it, it’s easy to set up and has all the options you get with general remapping such as macros, alphanumeric values, and media functions among many others.
The battery life, though good, is not quite as impressive as the other aspects of this keyboard. Rated at 37 and a half hours on wireless mode and 45 hours on Bluetooth, it actually goes pretty quickly for me as I use it for both work and play. That means that I have to charge it about once a week. Backlighting and speedy features require energy so if battery life is more of a priority than gaming performance, this might not be the keyboard for you. That’s especially true as I have found that it takes a few hours to charge back up from 0 to 100.
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023): Price & availability
How much does it cost? $249.99 / £229 / AU$289.99
When is it available? Available now
Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia
As fully featured as the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) is, and as good as its gaming performance may be, its accompanying price tag of $249.99 / £229 / AU$289.99 is a bit hard to stomach. In fact, the biggest issue with this keyboard, in my opinion, is the size of the hole it will leave in your wallet.
That’s not to say it’s not worth it. After all, many of the best wireless keyboards sit in the same range. The Asus Rog Azoth is a similar size, also delivers excellent performance, and goes for the same price (unless you live in Australia) of $249.99 / £269.99 / AU$399. While it has much deeper customization options than the Apex Pro TKL Wireless reviewed here like being able to change out keycaps and switches, it doesn’t have that dual actuation.
If you’re hoping for something less expensive, consider forgoing wireless connectivity. Dell’s new Alienware keyboard, the Alienware AW420K, not only provides stellar gaming performance but stunning RGB as well. And, it goes for a much more accessible $149.99 / £145 / AU$238.70.
Price: 4 / 5
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023): Specs
Should you buy the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023)?
Buy it if...
You want gaming performance in a small package
The SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL WIreless (2023) might be smaller than a typical keyboard, but don’t let that fool you. Its gaming performance is as capable as anything else out there.
You’re looking for dual actuation
It might not be a must-get feature, but it’s a pretty nifty one that can really streamline the way you interact wIth your games.
Don't buy it if...
You’re on a budget
The price accompanying the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023) sits firmly in premium territory. If you’re strapped for cash, you can find solid gaming keyboards for much less.
You want a full-size keyboard
As great as the TKL form factor is, it’s not for everyone. If you need a full numpad or dedicated macro keys, something like the Razer Huntsman v2 Analog might be the way to go.
SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL WIreless (2023): Also consider
How I tested the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023)
Tested over a month
Tested with different and different kinds of games
All included features were explored
To test the SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Wireless (2023), I spent a month with it, playing all sorts of titles including fast-paced games like Battefield 2042 and CS:GO as well as single-player adventures like Far Cry 6 and Cyberpunk 2077. I also typed quite a bit on it including some of the recently published articles I’ve written.
While testing, I spent plenty of time seeing if it could keep up with even the most fast-paced action as well as how well the features were implemented, not to mention checking how useful they really are.
Having spent the last few years reviewing tech gear for gaming and otherwise, I’ve gotten a feel for what to look for and how to put a piece of kit through its paces to see whether it’s worth the recommendation. And, I’ve spent even longer playing computer games so I have an understanding of what gamers look for to get the most out of their titles.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
First reviewed May 2023