Today, we are writing this SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review to focus on the latest offering from the company. SteelSeries released the Apex 9 TKL, which brings some of the best elements from the Apex Pro. It also took some features from the previous model, the Pro Mini wireless.
Although it lacks features like multi-device connectivity and wireless support, the company focused on other aspects. These include durability and customisation options to provide users with the best gaming experience.
SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Packaging
The keyboard we have sports the OptiPoint linear optical switches, so we were excited to try it. And the good thing was it arrived in time for our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review.
The box looks like the other packages from SteelSeries, with an image of the product in front. You will find its name and company branding in this area, while additional information at the back.
Inside, you will find the Apex 9 TKL, a detachable braided USB-C to A cable, and a keycap puller.
SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review – Design and Functionality
Our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review will focus on the design and functions of the product. We will discuss its layout, appearance, build quality, and functionality.
As its name suggests, the Apex 9 TKL has a tenkeyless layout, so it does not have a number pad. However, it has navigation and arrow keys.
The Apex 9 TKL is a sturdy keyboard using a Series 5000 aircraft-grade aluminium top plate and metal frame. Plus, it has double-shot PBT keycaps, which have a unique texture that feels good to type on.
SteelSeries went for an all-black theme for the series, unlike the black/grey colour scheme of the Apex Pro. The company also removed the OLED screen for this new model but retained the media button and scroll wheel. Also, it has the same elegant and minimalist design as the Apex Pro Mini.
OptiPoint Optical Switches
The Apex 9 TKL comes with the new OptiPoint optical switches. These are the hot-swappable switches with white bottom housings and two-point actuation. Note that it differs from the dual-actuation feature on the Apex Pro Mini.
While the Apex 9 TKL has hot-swappable switches, it is only compatible with optical variants. The keyboard can use third-party optical ones. However, those with black bottom housings absorb too much light, which may affect accuracy and performance.
The two-point actuation has 1mm (game mode) and 1.5mm (typing mode) levels. You can toggle between these via the GG software or the keyboard shortcut – SteelSeries key + I/O.
Key Features of the SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard
The SteelSeries Apex 9 is a series of impressive gaming keyboards. But what makes this specific product better than the rest? We will discuss its key features in our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review and find out.
OptiPoint Optical Switches
The custom-built OptiPoint optical switches give you a new level of speed. These harness light to detect the registration depth of your keystroke and deliver zero debounce. Plus, it offers 33% faster actuation and 0.2ms response time.
With two-point actuation, you can adapt to any game with an adjustable registration depth. Choose between a fast 1mm light press to an accuracy-focused 1.5mm keystroke.
Swappable Switches of the SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard
While writing our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review, we learned of its hot-swappable feature. With its design, you can upgrade the keyboard to your preferred OptiPoint switch and achieve the best user experience.
Streamlined TKL Form Factor
The tenkeyless design of the Apex 9 TKL is compact, allowing you to save space for more mouse movement.
SteelSeries Engine – User-friendly Software
SteelSeries Engine lets you maximise the capabilities of the Apex 9 TKL. You can customise its per-key RGB and adjust various settings based on your preferences.
Aircraft Grade Aluminum Alloy for Superior Durability
The Apex 9 TKL uses the Series 5000 aluminium top plate, which is identical to the metal of combat jets. It offers structural stability and rigidity to withstand long years of intense gaming.
Double Shot PBT Keycaps
The PBT keycaps of the Apex 9 TKL offer a massive leap in durability and quality. These have a unique texture for better typing accuracy and a keystroke feel.
Detachable and Braided USB-C Cable
The durably-made detachable USB-C braided cable can withstand the wear and tear of daily use.
Tilt Legs for Height Adjustment
The adjustable tilt legs of the keyboard offer three height choices: flat, half, and full extension. With the Apex 9 TKL, you can play comfortably for long hours.
Here are the product specifications of this keyboard, which we will share in our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review. It uses the SteelSeries Linear OptiPoint optical key switches with a rating of 100M keypresses.
The keyboard has five custom onboard profiles, a 32-bit ARM processor, and 1.0-1.5mm/35g actuation points/force. For its connection, the Apex 9 uses a detachable USB-C.
Dimensions-wise, the keyboard is 355 x 128 x 42mm (WxDxH) and weighs 635g. For added comfort, you can adjust the keyboard height with the help of rubber tri-level feet. SteelSeries also integrated per-key RGB illumination, which is excellent.
The keyboard is compatible with Windows, Playstation, Xbox, and Mac OS X. This product also works with the SteelSeries Engine for Windows and Mac OS X.
Hands-on with the SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard
To ensure we get a perfect feel of the product, we used it for a week to observe its performance. We will share our hands-on experience with it in this SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review. Doing so will help you determine if it is something worth purchasing.
Setting up the SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard
Since the product is a wired USB-C keyboard, we did not have issues setting it up. It is a convenient plug-and-play product which is excellent.
To adjust its RGB brightness, the keyboard can via a function layer. However, you will visit SteelSeries GG to customise the key bindings and all lighting options.
The SteelSeries Engine
The SteelSeries Engine is the software interface for configuring the settings of the Apex 9 TKL. It is for remapping keys, setting up onboard profiles, RGB lighting, and more.
Upon launching the software, we immediately saw the Apex 9 TKL in the list of connected devices. We clicked on it then the SteelSeries Engine opened a window showing the settings menu and the key binding options.
We used the software for remapping the primary and secondary key bindings. It allowed remapping each key, including the function key. Also, we saved five onboard profiles for different games.
Unlike the Apex Pro Mini, this keyboard did not allow per-key adjustment of actuation points. However, the software allowed toggling between typing mode and gaming mode. This feature was vital since the gaming mode was too sensitive for typing.
The best thing about using SteelSeries Engine was customising the RGB lighting of the Apex 9 TKL. It allowed customising each key individually using different colours and effects for three layers: idle, active, and reactive.
SteelSeries Engine worked well and was easy to use, thanks to its simple interface. We loved using it since it was not confusing. Plus, we saw all the available settings.
Performance of the SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard
Typing on the Apex 9 TKL felt good, thanks to its linear optical switches. These have a lighter actuation force and shorter travel distance than the standard Cherry MX Red mechanical switches.
The keyboard was fast and responsive, even with light presses. So it may take some time to get used to it, especially for those coming from heavier and non-linear switches.
The Apex 9 TKL delivered impressive performance in gaming. Using it was better for gaming than typing, as expected from linear switches. Its fast response time offered some of the best gaming experiences.
With the 0.2ms response time and zero debounce, this keyboard was fast and suitable for light keypresses. It was excellent for various games that required quick movements, especially FPS and battle royales like Fortnite and Warzone.
Despite not having a perfect typing experience with the Apex 9 TKL, it allowed for quick in-game chats. Its lighter actuation point caused us to make more typos, but we eventually got used to typing on it.
Finally, the RGB. The lighting of the Apex 9 TKL was good but did not stand out in a well-lit room.
SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review Summary
The Apex 9 TKL from SteelSeries is an attractive product for users who want optical switches and adjustable actuation. Its TKL layout makes it excellent for saving desk space. Plus, you can opt for the 60% variant called Apex 9 Mini if you want a smaller keyboard.
While using the product for our SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL Keyboard Review, we enjoyed its two-point actuation. This feature helped improve our gaming performance significantly.
With this keyboard, you can enjoy versatility with its hot-swappable design and height-adjusting tilt legs. These features allow you to have the most comfortable user experience. Aside from that, it has a durable build that is sure to last long years of use.