SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL vs Steelseries Apex 3: Which is Better Keyboard

SteelSeries is a brand that knows how to make powerful, affordable and simple devices. The SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard is the perfect example of the know-how of the Danish brand, a keyboard, simple but effective at a more than affordable price.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is an entry-level gaming keyboard that combines good build quality with an affordable price for a keyboard.  It belongs to the brand’s Glow Up range: “Superior quality products at an affordable price offering the cutting-edge innovation and high-end performance of SteelSeries”. What is it worth? 

Let’s compare the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL vs Steelseries Apex 3 in our full review of the new SteelSeries keyboard.

Specification

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKLSteelSeries Apex 3
$CHECK PRICECHECK PRICE
BrandSteelSeriesSteelSeries
Released‎October 12, 2021January 15, 2020
Dimensions5.94 x 17.52 x 1.57 inches5.94 x 17.52 x 1.57 inches
SizeTenKeyLess (80%)Full-size (100%)
Weight1.41 lbs (0.640 kg)1.76 lbs (0.800 kg)
ColourBlackBlack
ConnectivityWiredWired
MechanicalNoNo
Keycap MaterialABSABS
Latency Wired 10.6 ms10.7 ms
BacklightingYesYes
Multimedia KeysDedicatedDedicated
BluetoothYesYes
Key Lifespan20 million keystrokes20 million keystrokes
NumpadNoYes
BatteryNo BatteriesNo Batteries
CompatibilitymacOS, WindowsmacOS, Windows
SoftwareSteelSeries GGSteelseries Engine

Design

In terms of design, this Apex 3 TKL is the same as the classic apex 3, without the numeric keypad hence its name TKL. The keyboard is simple, black without any particular frills. We only see three logos on the entire keyboard.

On the front of the keyboard, you will find the SteelSeries logo in grey on black, very discreet; we hardly notice it. Just above, you will have your keyboard as such, or the keys are square and come out with their backlight.

On the right of the keyboard, there are the directional switches on top of the Windows action switches, the play/pause button, and the sound adjustment dial, nothing special. Still, more than enough in itself, this is quite the purpose of this SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL keyboard.

The keyboard is made of ABS plastic, with a pleasant touch that leaves no fingerprints; on the other hand, it takes dust very quickly, so it will have to be cleaned often if you do not like a dirty keyboard like me. As usual at SteelSeries, the quality is good; being accustomed to their products is always a pleasure in terms of design and manufacture quality.

The backlight of this keyboard is very simple, quite effective even if it slightly lacks brightness through the keys; the distribution of light in the characters is quite uneven, but in itself nothing serious it remains pretty and practical without being in them too much.

On the underside of the keyboard, you will find five buffers, two of which are used to adjust the tilt of the keyboard, but also the passage of the keyboard cable that allows you to pass it in the centre, left or right.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 keyboard is built in a way that is inspired by high-end keyboards. Indeed, the device tastes like a polymer chassis of superior quality. Although “polymer” only means plastic, it doesn’t make a difference to use with the aluminum alloy found on the SteelSeries Apex 7, the high-end keyboard of the Apex series. The keyboard can be raised using two triggers positioned below the keyboard.

About the bottom, it is marked with a sheath that guides the cable either to the left, middle, or right of the keyboard to avoid having to endure that its cable drags where you do not want it. 

The keyboard, of course, offers two small winders to adjust the angle at which you want your keyboard to be more of an optimal keystroke. Five non-slip surfaces are placed on the back of the keyboard to ensure its stability.

On the other side, facing the user is a plate composed of 105 keys that sport the keyboard and form an AZERTY layout. An FN key hidden under a keycap of the SteelSeries logo allows activating more functions, such as disabling the Windows key in the game. But this function key also enables you to lower or increase the brightness and change the backlight animations.

At the top right are the logo of the brand and four LEDs that allow you to know if you have activated the Caps lock, scroll lock, num lock, or the lock of the Windows key in-game. Still on the part at the top right is positioned a wheel to adjust the volume. Present on a good part of the brand’s keyboards. It is handy when you get used to it. Next to this wheel is positioned a button with a horizontal bar. This is used to pause or move on to the next music.

The little plus of this keyboard is that it is certified by the IP32 standard, guaranteeing its increased resistance to damage caused by possible spills of liquids on the keyboard.

Comfort

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is not a mechanical keyboard, but the switches are comfortable and quieter than many gaming keyboards.

The typing feedback of the keyboard keys is excellent, the keyboard responds well, and the layout of the keys is well done, quite classic, but effective in itself. 

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL keyboard is mounted with Whisper-quiet Gaming switches with a durability of 20 million keystrokes which is not bad. Before seeing it at the end of its life, writing a lord of the rings trilogy will be necessary.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is close to a high-end keyboard even in terms of comfort. The keyboard comes with magnetic plastic wrist rest in the box. The latter leaves the user with increased comfort since he has support to rest his wrists.

The switches of this keyboard are not mechanical as on more high-end keyboards, but membrane. These membrane switches are less pleasant but for all that is widely used in any case, whether typing or gaming. But, membranes have disadvantages; they allow water resistance and silent typing, which changes us from the noise that mechanical keyboards make.+

Because switches or switches are membranes- keycaps are also different from those found on a mechanical keyboard. A hole replaces the usual cross. It will, therefore, not be possible to buy third-party keycaps and install them on the keyboard. However, the latter are comfortable and legible and therefore have no reason to be interchanged.

Backlight

The keyboard is backlit in a relatively sober way. Thanks to the SteelSeries Engine software, everything is configured and allows a reasonably advanced configuration with three lighting designs with the colors you want.

  • Fixed
  • Colorshift
  • Multicolored breathing

The configuration of the colors can be done by sharing the eight parts defined on the keyboard in fixed parameters; it is quite well done.

Note that it is also possible to adjust the brightness directly from the keyboard using the F11 and F12 keys by pressing SteelSeries S key on the keyboard, which works as an FN key.

This is in itself quite limited, but it remains in line with the simplicity of the keyboard, no complex configuration, it is simple and effective and, in my opinion, perfectly functional and sufficient for this keyboard.

The backlight of this keyboard is spread over 10 vertical areas. Unlike the Apex 7, the Apex 3 does not have one diode per key, but 10 independently configurable zones. Indeed, mechanical switches with RGB LEDs cost much more and would drastically increase the price of the keyboard. This zone lighting is, however, not without usefulness: it illuminates between the keys. It does not just illuminate the top of keycaps as on most mechanical keyboards with RGB backlight.

However, the backlight of this keyboard remains powerful and largely satisfactory for the range in which it is located.

SteelSeries Engine Software

SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL– To configure your keyboard and all the brand’s peripherals, install the straightforward and well-designed SteelSeries Engine software. This will allow you to configure the different shortcuts of your choice.

You will be able to record Macro commands according to your needs directly from the keyboard shortcuts option once the keyboard is selected in the software.

In addition, you can adjust the language configuration of your keyboard from its settings in addition to shortcuts and backlight. They are effortless and have more than enough options for this keyboard; they make coffee perfectly for basic gaming and productivity.

SteelSeries Apex 3- The Engine 3 software allows you to configure the RGB backlight with a gallery of effects: fixed, ColorShift, Multicolor breathing, and off. The colors can be customized either zone by area by the color checkerboard located on the right of the window and by a color selector that leaves the user the choice of his favorite color. However, it should still be taken with tweezers because the colors indicated on the software are not the same as those displayed by the keyboard. 

The keyboard is compatible with PrismSync. This feature makes it possible to synchronize RGB lighting between the devices of the brand. It becomes possible to have the same effect between your motherboard, screen, headset, mat, mouse, and even your keyboard. In particular, the feature works on the Apex 3 and Rival 2 combo, the entry-level keyboard, and the mouse from SteelSeries. The two devices that are members of the Glow Up series thus enter the Steelseries ecosystem and adapt very well.

Conclusion

The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL keyboard is good, basic sober, and quality to cover most of everyone’s needs without being too much.

The SteelSeries Apex 3 is a membrane RGB gaming keyboard. With a good build quality and excellent software, it is a good choice for gamers wanting to enter the Steelseries universe.

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