Whether you’re playing a battle royale or typing an email, you want your keyboard to feel just right. SteelSeries’ new Apex Pro mechanical keyboard ($200) lets you dial in the exact sensitivity you want for any task by using a new kind of switch that can change on the fly. The result is thousands of customized setups, as opposed to a normal keyboard which can only give you one.
When you press a key on a mechanical keyboard, the switch underneath your finger physically completes a circuit. Whether this happens just as you start pushing, or after the key is most of the way down, usually depends on the physical design of the switch and its permanent “actuation point.” Some switches have a shallow actuation point for super-quick responsiveness that’s great for twitch gamers. Others have a deeper actuation point that’s better if you want to avoid typos from accidental presses.
The new OmniPoint switches inside SteelSeries’ upcoming Apex Pro keyboards can do both, because they register keystrokes with magnetic sensors with sensitivity that can be adjusted from 0.4mm (extremely shallow and therefore quick) to 3.6mm (very deep and deliberate). For comparison, Cherry MX Speed switches, another gaming mainstay, have a locked-in 1.2mm actuation point. SteelSeries’ Apex Pro’s switches, meanwhile, will let you explore a lot of real-estate on either side of that middle ground without having to bust out the soldering iron or buy a whole new keyboard. And the ability to change settings on specific switches gives you far more control than a standard keyboard with its field of identical buttons.
SteelSeries’ OmniPoint switches have a “linear” design, which means the keystroke is smooth and there’s no high-pitched “click” like you’ll find in keyboards with clicky switches. While the customization will let you tinker with when the keys actually fire, it won’t change how they physically feel when you press them, which is the feeling you tend to notice the most between different keyboards with different switches. Still, since you can save multiple setting profiles and switch between them using the keyboard’s built in OLED display (or have them auto-trigger for certain apps), you can have a keyboard that is both hypersensitive for gaming, but not an overactive mess when you’re trying to actually type words. Whether that degree of customization actually translates to gains in your favorite FPS will largely depending on how good you are already, but even if you’re doomed to lose either way, a little more fine-tuned control could make it sting slightly less (or slightly more)!
The Apex Pro keyboard is coming in two flavors: a full-sized keyboard complete with numpad for $200 which arrives at Best Buy and SteelSeries’ website on June 11, and a smaller “tenkeyless” version with no numpad for $180 which arrives later in the fall.
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