Steelseries offers in the portfolio of its mechanical keyboards in addition to the normal Apex 7 with linear, mechanical switches also the model Apex Pro on. On the outside, the two keyboards look confusingly similar: both have 104 keys and correspondingly a number pad, a wheel for volume adjustment and menu selection, a small OLED display for information and the menu, and RGB lighting with 16 million colors.
The difference between the two models is the switches: The Apex Pro Steelseries uses its omnipoint switches. These are also linear Hall effect-Switches, which do without mechanical contacts; instead, the magnitude of a magnetic field is measured, and based on these changes, the character of each key is triggered.
The advantage of this technique is longevity: Hall effect switches are designed to work for decades – Steelseries indicates 100 million tripping operations. For example, Cherry only gives up to 50 million triggers as a default for its mechanical switches.
Variable trip point
Steelseries uses the reverb effect of the Apex Pro but for another interesting feature: The trigger point can be selected between 0.4 and 3.6 mm, resulting in very different user experience and applications, as we have found in the test.
The Apex Pro from Steelseries looks like the Apex 7, but uses special switches. (Image: Martin Wolf / Golem.de)
The easiest way to set the trigger point and thus the sensitivity of the switches is via the internal menu of the keyboard. Conveniently, Steelseries also installs a small OLED display in the Apex Pro, which we use to reach the settings using the scroll wheel and the built-in button. Somewhat getting used to, we find that we have to press the button for a long time to bring up the menu; then it serves as a back button, entries must then be confirmed by pressing the scroll wheel.
Via the item "Actuation" we call the global sensitivity – this can also be set individually, but we need the PC software for this; more on that later. Between 1 and 10 we can choose the sensitivity, where 1 is the most sensitive stage with a trigger point at only 0.4 mm and 10 the most insensitive at 3.6 mm.
Sensitivity depending on the application
The sensitivity can be adjusted accordingly as the user just needs it or likes: Who plays for example and wants to perform fast movements in a first-person shooter, can choose the trip very short. In fact, all you need to do is lightly tap the buttons to trigger them. On the other hand, such high sensitivity is too high for pure writing; If we want to write a text, we set the trip longer, so choose a higher value accordingly.
In extreme setting 10 we have to press the keys completely to trigger them. At least that helps us to avoid spelling mistakes: with a setting of 9 or 10, we can touch an adjacent key while typing without the character being triggered. As a result, even sloppy typists like us write better than on a conventional mechanical keyboard with a shutter release of around 2 mm. The triggering force of the omnipoint switches is 45 grams and the response time is 0.7 ms.