Steelseries Apex 9 TKL Gaming Keyboard Review – Tickles Your Imagination

If you didn’t already know this, there are a ton of gaming keyboards out there. I’ve reviewed a few myself for Gaming Trend, and luckily I’ve had the pleasure of working with good ones. The problem you may face with the extreme variety of choices is figuring out which ones work best for you, and reviews won’t always tell you that. Still, I’m going to try to do just that and tell you why you should buy a Steelseries Apex 9 TKL, which is a phenomenal device.

Inside the box you’ll find the Apex 9 TKL keyboard, a detachable braided USB-C cable and hidden in a clever compartment on the back, a keycap puller. It doesn’t sound like much, but even without the keycap puller you have everything you need to get things going. Steelseries also offers replacement keycaps to purchase separately and their “pudding caps” for $30, which isn’t bad. The only thing I don’t like about the keycap puller compartment; it has a rubber cover and with its location on the back it can pick up dust, dirt or crumbs from your desk.

Once you’ve got everything set up, it’s pretty obvious how easily this keyboard fits on almost any desk. It’s quite small, and even compared to 60% (of which Steelseries also has one), it’s not much bigger. As with most keyboards, it’s all about optimizing your space, and everything feels nice and tight on the Apex 9 TKL. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to have a few brain farts with adjusting as the smaller size pushes everything a little closer together. But once you get the hang of it all, your fingers will be skating on this keyboard. Except for the moments when you reach for your ten keys.

The feel of the Apex 9 TKL will definitely be one of its main advantages. For something plastic outside of the aluminum top plate, I’m surprised it’s as dense as it is, and that it feels extremely sturdy while still being light. Along with that discovery, I found the matte keys on the 9 incredible. It’s like the perfect skateboard, where it grabs you instead of you doing all the work. It makes every key press feel activated instead of having to go back and re-enter something. Even if I hit a wrong key, I feel and know it before I see what’s happening on my monitor. That, in my opinion, is the mark of a great keyboard.

Beyond that is the performance of the Apex 9 TKL. The Optipoint switches are amazing linear optical switches that respond almost immediately to your clicks. You can even customize the operation of your keys, with a game mode that responds to the lightest press and a typing mode that takes more effort. Both don’t require too much effort, though, protecting your hands from wear and tear and hopefully reducing your chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. I type so many things on my day job and for Gaming Trend, and that doesn’t even include gaming, so this keyboard feels like a godsend. What’s even better, you can even replace your switches, a first in the space. Now not only can you fix a bad key, you can also figure out which switches work best for you and replace them, though you’ll have to stick with the official Steelseries switches for now.

While I’m a little disappointed that there aren’t any wireless or Bluetooth modes for this particular keyboard, its compact nature does make it as easy to carry around as 60%. I’ve used this at home and at work, and I’ve been able to unplug it, pack my USB cable and put it right under my arm to take with me. It also fits easily in a backpack. Between the design and the braided cable that remains untangled, this could be the perfect wired gaming keyboard to take with you if you don’t want to downsize to 60%. It also works with your PlayStation or Xbox, so the benefits of its size can be realized more than just taking it from PC to PC.

As usual, all Steelseries products get an extra boost from the GG software. The Apex 9 TKL is no different, with the addition of profiles to set up for different games. Do you want your Q key to be M? It’s all possible here, and with profile switching available right from the keyboard, you can have five different ones and switch games without even launching GG or making changes manually. In addition, you can even set macros on the fly, all by pressing a combo button. Steelseries just made everything so easy when it comes to getting things your way, and that’s appreciated.

Finally, you know we can’t get out of here without talking about RGB. The Apex 9 TKL has a pretty good RGB, although in a well-lit room it won’t stand out that much. There are plenty of options for fun lighting in the GG app, and that’s always a plus for me. I use the “Chasing Ghosts”, where different colors pulse from left to right. The fact that if I just want my T-wrench to be purple I can do it is great. Customization, especially at a high level, adds so much value to your accessories, and Steelseries does that directly through the GG app.

The Steelseries Apex 9 TKL is simply a fantastic keyboard. It’s a workhorse that comes in, does its job, and puts in hours the next time you need it. The keystrokes (and keycaps) are the best out there, the design is sleek and compact, and it’s easy to carry around when needed. Steelseries rarely misses, and the Apex 9 TKL hits the mark.

—David Burdette

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator for TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He likes Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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