Hands-on review: SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Keyboard
SteelSeries has taken the design of its range of Apex keyboards to create a smaller version, the Apex Pro Mini. Techday’s Darren Price checks it out.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini turned up with perfect timing. I was in the midst of swapping out the Intel i9 10900K-powered review rig for the Intel i9 12900K equipped PC that I’d been using as a test rig for the last few months. Not a task that I was looking forward to, especially from a continuity of business point of view. The process required the two PCs to be operational at once, with two sets of mice and keyboards available.
The Apex Pro Mini is about two-thirds of the size of a regular keyboard. It does away with the top line of dedicated function keys. These are all shifted down a row, and accessed using a special key with the SteelSeries logo. Similarly, the tilde key is shared with the escape key. To reduce the width, everything east of the enter key had been removed, with the likes of the print screen, home and page down, etc. integrated into the main keyboard as toggled functions.
The smaller keyboard has all the functionality of its larger brethren, you just need to remember some extra button presses. The absence of the number keypad may be a problem for those that rely on that part of the keyboard, but for most of us, it’s not a problem. The Apex Pro Mini’s smaller footprint made it easy to have at hand as I commenced the tiresome task of duplicating two PCs with limited desk space.
A removable USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable provides the keyboard’s connectivity to devices with a USB Type-A socket. If you’ve got the cable, the keyboard can also be used with devices sporting a USB Type-C socket as well. I successfully used the keyboard on both an Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and even my Huawei mobile phone.
Unlike other small keyboards with their nondescript “chicklet” keys, the Apex Pro Mini is a mechanical keyboard. The frame is also made of aluminium, giving the keyboard a solid feel. The RGB lighting finished off a very stylish device. Underneath, the keyboard has feet that give players the choice of two angles of adjustment. There’s also a rubber flap that hides a key extraction tool.
The mechanical switches feature magnetic sensors that allow the actuation to be adjusted from 0.4mm to 3.6mm for each individual key. Keys can also be customised for dual actuation, giving each key multiple uses depending on how far they are pressed down. This is some mind-blowing keyboard customisation, particularly for pro players that want to optimise their game with ultra-fast response times.
The keyboard fits into the SteelSeries eco-system via the SteelSeries Engine software. Whereas this was once available as an independent application, it is now part of the SteelSeries GG application. SteelSeries GG requires a free SteelSeries account but is bundled with a lot of other features that you may or may not want. I preferred it when I could just download the Engine module, but others may find GG’s capture and sharing features handy.
The SteelSeries Engine module allows the Apex Pro Mini’s RGB lighting to be customised either from one of the static or animated templates or by setting individual key colours. Key inputs can also be customised, including dual actuation settings.
Despite its size and the lack of a number pad, the keyboard is without compromise. It’s a delight to type on, the mechanical keyboard switches being unmatched in accuracy and responsiveness. Each key press feels just so positive. The keyboard feels sturdy, robust, and looks smart; the customisable RGB lighting gives it the finishing touch.
The Apex Pro Mini would suit either someone that wants an uncompromising keyboard without the footprint or the same for gaming on the go. The keyboard is a perfect accompaniment for a gaming laptop, even if it is a bit weighty. Certainly, now I've got my desktop PC sorted out, the Apex Pro Mini has found a home in my laptop bag. This stylish and well-built mini keyboard is easy to recommend.