SteelSeries Apex M800 Keyboard | Review
The Good
  • + Blazing fast switches
  • + Gorgeous illumination
  • + Great size
The Bad
  • - Minor build quality issues
  • - No wrist wrest in original package
  • - Premium pricing
90%"Amazing"

Start Replay: “Powerful, Accurate and Beautiful”

Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…

Keyboards flood the gaming peripheral market and if you’re an average consumer it’s hard to pick the right one, but recently I’ve been lucky enough to review the SteelSeries Apex M800, which has remained my primary keyboard for both gaming and work.

As a result, I’ve come to form a solid conclusion, understanding exactly how the keyboard performs on a daily basis against a myriad of tasks.

 

Design

Without taking the keyboards’ price point into account, the Apex M800 feels reasonably solid. The mechanical QS1 switches produce a mostly consistent typing and playing experience, and when pressed produce a satisfying clicking sound and feeling; something that SteelSeries advertise as being quieter than other mechanical switches.

The switches certainly are quieter, and this is beneficial as you’re less likely to trigger your microphone when talking through a mic; your friends will appreciate it and recording gaming videos will result in a lot less noise. Often in YouTube videos, you can hear the faint clicking sounds of the noisy Cherry MX switches and this is something you will struggle to reproduce with SteelSeries’ QS1 switches. The size of the keyboard is perfect if you like having a numpad and some extra macro keys, of which there are 6 on the left hand side. In comparison to many other large keyboards, you’ll be pleased to know that you still have room for a decent sized mouse mat to go alongside the keyboard, which is great for people with smaller desks.

However, there are some drawbacks to the design. Despite the reassuring weight of the keyboard, it is almost entirely made of a slightly inexpensive-feeling plastic. For the price point one would expect a more premium feeling shell to the keyboard, and this downfall can be seen mainly along the sides of the unit, although I must add that the keys themselves feel great.

The story continues with some of the mechanical keys as, very occasionally, a key that is used less frequently in my set up, such as one of the function keys, may have a slightly squeaky and almost rubbing feeling to it when pressed. Again, not something you expect from a keyboard of this calibre.

However, this is something that happened very occasionally for me, and it shouldn’t put you off buying the M800, it’s just something SteelSeries may want to look at when it comes to quality control.

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Gamers love being able to customise their desk and setup, as if they’re modifying a car and showing it off to friends. The M800’s illumination is excellent, and this is partly due to the design of the mechanical switches. Unlike Cherry MX’s offering, the switches were designed with illumination in mind from day one, and this allows the individual keys to be very bright and lit evenly. The SteelSeries software makes it very easy to customise the look of your keyboard, and some of the pre-set designs from the SteelSeries team are very well produced.

One key feature lacking from the keyboards’ design is an included wrist rest and this is surprising considering the premium price point of the keyboard. I found that after prolonged use chaining several competitive CS:GO games together, the angle of my wrist started to cause me a slight pain and became uncomfortable.

Logitech’s offering provides the user with an included removable wrist rest, which means that the all parties can be satisfied and choose whether or not to use the wrist wrest based on preference. Currently sitting at a €199.99 price point, this is something I feel SteelSeries should have gave more consideration to.

Since originally writing this review, SteelSeries have started to offer a comfortable wrist rest for free if you purchase the keyboard directly from them. However, if you’re buying the keyboard from other retailers, be prepared to pay €19.99 to get your wrists resting on one – something I had to do. Having said that, I like the simple design of the wrist rest and it works well. But it would have been fantastic if it initially came included in the M800 package.

 

Performance

This is the area where the M800 really shines, as I have found performance on the mx800 to be fantastic. I predominantly play the first-person shooter, CS:GO, amongst other games, and during my time using the keyboard my in-game movement has become more consistent and accurate, and I’m able to move around the map in a much softer and swift manor.

For example, I can now complete strafe jumps more consistently, crouch jump up to areas more quickly and my general in game movement is smoother. I mainly put this down to the quality feel and accuracy of the mechanical switches SteelSeries have used in this keyboard. You don’t have to worry about the keys ghosting either, as SteelSeries advertise that you could press up to 256 keys at the same time, and they’d all register, not that the M800 has 256 keys…

The M800 advertises to be the ‘worlds fastest keyboard’, and it certainly feels fast enough. Speed and lag is something you never need to worry about with this keyboard.

apex m800

The additional macro keys have allowed me to bind certain in-game commands and provide a shortcut to carrying out in game tasks. For instance, I can bind a certain in-game radio command to the macro key for faster communication with my team. Having extra macro keys allowed me to complete tasks faster and more efficiently, and helped me speed up general tasks, such as binding it to a shortcut in Photoshop etc.

Much like most of their other peripherals, SteelSeries’ engine 3 software is essential in order to use the keyboard to its full potential. It allows you to change the gorgeous illuminated keys to any colour combination you like, or choose from the fantastic pre-set options. I went for blue keys with green highlighted WASD keys when the keyboard was in use. You can also set a colour for when the keyboard’s in idle mode, and naturally as a huge CS:GO fan I went for one of the pre-sets; the beautiful Glock Fade skin layout, truly amazing.

 

Conclusion

As a complete package, I love SteelSeries’ Apex M800. It feels consistent, generally solid and performs like a champ. The illumination looks great, the switches are fast and quiet and the sizing is perfect. Small improvements could be made to build quality and the materials used, but overall I was more than happy. Although a pricey bit of kit, in return you get a keyboard that looks, feels great and offers amazing performance.

 

*This keyboard was kindly provided to Start Replay by SteelSeries