As a large human, ultra-compact keyboards aren’t my usual go-to when it comes to typing or gaming, so I was hesitant to try the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini at first. Useful for limited desk space or for a more travel-friendly option, these 60 percent keyboards have carved a bit of a niche market, with their compact size and sleek looks.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini is no different, but the adjustments you might need to make from a standard keyboard will potentially hurt your brain for the first few days until you readjust. Mini means no number pad, no navigation keys, no function keys and even no arrow keys. There are plenty of positive reasons that make the keyboard still worth it, especially for gaming, but those compromises if you’re using it day-to-day for a desk job might be tough.
One of the key features of the Apex Pro Mini is the Omnipoint 2.0 switches, which feature adjustable actuation and dual actuation (which, for those playing at home, means the total amount of input force a user must exert to cause any given key to activate consistently). Using HyperMagnetic switches, they’re effectively faster than ever, which makes for a super slick typing experience, whether you’re smashing out a document or tackling an intense battlefield.
With the claim of 20x faster actuation and 11x faster response than traditional mechanical keyboards, that means that it works very well and feels good. Compared with other keyboards, including basic ones, other gaming keyboards and even just the ones built into the laptops I use regularly, in practice this feels correct. The keys themselves have a very satisfying punchy, clacky vibe to them as well, making it a fun keyboard to use. Well, as fun as keyboards can be.
And those missing keys I mentioned earlier? There’s a bunch of secondary key binds, printed on the sides of the keycaps in white (so they’re fairly visible even at a glance in a well-lit office), and simply holding down the SteelSeries SS function key allows you to use the same features you’d get from a regular-sized keyboard. Arrow buttons are mapped smartly to WASD, and all other buttons are there too in places that make sense. It’s not perfect, but once I got my head around it, I didn’t find myself missing the traditional keyboard setup as much as I thought I would. You can remap them if you wish, but I found them to be pretty intuitive.
Keys can also have their RGB set individually, which is a level of granular detail I don’t think I’ll muck around with too much; the keyboard lights up brightly and wonderfully through use, and even pressing the SS function key changes colour of all the relevant secondary keys in case you need a reminder. Overall, this is a highly customisable keyboard, that packs a lot into a small piece of hardware.
The Apex Pro Mini also features Rapid Trigger, which helps to reduce latency arising from the physical movement of the switch through dynamic activation and deactivation of keys. This means each key resets faster, basically, which is helpful during intense gaming sessions with lots of tapping. Another feature I played around with a little bit was the 2-in-1 action keys; for example, you can walk forward with a light keypress, and then sprint by pressing the same key deeper. Or, you could grab a grenade and then throw it. It’s very customisable and, for the super competitive types, could shave off valuable milliseconds when in the thick of combat, but for most folk I imagine this feature will be a little too finicky; still, cool to have the option for those looking for a deep-dive choice.
On top of all that, The Steelseries Apex Pro keyboard line has just received a major update, which has improved the range’s OmniPoint 2.0 switches in several ways. The update also added a new ‘Rapid Trigger’ feature and made the already fastest keyboards in the world, well, even faster.
Overall, if you can live with the ‘regular keyboard’ compromises and want a smaller keyboard with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high-quality accessory from SteelSeries, the Apex Pro Mini is a super solid choice, proving that size really doesn’t matter.