SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless Review
The Apex Pro Mini Wireless redefines the best gaming mechanical keyboard
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While many manufacturers cater to either productivity or gaming, SteelSeries opted to build the ultimate keyboard in a compact form. Enter the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, a tenkeyless and wireless version of the Apex Pro that’s 60% of the size of the nearly-perfect original. It’s a natural workhorse capable of handling anything thrown its way.
We were awed by the capabilities packed into this tiny mechanical keyboard. While it lacks features like hot-swappable key switches and functioning PlayStation 5 support like the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless, it more than makes up for it with intuitive and detailed customization and patented adjustable switches. Despite its high price point, the Apex Pro Mini Wireless is the compact multi-device mechanical keyboard for those serious about gaming. And it has recently gone on sale for under $200.
About the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless Keyboard
- Price: $240
- Connectivity: USB Type-C to Type-A cable (included), 2.4 GHz Quantum 2.0 Wireless (USB adapter included), Bluetooth 5.1
- Dimensions: 11.53 x 4.02 x 1.59 inches
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Material: Aluminum top plate surrounded by hard plastic
- Special features: Fully addressable RGB, Advanced customization via software, OmniPoint 2.0 Adjustable Switches
The crème de la crème of features are packed into this keyboard, and double shot PBT keycaps, Quantum 2.0 Wireless functionality, and the SteelSeries Engine software take this keyboard's performance to the next level.
According to SteelSeries, this keyboard officially supports Windows, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and Mac. We also confirmed some keyboard compatibility for Android, ChromeOS, iPhone, and iPad.
What we like
Durable full-size experience in a compact design
The Apex Pro Mini Wireless gives you the full-size keyboard experience without eliminating the functionality of a full-sized ten-key keyboard. Although it lacks the physical keys, simply press and hold the function key and another clearly labeled dual-purpose key, and you gain control of RGB backlight brightness and color profiles, media controls, arrow keys, and system volume.
It should also please macro fans to know that you can record your own on the fly by holding down the dedicated SteelSeries key and the M key for three seconds.
Before I got too engulfed in the world of the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, I tested its durability, and it can take a beating. I dropped the keyboard several times from a height of three feet on tile, hardwood flooring, and carpet. Each time, a few keys would pop off; however, no damage was rendered to the keyboard itself. Each time, the key would still function perfectly afterward.
Coupled with the durable build, the included concave double shot PBT keycaps allow for a more comfortable and accurate typing experience whether gaming or using the keyboard for productivity tasks. SteelSeries rates their key switches to last 100 million keystrokes. This is almost impossible to confirm, but it’s nice knowing that the keyboard will literally outlast your use of it.
The keyboard also supports Bluetooth pairing for up to three devices at the same time. While not marketed as a feature, those three different devices can be connected simultaneously and switched between them by holding down the SteelSeries key and Enter key and pressing 1, 2, or 3 to switch to respective paired devices. It works in a similar fashion to Logitech’s MX Mechanical keyboard, though not as streamlined.
Compatible with multiple devices
My Dell G15 5515 and Apple MacBook Air M1 had no issues pairing with the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless across all three connection methods: wired, wireless, and Bluetooth.
I recommend keeping a USB-C to-USB C cable or adapter handy if you want to connect this way, as newer computers like the Macbook Air M1 don’t include USB-A ports. SteelSeries states that battery life for the keyboard is up to 30 hours over 2.4GHz wireless and up to 40 hours over Bluetooth. I was able to hit those battery targets without any issues.
Although not officially supported, it’s great knowing that the Apex Pro Mini Wireless works in tandem with all of my electronic toys. Outside of my computers, I was able to successfully pair the keyboard with my Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro, and iPad Pro. For the Pixel 6 Pro, all three connection methods worked without issue. With the iPhone and iPad, I was able to pair the keyboard via Bluetooth. Once paired, I was able to send text messages and emails, do a little online shopping, and type up parts of this review without issue.
When it comes to console support, both Xbox and PlayStation platforms are advertised as compatible with the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, but that’s not 100% true. I was able to pair the keyboard to both an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5. However, only the Xbox was actually able to utilize the keyboard for navigation and specific games.
With the PS5, I ran into an interesting bug where the console recognized the keyboard as a computer mouse. I tried another PS5 and got similar results. This issue persisted before and after updating the keyboard’s software. Hopefully, this is an issue that’s addressed ASAP as this keyboard is otherwise the perfect partner to the console.
Most of my gaming experiences were spent on PC, Mac, and Xbox Series X. I tested the keyboard with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, CS:GO, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. While I prefer video game controllers like the Xbox Controller and PlayStation Dual Sense, I can say that the Apex Pro Mini Wireless delivered on providing a competent gaming experience each and every time.
OmniPoint 2.0 adjustable switches
The pièce de résistance of SteelSeries’ Apex Pro Mini Wireless is the inclusion of the company’s patented OmniPoint 2.0 adjustable switches. Right out of the box you can adjust the actuation of the keys to suit your needs at any given moment.
Basically, you can adjust how much pressure and how far down a key needs to be pressed in order to register an action. Spanning a range from 0.2mm to 3.8mm, a lower actuation would be best suited for things like competitive gaming, while higher ranges would be better for typing to prevent accidental key presses.
To make this adjustment on the fly, you press the dedicated SteelSeries key and either the I or O keys to adjust accordingly. Adjusting the actuation point up or down is done in increments of 0.4mm, and Steelseries added RGB indicators to mark the level.
This unique hardware-based approach to improving response times and accuracy is similar to the likes of Corsair’s Axon Hyper-Processing technology found in competing products like the K70 RGB Pro mechanical gaming keyboard. For Corsair, their keyboards rely on increasing the polling rate up to 8,000Hz (how often the connected device checks per input) to cut down the processing time for each keystroke.
However, unlike that keyboard, the functionality of the Apex Pro Mini Wireless doesn’t stop with lighting and macro customization. When paired with SteelSeries’ own Engine software suite, a world of customization opens up. There are several tabs at your disposal to enhance your use of the keyboard, including Key Bindings, Actuation, Dual Bindings, Dual Actuation, and Meta Bindings.
Within the Actuation tab, you are able to fine-tune the actuation level across all keys or down to specific ones. For everyday use, I often left my actuation level between 1.8 and 2.0mm. However, when it came to gaming, I found myself enjoying the lowest setting at 0.2mm. This gave me a competitive gaming advantage when playing CS:GO, though not enough due to a lack of muscle memory.
The notification across the top of the program gains you access to the keyboard Illumination settings, which allow for personalizing the RGB backlighting from one key, to a group, or even across the entire layout.
The Dual Actuation and Meta Bindings tabs offer the most creative freedom. The Meta Bindings tab allows you to create new and unique task launchers or modify pre-existing ones to control a different function. By default, the arrow keys are mapped to W, A, S, and D keys on the keyboard, but I could easily swap the secondary settings for those keys with the presets for P, L, semicolon, and apostrophe keys, which were in a more ideal position.
The Dual Actuation tab works in tandem with both the Actuation and Dual Binding tabs in order to create the second best thing about this keyboard; mapping two actions to a single button. This is basically the same concept as the adaptive triggers on Sony’s Dual Sense controller that allows for different actions depending on how far you press down, only to the nth degree.
The process seems a little daunting but becomes intuitive after the first couple of setups. You start by assigning your first actuation level on specific keys on the Actuation tab. Moving over to the Dual Bindings tab, select the same keys, and on the Dual Actuation tab you assign your actuation distance to initiate the secondary function. I assigned media controls to keys A (previous), S (play), and D (next), each with a default actuation of 2.8mm and secondary actuation of 1.2mm. When listening to music while typing this review, I was able to control my playlist with a subtle press of the respective keys without interrupting the flow of my writing.
What we don’t like
Customization is PC-only
Setting up the SteelSeries Engine on my Dell laptop was a piece of cake, whereas on my Macbook Air M1, it was a nightmare.
We’re still waiting to hear from SteelSeries about the issues with the Mac version of the application. The application installed without any issues, but my M1 MacBook Air is unable to detect the Apex Pro Mini Wireless through either a wired connection or the wireless adapter. I also tried pairing the keyboard via the USB-C cable and wireless adapter to a 2020 Macbook Pro (Intel-based) and ran into the same issue. Outside of this issue, the keyboard otherwise works perfectly with Macs. There is no official ChromeOS support.
Should you buy the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless?
Yes, despite cheaper priced competition
There is no way of avoiding the eight-foot elephant in the room: The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless’s larger-than-life price of $240. But with my on-the-go lifestyle, I could make a strong case as to why everyone looking for a great long-lasting mechanical gaming keyboard should pick up the Apex Pro Mini Wireless.
However, you can’t avoid solid competition from the likes of Corsair with the K70 RGB Pro Mini Wireless (available at Amazon for $159.99) and Razer’s own Blackwidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed. Priced considerably lower, they also offer a lot of what makes the Apex Pro Mini Wireless special, like fully addressable RGB, multi-device support, and solid battery life.
However, full control of the user experience down to the individual key pressure sensitivity sets the Apex Pro Mini Wireless apart. The layers of customization can be a little off-putting for some, but the functionality of the keyboard even out of the box is nothing to balk at.
A long-lasting compact keyboard that replicates the experience of the SteelSeries Apex Pro, its full-sized wired equivalent, and handles anything you can throw at it is a dream come true for many.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.