SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL Gaming Keyboard Review – Same Affordable Good Looks With More Desk Space

SteelSeries has recently dropped the Apex 3 TKL keyboard locally, taking 2020’s value-packed Apex 3 and shrinking it down to a tenkeyless form factor. We’ve been putting the new little brother of the family through its paces, but obviously most of what we liked about the original version still applies so here’s a refresher on what we had to say about the Apex 3:

“From the outside, The Apex 3 looks a lot like the Apex 5 in terms of quality. It’s made out of a polymer frame, so feels quite study in terms of build. Interestingly enough, this keyboard is supposed to be water and dust resistant at an IP32 standard. Obviously, I didn’t flood it with water, but I tested it with a few spills and found that it didn’t impact performance whatsoever.

Unlike the Apex 5 keyboard, the Apex 3 has whisper quiet keys, which I actually found really nice to type on. It’s also a nice change from a lot of the other gaming keyboards that are quite loud to use, especially at night or in the company of other people. I found that this was a nice happy medium between a quiet key and a key that feels great to type on. Typing was always accurate whilst using this keyboard, but the keys are quite tall in terms of how they sit on the keyboard, and do have a high actuation point. In terms of gaming, it’s definitely a little bit of a slower press compared to other keys, but it’s still decent.”

All of that goes for the Apex 3 TKL, which takes the same membrane keyboard design with the company’s “Whisper Quiet” switches and IP32 water resistance and shrinks it down by roughly 8cm width by ditching the numpad. You still get the same multimedia controls, now in place of the last three top-row keys, meaning the TKL has a total of 20 less keys than the standard Apex 3. For whatever reason it also doesn’t ship with the same magnetic wrist rest that comes with the full sized version which probably won’t be a huge loss for most.

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Like the full-sized equivalent, the TKL version of the Apex 3 trades the per-key RGB lighting of more expensive keyboards for zoned lights, but because it’s smaller overall there are just eight zones instead of ten. You’re still able to customise these zones with 16.8 million possible colours and a selection of effects as always, and SteelSeries GG/Engine is a joy to use for setting up macros, adjusting the polling rate or just messing around with the RGB.

Although it’s firmly entry-level I can see the Apex 3 TKL really suiting budget-conscious competitive gamers who want a compact, durable keyboard to throw in a bag and take to events. For similar reasons it’d also make a great addition to younger gamers’ first setups with spill resistance and a price tag that won’t break the family bank.

SPECS

  • Price: $129 AUD
  • Top Material: High Quality Polymer Frame
  • Anti-ghosting: Gaming Grade
  • Illumination: 8-Zone RGB Illumination
  • Weight: 639 gm
  • Height: 40 mm
  • Width: 364 mm
  • Depth: 150 mm
  • Key Type & Name: SteelSeries Whisper-Quiet Switches
  • Key Lifetime: 20 Million Keypresses
Conclusion
The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL takes everything great about the very affordable Apex 3 and shrinks it down to a more compact form factor. It's light on frills, but it's sure to be a great first gaming keyboard or a handy traveller for competitive gamers on the go.
Positives
Good build quality at an affordable price
Zoned RGB lighting looks great
SteelSeries GG is a great bit of software
Negatives
No more magnetic wrist rest
Still just a membrane keyboard

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