SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini - Small and Mighty
Question: What do finding the perfect mouse and keyboard, looking for a set of adult-sized gloves and proving to a 5-year-old that you’re bigger than them, have in common?
Answer: People with small hands struggle to do it.
As one of the aforementioned people with small hands, I have never really been able to do any of these things (except prove to a small child I am, in fact, bigger than them – but kids are pretty dumb). However, with the release of the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini, I can safely take another of these things out of the “too hard basket” because my quest to find a perfect keyboard is complete.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini is a freaking dream of a keyboard – I love it so much. At 60% of the form factor of a standard keyboard, this mini dynamo is so packed with features you won’t even miss the other 40% of your keyboard. Despite the size of my hands (14cm from the heel of my hand to the tip of my middle finger), I have never used a smaller keyboard before – being far too attached to my numpad to ever let it go; and though it was an adjustment at first, once I got used to it I barely noticed it was gone. At no point did I find the keys felt cramped, nor did I find myself constantly mashing the wrong buttons as I re-learned where everything was.
I tested this keyboard for a few weeks for both gaming, typing and working – and at every turn, it ticked most of my boxes and left me pleasantly surprised.
To type on, this is an absolute dream. I have always been told I am a loud typer (though being such a loud human in general I can’t imagine this comes as a surprise) and though the switches in this do make a pleasant noise, they are so much quieter than my usual gaming keyboard. The feedback on them feels great and the click of the keys makes such a great sound that I found myself looking for reasons to type up long sentences just so I could listen to it more.
For those who prefer a quieter keyboard (or who like to game into the early hours of the morning and don’t want to wake their household up) you can change the actuation of each key; which controls how hard you have to press it for the key to register as a press. 1.8 is the standard, 3.8 is the highest and 0.2 is the lowest. I tried setting some keys up at 0.2 just to see how much pressure would have to be applied, and lemme tell you – it’s almost nothing. If you don’t wanna wake your house up at 3 am, set your keys to 0.2 and you could type with feathers for fingers.
The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini also boasts Dual Actuation. This means you can program one key to do one thing when you press it lightly and do something else when you press it all the way down. Though this feature isn’t unique to SteelSeries, I found it really easy to set up using their software and it was a very cool feature to be able to use.
Dual Actuation does take a bit of learning to get used to, however. By default, my instinct is to full-press keys all the time, so I really had to train myself to make use of the dual actuation. For gaming, I set things up so that the W key, when pressed lightly, made my character walk, and when fully pressed had her breaking out into a spring. A light press of S had my character stepping back, but a full press did a backwards roll.
For work, I mapped my numerical keys to the media buttons, which allowed me to easily fill in my spreadsheets whilst retaining easy control of my music (something I find crucial when doing something as brain-numbing as filling in spreadsheets). With every key on the board able to have two uses, the possibilities and usability are near endless.
My one gripe with this keyboard was that, for some weird reason, SteelSeries has chosen to place the arrow keys on the left-hand side with WASD. Whilst I can see how this would make sense…somehow, this was really jarring in my brain. Having to re-learn this really threw me for a loop, which also often resulted in me ending up dead, because whilst gaming I didn’t have the luxury of stopping the fight so I could find my arrow keys.
All in all, I found the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini an absolute delight to use, though I honestly preferred it for work rather than gaming. If you’re used to using a small factor keyboard then I highly recommend this model – because the whole device just feels like a luxury. For its sleek and simple design, the sheer amount of personalisation and that ever satisfying ‘click click’ of the keys, the Apex Pro Mini is proof that good things come in small packages.
Key Switches – OmniPoint Adjustable Mechanical Switch
Switch Rating – Guaranteed 100 Million Presses
On-Board Memory – 5 Custom Profiles
Processor – 32 Bit ARM
Adjustable Actuation Points – 0.2- 3.8mm
Connection – Detachable USB Type-C
Width – 293 mm / 11.53 in
Depth – 103 mm / 4.02 in
Height – 40.3 mm / 1.59 in
Weight – 610 g / 1.34 lbs
Height Adjustment – Rubber Tri Level Feet
Lighting – Per Key RGB Illumination