SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini - Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Optical Switches – 2-Point Actuation – Compact Esports Mini 60% Form Factor – Hotswappable Switches - American QWERTY Layout
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You can also change up the Apex 9’s lighting in SteelSeries Engine. Each key can be customized individually with different colors and effects, for three different layers (active, reactive, and idle). While you can save different lighting profiles in SteelSeries Engine, you can’t link them to onboard profiles. The Bottom Line This was completely independent of what general overall effects might also be simultaneously displayed on the keyboard. For example, I could specifically light up the eight main keys on the home row plus the spacebar in solid yellow, both for easy location in a dark room and proper finger placement, all while having the rest of the keys glowing on and off in “breathing” purple.
Of course, it should surprise no one that there are quite a number of compact keyboards out there that share the same look; after all, once you’ve reduced a full-sized keyboard down to only 60% of its original size and lopped off the physical NUM pad, Arrow Keys, Function Keys, and Control/Navigation Keys, there’s really not much left to visually differentiate one mini gaming keyboard from another aside from perhaps a manufacturer’s logo. But what truly sets the Apex 9 Mini apart from other current competitors in the gaming keyboard space is its usage of “OptiPoint” linear switches in place of more traditional mechanical switches. As mentioned earlier, SteelSeries boasts this to be the fastest and most durable of any optical keyboard ever, with a 0.2ms response time and a lifetime of 100 million keypresses. A second and more critical feature of the OptiPoint switches, however, is that users can operate the SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini keyboard in not just one but two actuation modes. “…with the SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini keyboard and HyperX Alloy Origins 60 sharing comparable dimensions and weight… I couldn’t shake the feeling of deja-vu when holding the Apex 9 Mini in my hands for the first time.” We've converted this review to Test Bench 1.3, which overhauls how key input is evaluated. We've added new tests for Single Key Latency, Multi Key Latency, Data Transmission, and Chord Split. We've also introduced a new Raw Performance usage and adjusted how the Gaming and Office usage scores are calculated. You can see the full changelog here.The Apex 9 series comes in two layouts — TKL (tenkeyless) and Mini (60 percent); this review will focus on the Apex 9 TKL, but the keyboards are largely identical (minus layout). The Apex 9 TKL and Apex 9 Mini are both wired keyboards sporting SteelSeries’ new hot-swappable OptiPoint linear optical switches. These switches have 2-point actuation, which means they have two points of actuation (1mm and 1.5mm) — like the Apex Pro Mini’s adjustable actuation, only with two preset points that you can toggle between, instead of per-key adjustability to the nearest 0.1mm. The SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL is actually a pretty attractive offering for anyone interested in optical switches with adjustable actuation — but who doesn’t need the over-the-top 0.1mm per-key adjustment offered by the Apex Pro Mini. The Apex 9 TKL’s larger layout is definitely a plus for anyone who finds a 60 percent layout too small — for those who don’t, the Apex 9 Mini is also available. The keyboard’s hot-swappable PCB is interesting but not nearly as versatile as it sounds, given that it’s only truly compatible with SteelSeries’ own yet-to-be-released optical switches. That being said, with the SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini keyboard and HyperX Alloy Origins 60 sharing comparable dimensions and weight, not to mention similar chassis reinforced by aircraft grade aluminum alloy construction, I couldn’t shake the feeling of deja-vu when holding the Apex 9 Mini in my hands for the first time. This turned out to be a good thing though, as I had several positive things to say about HyperX’s product a year ago, and practically all those features have found their way into SteelSeries’ Apex 9 Mini in the here and now, along with a unique refinement or two. “But what truly sets the Apex 9 Mini apart from other current competitors in the gaming keyboard space is its usage of “OptiPoint” linear switches in place of more traditional mechanical switches.” Case in point, it only took a few minutes of typing out this review before I was reminded of how much I took dedicated insert, delete and arrow keys for granted when using a larger keyboard.