I’m not mad, just disappointed. SteelSeries has a limited edition run of its Apex Pro Mini keyboard, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The aptly named White Gold Edition features an entirely white body, a brass plate, and a hefty brass weight, along with a lovely white coiled cable with golden accents. It feels immediately premium, and it looks stunning. It’s just a shame the keyboard itself isn’t very good.
That might shock you to hear, considering the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini was a keyboard I said “might be the best gaming keyboard you can buy” nearly two years ago. A lot has changed in that time, though, and the typing experience of this limited edition run doesn’t live up to its beautiful aesthetic.
Before we can get to that, though, we need to talk about price. SteelSeries is asking $380 for this keyboard. This is a limited edition model with a ton of brass, so a price hike isn’t out of the question. It’s just shockingly more expensive. The base Apex Pro Mini (wired, like this one is) runs $180 and $140 on sale. SteelSeries is asking from $200 to $240 more for this version.
For further context, SteelSeries released the Ghost Edition of the Apex Pro Mini late last year, which was limited to 250 units, just like the White Gold Edition. For that keyboard, SteelSeries asked $230. The price of the White Gold version is way beyond the additional cost of materials or even the limited edition tax. It’s unreasonably expensive, which makes the problems with it all the more pressing.
It’s trying to be a premium mechanical keyboard, and that’s clear. The White Gold Apex Pro Mini is heavy, with both the brass weight and plate keeping it anchored to your desk. It’s almost as heavy as my custom GMMK Pro, and that’s saying something. There aren’t any plastic feet, with SteelSeries instead relying on the natural curve of the frame.
The problems are on the inside. I took apart the keyboard to see what SteelSeries was doing under the hood, and the answer is: shockingly little. The switches are mounted directly to the brass plate and soldered to the PCB underneath. That fixture is then secured to the frame with a handful of screws.
And that’s it. There’s no sound dampening, no gasket mount, nothing. SteelSeries took the aesthetics and price of an enthusiast keyboard but forgot about all the trimmings that make the sound, feel, and typing experience of a premium keyboard, well, premium. It’s even more frustrating considering the $380 SteelSeries is asking for this limited edition run.
In 2022, when I first reviewed the Apex Pro Mini, it was a different time. The keyboard mainly stood out due to SteelSeries Omnipoint switches, which remain the fastest key switches money can buy. They’re present on this White Gold edition, fit with the adjustable actuation point that you can adjust through the SteelSeries Engine software.
These switches are the heart of the Apex Pro Mini, limited edition or not, so I won’t criticize SteelSeries for sticking with its own switches. Hot-swappable switches have quickly become a staple of gaming keyboards, but it makes sense why they are locked down on the Apex Pro Mini. Even with the switches, there was much more SteelSeries could do here.
Asus spearheaded the push to enthusiast design in gaming keyboards with the Azoth and Strix Scope II, but we’re seeing multiple brands jump on board. HyperX announced its GMMK Pro competitor just a few months ago, which is fitted with its own gasket mount and board foam. For a $380 keyboard, SteelSeries definitely could’ve done more here.
The Apex Pro Mini still has all of the features that make it a unique keyboard, with the adjustable actuation being the main selling feature. In addition, you can bind multiple actions to the same key and multiple layers of inputs through SteelSeries Engine. It’s just hard to justify spending this much money to unlock those features when the typing experience doesn’t live up to the price.
One thing is clear: SteelSeries knows how to design a keyboard that looks beautiful. Hopefully, future “drops” will be able to match what’s inside with what you see on the outside.