SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini review: An enthusiast’s keyboard

steelseries apex pro mini wireless on a pink background.

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless

MSRP $240.00

“If you can afford the price, the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless might be the best gaming keyboard you can buy.”

Pros

  • Unique Omnipoint 2.0 switches
  • Dual actuation inputs
  • Perfect size for gamers
  • Satisfying typing and gaming experience
  • Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections

Cons

  • Unnecessarily expensive
  • SteelSeries GG is a bit confusing
  • 60% form factor limits use cases

SteelSeries is entering a realm it has never gone to before — the recently charted land of 60% gaming keyboards. Using its ever-popular Apex Pro as a template, SteelSeries cut down the size of its flagship to create a keyboard that meets the needs (and desk space) of gamers in 2022. SteelSeries went further than pulling out keys, too, which is why the Apex Pro Mini and Apex Pro Mini Wireless are among the best gaming keyboards you can buy.

That doesn’t mean it’s the best keyboard for you, though. The second-generation Omnipoint switches and dual wireless connections are big selling points for the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, but its prohibitively high price tag means you should shop for other options before settling on SteelSeries’ first small form factor gaming keyboard.

Price

steelseries apex pro mini and pro mini wireless together.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Before getting to any aspect of the Apex Pro Mini and Apex Pro Mini Wireless, we need to talk about pricing. The Apex Pro Mini is $180 and the wireless version clocks in at $240. It is, by far, the most expensive 60% gaming keyboard you can buy, at least among mainstream brands. The Corsair K65, an expensive keyboard in its own right, is only $110 by comparison.

It’s not even close in a lot of cases. Asus’ ROG Falchion NX is wireless and $150, nearly $100 less than what SteelSeries is asking. And the wired HyperX Alloy Origins Core sells for as little as $70, $110 less than the wired Apex Pro Mini. It’s expensive compared to SteelSeries’ own offerings, too. The full-size Apex Pro, which comes with a wrist rest and an OLED display, is only $20 more expensive than the Apex Pro Mini.

The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless is a downright terrible value.

I want to get this out of the way because I love this keyboard. It’s great, and I would easily recommend it even if it was slightly more expensive than the competition. But it’s a downright terrible value. This is a keyboard for staunch enthusiasts who don’t mind throwing some money away on premium peripherals. If you want a deal, make sure to read our roundup of the best budget mechanical keyboards.

Design

the steelseries apex pro mini wireless compared to a full-size keyboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s hard to understand how small a 60% keyboard is until you pick one up with one hand. The Apex Pro Mini is 11.5 inches wide, 1.6 inches tall, and 4 inches deep, and it clocks in at just over one pound. That makes it smaller than the Razer Huntsman Mini but slightly heavier than the Asus ROG Falchion. The extra heft is likely due to the aluminum frame the keyboard uses, though it feels far from heavy when stacked up against a full-sized keyboard.

The look is basic, but I’m a fan. There’s a tasteful SteelSeries logo on the front of the keyboard, as well as a logo on the back. The Apex Pro Mini Wireless is as basic as gaming keyboards come, but the small branding touches still make it feel more premium than a black plastic rectangle.

Going down to a 60% form factor comes with sacrifices, namely the arrow keys. I much prefer a 65% form factor with dedicated arrow keys, but SteelSeries doesn’t leave you out in the cold with the Apex Pro Mini. It has a “Meta” layer that you can activate with the SteelSeries key, which opens up media buttons, arrow keys, functions, and much more. Even better, you can set any key for any function in the Meta layer through SteelSeries GG.

Although I prefer 65% for day-to-day use, there’s no doubt that this tiny form factor is excellent for gaming. The Apex Pro Mini is only slightly longer than two gaming mice but end-to-end, allows you to position the keyboard exactly where you want while leaving ample desk space. It’s the opposite experience of Asus ROG Strix Flare II, which is almost as wide as my gaming monitor.

Connectivity and ports

dual connection switch on the steelseries apex pro mini wireless.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The wireless version of the Apex Pro Mini is $60 more than the wired version, but it earns that extra price. You have the option between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless, and the low latency version feels like you’re using a cable. SteelSeries claims 40 hours of battery life, but you’ll likely get far more due to the keyboard’s automatic sleep mode.

Like other SteelSeries peripherals, the sleep mode isn’t perfect (read our SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless review for more). There’s a delay when you wake up the keyboard as it responds to the dongle. It’s about a second or two on the Apex Pro Mini, which makes it feel much less snappy than a wireless keyboard like the Logitech G915 TKL.

When the battery runs out, you can charge the Apex Pro Mini with the USB-C port on the back of the keyboard. It sits next to the connection switch, which allows you to toggle between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz or turn the keyboard off.

Omnipoint switches

omnipoint switches on the steelseries apex pro mini wireless.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Outside of the fact that this is the first 60% keyboard from SteelSeries, the Apex Pro Mini also stands out as the first keyboard to use the company’s Omnipoint 2.0 mechanical switches. The first version debuted on the full-size Apex Pro, and SteelSeries says this 2.0 version offers 11x faster response times, 10x faster actuation times, and are two times as durable as “standard mechanical keyboards.”

And to my surprise, I can actually validate some of those claims. For durability, the Omnipoint 2.0 switches are guaranteed to offer 100 million key strokes (double that of a traditional Cherry MX switch), and for actuation, the Omnipoint 2.0 switches can go down as low as 0.2mm. That compares to just over 1mm on the fastest mechanical switches.

The Apex Pro Mini feels like a dream for gamers.

That actuation point is what makes Omnipoint 2.0 switches stand out. You can adjust it from 0.2mm up to 3.8mm across the board or on a per-key basis. And it works. I bumped everything down to 0.2mm, and it felt like all I had to do was lay my finger on a key for it to register an input. It’s terrible for typing, but for gaming? The Apex Pro Mini feels like a dream.

Razer also has adjustable actuation on its Huntsman Mini Analog, but it doesn’t go nearly as low as what SteelSeries is offering. I’ll rarely use 0.2mm as an actuation force across the keyboard, but I enjoyed bumping down to sub-1mm ranges on my space bar and WASD keys while playing games. It feels like an entirely different way to play, and I never had issues with doubled or missed inputs.

Gaming and typing performance

symbols on the steelseries apex pro mini wireless.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

After configuring my actuation points, I was flying when playing games on the Apex Pro Mini. I particularly liked using it in fast-paced shooters — Destiny 2, Doom Eternal, Valorant — where the low actuation point felt like it was making a big difference. Using the keyboard outside of gaming is a bit of a hassle, though.

The 60% form factor has all of the keys you need (minus arrow keys), but using one as a daily driver isn’t perfect. It’s not that the keys are smaller, but the fact that there’s no extra board under you hands. I subconsciously balance my hand on the top of a keyboard when pressing number keys, for example, and a 60% keyboard like the Apex Pro Mini exposes those hand rails. I found myself having more slip-ups with typos when typing for a long time, which further proves that the Apex Pro Mini is a gaming keyboard first.

It’s still a joy to type on when it comes to feel. The Omnipoint switches are linear with a chunky, hollow clank to them that isn’t too distracting. They’re, again, for gaming first and typing second, but the Omnipoint switches don’t feel like another knock-off of Cherry or Kailh.

SteelSeries GG software

steelseries gg with dual actuation settings.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Bringing everything together on the Apex Pro Mini is SteelSeries GG — an admittedly flawed piece of software despite how much functionality it unlocks for the Apex Pro Mini. Starting with the good, GG gives you full control over key bindings both on the base layer and in the Meta layer, and you can rebind the keys to macros, application controls, OS shortcuts, and much more.

Beyond what you’d expect out of a $200 keyboard, GG also allows you to set up dual bindings and dual actuations. These two features are some of the more interesting options in SteelSeries GG. Dual bindings allow you to bind a separate command upon releasing the key, while dual actuations allows you to set separate inputs for different actuation points.

SteelSeries GG allows you to perform basically any PC input, and usually multiple ones, with a single key press.

It’s hard understating the scope of possibilities with this setup. I imagine most people will just use the keyboard as normal, but the power that GG offers is a big deal for those that have highly specific use cases. Easily executable macros in your favorite MMOs, an entire board of productivity shortcuts, or even a row of keys dedicated to advanced Excel tricks — you can perform basically any PC input, and usually multiple ones, with a single key press.

It’s a good thing that the key bindings are so great because the rest of SteelSeries GG is a slog. The RGB lighting engine works with various different effects, but it’s not nearly as flexible as Corsair iCue (and the colors in GG aren’t representative of the colors on your keyboard). The built-in macro recorder works, but it’s not as intuitive as Logitech G Hub. The list goes on.

My biggest issue with GG is how much bloat there is, though. There’s a dedicated section for giveaways, for example, and the Moments section captures moments of key gameplay in supported games (which AMD and Nvidia’s software already does). In addition, you need to create a SteelSeries account to even use the app, and the home page serves as a list of tiles to advertise other SteelSeries products (instead of, you know, the ones you have connected). GG is a flawed piece of software that, unfortunately, is necessary to unlock the potential of the Apex Pro Mini.

Our take

The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless is a monster gaming keyboard that does everything the best keyboards can do and more. The Omnipoint switches are the biggest selling point, even if they don’t completely justify the keyboard’s insane price tag. I’d buy this keyboard, but only with full awareness that it’s unnecessarily expensive.

Are there any alternatives?

Although there aren’t any other keyboards with Omnipoint 2.0 switches, there are some similar options from SteelSeries’ competitors:

  • Razer Huntsman V2 Analog: Cheaper than the Apex Pro Mini and comes with adjustable actuation point. You don’t have as much room for adjustment, though, and there isn’t a wireless version available.
  • Asus ROG Falchion NX: A slightly larger 65% keyboard that’s still super small and comes with wireless connectivity. It lacks Bluetooth, but it’s much cheaper than the Apex Pro Mini.
  • HyperX Alloy Origins 60: Significantly cheaper than the Apex Pro Mini while still coming with true mechanical switches and a 60% form factor. If you don’t care about all the bells and whistles and want a keyboard that just works, this one is for you.

How long will it last?

SteelSeries says its Omnipoint switches are guaranteed for 100 million keystrokes each. That is to say, the Apex Pro Mini will last you until you choose to upgrade.

Should you buy it?

Yes. It brings something unique to the table, even in the world of high-end gaming keyboards — and even at its sky-high price. Keyboards like the Logitech G915 TKL prove that a high price isn’t a death sentence, but there are still several other great 60% gaming keyboards that are $100 cheaper than the Apex Pro Mini.

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