We’re finally entering the “comically tiny and fast” era of mechanical gaming keyboards. SteelSeries just launched the new Apex 9 TKL and Apex 9 Mini, two compact keyboards that boast custom optical switches and a surprisingly customizable design.
Ignoring differences in form-factor, the Apex 9 TKL and Apex 9 Mini are identical. Both keyboards use Double Shot PBT keycaps, replaceable switches, adjustable legs, and an aluminum top plate. They connect to your computer via USB-C cable and offer customizable RGB lighting (controlled through SteelSeries GG software).
But more importantly, these are the first Apex keyboards with SteelSeries’ OptiPoint optical switches. They actuate at just 1.0mm and have a response time of 0.2ms with zero debounce. And when you want a less sensitive keyboard, you can toggle the switches to actuate at 1.5mm using SteelSeries’ software. (I suggest creating custom “profiles” to make toggling easier.)
It’s clear that SteelSeries has something interesting on its hands. The company explicitly states that these keyboards are made for (and inspired by) professional esports champions, who have recently turned their backs on clunky full-sized keyboards. A compact design isn’t just portable—it also gives you more room to swing a mouse around.
The Apex 9 TKL and Apex 9 Mini both cost $130. Again, the only difference here is in the form-factor. I suggest buying the Apex 9 TKL if you need a multi-use keyboard, as it has arrow keys, a function row, and a handful of additional buttons.
SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL
The SteelSeries Apex 9 TKL features a tenkeyless design with OptiPoint optical switches and RGB support. Users can switch between a 1mm and 1.5mm actuation point.
SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini
The SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini offers the same features as the tenkeyless model in a more compact 60% form-factor.