SteelSeries brings its adjustable mechanical switches to compact keyboards

SteelSeries brings its adjustable mechanical switches to compact keyboards

The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini and Apex Pro Mini Wireless are a pair of new compact mechanical keyboards that come with adjustable switches, a feature that’s made SteelSeries’ previous full-size 2019 Apex Pro one of the most capable gaming keyboards around. The Pro Mini costs $ 179.99 (€ 219.99), while the Pro Mini Wireless costs $ 239.99 (€ 279.99).

Both keyboards use SteelSeries’ new OmniPoint 2.0 switches, which are an upgraded version of the OmniPoint switches used in the original Apex Pro. Unlike traditional mechanical switches, which use metal contacts to register a keypress, these linear OmniPoint switches use magnetic hall effect sensors, meaning they can sense exactly how far a switch has been pressed.

The Apex Pro Mini.
Image: SteelSeries

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless.

The Apex Pro Mini Wireless.
Image: SteelSeries

SteelSeries uses these switches to offer a couple of neat features. For starters, you can adjust the point at which its switches actuate and register a keypress. An OmniPoint 2.0 switch can register a press anywhere from just 0.2mm to 3.8mm of travel, an improvement over the 0.4mm to 3.6mm of range offered by the original OmniPoint switches. (Though it’s slightly less than what competing keyboard manufacturer Wooting offers with its own magnetically activated switches, which can be set anywhere from 0.1mm to 4.0mm.) Gamers might want to set a switch to actuate the second it starts to be pressed, while typists might want to cut down on errant keypresses by having them wait for a full press before actuating.

You can also assign multiple commands to a single switch on the Apex Pro Mini and Apex Pro Mini Wireless. Examples given by SteelSeries include half-pressing a switch to walk but pressing it fully to run in a game or half-pressing to equip a grenade and fully pressing to throw it. The OmniPoint 2.0 switches are rated to last 100 million keypresses, the same as what Cherry promises from its linear MX Red switches.

Both keyboards use a compact 60-percent layout, which means they lack the function row, numpad, and even arrow keys of full-size keyboards like the Apex Pro. That could be an advantage for mouse-and-keyboard gamers who’ll have more space on a desk to move a mouse around, but in my experience, it’s less good for office productivity. Having to use a keyboard shortcut to access arrow keys is a nightmare in Excel, for example.

Magnetically activated switches are a rarity on wireless keyboards, so much so that keyboard manufacturer Hephboard claims that its recently announced H1-Hera (which it’s currently funding on Kickstarter) is the “world’s first” wireless keyboard to use them. SteelSeries’ Apex Mini Wireless can connect wirelessly to a computer using an included 2.4GHz wireless dongle or via Bluetooth. Battery life is rated at 30 hours with the dongle or 40 hours with Bluetooth in its default lighting profile.

Other features include double-shot keycaps with shine-through legends made of durable PBT plastic, detachable USB-C cables on both models, and per-key RGB lighting.

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