SteelSeries brings its adjustable mechanical switches to compact keyboards

The Steel Series Apex Pro Mini and Apex Pro Mini wireless are a pair of new compact mechanical keyboards that come with adjustable switches, a feature that made the previous full-size SteelSeries 2019 Apex Pro one of the most capable gaming keyboards out there. 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, an improved version of the OmniPoint switches used in the original Apex Pro. Unlike traditional mechanical switches, which use metal contacts to register a keystroke, these OmniPoint linear switches use magnetic hall effect sensors, meaning they can detect exactly how far a switch has been pressed.

Steel Series Apex Pro Mini.

The Apex Pro Mini.
Image: SteelSeries

SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini wireless.

The Apex Pro Mini Wireless.
Image: SteelSeries

SteelSeries uses these switches to provide some useful features. For starters, you can adjust the point at which the switches are activated and register a keystroke. An OmniPoint 2.0 switch can register a pressure anywhere with a stroke of just 0.2mm to 3.8mm, an improvement over the 0.4mm to 3.6mm range of the original OmniPoint switches. (Although it’s a little less than what) Competitive Keyboard Manufacturer Wooting Offers with its own magnetically activated switches, which can be set anywhere from 0.1mm to 4.0mm.) Gamers may want to set a switch to activate as soon as it’s pressed, while typists want to reduce the number of erroneous keystrokes by using them wait for a full press before activating.

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 fully pressing to run in a game or half-pressing to equip a grenade and fully pressing to throw it. The OmniPoint 2.0 switches last 100 million keystrokes, the same as what Cherry promises from its linear MX Red switches.

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

Magnetically-activated switches are a rarity on wireless keyboards, so much so that keyboard maker Hephboard claims that the recently announced H1-Hera (which it currently is) funding on Kickstarter) is the “first” wireless keyboard in the world 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 30 hours with the dongle or 40 hours with Bluetooth in the default lighting profile.

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

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