Apex M650 good for home and office

The Asia-exclusive SteelSeries Apex M650 mechanical keyboard features a stripped-down, minimalist look, with exposed chassis and elegant floating keys.
The Asia-exclusive SteelSeries Apex M650 mechanical keyboard features a stripped-down, minimalist look, with exposed chassis and elegant floating keys.PHOTO: STEELSERIES

The latest addition to the SteelSeries arsenal of mechanical keyboards, the Apex M650 retains the fuss-free look the company's keyboards are known for.

The M650 line is exclusive to Asia, and features a stripped-down, minimalist look, with exposed chassis and elegant floating keys.

These are what allow the individual backlight of each key to shine forth, so that the entire keyboard pulsates with a gamut of colours, from shades of red to green to blue as you type.

It looks incredibly cool and pretty to begin with, though it soon became really distracting, especially while typing or just idly surfing the Net. However, I don't see it being a problem while gaming, especially for high-intensity games like Overwatch where your full attention is on the monitor and gameplay.

Plus, it can be switched off or set to a solid colour of your preference.

The M650 looks very simple and unassuming. The only hint of its gaming aesthetic comes from a cool rounded design with a silver lining running down its side.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $219

    SWITCHES: Gateron QX2 Red (linear, 45g actuation force), Gateron QX2 Blue (non-linear, 55g actuation force), Gateron QX2 Brown (non-linear, 50g actuation force) or Gateron QX2 Black (linear, 60g actuation force)

    FEATURES: RGB backlighting, 11 backlit modes and eight individual key lighting modes, music equaliser mode

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The keyboard's keycaps are slightly matte, providing a firm grip for fingertips and doing away with the issue of being a fingerprint magnet.

The M650 mechanical keyboards come in four switch variants: Red, Blue, Black and Brown. Instead of sourcing Cherry MX switches, the M650 line uses SteelSeries' own QX2 mechanical gaming switches, made by Gateron.

I tested two of the more commonly used switch variants in the M650 line: blue and red. On these, the Gateron switches held their own against the industry standards that Cherry MX had set for so long.

They actually feel smoother and crisper than Cherry MX keys, and are just as responsive.

The M650 with red switches offer a smooth clickthrough, and just the right amount of actuation needed to get the keycap to register.

The red switches are more prone to accidental key presses than the blue switches, just because they require less force to depress and don't have the tactile feedback of the blue switches.

The blue switches have a very precise registration point, so each tap of the key is announced with both a loud click and physical feedback.

While the clicking of the blue switches was more satisfyingly pronounced, the keys also felt a bit looser and more sensitive than the M650 red switches.

Like any other keyboard with blue switches, the M650's are loud - so loud that I felt really self-conscious typing on them in the office.

They are great for games that require precision, such as the real-time strategy game StarCraft 2, as each key is light enough that you don't get hand fatigue too easily, but not sensitive enough that you end up selecting the wrong unit just by grazing over the wrong key.

•Verdict: The M650 series is another promising lineup in SteelSeries' range of keyboards, offering keyboards that can take you from home to office.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'Apex M650 good for home and office'. Print Edition | Subscribe