SteelSeries Apex M750 & Rival 310 Review – No and yes
I own a SteelSeries 6GV2 mechanical keyboard, and I love it and its Cherry MX Black switches. I love how it feels to type on, I love the sound it makes, and I love that it’s heavy and feels incredibly over-engineered.
I’ve been typing on it for over three years now, both at home and at work, and I’ve been super happy with the experience. But being a geek, I’m always on the lookout for something newer, shinier, and fancier, and so I’ve been keeping my eyes on SteelSeries in the hopes that I’ll find something that fits the bill.
So when I heard about the SteelSeries Apex M750 and saw a few videos highlighting its looks and RGB-backlit goodness, I got my hopes up that I had finally found a successor to the 6GV2.
Sadly, I was wrong. As pretty as the M750 is, and as much as I like its pulsating lighting and the option to light my keys up in time to my music and the way the light undulates across the ‘board as I type, the main reason to own a keyboard – namely, the typing experience – just isn’t to my liking. That’s largely thanks to the proprietary QX2 linear mechanical switches SteelSeries used, but also due to the design of the keys themselves.
2mm is far too much travel for my liking, and I didn’t enjoy how easily the keys press (the official stat is 45cN of force). I’d often accidentally brush against the Windows key hard enough to activate it while typing, too (which I’ve never done on any other keyboard I’ve ever used), and the keycaps themselves don’t feel nearly as high-quality as those of my 6GV2. It’s also very loud; more on that in a bit.
Love the Layout, Though
On the plus side, I love the layout. There are no dedicated macro keys, plus the Enter button has the \ button just above it and both Shift buttons are full-sized – my favourite (and preferred) layout.
The keyboard’s control software is also really good, offering several modes/applications that do amazing things with the RGB backlighting. I could even set an animated gif with the ultra-low resolution of just 22 x 6 pixels as the pattern if I wanted to, but the mode I liked most was the one that synced the lighting with whatever audio was playing through my PC, causing it to animate like an oscilloscope. That looks fantastic in the dark… but again, I don’t choose a keyboard just for its looks.
And also, I noticed this while gaming at night:
See the reflection? It’s not terrible, but it was certainly distracting.
Cacofonix the (key)bard
That volume… wow. The M750 is positively cacophonous compared to the smooth sound the 6GV2’s Cherry MX Black switches make when I’m typing. I type a lot at night after my girlfriend goes to sleep, and the M750 was loud enough to keep her from actually dropping off on several occasions. While she got used to it, the damage had been done – I became hyper-conscious of the sound I was making while typing, which turned out to be a deal-breaker.
Even while I was testing the M750 at the office before I took it home, I was aware of how loud the key-press sound was. Since I type at just under 100wpm, I can only imagine how annoying the staccato tap-tap-tapping was for my (very polite) co-workers. They didn’t say anything, but I got more than a few ‘looks’ when I returned to my chair from getting coffee/water/whatever.
And that’s a pity, because those negatives are offset by the high overall build quality (the keyboard base is aluminium and pleasantly heavy), SteelSeries’ excellent control software, and its anti-ghosting tech that ensures consistent performance no matter how many keys are pressed at the same time.
Ultimately, the M750’s light show and overall presentation is very pretty, and SteelSeries needs recognition for what it’s done with the control software. But that long travel, the keycaps themselves, and the loudness (and lightness) of the QX2 switches just don’t do it for me.
As much as I wanted to like it, I used the M750 for ten days, then went back to my 6GV2. If I’m going to spend more R3k on a keyboard (its RRP is R3200 but can be found online for less), you better believe it’s going to be perfectly-tailored to what I like, and this one’s only about 40% of the way there. Sorry, SteelSeries.
Rival 310 Ergonomic Esports Mouse
I also received the SteelSeries Rival 310 Ergonomic Esports Mouse to test with the keyboard, and I am happy to say my experience with that was much better. It’s beautifully-engineered, just heavy enough for my liking (good, because there’s no way to adjust it), and I love the rubber grips, the feel of the mouse clicks and wheel, and the ease-of-use of the little button that lets me switch between user-specified DPI settings on the fly.
Gaming with it was a pleasure, and I am sure I played better in the FPSes I tested it out with (Wolfenstein II, Quake Champions, Bioshock 2 Remastered). SteelSeries’ Engine 3 software also let me customise the functionality of each button and change the colour of the light that illuminates the SteelSeries logo on the back of the mouse.
It’s a bit expensive at over a thousand bucks for a mouse (for which you don’t even get a braided cable), but if you game a lot and want something high-quality, highly customisable, RGB-lit and comfortable to hold for bigger-than-average hands, I can highly recommend the Rival 310.
So that’s a no to the keyboard, and yes to the mouse.
- SteelSeries Apex M750 Score: 6/10
- Rival 310 Ergonomic Esports Mouse Score: 8/10