In the past few weeks, I've covered most RGB backlit mechanical keyboards on the market. Right now, there are only two switch-types I haven't touched - Cherry's MX RGB and Steelseries' QS1. It's time to check the latter with the Apex M800.
Steelseries' Apex M800 is an unique offering in this new wave of 16.8million color backlit mechanicals. It builds upon the plunger-based SteelSeries Apex design, but comes an unique series of features. It might share some architectural elements with Logitech's unique mech - the G910+, but these are only by coincidence. If you take a look at Steelseries' offering, its specs and build, you'd find the company has made choices and even some compromises to deliver the "world's fastest mechanical keyboard" - ironically, that's something Logitech also prides itself on.
At the core of the mech is the newly designed QS1 switch that claims to be 25% faster than the industry standard - which I suppose refers to Cherry's MX-Red, though Steelseries doesn't name the exact competitor. Another key element is the illumination. Apex M800 claims to come with "endless customization," and with the aid of the Engine software suite, there's actually quite a large number of things that can be tweaked around.
Like the G910+, Excalibur Spectrum and Razer Blackwidow RGB, Apex M800 has RGB backlighting, and it seems Steelseries went all in with it. The mech uses 2-MCUs, one for general customization and the second dedicated entirely to the backlighting. As a result, every key can have its illumination customized, and there are plenty of animated effects to choose from. If you have enough time, you can create your own templates and assign them to different profiles or games. In essence, Steelseries promises to deliver lighting that rivals and even outperforms that currently available.
There are many other things Steelseries announces loud and clear about the M800. The mech is not only the fastest on the market, but also the most customizable. Bold words, and while there might be features added to support these claims, it remains to be seen how it handles the competition. After all, the old Cherry-MX landscape has long since changed, and today we have plenty of mechs claiming similar things.