Your peripheral choices are just as important to your enjoyment of a game as the rest of your hardware, and that really goes double when it comes to your keyboard and mouse. I can’t imagine you’ll never use your PC for options other than gaming, after all; you’ll want tools that work just as well when you’re typing up an email or browsing Wikipedia as they do when you’re raining justice from above.
Mechanical keyboards get my vote for the best choice here, and SteelSeries is offering up a no-frills $100 option with their Apex M500 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The M500 is very light in terms of bells and whistles. It’s got blue lighting that stays blue; no crazy RGB nonsense like you’d see with the Corsair Gaming K70, here it’s all blue all the time. Honestly, months of using the K70 RGB with a nutty rainbow spiral lighting setup made this feel relaxing in a way! Other than that, you’ve got macro key options available with the excellent SteelSeries Engine 3 software…and that’s pretty much it. The M500 is an all-business kind of keyboard.
It handles that business like a boss, naturally. It’s pretty common knowledge that once you use a mechanical keyboard for the first time you’ll never go back; the M500 is a great example of this sort of keyboard in its prime, with solid and responsive Cherry MX Red switches offering that all-important click. Typing and gaming alike feel amazing on this thing. There aren’t any ghosting issues either, and the standard design feels immediately familiar and usable without any macro keys clogging up the layout. This is a wired keyboard, but the underside offers several options for cable management, which is a small touch but appreciated; sadly there’s no USB pass-through available here.
It’s not all perfect, of course. Your volume and media controls are relegated to the F-keys and you have to hold down a modifier to use them; this is a pet peeve of mine and something that really bugged me about the Cherry MX Board 6.0 back when I wrote about that. I understand SteelSeries and Cherry were both aiming for a no-frills down-to-earth experience…but some dedicated volume buttons would have been deeply appreciated. At least on the M500 the modifier key is on the left side along with the volume controls so you can reach both with one hand.
That’s really all there is to say about SteelSeries’ Apex M500 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard! I tested a bunch of games with it…and they all played pretty much like I expected them to on a reliable standard keyboard. For your $100 you’re getting the fundamentals executed at a high level; it’s up to you if that’s worth the money or if you’d like a little more pizazz. Of recent keyboards I’ve messed with, Cherry’s MX Board 6.0 feels like the M500’s closest relative, offering a similar feature set and slightly better feel – while also costing twice as much. A Benjamin isn’t a bad deal for a straightforward and well-built mechanical option like this, so if you’re not interested in exploding lights or a huge set of macro keys you might want to investigate to see if the Apex M500 can meet your needs.