No frills. Nothing crazy. No bulk. No distractions. The SteelSeries Apex M500 is one of my favourite mechanical keyboards for one reason: it’s simple.

That single, solid slate packs Cherry MX switches with a decent action. They squeak a bit at times. I don’t know if that’s due to the humidity in my office during the summer or the build of the keyboard itself, but these keys have a minor squeak occasionally. I’d say I notice a handful of minor, nitpicky squeaks every time I write around 500 words. There’s my downfall with the SteelSeries Apex M500, and since I’m almost always working with headphones on, it doesn’t bother me.

The stripped down form factor arrives because of SteelSeries’ choice to target the budget market with a mechanical keyboard. This input checks in at $99.99, and it was built in such a way that even pro gamers cite it as a decent board.

That simplistic design has been applied to the cable management principle here as well. It’s easy, SteelSeries just created three paths on the back of the keyboard for your cable to slot into for the right angle of distribution to the back of your desk. Once into the slot, the cable doesn’t budge.

SteelSeries also offers the SteelSeries Engine 3 software with their hardware. Compared to other peripherals in this company’s lineup, the Apex M500 is incredibly barebones (not a knock, mind you, its minimalism is why I like it), so there’s not much you can do with the SteelSeries software.

You can alter the brightness level of the keyboard’s backlight, change whether it’s a solid blue or a “breathing” blue, alter keybindings and create macros, if you’re so inclined. Macro making is as easy as launching the editor, pressing Start and typing through your commands. From there you’ll bind it to a key, save and move on.

And here’s the result: Joey Is Awesome.

Trust me, it works.

Unlike other SteelSeries peripherals, the only colour choice here is the blue that ships with the board. You won’t find millions of colours available from a picker. You’ll adjust the brightness or pattern, and that’s about it. You can do this from either the software itself or one of the function keys while holding the SteelSeries key.

I’ve been using the SteelSeries Apex M500 exclusively for three weeks. Its form factor, build quality, budget price and minimal design have made it one of my favourite keyboards to date. Is it the best out there? No, certainly not. However, if you’re looking for a minimalistic keyboard, a slim board for travel, building a PC on a budget or aiming to dip your toes into the mechanical keyboard market, the SteelSeries Apex M500 is a great choice.

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