While I was extremely impressed with what SteelSeries did with the M800’s software. That is only part of the picture. I was really excited to see how the QS1 keyswitches feel when typing on them. I spent a little time with the prototype Apex M800 back during the launch of the new Siberia headsets, but with it at home I could finally spend time typing on it as well as gaming. Starting with the keyswitches, I want to stress that if you are used to typing on a mechanical keyboard, switching to the Apex M800 is a big adjustment. I know that sounds weird with this also being a mechanical keyboard, but the QS1 keyswitches have a shorter throw than Cherry MX’s that most people are used too. I personally prefer a little tactile feedback when typing as well so I normally run Cherry clears or browns but in this case the QS1 feels a lot like a Cherry MX Red but with the throw of a rubber dome keyboard. That means that when gaming you do get a quicker actuation so your reaction time should be slightly better but if you aren’t used to the throw you are going to bottom out your keys a lot.
I did put together a video that shows how short the throw is on the QS1 and along with that I covered some of the lighting effects that the Apex M800 can do.
Beyond the new keyswitches, the Apex M800 is what only can be described as a unique key layout in the bottom row. When I started typing on it took me a little while to get used to this layout. The spacebar is nice and thick and once I got used to it I did like this design. Typically on a mechanical keyboard I flip my spacebar backwards to angle it down because I normally wear the bottom edge more than the rest of the spacebar. The larger spacebar on this keyboard does mean I’m getting a little more contact than just the corner like normal. The downside though is the spacebar width is nearly an inch smaller than normal. This took a little adjustment on my part as well because I normally press space near the end. Personally I would prefer to have smaller keys on the bottom row and a larger spacebar.
While it doesn’t show well in the photos below because I took them in the middle of the day, but the backlighting on the Apex M800 is top notch. The center mounted RGB lighting does mean that every key gets perfect backlighting. The color reproduction is actually much better than in the past with the Siberia headsets and the Sensei mice, in the past I complained that in order to get a LanOC orange I had to set the lighting almost to a red but for the M800 setting the lighting in the software is spot on for what you see on the keyboard. One of the things I really liked when using the M800 is when you press the SteelSeries aka the function button all of the lighting turns off except on the keys that have functions set to them. This really makes it easy to get to your media keys quickly although I will admit when doing the backlight buttons it did make it harder to set the backlight to what I was looking for.