SteelSeries Apex M500 Review

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We’re not strangers to SteelSeries at this site. We’ve reviewed plenty of their products including everything from headphones to keyboards and we’ve come to expect a certain bar of quality from SteelSeries. Today we’re going to look at the M500 which is part of the Apex line of keyboards, and the quality of this device is certainly in line with a lot of the other SteelSeries products we’ve reviewed. SteelSeries markets the M500 as a “tournament-grade backlit mechanical gaming keyboard” which is a bit of a mouthful. But what exactly does the hundred-dollar price point get you, and how does the M500 compare to the previously reviewed M800? Let’s take a look at where the M500 fits into the Apex lineup. 

Upon opening the stellar packaging the first thing users will notice is the M500’s minimal design. There are no flashy bells and whistles, there’s not any extra space in its layout. There are no volume knobs, brushed aluminum surfaces, or overtly contoured keys. Instead users will find the M500 to be a compact black keyboard that focuses on practicality over extravagance. We’ve seen comparable designs by companies like Corsair with their K70 or Razer’s BlackWidow, but the M500 feels more comfortable and its priced more aggressively than the aforementioned comparisons. Everything from the pressure required per keystroke to the spacing between keys just feels good, making it an optimal choice for both everyday use and gaming. The versatility of the keyboard definitely extends beyond just gaming, and part of that is due to its minimalism.


"Instead users will find the M500 to be a compact black keyboard that focuses on practicality over extravagance."

Let’s talk about some of the prominent features of the M500 aside from its practicality: Cherry MX keys, full anti-ghosting N-Key Rollover, and extreme durability. Most mid-range mechanical gaming keyboards boast the quality of their Cherry MX Keys. Hardcore gamers are familiar with them and Cherry’s proven technology is an industry standard for a reason. What a lot of them may not feature is N-Key Rollover. The anti-ghosting on the M500 is no joke. It’s amongst the best I’ve encountered and it supports true N-Key Rollover via USB which is fantastic, no need for PS2 input. I tested the keyboard over a period of a month with a variety of games like Dota 2, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, Doom, Fallout 4, and The Culling.

Not once did I run into a situation where my keys ghosted, either in the traditional sense or otherwise. Not one false key input was logged and any mistakes were entirely my own fault. I even used the Microsoft Applied Sciences Group’s tools designed to detect keyboard ghosting and it definitely confirmed that not one false keystroke was detected. Impressive.


"Not once did I run into a situation where my keys ghosted, either in the traditional sense or otherwise. Not one false key input was logged and any mistakes were entirely my own fault."

Considering durability is such a marketing point for SteelSeries in regards to the M500 I decided to put it to the test purposefully dropping it outside… on concrete… from a height of about 6 feet (what a madman!). Aside from an impact blemish on the left corner people honestly wouldn’t even be able to tell the keyboard had been dropped, and the keyboard still works flawlessly. The hard alloy shell is lighter and more durable than traditional aluminum, and the steel plate in the back of the keyboard protects it from any additional wear and tear while serving as the foundation that keeps everything held together so solidly. I wouldn’t dare try a test like that with any other keyboards, especially my cherished M800.


"That being said, the M500 is probably the best option I’ve encountered for a mid-range gaming keyboard. You really can’t beat the build quality, performance, and design."

Speaking of the M800, how does the M500 stack up? Well, as it turns out they’re kind of hard to compare. Both the M500 and the M800 shine in entirely different circumstances. Sure, they’re both marketed towards hardcore gamers, but the M800 strives to innovate while the M500 creates a new pillar of quality from tried and true technologies. Both of them feature a wealth of customizability options due to the SteelSeries Engine 3, both of them are comfortable enough for everyday use while making gaming a breeze. I still prefer my M800 because of the color options, lack of “click” which each keypress, and low-profile keys, but the price point for the M800 creates a barrier of entry that may not be accessible to all gamers, while the M500 remains modestly priced packing immense value.

That being said, the M500 is probably the best option I’ve encountered for a mid-range gaming keyboard. You really can’t beat the build quality, performance, and design. One thing is for sure: if you’re looking anywhere other than SteelSeries for gaming keyboards, you’re looking in the wrong place. These folks are the epitome of comfortable, practical peripherals and the Apex M500 adheres to that standard flawlessly. 

Review by: Palmer Sturman

A+

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