Adjustable mechanical switches are a simple way to customize the feel of different keys on your keyboard. These keys let you choose their trigger point, or how hard you press the key before it registers input, for sensitivity that you can change based on the key or app you’re using.
Peripheral manufacturer SteelSeries today announced new wireless and wired mechanical keyboards with mechanical switches that let you adjust the actuation point of each switch. The SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini also allow you to program the keys so that pressing the key will register two inputs if you press the key down far enough.
Adjustable mechanical switches
SteelSeries first began selling adjustable mechanical OmniPoint switches on the SteelSeries Apex Pro keyboard in 2019. The OmniPoint 2.0 switches that debuted on the Apex Pro Mini Wireless and Apex Pro Mini keyboards released today are 60 percent more adjustable.
The new switches are linear (see our guide to mechanical keyboards if you lose), with a total travel distance of 3.8mm. The point of operation, from now on, is up to you. You can adjust it from 0.2 to 3.8 mm in 0.1 mm increments.
This is a much wider range than offered by the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog (1.5-3.6 mm) but significantly shorter than the Gateron X Lekker switch range found on the latest Wooting keyboards (0.1-4.0 mm). The switches on Razer and Wooting keyboards also support analog or joystick-like input in a small number of PC games that support them.
SteelSeries, a brand focused on PC games, suggested using the feature to customize your gaming experience, such as setting a higher trigger point for “deep throws” and a lower one for “featherlight touches.”
Personally, I prefer a more solid spacebar, and while keyboards with higher actuation points spacebars or hot-swappable mechanical keys are available, something like Apex Pro Mini keyboards do the same while allowing me to easily change my mind as well as adjust the feel of several keys, And not just the spacebar.
One-click, multiple inputs
The SteelSeries picks up a feature found in adjustable keyboards by competitors including Razer and Wooting: mechanical switches that can enter two inputs with the press of a single key.
For example, you can program it so that pressing “A” will enter “A” if you press the key down 0.5mm and then “B” (or something else) if you keep pressing the same key down another 0.5mm.
The SteelSeries advertisement cited game combos, such as walking and running or pulling and quickly throwing a grenade, as potential uses. Once I got used to implementing it smoothly, I found the feature useful in games where time is essential. But creative advanced users can also use the feature to hack some quick input off the battlefield.
Unfortunately, SteelSeries is currently introducing its own so-called Dual Action feature into these new consoles, and due to their lack of a number pad, the clackers are not well suited for all users.
How do they work?
OmniPoint 2.0 switches work like their predecessors using magnets and a Hall effect.
Typical mechanical switches operate when two pieces of metal are in contact. Each press of the OmniPoint 2.0 switch sends a magnet down the stem of the switch, bringing it closer to the Hall effect sensor at the base. Using magnetic fields, the keyboard reads the distance between the magnet and the sensor so it can see how well a key is pressed and log an entry (or two) as appropriate.
Since there is no physical contact between the parts, the OmniPoint switch chain can last longer than typical mechanical switches. Cherry MX Red linear switches and OmniPoint switches are designed to last up to 100 million keystrokes each. However, there are some traditional mechanical switches with lower ratings, such as the Cherry MX Silent Red (50 million keystrokes).
If you set the switches to their lowest operating point of 0.2mm, SteelSeries claims the switches have a response time of 0.54ms. One way SteelSeries says OmniPoint keyboards boost speed is by placing the analog-to-digital converter directly on the keyboard’s master rather than on the keys and scanning each key every 700 milliseconds.
Apex Pro Mini Wireless contains $240 for MSRP. The Apex Pro Mini is $180, which makes it a bit cheaper at the $200 MSRP than its full-size counterpart, the Apex Pro.
The consoles face direct competition in the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog, which is $150 for MSRP, and the upcoming Wooting 60HE ($175).
And for those who prefer a number pad, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog ($250) and Wooting Two HE ($195), which also support two-step operation, are noteworthy.
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