Non-mechanical ('membrane') keyboards are typically quieter and more affordable than mechanical keyboards, so it's no surprise that some folks prefer them. The best non-mechanical keyboard we've tested is the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL, and today it's down to a new low price on Amazon: £39.99. That's a good deal for a compact keyboard that offers fantastic RGB lighting and a comfortable typing experience.
The appeal of going for membrane over mechanical isn't just down to price, as mentioned above. The key action of a membrane board is usually softer, given that keypresses are recognised as a rubber dome beneath the keycap collapses and presses down a plunger onto the PCB, sending a signal to create an input. A lot of these non-mechanical keyboards can feel a bit mushy and imprecise, but the Apex 3 TKL feels more measured, with enough feedback to let you know that the keypress has registered.
As a TKL keyboard, it is a handy choice for space savers, given it ditches the number pad completely in the name of offering more desk space for you to use your mouse. I've always thought of TKL keyboards as a happy medium between smaller 60 percent boards, like the Anne Pro 2 I mentioned in a deals article the other day, and full-size options. You've got all the keys you need, unless you're oftening entering numbers into a spreadsheet, while enjoying a smaller design that allows your arms to be more in line with your body.
Unusually for a membrane keyboard, the Apex 3 TKL also comes with an IP32 rating as this is a partially water and dust resistant keyboard which means if you happen to spill a little bit of your drink, it should carry on working just fine.
There is RGB lighting here, eight zones to be exact, which looks pretty decent with it being distributed evenly across the keyboard, sitting behind a layer of semi-frosted plastic. It can be configured within SteelSeries' GG software, alongside handy creature comforts such as the media playback buttons and the volume wheel, which is an especially nice touch for more of an affordable keyboard.
The only fiddly thing here from a gaming point of view is that the Apex 3 TKL only has 2KRO, or 2-key rollover. That means that only two keys are guaranteed to be correctly recognised when they're pressed simultaneously; if you introduce a third key, it may not register at all. Note that this 2KRO figure is a minimum, so plenty of three, four or five key combinations work - and SteelSeries will have wired the keyboard to support as many common key combinations used in shooters or MOBAs possible - but you're likely to run into trouble if you play games like OSU! where you're asked to press large numbers of keys simultaneously or you play local co-op with multiple people on one keyboard. These are all niche use cases though, so for most people this shouldn't be an issue!
So then: at £39.99 on Amazon, the SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is a pretty easy sell. It offers a convenient layout, the powers of soft-touch membrane keys and some smart RGB lighting all for a reasonable price.
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