SteelSeries M750 TKL Mechanical Gaming KeyboardThe PC gaming peripheral market is chock-full of quality RGB mechanical keyboards from various manufacturers, but SteelSeries is looking to stand out with their latest keyboard, the M750 TKL. A tenkeyless beauty that features SteelSeries QX2 linear mechanical switches, the SteelSeries M750 TKL has a small, lightweight aluminum frame and it has been designed with competitive gamers in mind. SteelSeries customers have been asking the company to release TKL versions of their full size keyboards for quite some time and the team decided that now was the right time. With a smaller footprint than standard keyboards thanks to the omission of the number pad, tenkeyless keyboards have gained some popularity over recent years, though they still remain a small portion of the overall keyboard market. The PC gaming peripheral market has some quality TKL units available, but it is a market that I think can be capitalized by manufacturers since there are only a few RGB TKL keyboards out there that I can currently recommend, such as the Corsair K65 RGB, Ducky One TKL RGB and Logitech G Pro. We'll see if the SteelSeries M750 TKL gets added to that list. When it comes to competitive gaming, tenkeyless keyboards can make a lot of sense, as they allow for an increase in that oh-so-important mouse surface space during an intense FPS session. You will often see competitive players of games like CS:GO turning their full size keyboards to the side to give them more mouse space during tournament play, while a TKL keyboard helps address this by design. For normal users, a TKL keyboard can help improve ergonomics, as it reduces the throw distance between the right hand and the mouse, which can also help increase reaction times from typing to mouse movement.
SteelSeries M750 TKL Keyboard Specifications
- Top Frame Material: 5000 Series Aluminum Alloy, Matte Black Finish
- N-Key Roll Over: 104-Key (All) (Specs taken from Steelseries website, the M750 TKL has an 87 key TKL layout)
- Anti-Ghosting: 100% (Full)
- Illumination: Individually controllable per-key RGB, including whole-keyboard patterns and reactive typing effects
- Fully Programmable with Key Rebinds, Key Press Macros, Text Based Macros, and More
- Weight: 1.9 lbs
- Height: 160 mm
- Width: 370 mm
- Depth: 35 mm
- Cable Length: 2 m, 6.5 ft
- Type & Name: SteelSeries QX2 Linear Mechanical RGB Switch
- Actuation Point: 2 mm
- Travel Distance: 4 mm
- Actuation Force: 45cN
- Lifetime: 50 Million Keypresses
- OS: Windows and Mac OS X. USB port required
- Software: SteelSeries Engine 3.11.6+, for Windows (7 or newer) and Mac OSX (10.9 or newer)
- Product Information Guide
- Replaceable Keyboard Feet
- Apex M750 TKL Gaming Keyboard (Part Number 64720)
- One Year Limited
SteelSeries M750 TKL - A Closer LookThe SteelSeries M750 TKL features a 5000-series aluminum top plate and it feels solid when you pick it up, with no frame flex possible. The 5000-series aluminum that SteelSeries is using for the top plate on the M750 TKL is a quality piece and feels smooth. The frame of the M750 TKL is minimal and tight, with bezels that don't extend too far beyond the usable portion of the keyboard. There is a natural upward slope on the M750 TKL in stock form, which some users may prefer, but I like my keyboards to lay flat. SteelSeries is using a clean laser etched cap font that isn't overly obnoxious, in fact it looks really nice. SteelSeries is using Cherry stabilizers on the large keys and everything feels uniform and smooth across the board, though the right shift key felt just slightly looser on the switch than the left shift key, likely due to the slightly longer key cap on the right side. The SteelSeries M750 TKL has a low profile frame with silver accents that line each side of the keyboard, with the switches sitting above the frame. The keycaps have a floating design due to how the switches are implemented and really look great while feeling good to type on, with proper spacing between each key. The small, tight frame of the M750 TKL lends to less resonance from key presses and the keyboard is very stiff, with frame flex being non-existent, even when I went at the unit like a bear trying to get into a tight jar of honey. The frame didn't tend to pick up fingerprints or dirt as much as other frames that feature brushed aluminum, like the one on the Corsair K65. Everything on the SteelSeries M750 TKL fit together well, with tight tolerances along the seems of the keyboard and on the plastic bits integrated into the side of the unit. The M750 TKL has media controls that are easily accessed by pressing the SteelSeries FN key on the bottom row of the keyboard. When the media keys are active, they actually light up orange, which can't be changed or toggled from what I can tell. The F5 and F6 keys are toggles for the LED brightness. There is a decent amount of tasteful branding on the M750 TKL, with nothing standing out as tacky or distracting. A metallic SteelSeries logo sits between the arrow and function keys on the right side of the keyboard, while the FN toggle key on the right side features a SteelSeries logo key cap. The metallic SteelSeries logo is really thick and implemented well and didn't have any issues peeling when I cleaned the keyboard, an issue that I've had with Corsair Strafe units. The indicator lights are also placed here in stealth mode, with no labels. Fortunately, it was easy to figure out through trial that the top indicator was CAPS Lock and the one beneath it was for Scroll Lock. The Gateron-sourced SteelSeries QX2 switches, which are essentially Gateron Red switches with modified housings, really grew on me over the course of this review. Unlike Cherry MX switches, the LED on the SteelSeries QX2 switch sits in a diffused housing above the switch, which will allow for brighter lighting than Cherry MX RGB switches. SteelSeries' QX2 switch is like a louder Cherry MX Red, with a very strong rebound that makes it excellent for fast-press gaming. While the SteelSeries QX2 switch is specified similarly to Cherry MX Reds in terms of actuation force, I did sense that the QX2 offered slightly more initial resistance to key presses than the MX Reds on my HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard. Though the additional resistance offered by the QX2 switch was at the initial point of actuation and smoothed out as the press continued, it was something I noticed and that I actually ended up liking about the switch. Gateron might not carry the name recognition of Cherry MX, but I personally think that they are a capable manufacturer who can make a switch that competes with the Cherry MX product in terms of feel and quality. [gallery size="medium" ids="200844,200845"] The USB cable for the M750 TKL doesn't have a gold-plated connector and isn't removable, which are both major shortcomings. The cable does connect in the center of the keyboard, which is fine, but for cable management purposes, I would have preferred it come out from the right side, closer to the mouse. The USB cable of the M750 TKL is reinforced well and secured to the keyboard nicely, though there is just a small bit of play if you grab the area where the cable meets the cable and shake it. At two meters long, which tends to be the standard for a keyboard cable these days, the USB cable of the M750 TKL is more than adequate in length for most desktops. The bottom of the M750 TKL has two small rubber feet along the front edge of the keyboard for support. I do wonder why SteelSeries glossed part of the plastic rather than just going with a flat plastic across the bottom? The glossy part isn't visible when the keyboard is being used, so the design decision is just weird. The textured bottom of the M750 TKL is pretty uneventful and it would be nice to see the cable routing channels that SteelSeries integrated with their Apex M800 keyboard here, for users who want to route a headset cable under the front of the keyboard. [gallery size="medium" ids="200848,200838"] Rather than using flip-up stands, the M750 TKL uses removable rubber bumpers to support the keyboard. While these rubber bumpers do a great job of holding the M750 TKL in place and preventing vibration, they are a nuisance to replace and they can fall out during transport. If you end up losing one of the feet during transport to a LAN party, replacing it isn't going to be easy, since these are proprietary feet. The upward curve of the M750 TKL in stock form was already sloped more than I typically like, so I didn't use the replacement feet that came with the M750 TKL beyond checking them for fit and seeing how the swap process went. It was actually kind of tricky to press the feet into the retaining holes on the bottom of the M750 TKL, as they have a tight fit that is necessary to keep the rubber feet in place. I like how the feet work, but the implementation and potential downfalls they can present down the road are a concern. The M750 TKL RGB features RGB lighting, essential for any high end gaming keyboard in 2017. The aluminum backplate reflects the lighting well and SteelSeries has done an amazing job with the look of the RGB on the M750 TKL. Since the LED sits higher in the switch and the M750 TKL has a floating key caps design sitting on the clear housing of the QX2 switch, the lighting looks simply stunning. SteelSeries did a great job with engineering the key caps to let the light through and the lighting is even across the legends of the cap, without any odd hot spots present. The RGB lighting effects can be adjusted using the SteelSeries button in combination with function keys, for example Fn + Ins: Changes backlight mode while Fn + Del changes the backlight color. This is very handy to know in case you want to do RGB adjustment outside of the Engine 3 software, or forego installing it altogether for a more simple approach. Overall, the SteelSeries M750 TKL has great build quality, with a well-built top plate, tight frame and decent ABS key caps. I am not a fan of how the height is adjusted on the M750 TKL, as I think the feet are just a bit cumbersome and a hassle to adjust, though they do provide a nice amount of stability and security versus a typical flip-up foot, which can have the tendency to fall forward in intense situations. The non-removable USB cable on the M750 TKL is a bit concerning, as any number of incidents could render the stock cable defective during ownership and without the ability to swap the cable, the user will have little recourse. The compact Logitech G Pro and CoolerMaster MasterKeys Pro S keyboards both have removable cables and it would be great to see SteelSeries follow suit, as the M750 TKL is an excellent keyboard hampered by a couple of small shortcomings, the non-removable cable being one of them. Let's check out how the M750 TKL can be controlled and adjusted with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, next.
SteelSeries M750 TKL - Engine 3 CustomizationThe SteelSeries M750 TKL is fully compatible with version 3.11.7of SteelSeries Engine 3, which is the latest version available from the SteelSeries support site. My M750 TKL keyboard shipped with the latest firmware and was instantly recognized by the Engine 3 software. SteelSeries Engine 3 is compatible with Windows 7, 8 and 10 along with MAC OS X 10.8 and newer. The latest public version of Engine 3 was obtained from the SteelSeries website and used for testing of the M750 TKL, along with the previously reviewed Rival 310 and Sensei 310 mice. The main configuration section for the M750 TKL lets users select their region, which changes languages in the UI. Users can also set the polling rate of the keyboard, but I can't think of a reason to run lower than 1000HZ on a typical system. The Global Illumination setting lets you set a uniform brightness across every zone of the keyboard. Users can also set a static color for the keyboard to run when it is in an Engine App. For example, if you set the default app color to blue and enable Discord in the Engine Apps, the keyboards will illuminate blue on the keys that aren't being used by Discord notifications. [gallery size="medium" ids="200862,200863"] The RGB settings available on the M750 TKL are pretty extensive, with the typical breathing and static modes mixed in with some unique modes like blocking and firework, which give some very dynamic pre-programmed effects. There are also several reactive modes available, though I find reactive mode typing to be way too distracting to use beyond some fun Out of the box, the M750 TKL has better RGB effects support than any keyboard I've ever used, as it supports Audio Visualization, Discord and several other built in applications, while also having an SDK available for users who want to get really down and dirty with their RGB programming desires. Full macro recording and programming of any key for macro use is possible with the M750 TKL. Since the keyboard is compact, there aren't any dedicated macros, so the ability to turn your F-keys or other unused keys into useful program launching macros, or in-game macros. The macro support provided within SteelSeries Engine 3 is truly extensive, as you can record a sequence, launch a program, emulate a mouse button and more. I personally set up a macro to crouch jump in PUBG, but with version 1.0 coming soon and vaulting upon us, the crouch jump will soon be obsolete and subject to deletion. SteelSeries Engine Apps allow for in-game and in-application RGB integration. There is also an ImageSync mode that lets you load up GIFS to the program for display on the keyboard, but due to the simple nature of the 87 RGB lit keys, don't expect more than simple, blocky animations with the M750 TKL. Discord and Audio Visualizer modes were both of interest to me, while I felt that actual game support was lacking. DOTA 2 and CS:GO are extremely popular, but I think SteelSeries needs to encourage development or do more in-house development to support games with Gamesense. SteelSeries shows they have some very strong potential with their SDK and the out of the box lighting and software integration of the M750 TKL really add to the overall value presented, especially for PC enthusiasts who love to tweak things to their exact liking. You can use multiple Engine Apps at the same time as long as they don't use conflicting keys, so Discord and CS:GO integration at the same time isn't an issue. SteelSeries provides a link with information on obtaining their SDK to develop apps for Engine 3, as well. I've found the current version of SteelSeries Engine 3 works well, without any issues to note, though I did notice somewhat high CPU usage when using the Audio Visualizer mode. In fact, SteelSeries Engine 3 took up more CPU cycles than any of my other background programs, though Audio Visualization is no light task and something that a lot of companies don't even offer with their keyboards. Overall, SteelSeries Engine 3 allows for extensive integration and works great with the M750 TKL, allowing the keyboard to reach its potential and do a lot of cool things. Let's check out my final thoughts on the SteelSeries M750 TKL and see how it stacks up in the current market, next .
SteelSeries M750 TKL - ConclusionWith excellent build quality and QX2 mechanical switches that I really grew to love, the M750 TKL is a great new entry from SteelSeries in a market that could certainly use more quality entries. The SteelSeries M750 TKL performed well in all scenarios, providing an excellent typing experience with its QX2 switches that sit underneath decent, if not remarkable, ABS key caps. The QX2 switches themselves provided smooth, linear response with a solid rebound on each key press. I didn't have any issues with accidentally pressing keys and it took very little time to get completely used to typing on the M750 TKL. The slight upward slope of the M750 TKL with the stock feet is a bit too high for my liking, as I prefer my keyboard to be a bit more flat on the desk surface, but I got used to it and the keyboard felt comfortable during day to day use, even after hours of typing. The various RGB lighting effects available to be set on the SteelSeries M750 TKL were excellent and the Engine Apps like Audio Visualizer and Disord Integration really rounded out the overall package. The SteelSeries M750 TKL comes in at a lower price point ($119.95 shipped) than the Corsair K65 RGB ($169) and Ducky One TKL RGB ($139), both excellent keyboards featuring RGB lighting and Cherry MX switches. Right now, for $115 you can also get the Logitech G Pro, which has a somewhat clunkier frame but still offers solid build quality and Romer-G switches, which I really like. The SteelSeries M750 TKL has solid build quality that compares well to the other keyboards I mentioned, with a solid aluminum top plate and decent laser etched ABS key caps. $120 isn't cheap, especially for a TKL keyboard, but the SteelSeries M750 TKL's $119.99 MSRP has it priced competitively with keyboards from other major manufacturers. In the short time the M750 TKL keyboard has been available, I have seen it has go on sale for $99 at the SteelSeries store, so users seeking additional value can wait for the next time it goes down in price.
The M750 TKL is a well-built, great looking TKL keyboard that ended up making a permanent home on my deskI've had a lot of keyboards come across my desk over the years and the SteelSeries M750 TKL is one of my favorites in recent memory. It has a couple of letdowns in the form of odd design choices, like the awkward rubber feet and non-removable cable, but overall, the SteelSeries M750 TKL looks great and is a joy to use, especially in competitive gaming scenarios. The SteelSeries M750 TKL feels like a quality piece of hardware under your hands and instills confidence that it will last for years of competitive gaming, even with the occasional rage quit thrown its way. Legit Bottom Line: The SteelSeries M750 TKL has solid build quality, Gateron-sourced QX2 mechanical switches and excellent RGB lighting integration. If you're into PC gaming and want a stylish TKL keyboard that can handle some abuse, the SteelSeries M750 TKL is an excellent choice.