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The Apex M800 mechanical keyboard lights up when you touch it

Mechanical keyboards are the new hotness for gamers, but are they worth $199?

Eric Franklin/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Perhaps I've just been out of the loop, but it feels like this whole mechanical-keyboard trend just kind of appeared out of nowhere and suddenly, every gaming hardware manufacturer worth its weight in pixels is telling me I need to get one. For me, the SteelSeries Apex M800 is the first mechanical keyboard to make this subset look appealing.

I think it's the keys. According to SteelSeries, they're more responsive -- the company claims 25 percent faster actuation than the standard mechanical keyboard, which translates into "really responsive keys." But that's not what interests me. Call me crazy, but it's the the way the keys light up when pressed that really got me excited.

Each key embeds an LED light that is constantly illuminated and, when pressed, changes color to an equally bright, but different color. The spacebar is full and chunky and there are five programmable macro buttons that can be fully customized.

The keyboard will be available in the US in February for $199. UK and Australian pricing and release date weren't announced, but the US price converts to around £130 or AU$245.

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