Review: Tecware Phantom Mechanical Keyboard (Hardware)
Chances are, if you're reading this, you are likely sitting at your computer, right in front of your keyboard, ready to type out your daily comment on GBAtemp. The keyboard is one of the most important factors when it comes to your PC, whether you're a gamer or not, which is why the tactile responsiveness of mechanical keyboards is alluring to many users. However, when it comes them, there are tons of options to choose from, with each brand offering varying keycaps, switches, RGB effects, and other myriads of features. That's why we'll be taking a look at a few different companies and their ranges of keyboards, to see which ones come out on top, starting with Tecware's Phantom.
Having just under 10 years of experience of creating gaming peripherals under their belt, Tecware's goal is to create the perfect balance of affordable prices and solid build quality. With a retail price of about $50, the Phantom is on the lower end of the price range for mechanical keyboards, but after unpacking it, it both looked and felt like a more premium product. The Phantom comes in two variants: the tenkeyless format which lacks a number pad, and the full 104 key version. You can choose from Outemu blue, brown, or red switches, with the blues being loud and clacky, the reds feeling smooth, and the browns having a satisfying, tactile response when pressed fully. Each has their own merits, though I found myself most fond of the brown switches.
- A Tecware Phantom keyboard, in either full or tenkeyless form, with red, blue, or brown OUTEMU switches.
- Four replacement switches
- Two tools, one to remove the keycaps, and one to remove the switches
Upon removing the keyboard from its sleek black packaging and placing it onto my desk, the first thing I noticed was the distinct heft that the Phantom has; it feels far more sturdy than anything I've used previously. The smaller variant is obviously lighter, but the build quality is the exact same between the two. For those that enjoy RGBs, you'll be delighted to know that the raised keys show off the lights in their full glory, making for a flashy looking piece of hardware.
A lot of mechanical keyboards use fancy RGB lighting to draw customers in, having over-the-top effects so that they can stand out and match the rest of one's gaming setup. By downloading and Tecware's software from their site, you can choose from 18 different presets, along with being able to pick and choose which keys you want to light up with any color of the rainbow. Although the program is a little clunky to use, it gets the job done, allowing you to save color profiles, change the USB report rate, and edit your macros.
One of the standout features of this keyboard is its ability to change switches without the need to solder them to the board. You can just use the included tool to pop off the keycap, and then carefully lift the switch out to swap it for another type. It's a simple process, though I did have some trouble with a few of the switches just being so firmly stuck that they took forever to slowly yank out. Luckily, a majority of them removed just fine, and I was able to try out the three provided switch types.
When it came to using the Phantom, I was pleased with how comfortable it was to type on it. I quickly got accustomed to using it as my primary keyboard and I found myself replacing my older Cherry MX keyboard in favor of this one. Overall, it's a very no-frills item; there's no extra USB hub, no dials or other additions. You're looking at a keyboard that focuses on looking colorful and offering up a worthwhile typing experience, which the Phantom delivers in spades.
- Keycaps: Double-shot ABS
- Switches: Outemu
- Cable length: 1.8m
- Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes
- Weight: 0.95kg (87) or 1.14kg (104)
- Dimensions: 361 x 133 x 22 mm (87) or 444 x 133 x 22 mm (104)
- RGB effects: 18 modes, offering 5 brightness and speed levels
If you're wanting to get your first mechanical keyboard, but might be wary of putting down a lot of money for it, Tecware's Phantom keyboard perfectly balances a premium appearance, customizability, and good build quality, all for a modest price. Whether its for gaming or just everyday typing, the Phantom is a well-rounded standout keyboard.
+ Looks great.
+ Its Outemu switches are a joy to type on.
+ Switches can be replaced.
- Some of the switches can be a pain to remove, even with the tool.
- The capslock/numlock/scroll lock indicator is positioned poorly.
out of 10
A fantastic piece of hardware that exceeds all expectations. For those that want a quality mechanical keyboard that won't break the bank, the Tecware Phantom will suit your every need, and then some.