Gaming mechanical keyboard has been around for quite some time and especially after the expiry of Cherry MX switch patents, more and more variants of mechanical switches started to flood the market. Thereafter, plenty of low priced mechanical keyboards appear on the market and even though most of the time their build quality can be questionable, nonetheless, there is still some hidden gem that we often miss out.
Tecware Malaysia has reached us to review their latest gaming mechanical keyboard – the Phantom series. The one we will have a look is the full-size 104-keys Tecware Phantom.
Tecware Phantom Specifications
The Phantom comes in a packaging with:
- Tecware Phantom
- 4x replacement switches
- Switch removal tool
- User manual
The USB-A cable has a cap to prevent damages to the USB header in an unlikely circumstance while you’re bringing the keyboard to LAN parties or other occasions.
The cable is braided and has just the right thickness for easy cable routing. The added cable tie is appreciated.
Switch remover and replacement switch for do-it-yourself (DIY) repair if you happen to broke the switch stem or the switch stopped working.
Tecware Phantom comes in 2 variants, standard full-sized 104 keys and space-saving TKL 87 keys. The one we received in our labs is the common full-sized variant which most of you might be interested.
It has a minimalist design and I particularly like the gunmetal grey backplate. The overall colour scheme makes the keyboard looks professional and less gimmicky.
The LEDs here look kind of unfinished without an extra layer of the light diffuser. The top cover is basically having a cutout hole to expose the LEDs underneath it. Fortunately, the LEDs are not overly bright, so not really a big deal.
The chassis is well constructed, well at least, the design cues are extremely familiar from what we have seen from a certain OEM.
From the side, the chassis is slightly slanted towards the front to improve the typing ergonomics.
That is a familiar bottom chassis we’re looking here.
They have the keycap puller stored under the keyboard so you won’t lose it.
The keyboard has sufficient rubber feet to keep the keyboard in place while typing or gaming. Even the riser clip has the rubber feet as well.
The USB cable is non-removable, too bad. Then again, the cable groove under the keyboard allows you to route the cable according to how you want to manage your cables.
Moving on to the backlighting, Tecware Phantom supports Full RGB backlighting. Compared to the backlighting on other keyboards, the Phantom’s LED seems to be dimmer even at the brightest settings. The explanation given by Tecware is to reduce the distraction for the gamers. Still, I’m not buying that reason because the keyboard itself already has the ability to adjust the LED brightness, 5 levels to be exact.
Out of the box, you can set up the lighting straight from the keyboard through the Function (FN) key, M1-M6 keys, “-=” keys and arrow keys combo. As simple as plug-and-play.
It supports 18 presets which is shown in the screenshot below.
If you prefer to have more intuitive control over the lighting, Tecware is actually having a dedicated software just for that.
Keycaps, Switch & Stabilisers
Remember back in the days when double shot keycaps are considered premium accessories on a keyboard? The rise of mechanical keyboard industry also means that more research and development funds are thrown into the manufacturing to reduce the cost. Here we are, looking at the backlight compatible ABS double shot keycaps.
We are glad that Tecware didn’t pick up the factory’s default font and went for a cleaner and professional font. Just that the pad printing for the Function (FN) combination is horrible. Look at that Internet Explorer logo, one, the printing is horrible, two, who still uses Internet Explorer?
The Tecware Phantom comes in 3 different Outemu switch variants:
- Red – 50g linear
- Brown – 55g tactile bump
- Blue – 60g tactile clicky
You may have heard or read a lot of expert recommendations whether which switch is the best for what purposes. Frankly speaking, what matters the most is your personal favourite switch. I’m a person who uses both Red and Blue switch for gaming and work purposes.
The switch choice is a personal preference and there is no way for us reviewers to recommend you the “best” switch. The reason why the same mechanical keyboard has different switch variant is that it fits different people needs. Just like why the same shirt needs to have S, M, L, XL, etc sizes.
The stabilisers for longer keys is the Cherry style where it makes the keycap removal a lot easier. Just that the key felt slightly mushy compared to the wire style stabilisers.
The typing experience on this keyboard is very positive. First of all, Outemu switches feel a lot similar to Cherry MX switches except that the latter one is slightly heavier if you’re very used to mechanical keyboards. Then, the Cherry style stabilisers on this keyboard don’t feel as mushy as some other keyboards we previously tested, so, that also contributes to the pleasant typing feel on the Phantom.
Shortcut functions for launching some of the common applications.
If you do install the Tecware Phantom software, other than configuring the LED backlight, it also supports macro for the keys.
You get NKRO over USB, so no worries for games that might require multiple inputs at the same time.
Last but not least, retailing at RM219, this keyboard is something that everyone could afford, especially when there are a lot of other brands that selling gaming keyboards at over RM500 and above. To be honest, most of the time, they are selling the gimmicks more than the basic function itself.
In a nutshell, the Tecware Phantom is a good choice for those who eagerly wanted to try out the mechanical keyboards. Granted, it may not look as aggressive as other gaming mechanical keyboards, but it performs as well as, if not better then their more expensive counterparts. By that, if you purchase a keyboard just because it looks “gamer”, perhaps you need to get your priorities right.
- Good build quality
- DIY removable switch
- Plug-and-play and software controlled RGB lighting
- Macro function
- NKRO over USB
- Affordable price (RM 219)
- Non-detachable USB cable
- Dim backlight
- Cheap pad printing shortcut logos on keycaps
- Outemu Red switches
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