A mechanical keyboard can be expensive, especially those with per-key RGB backlighting. But the tactile feedback from each key stroke cannot be easily mimicked by normal membrane keyboard. Does it worth spending money on a budget mechanical keyboard, like the TECWARE Phantom RGB? Let’s find out.
The Phantom RGB comes in a traditional long cardboard box. On the front, you can see both the “TECWARE” logo and the model name, as well as a outline of the shape of the keyboard. The specification list, including the physical dimensions, is printed at the back.
The Phantom RGB provides a total of three mechanical switch options (Blue, Brown and Red). All switches are made by Outemu. Our sample is using Blue switches with a distinct click.
Apart from the usual quick start guide, TECWARE also includes a keycap puller and four additional switches for replacement.
TECWARE Phantom RGB Mechanical Keyboard
The Phantom RGB is a full-sized 104-key keyboard, with the number pad on the right side and function keys on the top. You can find more information about this specific keyboard at the back, such as the serial number and power draw (5.0 V/0.25 A). There is also a cable routing channel, that allow the USB cable to come out from either the right/left or middle.
You get three white LEDs above the number pad for the usual Scroll Lock, Caps Lock and Num Lock.
The keyboard’s body is mainly made out of hard plastic, but there is a metal plate on top for increased rigidity, durability and looks. The Phantom RGB has a “floating-keys” design, which no frame is surrounding the key switches. All the keys are elevated above the surface.
A small subtle branding, ‘PHANTOM’, is located on the front side. The keyboard uses double-shot ABS keycaps with transparent letters on top, to allow light to pass through. The keycaps feel solid and durable, in my opinion.
As most of the other keyboards in the market, the Phantom RGB has two extendable feet. There are anti-slip rubber pads to prevent the keyboard from moving around on your desktop. You can also find a useful keycap puller hiding at the back.
Yes, the Phantom RGB can let users to swipe out the included key switches. Once you pull out the keycap and switch, you will be able to see the blue printed circuit board behind. You will need to align the new switch with those two contact points on the PCB. The switch has a translucent plastic top cover for showing the RGB lights.
If you would like to use a faster, more responsive key switch, such as the RED, on the WASD keys for gaming, it will be a very easy job to do in the Phantom RGB.
TECWARE includes the same type of switch out of the box, which could still be useful in case the default one start malfunctioning.
The USB 2.0 connector is gold-plated, and the 1.8 meters cable is thick and braided.
In my opinion, the Phantom RGB keyboard looks pretty with its simplistic design, with no aggressive shapes. The keyboard is compact at only 45 cm wide, which the narrow side bezels are one of the contributing factors. The metal backplate also adds rigidity to the keyboard frame. The overall look of the Phantom RGB definitely suits the majority of the consumers.
Because of using double-shot molding, the lettering on the keycaps will never worn off over time. The surface of ABS keycaps tends to become shinny after a long period of usage, because of the oil on our hands. However, it is too expensive to use PBT keycaps for a budget keyboard.
Outemu Blue Switches
All Outemu switches are built to lasts for about 50 million keystrokes. For the Blue variant, it aims to provide a tactile and clicky feedback, while requiring about 60 grams of actuation force. The actuation point is after 2 mm. The Outemu Blue is a clone of the Cherry MX Blue. When typing, it will generate a satisfying click/bump once you reach the actuation point. Please note that the switch will make quite noticeable noise.
- Outemu Red: Linear (50 grams)
- Outemu Brown: Tactile Bump (55 grams)
To control the RGB lighting of the keyboard, you can either download the driver software from TECWARE, or adjust using the “Fn” key. However, you will get less customization without the software. There are a total of 18 different preset RGB lighting effects, such as waves, ripple and breathing. You can also alter the brightness of the LEDs and save each setting as profile.
The LEDs of the Phantom RGB are all surface-mounted on the PCB, not inside the switch housings. The LED light will have to pass through the both the switch housings and the keycaps. The illumination is even and vibrant, but I would like it to be slightly brighter. Because of the floating-keys design, light is diffused around each key and create a rather pleasing effect.
You can watch the RGB lighting effects, as well as the how the keyboard sound (Outemu Blue) when typing in the video.
There is no dedicated media or macro keys on the Phantom RGB, but you can control media and RGB lighting using “Fn” + other keys. Moreover, the software allows user to define each key with a new function/macro. A windows lock function is also available to prevent user from accidentally exiting to the desktop while gaming.
In the software, you can even change the USB report rate of the keyboard. You can adjust it in four different values, from 125 Hz up to 1000 Hz. This feature is useful, if you want to reduce delay/latency of your keystrokes.
The TECWARE Phantom RGB Mechanical Keyboard is a joy to use, packed with tons of features. The keyboard is solidly built without any flex. The Outemu Blue switches feel nice to type on, with that tactile and clicky feedback.
It is rare for a budget keyboard to have modular switch design and per-key RGB lighting. The modular design give you the ability to swap the original switches out for something new, which provides both versatility and flexibility to users. The software is clean and simple to use. There are lots of customization to the lighting effects and functions of the keyboard.
For only $79.99 USD (MSRP), the Phantom RGB is a no-brainer for everybody, who wants to try using a mechanical keyboard but do not have a huge budget. At the time of this review, it costs cheaper at $54.99 USD. The lower price does not sacrifice features and quality of the keyboard. You should definitely consider the Phantom RGB, before purchasing other similarly-priced keyboards. It is one of the most feature-packed budget mechanical keyboard in the market.
You can purchase the keyboard from your local/online resellers or the links below from Amazon US.
Thanks TECWARE for providing us the keyboard for review. (Review Sample)
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