Ah, the keyboard. The bread and butter of the PC gamer. There are so many models to choose from, how can you pick? Well, if you're looking for a good keyboard at the under $40 mark, then I may recommend the Tecware Phantom mechanical keyboard. While it is a small package, it has many, though not all, of the functions of a standard gaming keyboard while having a series of beautiful RGB settings that can be easily customized right there on the keyboard itself. Just don't expect much from the accompanying software.
This product was recieved for free, but if you want your own you can find one on Amazon.
First off, this keyboard is rather bare bones. The body is made out of plastic, while the back is made of a gunmetal alloy. It does come with the standard legs to stand it up to put it at a better typing angle and a few replacement switches in case one or two of your keys goes dead. However, if you're looking for whistles and bells this keyboard isn't for you. There are no output ports, volume dials, or macro keys. You may want to grab a wrist rest if you're going to sit on this keyboard for a while since the keys are set too high up to comfortably rest your wrists on the table.
For more in-depth specifications, you can look on the Tecware website.
As I have said, there isn't much extra to this keyboard as far as hardware goes, but that isn't to say that the functionality of this keyboard is only that of something you could buy for 10 bucks at best buy. The function key on the bottom of the keyboard allows the keyboard to control your volume, or open (in descending order of usefulness), your web browser, your control panel, or your calculator.
The RGB is underneath the keys, which are elevated up on the switches and the keys are built on a dark transparent material which really allows the light to shine through clearly. My problem with this material is that if the RGB is turned off, it's tough to tell which button is which. I mean, if you're intimately familiar with the QWERTY layout it isn't too bad, but if you aren't then the only thing you will be able to see are the alternate functions that are mostly for either the volume or to turn on the RGB. The keys are all but invisible without them. Which, lets be fair here, one of the big reasons you get an extravagent keyboard is to make it look like you're typing on a spaceship console in the distant year of 2050 so you aren't going to be turning that RGB off.
The font used on the keyboard does have a cool science fiction sort of aesthetic, but it does make some of the symbols, like the ampersand, really difficult to read. Again, not much of an issue if you know your way around a keyboard, but I did have a few moments where I looked down and went "I'm hitting the right button, right…?"
This RGB is absolutely gorgeous. My editor jokingly told me that when I was done I could use this keyboard as a disco ball, but there is more than just a little truth in that statement. There are 18 different LED modes that can be triggered just by hitting the FN and mode keys. These range from a solid color, to a ripple originating from each key you hit, to even a sine wave. If the full color spectrum is a bit too seizure inducing for you, you can also pick a single color of 87 different colors and it will still work in the different modes at varyiung light intensities to keep all the LED modes viable but less intense.
All of the lights can be modified on the keyboard once you figure out the instructions, which aren't exactly heiroglyphs but are pretty brief, so the manual included is less an instructional booklet and more a guided tour. It is possible to change the various modes with the keyboard software, but…well…
There isn't any software included with the keyboard itself, so you have to do a little fishing on the Tecware website in order to download the accompanyhing program, but it isn't necessary or, if you ask me, really recommended. I mean, it won't break the keyboard or your computer, but it's really crappy software. I'm super glad that everything about the RGB can be changed in the hardware because getting the software to work for the first time is like pulling teeth. Once it finally got settled in my computer it seemed to work consistently and, once functioning, it does let you assign macros and create a custom light scheme, which is useful but I'm really infuriating to start.
In action, this keyboard works as well as a keyboard can. As someone whose main weapon in Monster Hunter World is the insect glaive, I put it through it's paces and it did not disappoint. The keyboard responded quickly to all commands and never once let me down. Both the regular functions and the added functions did exactly as they were supposed to without me having to download anything extra or troubleshoot why, for example, the volume keys didn't actually adjust the volume. I've had problems with that in past keyboards, and I'm very glad that I didn't have to spend fifteen minutes finding why things weren't working as they should.
Although the hardware is minimal, as it will beon an 87 key keyboard, this tiny package brings big things as a keyboard. The RGB is easily customizeable and gorgeous, the added function keys are varying degrees of useful, and, of course, the keyboard itself is incredibly responsive. On the flip side, the keys are basically invisible if you turn the RGB off and the software is not only not included in the package but is really a pain to get started with. At the end of the day, this is a good, if only slightly flawed, gaming keyboard. The positives outweight the negatives and the negatives are easily worked around. If you want a massive gaming keyboard that more resembles the console of an airplane, this maybe isn't the keyboard for you. However, if you're on a bit of a budget but still want a good gaming keyboard, the Tecware Phantom is definitely one I would recommend.
|+ Beautiful RGB||– Software takes a bit to get started|
|+ Comes with replacement switches||– No wrist rest|
|+ Highly responsive||– Instructions are minimal|