Finding the right keyboard can be a difficult task, especially if you’re picky like me. The tiniest off-putting thing can turn me away from a keyboard; it needs to be just right. The Tecware Phantom 87 is a keyboard that comes very close to perfection.
My first impression of this keyboard was quality and style. The Phantom 87 comes with a 1.5mm metal mounting plate, which minimises frame flex and gives the keyboard a heavy and sturdy feel. The board comes with Outemu switches and double shot ABS keycaps that have a pleasant grainy and non-sticky surface. On the bottom you will find four rubber feet, as well as fold-outs with rubber tips. This keyboard didn’t so much as budge during use. We also have three cable outlets on the bottom, which allows you to do cable routing. The braided cable can come out on the left, middle or right side of the keyboard. For $50 you’d be hard pressed to find a TKL keyboard with better build quality than this. Minor nitpicks would be the lack of USB passthrough and the cable is not detachable, but one cannot expect miracles at this price point.
The Phantom 87 is hot swappable, so you can pop in other Outemu switches or replace broken switches. Included with the board is four spare switches, a keycap and switch puller. The keycap puller is positioned on the bottom of the keyboard. We also have a standard bottom row here, which makes keycap customisation a breeze. I tried the HyperX black and white pudding set, which looked very good. However I eventually reverted back to the stock keycaps, as I preferred the sound and it looked more natural with the dark grey top plate.
The Phantom 87 comes in three flavours: Outemu blue, brown and red. The switches and stabs are lubed, which drastically improves the overall experience. The Aesop typing test on TypingTest.com usually gives me a pretty good idea of how well a keyboard types. Within a few minutes I was able to hit a personal record of 139WPM. On TypeRacer my average speed increased immediately. The typing is very smooth, with minimal rattle on the space bar and the stabs are generally good. The 50g actuation force on the red switches strikes a perfect balance between typing and gaming for me. For gaming, the Outemu red switches performed exceptionally well. WASD movement was good, and left Shift, Ctrl and Space Bar were all easy to press. The keys are very easy to spam, which is a must when gaming. For CSGO, Apex and Fortnite the performance was excellent.
The keyboard generally has a soft and gentle sound, but one slight kink here was the metal pinging sound. It does make a fairly loud pinging sound, especially on the bigger keys, with left Shift, Enter and Backspace being the main culprits. When you release these keys, the pinging sound can be quite loud. For me, it was hardly noticeable over the usual ambient noise. I was aware of it but it wasn’t loud enough to be an annoyance. Others might be more sensitive to this though.
The Phantom 87 is easy on the eye. The mounting plate has a dark grey finish, and the keyboard features a black plastic bezel. The font isn’t one of those obnoxious gimmicky fonts, and it looks elegant and clean. No extensive branding either, as we have a subtly placed “Phantom” logo on the front left of the keyboard, which actually looks aesthetically pleasing. The RGB isn’t overly bright and looks very good. I also really like the raised key profile. The Phantom 87 has a very elegant and professional look.
The software is pretty basic, allowing you to reassign individual keys to other keys, macros or functions. You can choose from around 20 RGB colour schemes, and you also have the ability to set up your own custom RGB styles. Very simplistic and intuitive, and it gets the job done.
The Tecware Phantom 87 has to be one of the best (if not the best) budget TKL keyboards out there right now. This keyboards just screams quality, style and performance, with very few downsides. An absolute steal at $50 and it won’t be leaving my any time desk soon.