I honestly cannot think of a mech that offers better value
Get the Tecware Phantom 87 on Amazon
So I did a video on the updated Tecware Phantom 87 recently, however that wasn’t the most recent version. Tecware was kind enough to send me the latest version of the Phantom 87, and it’s really great to see that they’re continuously improving the board with no increase in price. We’ll also be looking at two Tecware keycap sets, and some very cool looking magnetic case covers.
The most notable updates here include v2 stabilisers and a new keycap font. This version also features thicker, double-walled keycaps; they’re still ABS though. Looking at the updates in a bit more detail, the v2 stabilisers are a substantial improvement over the older ones, and this is evident when listening to the space bar. The other big keys sound equally good, and there is virtually no rattle. With this kind of stock performance, it isn’t really necessary to do any modding.
Something I failed to mention in my previous video is that the font has changed. The original version had a medium font, whereas this updated unit features a thinner font. I’m a big fan of thin keycap fonts, and it just creates a feeling of elegance and professionalism. The difference might seem negligible, but the thinner font greatly improves the aesthetics for me. These keycaps are also noticeably thicker with the double walls, and I got a measurement of 1.5mm. Even though the metal ping has been addressed, it is still present, but it’s very minor and I was mostly unaware of it. These updates are absolutely huge, and I think this cements the Phantom 87 as one of the best bang for buck TKLs on the market. This honestly feels like an $80 or $90 board.
As mentioned in my previous video, the Phantom 87 has a double foam layer, and that is why it makes such a nice soft and gentle sound. Not only is there foam in the case, but also an extra layer between the PCB and mounting plate. You get that ASMR sound that is almost comparable to a custom mech experience. This board features the budget Outemu switches and it is hot swappable. These Outemu Reds do have some scratchiness, and I decided to throw on some Krytox to see if we can improve the feel and sound.
It is quite hard to remove Outemu switches, so I’d recommend using a more comfortable puller than the one included in the packaging. This little puller is almost guaranteed to give you hand cramps. Make sure you have a good grip on the switch before you start pulling and wiggling, otherwise you could end up doing damage to the switch housing. Outemus aren’t the easiest switches to open either. The best way is to use a sharp-edged object and pry it open on one side. I was very satisfied with the end result: the switches felt a lot smoother and the sound improved as well.
The only real nitpick I have of the Phantom 87 is the ABS keycaps as opposed to PBT. The quality is great with these thicker walls, however ABS caps do develop shine over time. I just so happen to have two PBT keycaps sets here from Tecware, both of which can be had for under $20. Be sure to have a look on Amazon for all their keycap offerings. The first one I have is a standard white set. These are double-shot PBT with thick walls of 1.3mm. Some jagged edges here and there, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a file. I was very pleased to see that these keycaps also feature the new thin keycap font. You really get exceptional value here, and you can buy this set with the Phantom 87 and still keep it under $70. Unfortunately my set included two Z keys and was missing the N key, so if this happens to you just ask for a replacement set.
Then of course I love my pudding keycaps, and Tecware have their very own white pudding set. This is very similar to the HyperX and Banggood pudding sets, and you can snag this for under $20. The RGB really came to life when I popped these on the Phantom 87. The contrast of these white puddings with the dark grey mounting plate looked stunning. Some keycaps have a little mark on the back side, but you’re not really going to notice this when using the keyboard. Very nice pudding set and super affordable.
I also have some very cool looking magnetic case covers here, and these are available in black and white. They’re made of ABS plastic with a smooth finish. The covers click in very easily, and gave the Phantom 87 an attractive retro appearance. So you can really go nuts here with keycap and cover customisation. There is a useful preview tool on the Tecware website that allows you to look at all the different combinations, so you know exactly what you’re buying. It’s just great to have all these customisation options, and don’t forget that it is hot swappable so you can pop in any Outemu switch. You can really personalise this keyboard and make it your own.
With these updates the Phantom 87 is an absolute standout in the budget TKL market, and I honestly cannot think of a mech that offers better value. If I can be nitpicky for a second, I would love to see this board with a more versatile PCB that can support Gateron and Kailh switches, and then of course PBT keycaps would be nice. But what I’m describing here is probably a more expensive v2 version, and the Phantom 87 offers insane value at $50.