Tecware Phantom 88 TKL: The king of budget mechanical gaming keyboards?

In this overview and unboxing, I'll be taking a look at the Tecware Phantom 88 TenKeyLess (TKL) Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Outemu Brown switches.

It's been on the scene for a while now so I was interested to see how it's held up over time with all the new TKL keyboard releases over the last year.

TL;DR - What you'll learn by reading this

I give my first impressions of the keyboard, I then dive into its design and layout, key switches, keycaps, functionality and software, overall build quality, value for money, and whether I think it's worth buying if you're in the market for an upgrade (spoiler alert: it is!).

There's plenty to cover, so grab a caffeinated beverage and let's get on with the show.

First Impressions

The Tecware Phantom 88 TKL gaming keyboard box and packaging is clean and simplistic. It's a matte black box with the keyboard displayed on the front under the Tecware logo and specifications/features on the back.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL packaging box rear photo
Inside, we find the keyboard securely fixed in place with foam, polystyrene foam wrap and a plastic profiled cover. 

In addition to this, four extra key switches of the same type and switch puller are provided, along with a keypuller secured on the underside of the keyboard.

There's a QR code on the back of the box which links directly to the keyboard manual - bonus points for saving the trees!

When lifting the keyboard out of the box, I was pleasantly surprised by the weight and feel as these are usually the first aspects that lack in budget keyboards in this price range.  Coming in at 1kg, it the Phatom 88 TKL has a real premium and solid feel to it.

Design and Layout

The keyboard comes in a Ten Key Less layout (362x134x40mm) which is often considered the most optimum layout for gaming, catering to the majority of needs whilst saving on valuable desk real estate. 

For the last year, I've personally been daily driving a 60% keyboard, so it's been a pleasure to come back to a TKL layout again, and getting the most out of those arrow keys.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL top down with keycaps and hotswappable switches photo

The Phantom 88 TKL has an understated style with a gunmetal grey plate, slightly angled corners and the model name printed on the bottom left corner of the rim.  The rim around the plate is almost flush with the plate itself, and with the floating key design, it's easy to blast out the debris from your Cheetos left between your keys.

It's equipped with a standard-length 1.8m braided cable with gold plated USB 2.0 connector, accompanied by an end cap.

As you can see pictured below, the cable management on the underside of the board allows for the cable entry position to be swapped between the left, right and centre, providing more flexibility for desk layouts.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL cable management photoThe extendable feet are rubberised to provide a sturdy grip on your desk, preventing any movements when slapping those keys. Standard stuff, but welcomed nonetheless.

Key Switches

This model comes in Red, Blue and Brown Outemu switches, and is hot-swappable, however, this is limited to Outemu or switches with the similar structure only. 

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL Outemu Brown Switches photo

I chose the Outemu Browns for this overview as I'd been on linear switches for the last year, so figured it was time to give the old tactiles a fresh look. Through the years, my preference has always been Cherry MX Browns so this also played a factor.

Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised with the Outemu Browns. They're considered lesser switches compared to Cherry MX, but finding Cherry MX in a keyboard at this price range is like finding a unicorn.

With that said, they're a bit louder than what I've been using recently (yes - these aren't considered the "loud ones"), but after a couple of days, I can honestly say that the extra noise isn't too noticeable and there have been no complaints from the EG team when I'm spamming the keyboard on Discord.

The Outemu Browns are very responsive and I've had no qualms using them for fast-paced FPS games. Tactile bump ftw too.

Swapping out the switches is super easy — simply remove the keycap using the Keycap Puller provided, along with the Key Switch Puller, and slotting in your new switch. The four replacement switches are definitely a nice to have and a rarity these days.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL removable hotswap Outemu Brown switch photo

Outemu Brown Switch Specs:

  • Style: Tactile
  • Noise: Light with a slight bump
  • Actuation Force: 55 cN
  • Actuation Point: 1.8 mm
  • Total Travel: 4.0 mm
  • Lifecycle: 50 million clicks


If the Brown switches aren't for you, it's also available with Outemu Red or Outemu Blue switches if they're more your style.


The keycaps are double injected ABS with laser printing and a slightly different texture to your usual keycaps. It's not quite as smooth and glossy as most others; rather rubbery and grippier, but it still has good brightness and shines through the legends.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL ABS doubleshot keycaps photo

They're also fairly durable and after some light usage, they show no signs of wear or damage. However, after long term use, they may be susceptible to the dreaded greasy/shiny look, which most ABS keycaps are afflicted with. Although, we haven't seen or heard these complaints from our community and we've sold them since May 2020.

The legend style is basic but clean, and has nice clarity with the RGB shining through. 


The majority of the Tecware Phantom 88 TKL features can be controlled without the software; which is always useful, however, the software is very easy to install and can be downloaded directly from the Tecware website.

The benefits of using the software are that you can create up to three different profiles, record macros, assign new keys and change the polling rate. Personally, I'm not mad about RGB, but for those who are, the LED Editing Mode provides a very solid amount of options and a lot of customisation to go along with them - more than you'd expect from gear at this price point.

Tecware Phantom 88 TKL RGB software app lighting effects photo

The speed of the lighting effects and brightness levels can be controlled using the Fn and arrow keys. The two lights located above the arrow keys also indicate when you've reached the minimum or maximum setting. Six lighting presets have been bound to the M1 to M6 function keys.

Being involved in the finance side of Esports Gear, I'm regularly buried in a spreadsheet, so the calculator shortcut is a simple but personal favourite. 

Having extra features on a budget keyboard tends to be uncommon, but moreso with a TKL layout as its form factor limits the chances of having dedicated media or macro keys.

Noteworthy features:

Full N-Key Rollover

Overall Build Quality

I've been using the keyboard for a few weeks now so my perspective on general wear and tear will be limited, although I feel confident in saying that due to the solid build quality — again, for this price point — the Phantom 88 TKL should enjoy a long life span.

The metal plate provides high rigidity and offers little flex, and with the Outemu switches being rated for 50 million clicks, as well as being hot-swappable, this makes them more future-proof.

As mentioned above; a possible issue that may arise with long-term use is the ABS keycaps surface wear, but this is yet to be seen as an issue from our community and this type of material is part in parcel with a keyboard at this price range.

Value For Money

Coming in at £54.99 (RRP £59.99) at the time of this article, there's absolutely no debate that you get more than your money's worth with the Phantom 88 TKL. Similar keyboards at this price point that I have seen or used, don't appear to offer the same kind of quality feel and overall package offered.

The areas where the keyboard maybe be saving money (Switches and Keycaps), do not deduct enough from the keyboard's performance enough to warrant the extra £40-£60 some higher-end gaming keyboards retail for.


When it comes to gaming, performance is key.

So, when taking the cons listed below into consideration - for me at least, none on them are of much concern or should be expected in a keyboard in this price bracket.

I can honestly say that if this quality of keyboard was available at this price range when I first started gaming (back when ball mice were a thing), it would have made things much easier, cheaper and more enjoyable.

The Tecware Phantom 88 TKL Mechanical Keyboard may have been on the market for a few years now, but it has stood the test of time when it comes to value for money, which is always a good sign.

It's a compelling offer for anyone looking to level up their older gear or take the leap into the mechanical switch world  it's why it's a go-to for many Esports Gear community members who aren't looking to splash out, working from home and are tired of their old membrane keyboard, or those who are getting into PC gaming and wanting to swerve the shamefully low quality "gaming gear" punted by most big-box retailers and online marketplaces.

The Pros

  • The price
  • Hot-swappable key switches
  • Premium build quality
  • Doubleshot keycaps
  • Flexible cable management
  • Highly customisable lighting effects and macros / impressive software for price-conscious products

The Cons

  • Cheaper ABS keycap material used (although doubleshot is a pro)
  • No detachable USB cable
  • No USB passthrough
  • No dedicated macro or media keys
  • The Outemu Brown switches are a bit noisier than more popular 'Brown' switches, i.e. Cherry or Kailh