Tt eSports Challenger Keyboard ReviewManufacturer: Tt eSports
UK Price (as reviewed):
£35.00 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed):
Tt eSports is a new name in the gaming peripheral market, but as it's an offshoot of the more established Thermaltake brand, we were expecting good things. What we weren't expecting was one of the most bizarre keyboard features we've ever seen: a fan to cool your hand.
It's almost a shame that the Challenger has such a ridiculously attention grabbing headline feature, as the actual keyboard isn't bad. It's made from bombproof matte-black plastic that has a pleasing texture and weight to it. It's also a good size and doesn't dominate desk space quite as selfishly as other bloated gaming keyboards. It has a single USB port in the top-left of the keyboard, but this is of limited use as it's not powered.
The keyboard's action is a little heavy but the chunky keys have a pleasing punch to them, which, while not great for fast typing, is ideal for gaming. The Challenger certainly feels as if it could withstand even the most brutal bouts of rage-quit retribution. The wrist rest could do with being a little larger, however, which is the only downside ergonomically.
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The fan responsible for cooling your sweaty gaming mitts is a small but thankfully inaudible 30mm model that plugs into either the top-right or top-left of the board. Its mount rotates, so you can aim it where you like, but the connection isn't particularly sturdy and would be very easy to snap off with an errant swipe of a hand. We also found that the fan sends small but noticeable vibrations through the keyboard, which can be off-putting.
Perhaps not surprisingly, its cooling potential is fairly limited given that it barely shifted any air at all. While we occasionally felt a draft of cool air across our sweaty hands, it was more a trivial distraction than a pleasure.
The macro features built into the keyboard are more useful, although unusually there are no specific macro buttons. Tt eSports has opted for a software implementation instead so that gamers can bind macros to any key. This means the macro keys can be positioned under your fingers, but defining them is a pain.
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The manual is no help with this tedious process, and we would have appreciated an indicator light to show which of the three profiles (four, if you include the standard no-macro mode) was currently active. At least the macros can be saved to the 32KB of on-board memory, and switching between the profiles is easy using the function key and F10 and F12 keys.
The key removal tool comes with a pair of dummy keys for blanking the two Windows keys. We'd have preferred a few standard-sized dummy keys to blank off other annoying keys, such as Insert.
Our time with the Challenger left us cold. It's undoubtedly a solid keyboard but it lacks the killer features and flair of other gaming keyboards. The fan looks and feels gimmicky, and the virtual macro-key system was clunky to set up. Given that both the Logitech G11 and the Microsoft Sidewinder X4 are in the same price bracket, you'd need to have exceptionally sweaty palms to consider buying a Challenger.
- Connection Wired (USB)
- Material Plastic
- Cable Braided
- Extras Fan, software based macro keys, media keys, 2 x dummy keys