Look at you. You want to be a pro gamer, but your reaction speed is slower than a snail that has just puffed away the fattest spliff possible. Your current Xbox 360 controller is holding you back man! You need something better, faster and more in line with your ambitions!
Enter the latest piece of tech from Razer, the Sabretooth. It’s a controller that is marketed squarely at professional gamers, and has a few extra buttons up its sleeve in order to give them that necessary edge.
On the surface, this isn’t too much of a radical departure from the current Xbox 360 controller. The controller itself arrives in a rather decent carrying case that has room for a few extras if necessary, and the braided cord feels durable and able to withstand plenty of punishment.
The basic shape is there, but with a few more subtle edges thrown in for good measure. The surface itself is slicker, less porous than on the regular Xbox 360 controller and lighter due to it being a wired input device.
There are one or two design faults at play here. Take the standard Xbox 360 controller hub button. On the regular controller, that’s a nice little hemisphere with a polished look, but on the Sabretooth, it’s an ugly sticker on a cheap button. It’s dull, looks cheap and does nothing for the controller.
Likewise with the analogue sticks, if you’re the kind of gamer who prefers resting their thumbs on the edge of the stick, you might find those sticks to have some sharp edges. Fortunately, Razer remedies this problem by throwing in a pair of thumb covers, that can be applied easily and quickly.
With a proper D-Pad thrown in for good measure, fighting game fans should be in their element, alongside the hair-trigger sensitivity of the face buttons. Compared to the buttons on the vanilla controller, the AXYB selection here is a ton more responsive, at least half as shallow as what gamers are used to these days.
While a more shallow jab of the button doesn’t sound like much, considering how split-second decisions have become more and more commonplace in the esports scene, that tenth of a second that you’re saving with these buttons could make a massive difference in matches between opponents of similar skill levels.
But the biggest draw here are the extra buttons. Razer has thrown in two extra buttons between the shoulder and trigger buttons, and two more triggers on the belly of the controller which can perform four extra input actions.
So why extra buttons? Simple really: To save you that half a second when you need to engage a sprint or a knife stab in FPS games. Think about it for a second. Sprinting or meleeing usually requires gamers to push down on the extra button in the analogue stick itself, an action which delays a gamer, even if it is miniscule by international professional standards. Hell, even if you don’t like those triggers, you can easily remove them anyway.
But mapping those functions to an extra button instead, saves you that crucial bit of extra time. Think of it in terms of F1 racing, how teams spend millions on getting a minor piece of equipment right in order to shave off a tenth of a second. After a while, that all adds up in the end.
The other big draw, is the LCD screen located at the bottom of the controller. It’s more than just decorative though. It’s used to help map those extra buttons to the analogue sticks or face buttons, a process which is genuinely easy and quick to do once you get used to it.
You can save two custom profiles on the controller, as well as set your analogue stick sensitivity. And for something that takes a few seconds to do properly, that’s a boon for gamers who aren’t too keen on going through in-game menus to make their experience easier.
So will the Razer make you a better gamer? Well, that’s debatable. It takes a while to get used to extra buttons and to wean your muscle memory towards the new buttons instead of the usual analogue clicks. But for a gamer that knows how to take full advantage of what the Sabretooth offers, could see an improvement not in skill, but in the application of those skills instead.
So far so good right? But we’ve yet to discuss the biggest elephant in the room, and that’s build quality. The previous Xbox 360 controllers from Razer were notorious for having a bad habit of just plain out breaking down.
Will the Sabretooth follow in those footsteps? I honestly have no idea. What I can say, is that after handling the controller for more than a month, using it as my sole piece of gaming equipment and neglecting my usual controller is that I have had zero problems so far.
That’s an average of two hours gaming per night with my habits, and it’s all been good so far. I’m going to continue to use the controller, because I genuinely do like it. But the second it breaks, I will update this article, but I doubt that will happen with the Sabretooth.
The RRP for the Razer Sabretooth is R799.
was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys