Razer’s previous Xbox 360 controller, the Onza, wasn’t a bad controller, but I did have some issues with it. They are giving it another go though with the Razer Sabertooth and aiming at improving on what they had with some nice added features.
The Razer Sabertooth is their newest high end Xbox 360 gamepad and their second foray into crafting a solid Xbox 360 controller. Razer, of course, has gone and thrown some curves in there to make it stand out. The outside of the Sabertooth is covered in this really nice, soft to the touch, material that makes it really comfortable to hold in the hands. It seems to be slightly smaller than a regular Xbox 360 controller, so you might want to take that into consideration if you have larger hands.
Four hyper response buttons adorn the right side of the controller. Compared to regular Xbox 360 controllers, the distance to press is significantly less and it has a slightly less springy feel to them as well. It took me a little but to get used to, but I found the buttons to be pretty good and enjoyed the fact I didn’t have to use as much effort to press. They also sit a little flatter on the controller.
Each trigger feels solid and has a good strong spring underneath them as well as being very comfortable to rest my fingers on. They moved fluidly and I felt I had a good amount of control into how far I wanted to press down. Above them, each bumper has a nice click to them, which feels better than the traditional controller. I definitely preferred the feel of bumpers on the Sabertooth.
The analog sticks moved fluidly and provided good tension. Razer has included some stick covers with the Sabertooth as well so if you want a more rubbery texture feel to them, just place them on top. Now, the Onza had an issue with the sticks in that if you had them near an edge, you couldn’t push down. For example, I could be turning in Call of Duty and I was unable to knife a person because the analog stick just wouldn’t press down. Thankfully, Razer has fixed that issue with the Sabertooth and both sticks were easily pressable when pushed towards an edge.
Those that use the D-Pad in fighting games will not want to use the Sabertooth though. The design is meant more for shooters or games where you use the D-Pad to select items. Instead of a circular pad, there are individual buttons for each of the four directions. I had a lot of problems doing circular motions with the D-Pad, but no issues with the analog sticks of course. Then again, it could be me, but I had a lot easier time with the original 360 controller than the Sabertooth in using the D-Pad in fighting games such as Street Fighter IV. Each button is slightly angled and raised making them pretty easy to access.
Now, let’s get to the things that sets this controller apart from the rest. First up, there are two additional smaller bumpers that are placed more inside on the front of the controller. The Onza also had additional bumpers, but because of the position and the similar size to the regular bumpers, I had some times where I would press the wrong one. Here, the smaller bumpers and different position made it a lot easier to distinguish it from the traditional bumpers. The position of the smaller bumpers as well as its design made for very easy access without having to move my fingers far from the triggers. They were so nicely placed that I made them the LB and RB for most of my games and stopped using the big bumpers. Here, Razer did a good job improving on their previous design and providing useful additional buttons on hand.
Underneath are two rocker buttons that serve as four more additional functions to program for. Buttons on the bottom are not new for Xbox 360 controllers with the Onza and Mad Catz’s PrecisionAIM controller. The rocker buttons though, are much more comfortable to use and they sit in a position where your middle fingers normally sit anyways, allowing you to always be on them without any effort. The buttons rock both ways, but I found that it was difficult to push away from you with your finger. It felt uncomfortable and I would lose my good grip on the controller when doing this. Now, pulling towards you was simple and easily achieved without feeling awkward. I quickly programmed buttons to mimic pressing down on the analog sticks and that made me able to use the buttons on the bottom to run or knife people in Call of Duty, which is something I really liked. The rocker buttons can also be taken off with the included screwdriver if you don’t want to use them at all. I don’t mind that the design really only allows for two of the four buttons to be comfortably used and I really enjoyed the moving the analog stick buttons to them.
Programming the extra buttons as well as stick sensitivity is pretty easy. There’s a little OLED screen above the headset plug and you can hold two different profiles in place. Just press the programming button twice, hold one of the extra buttons and then press another button and you’ll feel the controller vibrate letting you know the program was successful. The screen also lets you know when you have programmed a function as well.
The very long braided cord actually screws into the Sabertooth so you can take it apart when traveling to avoid unnecessary tension in that area compared to just wrapping it up. You don’t have to take it apart, of course, but the option is there for you. I found that plugging it in and securing the cable to the Sabertooth to be pretty easy and it holds the cable pretty solid in its place when attached.
If you do decide to carry around with you, the Sabertooth includes a very nice carrying case where the controller sits inside the middle of a padded area with the cable and other accessories secured inside the pocket of the upper flap. It all zips close letting you protect the Sabertooth during transport.
Playing with the Sabertooth in various games, the responsiveness and comfort level was top notch. The whole setup felt really nice when held and all of the buttons, save the two top rocker button actions, were very easy to access. The soft coating made holding the controller for long periods of time easy. All in all, I was very impressed with how it felt and performed.
Razer’s Sabertooth Xbox 360 controller is a very, very solid controller featuring some nicely added functionality that’s a lot more refined from other controllers out there. It’s too bad Microsoft won’t let third parties do official wireless controllers because I’d love to see the Sabertooth in a wireless option. Even as a wired controller, the Sabertooth is comfortable and responsive making it a solid entry in the third party Xbox 360 controller lineup. At $79.99, it’s hanging on the more expensive side of wired controllers, but the feature set makes the price easier to swallow. It’s definitely take over as my main controller for most of my games and Razer’s done a great job following up the Onza with the Sabertooth controller.