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IGN:Razer Sabertooth Xbox 360 Controller Review

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Showing 1-19 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 3, 2013 2:42:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 2:43:16 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Might be a good wired PC controller if it ever reaches a decent price.
Even at 50% off may be tough one...

Perfecting the Onza.

Last year, Razer set out to extend its renowned reputation for producing performance PC gaming peripherals and accessories to the console market with the release of the Onza - a programmable Xbox 360 controller aimed at pros and casual consumers alike. While it met and surpassed expectations in many regards, the Onza wasn't without its issues, drawing criticism for its cramped ergonomics and clunky mechanical thumbstick resistance system. But now, with its sophomore effort, the Sabertooth, Razer says it has taken fan and critic feedback and redesigned the Onza for improved usability, comfort, and personalization. Has Razer honed its craft and produced the best third-party controller to-date? Read on to find out.

Despite ditching the Onza namesake, the Sabertooth uses a near-identical chassis and aesthetic. Likewise, Razer has maintained most of the core features - mechanical action buttons, programmable secondary shoulder buttons, as well as an additional set of programmable controls on the bottom. Instead, Razer has focused on improving its button layout and ergonomics, like reshaping the D-pad to be more like a PlayStation controller, making the triggers more akin to Microsoft's design, and returning the start and select buttons to their rightful home near the dual analog sticks. The most remarkable and immediately recognizable changes, however, are the elimination of the mechanical resistance system, the new secondary two-way triggers on the bottom, and a new digital programming system enabled by an integrated OLED display.

That's right, Razer put an OLED display in an Xbox 360 controller.

Whereas the Onza required users to map controls to the programable buttons without visual aid, the OLED display clearly indicates what actions are assigned to which buttons and can be used to digitally adjust analog sensitivity. What's more, Razer has added support for two personalized profiles, allowing users to swap between control schemes on the fly. The mapping process is incredibly simple - just hit the programming mode button, tap whichever of the six programmable controls you'd like to customize, and then tap whatever button you'd like to map to it. Tweaking the sensitivity of the analog sticks follows a similar process and allows users to assign different sensitivity levels to each respective stick. In the case of first-person shooters, the Sabertooth is capable of making aiming adjustments more sensitive without impacting movement controls, or vice versa.

In addition to the two secondary shoulder buttons found on the Onza, Razer has added another two customizable controls with the inclusion of a pair of two-way rocker triggers, which replace the low-profile buttons previously found underneath the chassis. Both feature a semi-circle design, making them easily accessible to a player's middle or ring fingers and can have four unique commands mapped to them, bringing the total number of programmable buttons to six.

While conventional wisdom suggests more customization and personalization is better, one can't help but feel like the rocker triggers are a bit excessive. As a console product, mappable buttons can only be used to supplement an existing input method, not add new functionality. In other words, if you assign the B button to the rocker trigger, it only gives you another way of triggering the action associated with the B button. There are also only so many scenarios where a secondary input method is really useful, like re-mapping melee from the thumbstick to avoid negatively impacting your aim. What's more, the Sabertooth's alternate control schemes takes time to master and reap the benefits of, and those already proficient with the conventional controller design may struggle to adapt. Fortunately, it seems Razer recognized that some players might feel this way and made the rocker triggers to be removable by way of an included screwdriver.

The alternate shoulder buttons, however, are a marked improvement over the previous iteration, falling in closer reach to the triggers and bearing their own unique shape and size, offering improved tactile differentiation. The D-pad is also springy and responsive and without the sensitivity dials, the analog sticks are back to a more comfortable height. As was the case with the Onza, the Sabertooth's mechanical X, B, A, and Y action buttons have a distinctive click and work great for speedy taps. In my testing, however, I experienced some difficulty when the B button on my review unit would become stuck and subsequently fail to register depressions, though Razer representatives offered assurances that the problem was unique to my particular device.

As fans have come to expect from Razer, the Sabertooth and all of its bells and whistles come at a premium. At $79.99, the Sabertooth is cheaper than Mad Catz's MLG Pro Controller, but notably more expensive than the first-party solution. What's more, the Sabertooth is a wired solution, which could be a turn-off for more casual consumers who favor convenience over latency and performance. Still, considering the features, the exceptional performance, and other bundled-in value - like Razer's inclusion of a free carrying case - those seeking a competitive edge may consider it a worthy expense.

The Verdict

The Sabertooth is an exceptional Xbox 360 controller that provides precision and personalization, but with an MSRP of $79.99 is unlikely to appeal to consumers outside of a comparatively small demographic of competitive players.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:44:05 PM PST
JJ4prez says:
80 bucks, yeah right.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:47:32 PM PST
Kr155 says:
Gotta love proprietary wireless tech. YAAAY!

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:50:31 PM PST
I'd buy it for $80.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:51:02 PM PST
Rev. Otter says:
i could see owning that, but i'm still not a fan of asymetrical sticks.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:51:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 2:53:32 PM PST
Biohazard says:
I'd like to invest in a controller similar to this one but i wouldn't want to pay much more than a new official 360 controller cost..

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 2:56:41 PM PST
Razer might make decent mice and keyboards, I don't know.
However, their Onza controllers have to have the worst build quality I've ever seen for their price.

The first one I got died after a few weeks. The right thumb-stick wouldn't register as centered, and randomly jumped around no matter what.
The second one (they sent a replacement after a bunch of shenanigans) lasted about a month before the left trigger gave up. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't.

You'd think I've been using these things to fight crime at night or something else that would involve swinging them around and smashing them on things. Nope. My wired MS X360 controller that I bought in 2007 or 2008 still works just fine. And it's been on two tours in the desert. The Onzas failed even though the worst thing they were subjected to is QTE-style boss kills in Reckoning.

Granted, this new thing isn't an Onza. But they've sure cemented themselves in my eyes as people who can't make a solid controller that lasts as long as its premium price tag would imply.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 3:00:18 PM PST
Bionix01 says:
Its really not that bad considering most people pay 60 for a controller now.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 3:11:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 3, 2013 6:20:34 PM PST
Who pays $60 for a _wired_ controller?

Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller
$40 and built like a tank.

Razer Onza tournament edition -Xbox 360
They dropped the price to $40, but it was $50 to start and a lot of people had to have replacements due to the same issues I had.

Now they want $80 for a wired controller, when their previous entry had all kinds of problems.
Anyone who buys one of these without looking into it deserves the headache.

EDIT: Read the comments for pretty much any Sabertooth or Onza reviews on gaming sites.
The build quality for the Onza was crap, and a $10 coupon on an $80 controller is an insult to people who got screwed on their first controller experiment.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 4:35:30 PM PST
Kasmatsu says:
If you have an Onza, Razer has a form on their website where you enter your serial number to get a discount on the Sabertooth.

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 6:01:53 PM PST
the controller probably wroks great especial for those who play MP games and don't play with that freakish use of the hands.... but all reviews point out that the quality sucks

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 6:35:26 PM PST
$80 lolno

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 11:50:11 AM PST
Keishidu says:
spoken like a true poor mofo

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 12:00:00 PM PST
Soulshine says:
Yo dawg, I heard you like expensive controllers so we put an OLED display in your Xbox 360 controller in your el camino.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2013 4:16:22 PM PST
Some Bird says:
Hey can you send me your onza serial number so I can get the discount?

Posted on Jan 19, 2013 4:42:09 PM PST
Lyrick_ says:
That D-Pad makes my Wired 360 game pad jelly. I just can't see myself dropping $80 on a controller I'd only use to play console PC ports though.

Posted on Jan 19, 2013 8:26:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2013 8:31:35 PM PST
Noble Seven says:
I really needed a controller like this due to the fact that I suck at multiplayer and I needed a way to play better without cheating, And also I have a better choice than this the fusion tournament controller which is much better than the onza and the sabretooth and makes you play better without cheating. I highly suggest that you should check it out.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 12:39:32 PM PST
Shadowhost says:
After a Year of intense gaming all of my thumbsticks begin to stick in one direction or the other, when I'm playing games like MK9 or SF4 a stuck thumbstick means losing, on other games Halo, Braid, Crysis its only annoying. I would pay 80$ if this meant a more sturdy controller that I could continue using without sticking thumbsticks, easily broken bumpers and a terrible Dpad. The Oled is almost worthless, because there's no way I'm letting someone else use my 80$ controller. The extra grip and backlit buttons are cool as is the customizable extra buttons, but for me to rationalize spending double on a controller it has to in some form double my experience. Therefore until I hear that the Sabertooth has DRASTICALLY improved upon the Onzas rather fragile durability. I'll be saving up for a Gen 3 Xbox Controller. If I do hear great things about durability I may change my mind,

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2013 1:06:17 PM PST
GamerInHeart says:

I am also in agreement with you regarding these controllers. The best 3rd party controller in my opinion would be the MLG Madcatz Gaming Controller, but even then, $100+ dollars for a controller( if you factor in other acessories), is just too much. For me, I would rather go with something such as the regular wired 360 controller and a controller add-on, such as N-Control's Avenger Elite. Granted that will cost me $55-65 dollars, but my performance will drastically increase since your thumbs never leave the sticks. You could say the same for the Sabertooth, but the Elite has a easier learning curve in my experience. Again though, Shadow, you are right. Durability is key, and it is something the Sabertooth does not have, as mine lasted 3 days. Had my Avenger Elite since Summer of 2012 and still working properly.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  19
Initial post:  Jan 3, 2013
Latest post:  Feb 5, 2013

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