Razer Sabertooth Controller Review

Razer's latest Xbox 360 accessory looks similar to its Onza controller, but the Sabertooth outperforms it in almost every way, at a cost.

Microsoft's standard Xbox 360 controller is held in high regard by most, but that hasn't stopped Razer and other third-party manufacturers from trying to improve upon its design. Though the Sabertooth bears a striking resemblance to Razer's other Xbox 360 controller, the Onza, it succeeds over its predecessor in numerous ways. However, the high cost ($79.99) is a bitter pill to swallow. It's not a death sentence, but unlike with the relatively affordable Onza, which retails at $50 with a similar feature set, convincing sticker-conscious consumers of the Sabertooth's value won't be an easy hill for Razer to climb.

Truthfully, the Sabertooth could have been branded the "Onza II," and it's doubtful that anyone would have batted an eye. Both models are finished in a rubberized coating and share an almost identical form factor. Their respective feature sets include mappable inputs; backlit action buttons (A, B, X, and Y); and configurable analog sticks. Despite their similarities, it would be unfair to write off the Sabertooth, since it improves on the Onza concepts in almost every way.

For starters, the Sabertooth has six remappable inputs. The two MFBs (multifunction buttons) atop the Sabertooth are half the size of the Onza's and have been moved closer to the center of the controller. These alterations eliminate the likelihood of accidental actuation of either bumpers or MFBs, a common issue with the Onza due to its inputs' similar shape and close proximity.

The four new mappable inputs are hidden from plain sight and are quite unusual in their design. As it turns out, this is to the Sabertooth's benefit. Razer decided to ditch the traditional button concept altogether, opting for two rocking, bidirectional MFTs (multifunction triggers) instead. Each trigger can tip up or down, and unlike standard controller triggers, they use tactile rather than linear switches. These serve a twofold purpose: tactile switches provide "clicky" feedback when pressed in either direction, and they have just enough resistance to prevent inadvertent actuation from overeager fingers.

Should you find the MFTs intrusive, the included Torx screwdriver allows you to remove them quite easily. However, it's recommended that you give them a chance: being able to keep your thumbs on the analog sticks while inputting A, B, X, or Y with your index or middle fingers is an invaluable boon that shouldn't be discounted hastily. Most first-person shooters, for example, rely on both analog sticks at any given moment to move your character and the camera, and Sabertooth allows you to avoid sacrificing control of either one to throw a grenade or jump over an obstacle. The new MFTs and the reconfigured MFBs are hands down the biggest argument for the Sabertooth over the Onza.

The bottom of the controller is where you'll find the controls for remapping buttons, as well as a small, yet vibrant, OLED screen that displays the configuration menu. Hitting the left button will switch between two profiles stored in the Sabertooth's onboard memory. The right button opens the internal configuration menu where you'll be able to program the MFBs, adjust and monitor the sensitivity of both analog sticks, and toggle both backlighting and rumble support.

The D-pad is used to scroll through the UI menu, and the A button serves as the default input, except when configuring MFBs or the analog sticks. To remap an MFB, hold down the input you wish to configure while the display shows the Program Mode menu item, and then press the button you would like to assign to the MFB or MFT. So long as you continue to hold down the input, the new assignment will be displayed. In the case of the analog sticks, press R3 or L3 to open their respective sensitivity scales, and then use the D-pad to adjust from -10 to 10 points, with 0 being the standard sensitivity.

The crisp OLED screen is a contributing factor to the Sabertooth's high price tag, but it does an excellent job of facilitating the configuration of various components by displaying relevant information in a concise and straightforward way.

While the Onza gives you the ability to alter stick tension via a physical dial on the stick, the display on the Sabertooth allows you to incrementally adjust the stick's sensitivity, eliminating the obtrusive dial in the process. Tension and sensitivity aren't exactly the same thing, however, and whether it's better to change one or the other comes down to your individual needs. Still, it's worth considering that the Onza received a lot of criticism for the extended stick length and its cumbersome dial, and if those are the trade-offs for adjustable tension, it might not be worth it in the end.

The D-pad on the Sabertooth also received a face-lift and now resembles the design used in Sony's PlayStation controllers. Unlike its apparent inspiration, the Sabertooth's directional buttons have a glossy finish and a more defined tactile response. Like on the Onza, the directional buttons are physically independent from one another, rather than combined into a single part under the hood, thus avoiding the folly of the standard Xbox 360 controller's accuracy issues. Playing fighting games with complex rotational motions works exactly as you'd hope, and at no point during our testing did we notice any issues regarding accuracy or inadvertent inputs. It's a step up from the standard D-pad, and it feels better in practice than the Onza's segmented disc pad.

Lastly, the backlit, Hyperesponse-based A, B, X, and Y buttons are back and essentially identical to the ones on the Onza, simply with a new font. They're shallow by design and provide crisp tactile and audible feedback to the user when pressed. They may seem fragile or cheap initially, but first impressions can be deceiving. They actually work very well in practice, and the aforementioned characteristics make rapid inputs easier to perform and confirm. The only notable concern is their proximity to the right analog stick. The "mound" surrounding the stick was widened for the Sabertooth, and it's not uncommon for your thumb to come into contact with the analog stick or its housing while going for the X or A buttons. That said, considering the controller was designed for button remapping, it's not a problem without a solution.

The Sabertooth is primarily an Xbox 360 controller, but it's also perfectly viable as a PC controller. It does come with a few caveats, however. Sadly, there's no way to remap keyboard keys directly to the MFBs or MFTs. In theory, this functionality could be added through a Windows application, but Razer's console controllers aren't compatible with their cloud-based configuration software, Synapse. At the moment, third-party software is the only way to directly map specific keyboard keys to the Sabertooth.

The controller comes with detachable stick grips, covers for the MFT ports, a Torx screwdriver, a 15-foot detachable braided cable, and a travel case for the controller and the aforementioned bits and pieces. The case is durable and compact, but roomy enough to carry everything with ease. It serves its purpose perfectly and presents no obvious defect or oversight in design or manufacturing.

Whether or not the Sabertooth is a good value at $80 largely depends on your needs, but it does exactly what Razer claims it will without any discernible flaws. The D-pad is an excellent step in the right direction and resolves one of the biggest complaints about Microsoft's standard controller, and the overall layout, though similar, is still much better than the Onza's. For these reasons, it's easy to recommend the Sabertooth to anyone looking for a highly customizable Xbox 360 controller. Though $80 is a lot of money, if the feature set sounds useful and you have a little extra cash to spend, you won't regret adding it to your collection.

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Discussion

120 comments
naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

By the way, almost all the comments below were written by the same three people over and over.

Same bad grammar, no picture, same opinion every time.

Yes this controller is bad, but read up on it yourself, and not from the spammers below.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I bought the Onza and returned it and bought it again and returned it again.

The analog sticks just flake off in your hands if you use them too much and the bits of black stuff that come off fall in behind the stick and stop the stick functioning properly, and yes this is impossible to avoid.

The Razer controllers review well if you review them over 3 days, but review them for a month and you'll have an unusable product before you finish.

In case you're wondering, the material used on the Sabertooth sticks is the same as used on the Onza.

wadehone
wadehone

the writing style of many of the negative comments seem suspiciously similar.

I recently purchased this device, and so far, I am super happy with the quality and the performance.  $80 is a bit steep, but, if that's not a deal breaker - I think having the ability to move some of my button presses to the rocker switches on the bottom, and the nice solid mechanical feel of the A,B,X,Y Buttons are worth it.

The D pad is nice too.

Scarshi
Scarshi

I owned 2 Onza's. Tournament and standard editions. Both controllers top MFB's on the right side died after a couple of months. and the thumbstick buttons on both controllers had terrible deadzones after a while, often causing drifting when centered. Software fixed this, but it was soon getting worse enough to buy a xbox 360 pc controller to use instead.

I realllllly liked the extra buttons on the Onza but absolutely haaaated the "cheap" buttons and sticks that seemed to never work right after a bit of use.

I'll get a Sabertooth just to use on my PC soon to see if any better of a build, but this time I'm keeping the receipt!!

bcarlonie
bcarlonie

My fingers sat aroundthe controller arms by "default" but it wasn't uncomfortable to move to the back buttons. Certainly not a stretch, just a different grip. I probably won't bother myself,  asthe 360 controller is the most near perfect/ergonomic  controller on the market. I don't think I will risk for a little improvement if the controller is faulty. build quality is definitely poor.

crodriques
crodriques

I think they can make a dongle with the controller and that has improved wireless speeds over the default Microsoft gives you. It's more like Microsoft tells 3rd parties that they cannot make a wireless controller so Microsoft monopolizes that whole part of the market. If there isa wireless controller that isn’t made my Microsoft then A. Microsoft is making money off it, or B. It's a specialized controller.


rswatsinanty
rswatsinanty

I think they can make a dongle with the controller and that has improved wireless speeds over the default Microsoft gives you. It's more like Microsoft tells 3rd parties that they cannot make a wireless controller so Microsoft monopolizes that whole part of the market. If there isa wireless controller that isn’t made my Microsoft then A. Microsoft is making money off it, or B. It's a specialized controller.

jnatanielaya
jnatanielaya

The BIG problem with the sabertooth is that it had a HUGE fault rate.I probably won't bother myself,  asthe 360 controller is the most near perfect/ergonomic  controller on the market. I don't think I will risk for a little improvement if the controller is faulty.

jordanporterman
jordanporterman

I bought my Sabertooth 2 weeks. And I only just had to back it a few days ago after I accidentally drop it once it in the dark. just one drop in the floor and it’s gone, I know all controllers comes from razers are original I’m so super stupid cause I blamed my own self to buy these kind cheaply controller. This is my reason. Do not buy controller if original made, now I use a controller named Ps3.

hilltonenrique
hilltonenrique

my fingers would somehow press them while operating the triggers. left trigger started activating when not pressed or not working when pressed. Adjustable sticks are no good.build quality is definitely poor.

piccyivan
piccyivan

this controller is freakin awesome and its the best ever so far ...

yes i have and i tell you, this controller doesn't last more than 8 months...

the analog sticks will break someday,

me and 2 of my friends got the same trouble

andersonsmith38
andersonsmith38

How silly to have this kind of controller. i have this one before. and its so hard to use. and with in 2 weeks its broken. so low quality of this controller. i dont want this anymore. im so dissapoint of buying this. 

harrybaileyeys
harrybaileyeys

Cheap, this thing is definitely NOT built to last. My fingers sat aroundthe controller arms by "default" but it wasn't uncomfortable to move to the back buttons. Certainly not a stretch, just a different grip.

bryanmorgan
bryanmorgan

Adjustable sticks are no good.build quality is definitely poor. Really annoying.

pguinus
pguinus

the Xbox 360 controller, is not fit perfectly to me. the adjustable analogue stick is not sensitive. 

they dont have just enough resistance to prevent inadvertent actuation from overeager fingers.

hernandesthomas
hernandesthomas

i would prefer to use a controller which i can have a good grip on, and will aid me keep my fingers steady, not much of shifting and the like.something that is not slippery and would get my palms sweaty.

bferjay
bferjay

this is not really easy to use. my hands feel numb wen i use this controller. i regret that i buy this stuff. please fix your controller.

georgeharrisst
georgeharrisst

How long can you play with that controller before random buttons stop working?

it's really shameful how poor the quality was on the saber tooth It definitely tarnished the Razer name, and frankly, they should offer some kind of discount for those of us who had to send the saber tooth in for more than one repair.

cstable
cstable

Can’t turn it off so I need to remove the battery every time! I wish I could turn it off. It's somewhat distracting while playing at night.

Timothy_1230
Timothy_1230

after several game play of days. It started having problems, both stick tension controller had to be adjusted again and again. Please fix your product wisely.

stefler1104
stefler1104

my fingers would somehow press them while operating the triggers. left trigger started activating when not pressed or not working when pressed. Adjustable sticks are no good.build quality is definitely poor.

charleswilsonss
charleswilsonss

Glad someday they fixed the terrible triggers. The triggers on mine stopped working correctly after a few months and I have to use the hot buttons as triggers. Wish they do. I hope that they fixed the buggy analog sticks to.

millerricharddd
millerricharddd

I am very skeptical here... After the incredible disappointment I experienced with the SABERTOOTH they’re going to have to have engineered a significantly different product here.

davisdavidss
davisdavidss

Dear Razer,

Please stop trying to be like a Scuf controller (buttons in the back) and make better quality Xbox controllers. Sabertooth felt hella cheap and broke after 3 hours of use. Just stick with what you're good at which is PC products (mouse, mouse pad, keyboard...) and headsets. and ETC...

danielswisherss
danielswisherss

Yeah, same here dude. I was pretty pissed because I had my triggers go after a couple months and had already thrown the box out. I even took the controller apart to see if it was just dust or something loose inside but there was nothing i could do to fix the analogue trigger mechanism.

jonesmichaells
jonesmichaells

Just wanted to drop in and say; same.

Was a pretty nice controller until it wore out 1 month after I got it? Poor, poor build quality.

johnsonjohnnn
johnsonjohnnn

I figured I was just unlucky. I'm not sure exactly when I noticed first, but trying to use it to play Arkham Asylum last year on my PC, and then Assassin's Creed Revelations, both were near nightmares due to issues with the triggers being completely unreliable. I didn't even use it that much because I do most of my gaming on PC and not with games that require or play better with a controller. Really annoying.

marion_005
marion_005

I hate the battery pack position that much. Although I think that's personal preference I have big hands. Besides where else can it be placed? ahhaha! so i had to trow this away! nonsens!

vincent2019
vincent2019

too expensive for a simple looking device.It cannot have a trackball in place of the analog sticks. That is stupid Need to somehow make more buttons without screwing with design.I already had to throw two of them away. this is not wort it for everybody! 

ninno110
ninno110

i do not know why you did this controller sales.The Tall joysticks are a good idea, but they function odd on this controller...I guess their placement stretches the thumbs too far. There are not the two little rectangular holes on the sides of the headset plug to plug in the default headset. haha! wtf! no worth the penny i spend on it. i would be ashamed to recommend this to friends.

batusai0028
batusai0028

cannot be turned off manually without removing the batteries, and the analogue sticks can be pretty   annoying at times, they drag downs, sometimes don’t work, worst thing about it is, seems grounded and works on its own, firing is uncontrollable, will never spend money on this stuff again. broken product!!!! yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jjupiter_27
jjupiter_27

cheap build controller.  I just cannot recommend them due to their poor quality. This is really a shame because it was finally the controller serious gamers wanted. Hopefully a better company will pick up where razer left off, and manufacture a product that doesn't break after a month’s use.

ransted29294
ransted29294

looks pretty, but worst part to use! im so dissapoint that i buy this one. its so embarrasing. only a waste of money!this controller was very hard to use, looks like this have a little bit crack controllers, cannot be turned off manually without removing the batteries.

kentwheelere
kentwheelere

Razer seems to be pretty hit and miss. And from what I understand, build quality has gone way down hill.

adrianlawsons
adrianlawsons

I bought my Sabertooth a few weeks after launch, and I only just had to retire it a few days ago after I accidentally stepped on it in the dark. Whereas I had to replace my 1st party controllers every 2 or 3 months, at most.

ruiztylerrr
ruiztylerrr

it's really shameful how poor the quality was on the sabertooth It definitely tarnished the Razer name, and frankly, I think they should offer some kind of discount for those of us who had to send the sabertooth in for more than one repair.

draybert
draybert

If it's anything like the previous model, it will break in 3 weeks, then your replacement will break in 3 weeks, then after they've replaced it 4 or 5 times, they won't honor the warranty anymore, which doesn't roll over every time they send you a new one. Be advised that this will probably be a cheap piece of crap as well.

Leonilo1029
Leonilo1029

looks like expensive and hard to use. i thinks wen i buy this one. its only a waste of money.I never give my money for this kind of controller. i dont even like the looks of this product. probably  low class controller.

hernan1200
hernan1200

Audio port broke after 2 weeks. Triggers limited programmable buttonscheap construction lighted buttons are worthless and distractingDidn't like the trigger buttons that much, right/left bumpers are tiny and right on top of programmed buttons.

gates102030
gates102030

i would prefer to use a controller which i can have a good grip on, and will aid me keep my fingers steady, not much of shifting and the like.something that is not slippery and would get my palms sweaty. a device that has a hyper reaction time, makes action fluid and smooth. A product that doesn't get me killed while i'm reloading.  not like this one. too expensive for a simple looking device.and  looks bulky.

ralph100234
ralph100234

It cannot be turned off manually without removing the batteries; looks like this have a little bit crack controllers.That is stupid Need to somehow make more buttons without screwing with design. This has to be the worst product I have ever bought! And extremely overpriced and bulky,

foxx100011
foxx100011

There are not the two little rectangular holes on the sides of the headset plug to plug in the default headset. haha! wtf! no worth the penny i spend on it. i would be ashamed to recommend this to friends. The Tall joysticks are a good idea, but they function odd on this controller...I guess their placement stretches the thumbs too far.

gersul222
gersul222

Its expensive. and ugly controller. eew! If i have this controller up yet. I  will throw it. because I dont really wanted  this controller. i have this one before. and it easilly broken.

themoonman23
themoonman23

This is the by far the lousiest controller I have ever encountered. It is only a waste of money! this controller is very hard to use. cannot be turned off manually without removing the batteries, and the analogue sticks can be pretty   annoying at times, they drag downs, sometimes don’t work, worst thing about it is, seems grounded and works on its own, firing is uncontrollable, will never spend money on this stuff again. I wouldn’t risk my reputation recommending this to people who value good merchandise

We don’t need cheap looking gadgets, they look fancy y and has impressive looking box art and numbers to lure you into buying it. It does look interesting. Looks hard enough to be thrown at out neighbour’s noisy dog


poo20012
poo20012

give the man some of your reasons for it being a "sucky" review and maybe the next time you read one of his reviews it'll be better for you. You have a brain, right? Use it.


chaaaad11
chaaaad11

Can't reload quickly anymore. Wonderful for shooters, you can feel that buttons are low quality because they seem to push through the controller. It feels great at first but now it's just a piece of junk.

vandam18181
vandam18181

this is the lawsy controller in the worl that i know! fuck!

soora10009
soora10009

only a waste of money!this controller was very hard to use, looks like this have a little bit crack controllers, cannot be turned off manually without removing the batteries.

fosterleon93
fosterleon93

Razer products are like having the body of a high-end sports car and the insides of the cheapest motor on the market, they will break, usually not long after the warranty expires and even opening the case for repairs can cause more damage, the expensive cases are not made for repairs. Close your company opened it when you have more upgraded products.

theodorebrown31
theodorebrown31

The thumb sticks seems to be a bit lacking. From the day I bought it the right stick gets stuck occasionally or slow turns and I'll have to swirl it around in its socket a bunch of times to get it working properly again. please go in fix your own stupid controller.