If you are an avid fighting gamer or a competitive fighting gamer, having a high-quality stick is an absolute must. Razer has brought us one of the finest fighting sticks available on the market today. It may seem like it is a bit on the pricey side but you absolutely get your money's worth.

Razer Panthera Evo

Price: $200

Bottom Line: The Razer Panthera Evo offers some of the finest and most responsive components available in a solid feeling build that makes fighting games an absolute joy.

The Good

  • Solid build without being overly heavy
  • Insanely responsive buttons
  • Long USB cable
  • Headset jack
  • Great feel

The Bad

  • Less capable of modding than the previous model

The hardware

The case

First of all, the build of this feels great. It feels completely solid like it is going to hold up over the years. However, it does not feel overly weighty. It is not going to be a strain to have it sitting on your lap for hours at a time.

Some fighting sticks have a little too much give around the buttons. I want a fighting stick that feels resilient and solid when I am smashing on those buttons. The Panthera Evo was clearly designed with aggressive players in mind. Not only are the buttons mounted in some nice, thick gauge plastic, but they are also reinforced with a metal plate, which makes you certain that you aren't going to drive a button through the case in the middle of an intense match.

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The stick

There is not much to say here. It's a Sanwa stick. Sanwa sticks are awesome, responsive, and feel fantastic.

The buttons

This element is a little more complex. With this new iteration of the Panthera, Razer opted to go with their own mechanical switches. I have to say that these are some of the most responsive switches I have ever experience in an arcade button ever. It's almost as if all you have to do is think about pressing the button and the circuit is completed. This is speed defined.

However, they are almost entirely without feedback. There is no click and no bump. I personally prefer to feel or hear some sort of feedback from my arcade buttons. It seems as if feedback was sacrificed for speed. So if speed is what you are after then you will be in hog heaven. But if you ever feel the need you can always swap out the buttons yourself.

The look

I actually prefer the look of this newer version of the Panthera. It has a much more sleek and approachable design than the boxiness of the last one. The more drastic edges and sharper angles were smoothed down which provides not only a better look but a more comfortable feel when in use.

The graphics that the stick comes with out of the box I found to be a bit dated looking. When I first saw it I got more of a feel of a new energy drink brand than anything. Fortunately, it is incredibly easy to swap out the art for something else which will make your Panthera Evo a symbol of your individuality and your belief in personal freedom.

Mod Squad

Razer has a pretty good finger on the pulse of gaming. They are well aware that a lot of folks who would be willing plunk down $200 for a fighting stick are the very same people who may want to mod that stick to fit their own needs. The previous version of the Panthera went above and beyond to enable just this sort of person. The case was actually hinged so that all you had to do was lift the lid and you could get in there and start swapping parts around.

On the new Panthera Evo things are not quite as inviting. Gone is the hinged top from the previous model so you are going to have to get out a screwdriver to get at the guts. However, I am certain that by removing the pneumatic hinge from the previous model they were able to save enough on cost to use their own button switches which can't be cheap to manufacture. It is this sort of intelligent thinking that allowed them to add new features to this model without raising the price.

All that being said, while it may be easier to get into the case of the previous model, they certainly didn't make it difficult to get into this one. All you have to do is remove six Philips screws and you can get down to swapping parts to your heart's content.

It's the little things

There is a few other little quality of life improvements on the Panthera Evo which may not be revolutionary but most decidedly make the overall experience a little better. The addition of a headset jack is a fantastic and welcome bonus to the hardware. The ability to plug your preferred headset of choice in order to hear the action and communicate through it is something that every modern fight stick should provide.

In addition to offering a nice long USB cable which will allow you a little more freedom of movement and distance from your display, they also considered where to store it. On the back of the case, there is a little door which allows you to wind up and store the cable which will keep things nice and tidy when it's not in use.

Verdict

The Razer Panthera Evo is absolutely one of the best fight sticks on the market. If you are willing to spend a little more than some of the competitors you will be incredibly glad you did. This is a really nice piece of hardware which will make any fighting game aficionado very happy.

5 out of 5

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