Wahl Retro T Cut vs Detailer vs Razor Edger: Review

by | Grooming, Hair clippers

Over the past 3 years or so, Wahl has exploded with new additions to their T-blade trimmers. Corded, cordless, swapping one model for another…it’s become pretty crazy.

Can’t say I’m complaining, though. In this post I’ll talk a bit about three of Wahl’s more popular hair edgers/liners:

I myself am a huge fan of this #8290 professional Detailer for general styling purposes. In fact, it shares the same blade as the Razor Edger:

Wahl Detailer vs 5 Star Razor Edger: My review on the #8290 and #8051 T-blade corded trimmers

This is a neat little blade, narrower than usual T-trimmers. Great for delicate lineups, and trimming around the ears and moustache areas.

What about the higher-end cordless Retro T Cut and the Detailer, though?

Well, that’s a bit of a long story. Wahl decided to ditch the 5 star corded Detailer (#8081) and instead introduced a cordless version of it – this #8171 Li-Ion beauty. It’s what the Retro T Cut competes against.

Both use the same t-wide blade (#2215), around 1/4″ wider than what current corded Wahl trimmers have. The huge difference lies in both battery and operation, which make the new cordless Detailer trimmer a bit more expensive.

Here’s a summary of all these trimmers, before I continue with my analysis.

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Wahl #8171 Cordless Detailer
  • T-wide blade for fast, precise lineups.
  • Improved 100-minute Li-Ion battery, runs corded too.
  • Housing grips allow for superior ergonomics.
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Wahl #8412 Retro T Cut
  • Same #2215 T-wide blade for crisp lines.
  • Great price and an acceptable 60-minute charge.
  • No corded operation and older NiMh battery type.
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Wahl #8290 Detailer
  • Narrower T-blade for delicate lining up.
  • 5" and 6.9oz - the most compact corded trimmer ever.
  • Rotary motor runs cool and relatively quiet.
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Wahl 5 Star Razor Edger
  • Same narrow T-blade for great results.
  • Electromagnetic motor revs it up for maximum power.
  • A bit bigger, heavier, and louder.
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Navigate to whichever comparison you prefer – depending on whether you’re more keen on cordless, or corded Wahl trimmers.

Wahl #8412 Retro T Cut vs cordless #8171 Detailer:
For those into 5 star convenience

Important: Don’t confuse the #8171 Detailer with the #8163 Detailer which is also cordless. I know, crazy confusion – that’s what I said in the beginning of the article.

The #8163 is a rather mediocre trimmer (as a lot of reviews also say). No reason to go for it over the proper 5 Star Detailer.

I said it before: the blade here is the same. This is the #2215 wider T-blade, a legacy of the previous corded 5 star Detailers. It covers wider areas, so for busy barbershops this will significantly speed up your lineups, edging or any precise trimming you need to do.

In fact, you also receive the same accessories:

  • 3 trimmer guards (1/16″ to 3/16″)

  • Charging station

  • Pre-shaving brush and a cleaning brush for the trimmer

  • Oil and red blade guard to protect the blade

  • Operating instructions

Note: Unlike the corded Wahl liners, you don’t get a zero gapping tool here.

Wahl Detailer zero gapping tool for professional use. From my Wahl Detailer vs Retro T Cut vs Razor Edger review.

So what are the differences, then?

First, the #8171 has way better battery. It can run cordless for close to 100 minutes, compared to the Retro T Cut and its 60 minutes.

Not only this, but we’re talking about a Lithium Ion battery here. In comparison, the Retro T Cut runs on older NiMh batteries that lose their charge faster overtime. I’ve talked about why Li-Ion excels over both NiCad and NiMh in my Wahl Mag vs Beret trimmer post.

To top it off, the cordless Detailer can also be used corded. The recharging station has a cord rotation feature, making corded operation a breeze.

Check this demonstration of what they can do:

Second, there are some body differences. The Retro T Cut is lighter at 6oz (6.6oz for the Detailer), but slightly bigger at 6″ against the #8171 trimmer’s 5.75″.

The big difference lies in the bottom of the Detailer’s housing. There, you’ll find rubberized grips allowing for better overall ergonomics. Sweaty hands will appreciate it, especially if it’s been a hot day in the salon.

The drawback is clear: cordless Detailer can retail for almost twice the price of the Retro T Cut. If you can afford it, however, the improvements are worth it.

Summarized, things look like this:

Wahl Detailer Cordless TAB
  • Wahl #8171 Detailer
  • Blades:
    #2215 extra wide T-blade.
  • Battery:
    Lithium-Ion, 100 minutes of runtime.
  • Body:
    5.75", 6.6 oz
  • Extra notes:
    Can run corded due to rotating charging station. Lower bottom grips allow for more comfortable hold.
Retro T Cut TAB
  • Wahl #8412 Retro T Cut
  • Blades:
    #2215 extra wide T-blade.
  • Battery:
    NiMh, up to 60 minutes of runtime.
  • Body:
    6", 6 oz
  • Extra notes:
    No corded operation and slightly more inconvenient ergonomics. Amazing price as a budget pick, however.

Corded wars:
Wahl Professional #8290 Detailer vs 5 Star #8051 Razor Edger

Let’s go back to the secure feeling of cords. With the #8081 5 star Detailer finding peace in the backshelves of history, we have these two entering the arena.

As I mentioned, both of them use the same blade. This is the #1060-600 professional T-blade, significantly narrower than the #2215 one.

The reason I love using this one is simple: I trim my moustaches a lot, and I tinker around with my sideburns and neckline. I don’t need something wider, nor do I need the significantly sharper lining the cordless Wahl trimmers offer.

Exactly because the blade here is mellower, you also get a zero gapping tool in the package. Once again the accessories you get with these two trimmers are the same:

Wahl #8290 accessories - including combs for the trimmer. Part of my Wahl Detailer (cordless #8171 and corded) vs Retro T Cut #8412 review.

To elaborate:

  • 3 trimmer guards (1/16″ to 3/16″)

  • Cleaning brush plus oil

  • The zero gapping (blade setting) tool

  • Red blade guard for your T-blade

More than enough. 3 guards is what Wahl usually includes with any of their trimmers anyways.

So, let’s talk about some differences again.

They’re fewer here, due to us dealing with corded clippers. No batteries, charges or additional technology here whatsoever…

…Except for the motors, which is the first difference!

Detailers run on a rotary motor, while the 5 Star Edger is an electromagnetic beast. Electromagnetic means more powerful, however, there are two drawbacks: noise and heat.

My Detailers run cooler and way quieter which is pretty important for me.

The other main difference lies in the overall design.

The Razor Edger is significantly bigger and heavier than the feather-like Professional Detailer. It’s 6.25″ and weighs 9.03oz, while the #8290 Detailer sticks to only 5″ and 6.9oz in body dimensions.

Wahl Razor Edger vs Designer and Retro T Cut: Battle of the T-blade trimmers

To me, this is pretty significant. The smaller body of the Detailers pairs with the narrow T-blade for some insane maneuverability. Seriously, I can reach anywhere with ease. It’s awesome.

That said, I feel the Edger’s stronger motor might be better if you’ll be working with thicker, more stubborn hair types. It’ll plow through them in no time.

Conclusion

I hope this was an extensive enough review into several of Wahl’s leading T-blade trimmers. While I appreciate the diversity they bring to the table, I get how a lot of beginner barbers can feel confused. I myself had to search around (and trim around!) quite a bit to get the differences right.

Well, it’s still better than having only one T-trimmer as Oster do with their T-Finisher though, right…

I’m curious what your own impressions of these t-beasts are. Do you prefer one over the other? Let me know in the comments!

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!