The Razer Tartarus Chroma is a weird device. While using it I kept asking to myself who would buy one of these? It’s a gaming keypad that features programmable keys and a joystick to allow more simplified and ergonomic gaming but with most people so used to a keyboard I wondered if it was possible to make the switch to something like this? I spent some time with the Tartarus playing PC games like Dirty Bomb with it and even trying out some RTS and MOBA titles like DOTA 2. I can definitely say it’s grown on me but it does still have a few things missing.
The Razer Tartarus Chroma is not a new device, the shape and design has been within Razer’s arsenal for a very long time. I can remember the design originally started with the Belkin Nostromo that was released in 2008 alongside Razer’s software. Over the years, they’ve kept the design while improving on the features. The Chroma edition adds the RGB customization of the backlighting and effects to the Tartarus. The unit itself features 25-programmable keys and a joystick angled in an ergonomic shaped keypad. You can adjust the length of the device with a quick switch to match the reach of your hand.
I’ve never used these gaming keypads before but when I started testing the Razer Tartarus Chroma, it felt very natural as it replicates the standard WASD setup on a traditional keyboard but with a more comfortable feel. The keys are elevated properly matching the reach and shape of your hand rather than a keyboard where everything is on the same level.
It took me some time to get a grip of the Razer Tartarus because of the layout versus the traditional keyboard. As games are designed with the normal keyboard in mind users will have to tweak every single game they play on the Tartarus’ 25 keys. It was kind of annoying doing this all the time. For instance, Dirty Bomb utilizes F (Function) keys on the keyboard to select your character. With this missing on the Tartarus, I had to map it to another button (the joystick wheel). So there’s a lot of pre-management for the device before you can truly jump into the game.
Once you’ve done the pre-game setup for the Razer Tartarus the keypad actually works really well in games. The ergonomic design really made using the Razer Tartarus comfortable for long or short play sessions. The short travel distance of the spacebar was probably the best part of the unit and it doesn’t require a large push when compared to the normal keyboards. This helped for a faster response. Shooters work great with it but games like RTS and MOBA is where the keypad really belongs. With DOTA 2, you can easily bind your abilities to the Razer Tartarus because the game doesn’t really utilize the rest of the traditional keyboard.
The other downfall of the device which is subjective is the obvious lack of QWERTY keys to text chat in games. As I was so used to fast chat typing, the missing feature really felt annoying at times. As this is a keypad – it’s expected to not have this feature and can be easily overcome with a headset for voice or a normal keyboard but that really defeats the purpose of having the Razer Tartarus.
The Razer Tartarus is a great device that feels comfortable and puts less strain on your hands for extended gaming. It is annoying at the start to bind the controls to the keys on the Razer Tartarus but once you have overcome that it’s pretty much an easy road. It’s hard to recommend this device as you have to truly get some hands-on with it and play around with the mapping to really get into your comfort zone. It took me a while – almost two to three weeks in fact – to get used to the device which is quite a fair bit of time. So it’s definitely best to try it out before you jump in.
Price: $129 AUD Market Avg. | Available Now | A review unit was provided by the vendor.