Razer's new Tartarus gaming keypad is built for control freaks
If you can't get by with just 104 keys and a few mouse buttons, don't despair—Razer has you covered with the Tartarus, the latest in a line of gaming keypads designed explicitly for macro nerds and control freaks.
Announced today in an effort to get out ahead of the big gaming hardware announcements that are likely to hit during Gamescom next week, the $80 Tartarus doesn't offer much in the way of surprises. It's an auxiliary USB gaming keypad that's designed to sit on your desk, fit in the palm of your hand and offer up a spare rack of programmable keys that won't ghost on you—meaning you can hit multiple keys at the same time and your PC will recognize and respond to each one of them.
The big selling point of the Tartarus is that it gives you 25 programmable keys and a thumbstick for navigation. That’s sixteen more buttons than its predecessor, the Razer Nostromo, though astute readers have probably already noticed that the Tartarus only has fifteen keys and two buttons on the right side; the additional “buttons” come courtesy of a new customization feature that allows you to assign commands to each of the eight directions of the thumbstick.
By default the thumbstick is programmed to duplicate the arrow keys on your keyboard, but you can program it however you like. For example, flicking your thumb forward and backward might adjust your volume settings, while flicking it up and down increases and decreases your Razer mouse's DPI. That kind of cross-device control is neat, but it's only possible if you own multiple Razer devices and have Synapse—Razer's device management software—running on your PC.
According to notes on the most recent Synapse patch, former Nostromo users with Synapse accounts should be able to migrate their old settings and macros over to the new Tartarus with relative ease. It ought to be as simple as just hooking up a new Tartarus to your PC and linking it to your profile, but I don't know for sure because I never owned a Nostromo. In fact, I've never used a gaming keypad at all; 25 extra keys seems silly when most PC games don't take full advantage of the keyboard to begin with. But dedicated MMORPG and Starcraft II players may appreciate all the extra buttons, so keep that in mind when you read our full review in the days to come.