Among manufacturers of gaming peripherals, it is hard to top Razer. Razer is ubiquitous in gaming products, with a lineup ranging from laptops to gaming chairs to mechanical keyboards to “mental performance drink mixes.”
Razer Orbweaver and Razer Tartarus V2 are two of the top gaming keypads available. Gaming keypads are relatively unknown to groups outside of gamers, but these keypads are also functional for office work, computer programming, spreadsheets, and photo editing.
Gaming keypads like Tartarus V2 and Orbweaver are like mini-keyboards, except that you operate it with only your left hand. These gaming keypads have ergonomic designs with built-in or attachable rests to enhance comfort. And unlike a keyboard, which has pre-programmed functions for each key (in other words, pressing the “w” key will always cause a “w” to appear on the screen), keys on keypads are fully customizable and can be programmed for any function you desire.
Since Razer has many options in their product line, it can be challenging to differentiate one from another. Here, we will discuss the Orbweaver and Tartarus V2 gaming keypads, and help you decide which one is best for you.
Razer Orbweaver vs. Tartarus V2: A Quick Guide
[Razer Tartarus V2 shown above]
[Razer Orbweaver shown above]
In many ways, Razer Orbweaver and Razer Tartarus V2 are similar products. These gaming keypads have 30+ programmable keys in a similar arrangement, use Razer Synapse software, feature fully-customizable RGB chroma lighting, and allow for macros of unlimited length. Both keypads are made for left-handed use, and are not available in a right-handed configuration.
Orbweaver has mechanical keys, which are beloved by many gamers for their “clicky” feel. Tartarus V2 has mecha-membrane keys, which have a somewhat softer feel that has been described as “fake” mechanical keys. The mechanical keys of Orbweaver are generally viewed as a more premium option, while the Tartarus V2 mecha-membrane keys are mid-range. Neither key is necessarily “better” than the other, it just depends on your personal preference.
The buttons, joystick, thumb pads, and wrist rests are different on the Orbweaver and Tartarus V2. These differences will be covered in detail below.
Razer Orbweaver is an older product, having debuted in 2013. The product is discontinued, but can still be found on third-party marketplaces. Due to the rarity of quality gaming keypads, and the high quality of the Orbweaver, there is still a lot of demand for this product, even though it is nearly a decade old and running on dated software.
Razer Tartarus V2 debuted in 2017, and runs on a current version of software (Razer Synapse 3). It is priced lower than the Orbweaver was, and lower than the updated version (Razer Tartarus Pro, which we have written about previously).
Razer provides a 2-year warranty on both products. This is better than you will find with most alternative gaming keypads, which are primarily manufactured by less reputable brands than Razer.
The devices are almost identical in their size, shape, weight, and design.
The layout of the keys is almost the same. However, the Tartarus V2 has removed one key, and replaced it with a scroll wheel. Because this scroll wheel has 3 functions, rather than the single-function key on Orbweaver, the Tartarus V2 is classified as having 32 keys, versus the 30 keys on the Orbweaver. But the only difference is the scroll wheel rather than the key. Many users complain that the scroll wheel provides limited utility, but it worked just fine for us. This will depend on the sort of gaming, programming, or computer work that you do.
The thumb pad is different between the two devices, also. The Orbweaver has an 8-way directional button, while the Tartarus V2 has a joystick cap that can be removed to reveal a directional pad.
Neither device is perfect in its thumb pad design. The Orbweaver’s 8-way thumb pad is imprecise, and we experienced inadvertent clicks as a result. Other users have recommended programming the 8-way to have only 2 or 4 functions, to avoid unintentional clicks. The Tartarus V2 has a thumbstick that looks like an analog stick (similar to the analog on a PlayStation or Xbox controller), but the function is just the same as a 4-way d-pad. So if you are expecting to transition smoothly from console to PC, this device will still have a learning curve.
Both models have an ergonomic design that felt good to my hand. And both also provide a wrist rest. Personal preferences will determine which is more comfortable — there is no clear winner here for most comfortable keypad. However, the Orbweaver does offer much more adjustability. The wrist position, thumb position, and palm position can be altered. On the Tartarus V2, only the wrist rest can be repositioned.
With either device, a few users will notice awkward thumb positioning and some degree of hand discomfort. My advice: if you are particular about ergonomics, opt for the Orbweaver because it provides more adjustment capability. If the Tartarus V2 feels uncomfortable at first use, there really isn’t much alteration that can be done.
The wrist pads are constructed of different materials, with Orbweaver having a rubbery feel and Tartarus V2 having more of a soft plastic feel. But again, the “more comfortable” designation is a matter of personal preference. If you have the ability to try either product before buying, I would recommend doing so. If you purchase the Tartarus V2 from Razer (Orbweaver is only available from third-party sellers), there is a 14 day free return window that allows you to test the product.
One flaw seen in the Orbweaver only is that glue will leak from the wrist rest over time. It appears that the adhesive used on this rest turns flowable with heat, and (needless to say) gaming will cause this adhesive to heat up and seep out of the rest. There are clever gamers that have found a workaround for this — once the adhesive starts leaking, just pull the pad off and super glue it in place. This works well, but is still frustrating considering the expense of the device.
Perhaps the largest difference in design relates to the keys. The Tartarus V2 uses mecha-membrane keys, while the Orbweaver uses true mechanical keys. This will be discussed in more detail below.
Tartarus V2 and Orbweaver each offer RGB lighting with nearly-unlimited color customization options. And the design of both devices is sleek enough to add style to your computer setup.
Switches & keys
The keys are another crucial difference between these two keypads.
Orbweaver has mechanical keys, which are considered to be top-of-the-line in gaming. They have a “clicky” feel that is described as tactile. When you push a key, you get crisp and clear feedback from the key. For some gamers, it is mechanical keys or bust. If this applies to you, the choice is simple — find a Razer Orbweaver through a third-party seller rather than settle for the “fake” keys of Tartarus V2.
Tartarus V2 has “mecha-membrane keys.” The keys are marketed as a hybrid of the crispness of mechanical keys, plus the comfort of a traditional keyboard. Purists will say that these keys feel less “clicky” than mechanical keys. In testing, I thought the keys were comfortable. But then again, I don’t use a mechanical keyboard regularly. If you are accustomed to a traditional keyboard, the mecha-membrane keys will have a tactile feel and won’t feel soft at all.
Neither keypad has adjustable key sensitivity. Both devices have keys that are actuated near the middle of the key. This means that it will take a moderate amount of pressure to activate the key. If you want the ability to adjust actuation, consider the higher-end Tartarus Pro.
Software & programmability
Tartarus V2 uses the Razer Synapse 3 program, while Orbweaver still uses Razer Synapse 2. Neither program is perfect, and there are occasional bugs and slow performance.
Razer Synapse 3 is loaded with an incredible amount of customization potential, but it can be tricky to navigate. Generally, once you have figured out the program, it can run in the background without causing any issues.
Synapse 2 is more polished, but is being phased out. So you will have to deal with the inevitable obsolescence of this app if you purchase an Orbweaver.
Neither keypad has built-in memory, so you need the application running for full functionality.
Both devices have RGB lighting which can be customized to an almost infinite degree. The lighting on each key can be configured however you desire. And it is possible to integrate this with your other devices and gaming peripherals.
You can also program macros, shortcuts, and change the function of each key.
For most people, the decision is easy. Razer Tartarus V2 is readily available at a great price, whereas Razer Orbweaver is hard to find, and often only available in used condition. Because the functionality of these two devices is so similar, it makes sense for new users to choose the gaming keypad that is cheaper and easier to buy (Tartarus V2).
For serious gamers, or for purists that strongly prefer true mechanical keys, Razer Orbweaver is tough to beat. There is a reason that the product has stood the test of time, and is still in wide use nearly a decade after its creation. The combination of adjustability, quality build, and tactile keys is hard to find from a company with the reputation of Razer.
With either the Tartarus V2 or Orbweaver, you really can’t go wrong. As convenient as they are, both for gaming and for office work, not many reputable manufacturers make gaming keypads. If you want to take your gaming to the next level, increase the efficiency of your programming or spreadsheet work, and do it in style, either of these products will get the job done.