Razer Tarantula review: Razer Tarantula

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MSRP: $99.99

Razer Tarantula

(Part #: RZ0100070100) Released: Nov 6, 2006
4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Sleek, smart design and key layout; grasps desktop surface firmly; superresponsive keys; keys are infinitely customizable; built-in memory means you can take your custom profiles with you.

The Bad Takes up a fair amount of desk space; expensive if you aren't serious about gaming.

The Bottom Line Razer brings all the polish to its Tarantula gaming keyboard that it has to mice over the years. The Tarantula is a little more expensive than other keyboards geared toward gamers, but its build quality, customization options, and responsiveness are definitely worth it.

8.7 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 9.0
CNET Editors' Choice Nov '06
Editor's note: This review has been updated to clarify that only some of the keys, and not the main QWERTY keys, are backlit. (11/9/06)

It only makes sense that after tuning the lowly mouse to gamer specifications, the various input device makers would turn their attention to keyboards. Razer's new $99 Tarantula gaming keyboard is not the first of this new breed, but it's definitely one of the best. It's also one of the most expensive. Still, if you're willing spend a little bit more for gaming-input precision, then the Tarantula should be your pick. Among other reasons, it has more out-of-the-box features that will matter to gamers as soon as they set it up.

Gaming keyboards seem to universally take up massive swaths of desk space. Although it looks very large when you take the glossy, KITT car-black Tarantula out of the box, it's only a little wider than Saitek's competing Eclipse II gaming keyboard (19.5 inches vs. 20.25 inches). And Logitech's 21.5-inch G15 is even wider.

One of the things we like most about the Tarantula is its build quality. At 2 pounds, 8 ounces, it feels more substantial than the Logitech (2 pounds, 14 ounces) or the Saitek (2 pounds, 11 ounces), even though it actually weighs the least of the three. Its glossy black finish also looks the sharpest. The Tarantula has stick-fast rubber feet on the bottom that give you the confidence that during an intense gaming session, it won't slide out from under you. It almost feels like it attaches itself to your desk. The other two don't hold their position as well.

All three keyboards have LED backlighting, making it easy to see the keys in a darkened game room. Like the G15, the Tarantula lights up blue but only on the keys along the outer edges, not the main letter keys. The Eclipse II, on the other hand gives you blue, red, and purple options, so if custom colors turn you on, the Tarantula can't compete. But we much prefer customization options with a more practical purpose, and the Tarantula beats the other two by far. Like the G15, the Tarantula comes with customizable hot keys. The Tarantula doesn't have quite as many, 10 to the Logitech's 18, but we think the Tarantula's are laid out in such a way that it's easier to remember which button does what, with 5 running down each side of the keyboard, rather than clustering the buttons like the G15 does.

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