Most of you know that I’m a sucker for gorgeous peripherals and am a huge fan of good looking and comfortable gaming accessories. Till now, my experiences with peripherals have been relatively limited, so when Alienware presented me with the opportunity to have a play with their latest range of gaming peripherals, I jumped at the chance.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on PC gaming accessories. As most of you know, I’m mostly a console gamer where Tom is the PC gamer. Therefore, my review of these Alienware goodies is fairly noob friendly and is catered more towards casual/beginner gamers who are interested in comfort levels and value for money as opposed to the real nitty-gritty details of what these products are capable of.
Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard (AW768)
The Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard is a full-sized mechanical keyboard equipped with a number pad and comes in a silver metallic finish with an angular design which, together with the black keys, that come with 16.5 million LED backlighting looks sleek and eye-catching.
Apart from being angled, the keyboard looks like a standard gaming keyboard, which isn’t a bad thing. The only difference I found, compared to other mechanical keyboards I’ve seen in the past, is the fact that instead of a volume up and down button, the Pro Gaming Keyboard possesses a volume scroller beside the mute button, which allows you to roll over to increase or decrease the volume.
Additionally, there is a profile switch key which can be programmed to allow for up to three different lighting and macro profiles to be created and stored.
Users are able to use the keyboard by simply plugging it into a vacant USB slot, however, utilising the Alienware Control Centre software allows for better performance and customisability.
From my experience with the keyboard and software, the Pro Gaming Keyboard allows for the customisation of the backlight colours, lighting animations, key mapping, gamemode shortcuts and more. As described above, three different profiles are also able to be saved in order to switch between different customisations.
The Alienware Control Centre is surprisingly straightforward and easy to use compared to other gaming peripheral softwares I’ve used in the past. I must admit to being hesitant at first upon seeing the UI of the software but actually using it to create different profiles was fairly simple, nothing that Google couldn’t handle.
While the Pro Gaming Keyboard is fairly similar to other mechanical keyboards in the market, there is one major difference: the keyboard utilises Kailh Brown switches instead of the more traditional Cherry MX switches found in most mechanical keyboards.
Having the Kailh Brown switches doesn’t impact on performance at all and the only noticeable difference is that the keys have a slightly stiffer feel and a clicking sound that isn’t annoyingly loud. The keys are great for gaming as it’s much easier to feel the click of each key compared to smoother and softer keys. This actually makes it also great for typing, which I tend to do a lot of.
However, while the keyboard feels great and is impeccably responsive, the angular design does make prolonged usage uncomfortable and tough on my wrists as I found myself having to curve my hands to use the keyboard. Thankfully, the keyboard does come with a palm rest which helps, somewhat.
Overall, the Pro Gaming Keyboard gives users bang for their buck as it’s perfect for use as both a gaming keyboard and a standard keyboard for simple typing work. The customisability gives pro gamers the added advantage of creating profiles that can be easily swapped between while also allowing casual gamers the ease and comfort of using straightforward software. If you’re looking for a simple but quality mechanical gaming keyboard that offers value for money, give this Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 a spin.
Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse (AW958)
A comfortable gaming mouse that fits perfectly in the palm of your dominant hand is hard to find and the Alienware Elite AW958 Gaming Mouse is one that I struggled with, not because of its performance, specifications and general usability, but more so due to it’s design – it’s a big and wide mouse!
This Elite Gaming Mouse is the first customisable gaming mouse for Alienware and naturally, like other Alienware products, it looks good straight out of the box. With combination of black and silver colouring and a matte and hard plastic finish, the mouse looks like a futuristic machine and feels good to touch.
Like the Pro Gaming Keyboard, the Elite Gaming Mouse has a slight angular design and is wide, one of the widest mice I’ve ever used. It comes with the standard left and right click buttons along with a scroll wheel, however, the side panels include adjustable components that can be swapped out at either side. The side panels typically come with two buttons that can be programmed but there is also a panel that can be swapped, which comes with six buttons, which allows for different users to choose their own preference.
The mouse itself is fairly light and comes with weights which can be added to the open slots at the back of the mouse to allow for a heavier feel. Together with the magnetic and interchangeable side panels, these options give the mouse a more premium feel to it compared to standard gaming mice that can be found in the market.
The Elite Gaming Mouse utilises the same Alienware Control Centre software as the Pro Gaming Keyboard, which allows for customisation of the RBG colours of the mouse and colour animations as well as macros to be added to the side panel buttons. Using the software also allows all buttons on the mouse to be mapped.
My only gripe with the Elite Gaming Mouse is the size. Having a wide mouse feels awkward for smaller hands and the angled design makes it challenging to hold the mouse and click properly at the same time. This makes it a bit tough to actually use the mouse for fast-pace gaming, let alone shooters. I also found myself accidentally clicking the side buttons from time to time as well, which would have been a pain had I mapped it.
Perhaps this particular mouse is more suited for seasoned gamers and those with much larger hands but it certainly wasn’t the best beginner mouse to use for playing games. Considering the price tag as well, there are certainly other options that are likely more suitable.
However, all of this comes right down to personal preference. If you’re like me and have difficulties finding comfortable gear that doesn’t affect my hands after long periods, a smaller mouse will do the job but if you’re a seasoned pro who lives for customisations and button mapping, and are able to handle the much wider body of the mouse, then the Alienware Elite Gaming mouse may be right for you.
Alienware Gaming Headset (AW988)
I love headsets especially those that offer both comfort and incredible sound quality. The thing that I’ve found since reviewing various brands of gaming headsets is that brands today know how to create a great product that users will appreciate. Of course, I have found that the more expensive a headset is, the more comfortable and durable it is long term.
The Alienware AW988 Gaming Headset is such a product. Priced at a premium, the headset is well worth its price tag, given its sleek design, premium build, solid sound performance and superior level of comfort.
The headset features a futuristic, sleek and gorgeously minimalist design, in keeping with the Alienware theme. Made of both metal and plastic, the headset has a solid build and rubberised finish which gives it a premium look. The minimalist design as well as the fact that the in built, foldable, microphone arm is able to be tucked away when not required makes the headset perfect for gaming as well as everyday use, something that not all gaming headsets offer.
As with most headsets, the earcups feature connectivity slots and controls. At the bottom of the right earcup is the power button, which comes in the shape of the Alienware logo, as well as the USB dongle that can be utilised when the wireless mode isn’t in use. On the bottom of the left ear cup is the microUSB and aux ports as well as a tuner button, which allows for sound tuning.
As if the headset couldn’t get any better, the Alienware logo on either side of the earcups light up in RGB colours and is animated too, both of which are customisable, just like Alienware’s Pro Gaming Keyboard and Elite Gaming Mouse!
Comfort and Sound Quality
The premium build of the headset isn’t restricted simply to the design of the headset. Both ear cups feature memory foam technology that offers superb comfort on the ears. The padding on the headband adds to this superior comfort and allows the headset to be worn for long periods of time without it getting uncomfortable, despite it being heavier than most other headsets.
Sound-wise, this Alienware headset offers sound quality that is on par with the likes of other premium headsets. Though explosions and gunshots were loud, sharp and with an added boost, it doesn’t offer the same detailed surround sound as those headsets that come with Dolby Atmos.
However, I found the tuner button to be quite useful as it allows for equaliser tuning, something that often can’t be done directly on the headset itself. The ability to control the quality and level of sound from the headset itself was quite a unique feature that caught my attention.
Being a wireless headset, one would think that this headset would be able to connect to devices easily using Bluetooth technology. However, this isn’t the case. This Alienware headset comes with a USB adapter that can be easily connected to PCs, however, to connect to smartphones, for example, requires the use of the provided microUSB or aux cables. I’ll have to investigate further whether there is a way to connect to smartphones wirelessly as it could just be my phone that had an issue.
The connectivity to PC was good and it didn’t appear to drop out, something I was quite worried about. You wouldn’t want to have the signal lost while I’m right in the middle of an epic battle.
Battery life is fantastic with light-mid use, lasting several hours without needing to be connected and recharged. This makes it ideal for someone who can’t stand to have to keep charging devices.
In terms of the microphone? Well it was decent, and comparable to other headset microphones. Nothing fancy here I must admit.
Overall the Alienware AW988 Gaming Headset is a fantastic piece of gaming technology. With a sleek, premium look, decent sound quality, superb levels of comfort and is wireless, this is one headset that is worthy of its price-tag and is a good investment for gamers looking for a headset that will last for quite some time.