Alienware (finally) moves into PC peripherals
Alienware is wading into the fierce world of PC peripherals with its new gaming keyboards and mice. HAYDEN DINGMAN reports
It’s surprising that Alienware doesn’t already have a lengthy lineup of peripherals. Sure, there are other companies that only make boutique PCs – Origin, Falcon Northwest – but they seem content being known for their niche. Alienware’s always had such a distinctive aesthetic, and aimed at mainstream appeal.
So the question in our mind, as Alienware unveils its AW568 Advanced and AW768 Pro keyboards and AW558 Advanced and AW598 Elite mice, is: “What took so long?” Not that Alienware hasn’t tried before – if you dig through the depths of the Internet you’ll find reference to the TactX, a keyboard Alienware
sold for a hot minute around 2010. It’s nowhere to be found on Alienware’s site nowadays though, with Roccat the preferred peripherals partner for the last little bit.
We’ll see whether this attempt goes a bit better. All four devices are certainly Alienware’s style, all hard angles and RGB LEDs. You can easily imagine these sitting next to an Area 51, with the same chrome and black look.
The question, though, is whether those outside Alienware’s bubble will want to buy in. The mice are both respectable and reasonably priced, if unremarkable. With one listed at £44 and the other at £89, Alienware’s crashing into the same crowded battlefield as every other company.
And with the same features. On-the-fly DPI switching, nine buttons, RGB lighting, the works. Both are essentially the same mouse, but the AW598 Elite mouse also includes swappable side grips, an adjustable palm height, and five on-the-fly DPI settings instead of three.
No word yet on what sensor Alienware is using, nor are minimum and maximum DPI settings listed, but we don’t expect anything too outside the norm.
The keyboards are more questionable. They look attractive, with the lower-end AW568 encased in all black and the AW768 in a chrome/black mix with the Alienware type logo emblazoned on the bottom right edge and an RGB LED ribbon across the front of each.
Eschewing the standard Cherry MX switches though, Alienware’s opted to instead use Kaihua/Kailh Brown switches on the AW568 and RGB versions of the same on the AW768. This allows Alienware to undercut
on price – indeed, the AW568 is a mere £84 and the AW768 lists for £119.
But not every Cherry MX knock-off is made equal. We’ve tested far too many at this point, some which we love and others we loathe even though the differences are always relatively minor. Kailh adheres the closest to Cherry’s design, and is thus solidly in the middle. There’s no real advantages over Cherry switches, and the usual quality control issues, as well as questionable long-term durability.
It’s also strange that Alienware’s opted to only sell Browns. Linear switches – Blacks and Reds – are traditionally used for gaming keyboards, whereas Browns and Blues are more for typing. We’re not sure if that will change down the line, though we suspect it probably will.
We also have some concerns about the lighting. Or rather, in the case of the AW568 keyboard, the lack of lighting. There’s that aforementioned RGB LED ribbon on the facing edge of the AW568, but that’s a purely decorative addition – it doesn’t improve the typing experience at all, and no backlighting on a £84 keyboard is a bit hard to stomach.
At the time of writing four devices were scheduled for release in early July.
Alienware AW768 Pro Gaming Keyboard
Alienware AW958 Elite Gaming Mouse