A few months ago I started a new project, building my first custom water-cooled PC. I wanted to create a kick-ass PC that was as aesthetically pleasing as possible! The reason why I’m telling you this is because Alienware products typically try to promote an edgy and attractive design, so I feel it would be fair to share why I gave their product a try in the first place.
Before we get to the keyboard and mouse, I want to plug in my completed build if you don’t mind!
Yes, I know – the desk is quite cramped. Unfortunately, living in a city makes it difficult to dedicate even more space to your home workspace. Let’s take a look at the specs:
Case: Thermaltake Core P5
This is a beautiful case that allows you to showcase all your hardware.
Very happy with this purchase. A 35-inch monitor with 2k resolution and ability to have it overclocked to 120 FPS.
Processor: Intel 7th Gen i7-7700k
This CPU has a turbo boost of 4.5GHz, but I’ve taken the liberty of overclocking it to 4.9GHz thanks to liquid cooling!
Motherboard: Asus Maximus IX Formula
High-performance motherboard with many features.
Graphics Card: EVGA GTX 1080ti SC2
Out of the box, you’ll see clock speeds at 1670Mhz under boost, but I’ve successfully overclocked it to just a bit over 2Ghz!
Memory: G.Skill 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Nothing too exciting here.
Yes, two SSDs for storage. The M.2 SSD being the one where I run my OS on and important programs.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but I’ll share a photo of the water cooling!
With my new PC build, I was definitely in the market for a new keyboard and mouse so my Amazon cart began to tick higher. It wasn’t until I walked into a local Best Buy when I saw the Alienware AW768 Mechanical Keyboard and the Alienware AW958 gaming mouse that I made an impulse purchase. The moment I saw both pieces side by side, I fall in love with the design and the keyboard/mouse felt great to the touch.
If we take a look at the keyboard and mouse image at the top of this article we can see how they both flow with one another:
At first look, the silver part of the keyboard looks metallic but it’s actually hard plastic. But when you hold the keyboard, everything feels sturdy and well made. The keys feel perfect to the touch, and leave behind a satisfying sound with every press.
Alienware has done a fantastic job in terms of lightning. Along with the LED light under each key, the bottom section of the keyboard is also equipped with an LED light. The light begins in the corner and then goes all the way through the bottom to the other edge. With this placement, you receive a nice and subtle light right under your keyboard.
In this image, you’ll find that the keyboard was set to a purple tone, except for the column of keys to your very left. These are five keys that are programmable to anything that you want. The key at the top of the column lets you switch between three different modes of macros for those keys. For example, let’s say you play two different PC games and also do photo editing. Well, you can have Mode 1 for one game, Mode 2 for the second game and then Mode 3 for photo editing. This always you to switch between the different sets of macros you’ve set for what you are doing. Whenever you hit the key to switch the mode, you’ll hear an alert on your desktop letting you know you’ve done so, as well as that column of keys, will turn to a different color. This is where I believe they fall short, unfortunately, you cannot customize the different color options for these macro keys. As it stands right now, whenever you switch modes, it decides on a different color. The colors are Red, Yellow, and Light Blue (as seen in the photo).
Outside of that column, you have complete control over the colors and color cycles:
Blue color chosen.
Green color chosen.
Yellow color chosen.
If we had over to the right side of the keyboard, we find some cool options:
Unlike many keyboards were volume control is typically dedicated to pressing one key or the other, with this Alienware Keyboard, you’ll be able to control your volume using the “roller”. This is simply a bit quicker and more interactive way of controlling your volume. Obviously, to the left of the volume roller is your sound off/on key. Right above the volume roller, you’ll find three light indicators. Beginning from the left, that’s your indicator that your “CAPS LOCK” is on. The middle indicator is whether or not you have your “NUM LOCK” on. Finally, the last indicator is for when your “SCROLL LOCK” is on.
The last thing I want to cover on this side of the keyboard is the Alien head logo. If you press the logo as soon as you get the keyboard, you’ll notice that it will turn off all the LED lights on your keyboard. This is a pretty useful feature since you don’t have to go through a software to make it happen, you press a keyboard button and you’re good to go. With that being said, you can actually select the logo press to turn on “Game Mode” on and off instead of controlling your LED light. Let’s say you want the windows key to be disabled while playing a game, well if you elect to go into “Game Mode”, then the Windows key will not work while this mode is active. For me personally, I’ve left the function of the logo on default and use it simply to toggle my lights on and off.
Using The Alienware Software:
On the main screen of your software, you’ll find options to change your keyboard to a single tone. As you can tell, you receive a rainbow wheel which leaves you open to choose between millions of different colors. Right under the wheel, you will also find a brightness slider.
At the top of your color options, if you click on the icon that leads to a multi-color selection, you’ll also find different animation presets for your colors. Keep in mind that with all the animation presets, you are able to use up to two different colors for your animations unless you use the “Rainbow” option. When it comes to “Rainbow”, you’ll find your keyboard showing over half a dozen different colors.
If you tab over to the “Macros” section, you’ll be able to set up macros for the row of keys on the very left of the keyboard. The process for setting up a macro is quite simple, you click on the macro and drag it over to proper key. Where I do feel that Alienware fell short here is that they didn’t have too many macros loaded into the software already, such as going back to the previous page. Do keep in mind that you are given an option to upload new macros to your software though.
Under “Macros”, we can tab over to the “Mapping” page which then allows you to make any key on your keyboard to another key. The process for this is also just as simple and I haven’t seen any issues.
Finally, we have the “Settings” tab. There isn’t too much going on here except for the “Game Mode” option that we previously discussed. As you can tell, currently my Alienhead logo button is set to control keyboard light.
My Experience With The Alienware AW768 Mechanical Keyboard:
It’s comfortable, responsive and beautifully designed keyboard. I have absolutely zero regrets about picking up this keyboard. When it comes to being a mechanical keyboard, it’s not crazy loud, but gives enough sound feedback that you’re satisfied with the words you’re putting down on your screen. For the first day or two, I was making typing mistakes that I typically wouldn’t, it felt as though the orientation of the keys were a bit different then what I am accustomed too. Thankfully after those two days, I adjusted to the placement and decent between each key that I am able to type quite accurately. The build of the keyboard is quite impressive, it feels sturdy and the USB cord is a nice nylon cord. Once you connect the keyboard via USB, the Alienware Software is also automatically downloaded on your PC.
Where I do feel that the keyboard fell short was with the lack of macros loaded in, and also the lack of USB slots on the keyboard itself. As it stands, there are zero USB slots on the keyboard.
Time For The AW958 Gaming Mouse!
First impressions, it’s a beautiful mouse. The black portion of the mouse has a matte feel to it with the actual right/left clickers having a hard plastic feel to them. The scroll wheel is quite large, and right under the scroll wheel, you can see a little black piece which is meant to control sensitivity. We’ll get to that part a bit later. Both sides of the mouse are actually magnetic and you do receive extra sides for your mouse with your order. By default, you’ll find that the side panel on the left side is equipped with two buttons. If you prefer having more buttons on the side, then you’ll be happy to learn that their extra side piece comes with a six-button configuration.
In the back of the mouse, you’ll find two open slots, this is where the “weights” go. If you prefer rocking a heavier mouse, then you simply slide in the magnetic weights and you’re good to go. The fact that Alienware decided to use magnetic sides and weights with the mouse really helped push the premise that you’re using a premium mouse.
Now even though you can’t tell in these two pictures, in the overall pictures at the beginning of the post you were able to grab a glimpse of the LED lights being given off from this mouse. It looks sweet, and what I truly love is the lack of a logo. I feel that too many formidable mouses on the market are ruined when the company decides to slap a big old logo right on it.
Using The Alienware Software:
The first thing to note, you’ll be using the same software to control your mouse and keyboard. Notice towards the button of the mouse, you’ll find the icon for my keyboard also shown. Since we want to check out my mouse configuration at the moment, I have selected the mouse icon. So right off the bat, we’re able to control the colors of the mouse. Just as with the keyboard, if we decide to control the colors from this page, you’ll only be able to select a single color.
Looks familiar right? Just as before, we can select from various animations and select two colors or even the rainbow option.
Whether you decide to use the side piece that has two buttons or six buttons, you will also be able to drag macros over to those keys. You can’t drag any macros to your scroll wheel.
If you want to map any of the buttons, well all the buttons are capable of being mapped. Keep in mind that the scroll wheel is capable of being tilted to the left or to the right, and that sort of movement can be mapped to a single key.
Finally, we have our DPI options under “Settings”. Remember how I told you about the black piece right under the scroll wheel that can also be tilted left or right? Well, when you tilt that piece, you go through different DPI modes. By default, you will have 5 available DPI modes. You can change the DPI for each mode, and also disable the amount of DPI options you would like. Currently, I am using three DPI options. I leave my mouse in “DPI1” when I using my PC normally, but when I switch over to gaming I tilt the piece to the right to use “DPI2”, and then sometimes in the middle of the game if I need to get a few sniper shots off, I simply tilt the piece one more time to head over to “DPI3”.
My Experience With The Alienware AW958 Gaming Mouse:
I love the design, but I’m a bit conflicted on how comfortable the mouse really is. If you read a few online reviews on this mouse you’ll find that many people complain that this mouse is just too big, and that’s the truth! To put things in perspective, the vast majority of popular gaming mouses on the market are typically between 4.4-4.6 inches long. Well….this Alienware mouse comes out to a staggering 5.1 inches in length! I remember that with the first few days of using this mouse, my knuckles began to get sore due to the awkward angle I have to hold the mouse so I can efficiently click the mouse. Unless you’re 6 foot 4, you will find yourself needing time to adjust to the size of this mouse. Fortunately, I have gotten used to the size of the mouse a bit now, but what’s been setting me back is how easy it is to click on the side button of the mouse. When I’m in the middle of a firefight in a game and I’m gripping the mouse hard, I find myself mistakenly clicking on the side button which is awful if you’ve mapped that button for a specific action in the game. I’ve tried to loosen up my grip on the mouse when I play, but it’s difficult when the mouse feels enormous and that you have to hold onto it well if you want to move your sights around at a low DPI.
Outside of size issue, the mouse functions well and is quite responsive. What really kept me from returning the mouse is just how nice it looks next to the keyboard – they look like a perfect set!
Nevertheless, if you’re an ordinary sized person, you will probably want to pass on this mouse.
I’ll be frank, the mechanical keyboard offered by Alienware is a definite buy and a purchase that you wouldn’t regret. On the other hand, if you’re interested in the Alienware mouse, I highly suggest stopping by a local Best Buy and seeing if they have on display so that you can whether or not you would be comfortable with the size.