More than 7 years since their last gaming keyboard (the TactX), Alienware – famed for their insanely powerful, stylish and expensive gaming laptops – have launched themselves into the mechanical gaming keyboard market. Featuring 1000Hz polling (for a fast response time), anti-ghosting, n-key rollover (so you can press as many keys as you want and have them all register), 15 programmable macro keys, media keys anda volume roller, 13 customisable RGB lighting zones, and Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches, Alienware’s Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 represents the company’s current top offering.
With dozens of mechanical gaming keyboards available from many manufacturers, just how does the AW768 compare? The answer is favourably in the extreme. Indeed, it quickly became not only my favourite keyboard, but the favourite of everyone I know who had a go (having already tried numerous mechanical keyboards from heavyweights such as Razer, Logitech, Asus and Corsair).
If you ever wanted proof that it’s the little things that can make a big difference, look no further than the AW768. Firstly, and most obviously, the keys themselves. The Cherry MX Brown switches offer the best of both worlds to both typists and gamers. They feature a light touch with a tactile ‘bump’ which lets you know by feel when a key’s been activated, and don’t have the audible clicking sound made by the otherwise identical ‘Blue’ switches. Now while the Cherry MX Brown switches in the AW768 are in theory identical to the Brown switches I’ve used in other mechanical keyboards which feature them, for some reason the AW768 are not only smoother to the touch, but also significantly quieter. And, no, they haven’t done what Logitech did with their G710+ and stuck rubber o-rings under the keys.
Also, there’s the nifty little legs that control the angle the keyboard sits at. Unlike most keyboards which only give you a choice of legs folded away or extended, the AW768 has a clever ‘nested’ leg design which gives you the choice of two different lengths, giving you a choice of three different angles you can tilt the keyboard at to make it most comfortable for you.
Then there’s the RGB lighting, which can be programmed for specific games, and for general use. With the lighting divided into zones (for example, the number keys are one zone, the WASD another and so on) it lacks the sheer amount of customisation possible with, say, Corsair’s own lighting software (which allows each key to be individually programmed). However, the Alienware software is extremely easy to use, plays well with other programmes (something which can’t always be said for other brands) and it’s possible to quickly come up with interesting, fun and impressive effects. While it lacks the ‘in-your-face’ level of brightness of Razer’s Chroma X, it’s still plenty bright, and looks surprisingly stylish when set against the silver-grey of the keyboard housing. (Also, the RGB strip that runs around the edge of the keyboard can create nice ambient lighting effects in darkened environments).
Ultimately, the Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard AW768 feels great, looks great, and is simply a delight to use. ■