Alienware Headset And Mouse: Playing In The Peripheral Space
When you think of Dell or its Alienware brand, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a PCs and not a peripheral. Be that as it may, Dell is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the peripheral market as part of a larger play, one in which it can sell gamers on a unified ecosystem through its Alienware division. You could, for example, buy an Alienware desktop and plug it into an Alienware monitor (even a giant 55-inch OLED display, if you have the bankroll), and then surround it with Alienware peripherals. Talk about an invasion!
Whether you would want to is another question, and to help answer that, Dell sent us its AW988 Wireless Gaming Headset and AW959 Elite Gaming Mouse. We're already familiar with Dell's Alienware PCs, like the liquid-cooled Area-51 R5 that we reviewed several months ago, and we also recently posted our our thoughts on the company's Alienware M15 laptop. More often than not, we've been impressed with the build quality and performance of Alienware systems.
That said, we have not had as much experience with Alienware-branded peripherals, mostly because it's a space Dell has not been particularly active in. It has been nearly a decade since Alienware launched a gaming headset, the TactX, and quite a bit has changed since then. Likewise, Dell and its Alienware division have not exactly bombarded the peripheral market with gaming mice either.
So, why get involved in peripherals now? Perhaps the better question to ask is, why not? The explosion of esports has only increased the demand for PC gaming peripherals, and so has the streaming scene—it seems like almost everyone either has a YouTube channel or a presence on Twitch these days. PC gaming is red hot, and as any blacksmith can attest, that is when you strike the iron.
That's what Alienware is doing. Not surprisingly, both the AW988 gaming headset and AW959 mouse are premium products, or at least that's how they're being positioned in terms of price—the former has an MSRP of $229.99 and the latter is priced at $84.99. What do you get for that? Let's have a look...
The AW980 not just Alienware's first gaming headset since the TactX, it is the first wireless headset in the company's history. On the surface, it checks all the right boxes—it uses 40mm neodymium drivers with the promise of "deep rich bass and an expansive soundscape," it features an aggressive design language and customizable RGB lighting, and is rated for up to 8.7 hours of battery life (or 15 hours if you turn off the AlienFX lighting).
As for AW959 mouse, it's built around a PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor with a 100-12,000 DPI range. That is the same sensor found in mice like SteelSeries' Rival 700 and Cooler Master's MasterMouse Pro L. What makes Alienware's rodent comparatively unique, though, is its modular construction—it sports interchangeable magnetic wings with 2 or 4 buttons, to give you a total of 9 or 11 programmable clickers.
Let's take a closer look at both, starting with the AW988 headset...