Alienware AW988 And A959: Final Thoughts
Alienware's foray into modern peripherals is off to a good start. The AW988 Wireless Headset and AW959 Elite Mouse are both premium products that take aim at the high-end, which is reflected both in the pricing of each product, and the build quality and features. Neither one necessarily brings anything new or innovative to their respective product categories, but they are worthy additions to the Alienware brand.
Starting with the headset, the AW988 is supremely comfortable thanks to its lightweight design, thick and breathable padded earcups, and wireless design—there's no cord to get in the way, unless you're choosing to connect to a 3.5mm jack or need to charge it up.
The soft-touch rubber gives the AW988 a sleeker look and higher-end feel, compared to leaving the plastic construction exposed. We also like that Alienware did not go nuts with the lighting, choosing instead to serve up a few bits of accent lighting in place of a million LEDs.
As for the sound quality, which is what matters most, the AW988 delivers loud audio bolstered by easily toggled sound profiles, and 7.1 virtual surround sound works well in games. There is not as much bass as we are used to, though the upshot there is that the low end doesn't muddy up the sound and cover up the mids and highs. Still, it's a bit pricey for this level of audio performance, though ultimately worth it if your priorities are comfort and wireless connectivity.
As for the AW959 Elite Gaming Mouse, Alienware did a fantastic job with the modular design. Swapping out the wings for more buttons and/or a wider profile does not get any easier, and the same goes for adding more weight to the mouse—we absolutely love that Alienware doesn't make you unscrew the base or otherwise remove any panels to stuff extra weight into its rodent.
We also like the combination of soft-touch rubber on the palm rest and aluminum plated left/right buttons. It's a comfortable combination, just as long as you don't mind a lower profile rodent. We prefer a higher arch, but it all depends on your grip type.
The software could use some work, especially as it relates to programming the buttons. Once you get it setup, though, the AW959 performs well, with more sensitivity than anyone realistically needs.
Price wise, there are cheaper alternatives worth exploring if you don't specifically need a modular mouse. For those who do, along with anyone who owns an Alienware desktop and wants to match their rig, the AW959 is worth considering.