I spend the majority of my computing time on laptops; that’s just because I prefer these tiny technological marvels over hulking desktops. So it’s a rare occasion when I get to use an honest-to-goodness mechanical gaming keyboard. The feel of mechanical keyboards is simultaneously wonderful and upsetting for me.
I’ve so far been unconvinced that they are worth their hefty price tags and the incessant clack-clack noise. So when our friends at Alienware reached out to us with a sample of their new flagship, the AW510K Low Profile Mechanical keyboard, for a test drive, how could I refuse?
Did Alienware do enough to convert me?
Alienware 510k Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Review
The Alienware 510K comes with Cherry MX Low Profile Red mechanical switches which have a 3.2 mm travel that feels like miles when compared with the measly 1.2mm in my trusty MacBook Pro. The keys depress with a satisfying feel and spring back on release.
The Low Profile Red switches have a low actuation force which makes them really fast to respond to my presses. This took me a while to get used to. The keys need only the lightest of touches to register your keypress which regularly resulted in typing errors. I had to almost touch-type; resisting the deliciously satisfying feeling of stabbing the keys.
The floating keys feature N-Key rollover which means the Alienware 510K will register every keypress so that when you press a bunch of keys simultaneously, the command won’t be lost in interpretation by your PC.
This is pretty handy for gamers who need button combos for in-game actions. Thankfully, Alienware guarantees that the keys will withstand a life of 50 million keystrokes.
But if you aren’t into remembering complex button combos, the Alienware 510K has got you covered thanks to its fully programmable macro keys. Using the eponymous Alienware Command Center hub software. You can record and assign different macros to your choice of keys.
And while you’re there, you can also adjust the per-key AlienFX RGB lighting. Alienware lets you play with a number of lighting combinations that are really easy to set up in the Command Center. You can set each key individually, set up key zones or simply select one of the presets that matches your fancy.
Keeping a low profile
The Alienware 510K is solidly built. It’s a sturdy metal plate that measures 18inches wide by 6inches deep. While it weighs almost a kilo, the 510K isn’t a large keyboard. The low profile design makes it quite slim and Alienware has once again applied its Legendary Design here.
The review unit we got is the dark themed variant aptly named Dark Side of the Moon but there’s also a brighter Lunar Light if you prefer. Supporting the keyboard are a set of retractable legs to adjust the tilt and a set of rubber feet to keep it from sliding around your desk.
The 510K is a full-size keyboard with a numpad and a very handy Volume Roller dial in the top right of the frame. I really enjoyed how tactile it is with its ribbed surface that makes grip solid and satisfying. Next to it is a mute key with a raft of other media controls lining the top function keys. Very handy to not have to take my hands off the keyboard to control my media.
The Alienware 510K connects to your PC via a thick and sturdy braided USB-A cable. It’s still beyond me why keyboards and mice in 2019 don’t come with the much better USB-C interface. Anyway, the bundled cable splits into two USB heads; one powers the keyboard and the other enables USB passthrough.
This turns your keyboard into a giant dongle. However, Alienware only included one USB port on the keyboard which sort of negates the value. For someone like me who uses a laptop with limited USB ports, having the keyboard chew two ports just to offer me one in return isn’t helpful.
Verdict: Should you buy?
The Alienware 510k low profile mechanical keyboard ticks all the usual boxes. Mechanical keys with a fantastic response, programmable macros with onboard memory, great RGB lighting and a very solid build. Check, check, check. You get all this for the eye-watering price of $340 here in Australia.
Is it worth it?
Not really. As good as the Alienware offering is, and Lord knows I’d love to have something like this on my desk, you can easily get equivalent or better keyboards from HyperX, Corsair, Logitech or Razer for at least $100 less.
That makes this keyboard a very tough sell. This one is a must for Alienware diehards but a no for more value-driven gamers.
The Alienware 510K Low profile mechanical keyboard was provided to PowerUp by Alienware Australia for the purpose of this review.
Alienware 510K Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard Review
Product Name: Alienware 510K Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Product Description: Mechanical gaming keyboard
Offer price: 340
- Very solid build in an attractive slim package
- Extremely fast Cherry MX keys
- Tasteful RGB lighting and good customization
- Extremely expensive compared to the competition