Gone are the days when gaming keyboards were these massive monstrosities with massive cables attached to the back of them.  Now, with advancements in wireless technologies we are seeing not just wireless gaming keyboards but cut down versions of them.

The new 75% form factor keyboard offers all the stuff without the fluff, so to speak.  The Alienware Pro Wireless Gaming Keyboard is a compact size but incredibly solid and well-built with many of the features we associate with premium gaming keyboards.

Design

The number pad is gone along with a few other miscellaneous keys, leaving a total of 83 keys, all of which are RGB backlit.

There is no volume knob or wheel, instead volume buttons at the right hand end of the keyboard – not easy to get to but I don’t find myself needing to change volume all that much during a game anyway so it’s not a huge issue for me.

There is also a macro button to scroll through the various RGB presets but if you use your time to set up the profiles etc properly in the Alienware software then you won’t need this.

Underneath are two feet to change the angle of the keyboard, which is definitely needed as there is no palm rest included.  This is disappointing but not the first 75% gaming keyboard I’ve reviewed to lack a palm rest – you can always buy an aftermarket one if you really need/want one (I have one I always use).

Also underneath is a long silicone strip on the front edge to prevent the keyboard from slipping or moving during an intense, fast-paced game.  I did not have any issues at all with it moving, even with my fast mashing of the keys.

The layers of the Pro Wireless keyboard include upper and lower sound dampening silicone layers to create a more muted sound, something many keyboard enthusiasts prefer.  This just adds to the premium nature of the keyboard with “less ping, a lower frequency, no rattling, and a more consistent sound.”  I love the sound and feel of the keyboard for this reason.

The back side of the keyboard houses a port for the 2.4GHz wireless dongle along with a power switch, USB-C port and a selector button and indicator lights to change the inputs from the 2.4GHz dongle to one of three possible Bluetooth connections.  This, like most Bluetooth productivity keyboards, allows the keyboard to store connections to three different devices – handy but I did not use this much at all.

I didn’t use the Bluetooth connection much because Bluetooth is often associated with lag while gaming and if I’m doing productivity a gaming keyboard is far from my choice of keyboard for many reasons.  It is there though if this keyboard is your only option.

As you may have guessed from above, there are three ways to connect the keyboard to your PC – Bluetooth, USB-C wired and using the 2.4GHz dongle included in the box.

The fastest, and best connections are the wired and the 2.4GHz connections – although I can only see having to use the wired connection when you need to charge the keyboard at the same time as gaming.  The USB-C dongle slots nicely into the port on the back of the keyboard for easy transportation.  There is an included USB-A adapter if you do not have any spare USB-C ports, or your PC doesn’t have any at all.

Switches and hardware

Alienware has included just about everything here that you could wish for with their actual switches, keycaps and more.  

The keycaps are durable double-shot PBT keycaps.  This means that the keycaps are made from two layers of material with key legends and colour molded into the cap for exceptional wear and fade resistance.  If you are spending this much on a keyboard you want it to be as durable and work as well in a few years time as it does on the first day you buy it.

If you don’t like them, the keycaps be swapped out – although take note that there are a few non-standard sized keys on this Alienware keyboard.  The Ctrl, Win, Alt and the right sided Shift keys are different in size to what you would normally see so you may find it difficult to match sizes.

The key switches are also hot-swappable allowing you to swap individual mechanical key switches in and out of the keyboard and replace them with either 3-pin or 5-pin configuration switches.  Any brand of switches, as long as they are 3-pin or 5-pin, can be used in the Alienware Pro Wireless Keyboard.

The switches that arrive on the Pro Wireless keyboard are Alienware linear mechanical switches which can be considered an equivalent to the CherryMX Red switches.  The sound and feeling is extremely similar.

The linear switches require a relatively light actuation force of just 40 g – an “ideal” actuation force identified by the pros that Alienware consulted on the construction of this keyboard.

My other main gaming keyboard that I use has switches equivalent to that of a CherryMX Brown so this keyboard that was closer in use to that of the CherryMX Red was a lot quieter – this could also be due to the muted nature of the keys caused by the two layers of sound dampening silicone.  Either way, I liked it.

For my extremely far-from-professional gaming touch it was difficult to discern the difference between the two switches,  One is linear and the brown ones are tactile so I could feel a smoothness and feedback difference between the two.

From what I can find, the actual forces differ by 10gf (50g for the Brown switches) but did it make any difference to me while gaming?  Nope.  I am just a casual gamer though.  Esports pros will say different of course and I would expect them too.  YMMV.

Using the Alienware Linear switches was really nice while gaming.  Every button press seemed to be accurate (I wish my eyes and brain were as well!) with a smooth slide of a press thanks to the pre-lubrication of the switch stems by the factory.  The click sound is the satisfying click you normally hear from a linear red switch.

Performance

When considering performance, it is also important to mention the size of the keyboard.  I have always preferred a smaller keyboard to allow for a comfortable position of my mouse to move without having to extend my arm too far – whether doing productivity work or gaming.  The 75% size of the Pro Wireless gaming keyboard from Alienware allows me that extra room for mouse movements and I’m here for it.  

The keyboard itself is extremely solid thanks to the integration of the body and keyboard deck, zero flex at all.  I hate it when gaming keyboards have flex in them, I find it distracts me from what I’m trying to do.  I don’t want to have to worry about the keyboard doing anything but what I want it to do so I really appreciated the solid feeling of the Pro Wireless keyboard.

The polling rate of the Alienware Pro Wireless Keyboard is “just” 1,000Hz which was easily good enough for me although it is far from the highest polling rate of some of the premium gaming keyboard son the market.  This polling rate requires you to use the 2.4GHz or wired connectivity options. I found the keys to be incredibly responsive, easy to activate and accurate while gaming, exactly what you need from your gaming keyboard.

I would assume that more advanced users and pros may use higher polling rates, but it is not as important as switch force and actuation times given that Alienware has tailored the rest of this keyboard based on their collab with pros from Team Liquid.  You would assume they wouldn’t go against what they prefer in this part would they?

The keyboard while gaming was fast and responsive and the only real gripe I had with it was the lack of a palm rest.  You can easily buy a third party palm rest but for this price I’d expect one to be included.  For long gaming sessions you will likely need one given the size of this (and all other premium gaming keyboards).

I tested the keyboard on several games including FPS games and driving games.  It seemed to come into its own when performing the parts of these games where the action and keyboard interaction was fast-paced.

The keystrokes were easy to perform with not a miss-stroke to be seen and the lower actuation force of 40 g was noticeable compared to my usual keyboard.

Some say they have used this keyboard for productivity purposes but for me it’s not what I prefer to use.  Sure, the keystroke is smooth but far too long and actuation to what I prefer while performing long periods of typing – such as writing this review (instead I’m typing this on an Alienware 16-inch gaming laptop with an “AlienFX RGB backlit (per-key) Alienware M Series keyboard.”)

Battery life

Just like with the Alienware Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse, the battery life on the Pro Wireless Gaming Keyboard will far exceed any of your gaming sessions with no doubt it will extend more than a few with a promised battery life of 72 hours! Of course, it is also easier to plug in your keyboard without any hindrance while using it than a mouse so even that 72 hours is far more than you would ever need.

The quoted 72 hours from Alienware is when using the 2.4GHz wireless connection and the RGB at 50% brightness. Turn RGB off and the battery life is 798 hours! I’m sure you could just have the keys you are using highlights (and yes you can do key by key RGB customisation) and have that extend even more. In my use I have yet to have to charge it with both gaming and productivity usage with RGB on the entire time.

Alienware Command Centre

The Alienware Command Centre will download and install once you connect the keyboard to your PC using the wireless dongle. within the app you can set different profiles and have them launch automatically for different games based on what keys you want highlighted, macros needed, etc.

The customisation is simple to perform and handy for those who have more than one game on the go at a time — which is me all the time. You can store up to five different profiles on your keyboard so you can take it around with you wherever you game and use it as you prefer.

Final thoughts

The Alienware Pro Wireless Gaming Keyboard is a great 75% gaming keyboard with the ability to customise not just the keycaps but also the switches within it to whatever you prefer. The keys are fast, responsive and accurate and reproducible. It is solid and produces a satisfying clicky sound without being overly loud thanks to the included sound deadening layers.

You can connect it to your PC using a wired connection, wireless 2.4GHz and Bluetooth, all offering robust connectivity options with the wired and 2.4GHZ offering the fastest connections.

The lighting is easily customisable using the Alienware app on your PC with the ability to store profiles on your keyboard. Wherever you use it it will be stable thanks to its weight, the feet and the anti-slip silicone strip along the bottom of the keyboard.

The only thing missing is a quick volume knob or wheel to quickly change the volume in the middle of the game — instead Alienware are using physical keys on the right hand side of the keyboard which may be a struggle to hit quickly in the middle of a game if this is something you do often.

If you are looking for a solid, compact, 75% keyboard that is easily customisable in every way including RGB, keys and switches then this is one keyboard you should consider. The Alienware Pro Wireless Gaming Keyboard is available in Lunar White or Dark Side of the Moon for $328.90 from Dell.com/au and wherever Dell and Alienware products are sold.