Mechanical keyboards have practically been the holy grail of gaming laptops. We’ve seen PC makers like Razer and MSI give them a chance, to gut the concept completely. So when Alienware decided to go down the same path, it brought in experts from Cherry MX, makers of popular keyboard switches. After three and a half years of development, Alienware today announced that its fourth-generation M15 and M17 (R4) laptops will finally feature mechanical keyboards.
Cherry MX couldn’t just adapt its existing switch designs to Alienware laptops; its original MX key is 18.5mm high, while the new low profile model is 11.9mm. Both are too big to fit in thin laptops like the M15, which has a maximum height of 19.5mm when closed. So, says the representative of the company, it worked with Alienware to develop more than 160 prototypes. Eventually, they landed on a new “ultra low profile” Cherry MX design, which is just 3.5mm tall. If you’ve seen some of the company’s teaser tweets over the past few months, you can probably find its inspiration: the gull-winged doors of the iconic DeLorean.
The new switch offers 1.8mm of key travel, 0.4mm more than the Alienware M15’s standard keyboard, and it didn’t require a change in the design of Alienware’s slim notebooks. And yes, it still looks like a clicky mechanical keyboard too. The company claims that each key has been tested for 15 million keystrokes and delivers stable typing with a two-part key layout. And, as is usually the case with gaming keyboards, there is 100% anti-ghosting support, which prevents it from stalling when you press multiple keys. There’s also per-key RGB lighting, of course.
You’ll have to pay an additional $ 150 to outfit the M15 and M17 with the Cherry MX keyboard, but that’s not a huge surprise. It’s also the kind of cost that hardcore gamers would easily accept if it improved their performance. The real question for Alienware and Cherry MX is whether this any attempt at portable mechanical keyboards will stick. Considering all the effort involved, it looks like something from Alienware is aiming to stick around for a while. Sadly, we haven’t been able to test the new keyboard yet either, but we can’t wait to put our gaming paws on it.
Beyond the keyboard, the new Alienware M15 and M17 have the upgrades you’ve come to expect: Support for 10th Gen Intel processors (we still waiting for faster 11th gen chips) and up to NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPU. We are still awaiting details of pricing and availability.