Alienware has quietly become one of the most recognizable tech brands on the market today. Even for those who have a rudimentary knowledge of computers and the tech surrounding them, Alienware and its iconic logo have become universally recognizable. For a company that has become synonymous with gaming PCs, it should come as no surprise that they also offer keyboards designed with gaming enthusiasts in mind.
Due to all of these keyboard models being designed relatively close to each other by the same company, there are going to be a lot of similarities between the trio of products. To give you an idea of what each has to offer I will be going over what all three have together while also making sure to specify individual differences between the three. I will be judging these keyboards on their price, overall design, expected lifespan, and features.
If you are looking for something on the cheaper side that has a subtler look to it, without question you should shoot for the 310K. This keyboard generally sits at less than 100 USD and comes with a white backlight that forgoes the wildly popular RGB backlights we are seeing throughout computers nowadays. Outside of a doubled lifespan in the 410k and a lessened travel distance in the 510k, you are getting a very similar keyboard for nearly half the price.
If you want a keyboard that is going to last a good amount of time, then without question the 410k stands at the front of the pack. With a lifespan resembling a tortoise, this keyboard is good for an estimated 100 million keystrokes. Compared to the other two that sit at 50 million keystrokes, you will almost certainly have the 410k for years to come.
The 510k is kind of the odd man out when you look at the technical specs of these keyboards. If you are a person who wants a keyboard that feels more like a laptop, the reduced travel distance does seem to be the biggest selling point of this keyboard by comparison. This feels more like personal preference though, as I tend to favor a good “full-travel” keyboard, myself. But if you are someone who doesn’t like to work your anger issues out on your keys, a 3.2mm travel distance might be preferable to the 4mm of the other two keyboards.
We should start by saying that none of these keyboards are exceptionally cheap. When it comes to Alienware, you pay for performance and all three of these keyboards reflect that. When we look at the prices of all three, we start to see which ones are justifiably priced and which might be a tad bit above what they are worth.
The 310k is the most budget-friendly option and feels like it deserves that price tag. In fact, you may actually be getting a bit of a deal. This keyboard offers the mechanical keyboard standard for lifespan. It offers a convenient media menu that allows you to play/pause, stop, skip songs and increase and decrease volume (a feature of all three keyboards). On top of all of this, it offers a simplistic, white backlight so you can see every key regardless of your room’s lighting.
The 410k is going to run you the most due to its new release date and overall technical superiority. It sits at a considerably more expensive price, generally in the 100-150 USD range, though does double the lifespan offered from the other two keyboards. The 410K also offers the Cherry MX Brown switch as opposed to the Cherry MX Red the other two offer (low-profile red for the 510k) which to my ear sounds a bit more pleasant when pecking away.
Someone hold my Halo 3 sponsored Mountain Dew, I’m going to be controversial. I believe the 510k is without question the most overpriced option of the three coming in with a $100+ price tag with much less to offer in terms of lifespan than the 410k and (in my opinion) an inferior key switch and travel time. Both key switch and travel time come down to your own personal preference, but in this price range you will certainly be putting in the money to get those shorter, quieter keys.
Verdict – The 410k if you want a keyboard that will last you. With the 100million keystroke lifespan of the 410k, theoretically, you are getting twice the lifespan of its predecessors. If 100+ USD feels like too much to justify for a keyboard then the 310k is a much more reasonable alternative.
This is a hard category to put to words because at the end of the day there are still people who insist the cheetah print is the height of modern fashion. So while we all know the saying about opinions, I will try to be as objective as possible and list off what I believe makes each keyboard unique when compared to the others.
What I won’t be discussing is the overall weight and length of these keyboards which don’t differ from each other more than a quarter of a pound (they are all about two pounds) or a tenth of an inch. These products are nearly identical in terms of size and shape. What is different is the overall layout of these keyboards, their backlights, and the distance of the keys from the backboard.
The 310k wins the subtle award, it is clearly well-made and more minimalistic in design but still offers a competent backlight. You can still brag about the Alienware emblem at the bottom of the keyboard, but critics might say this keyboard feels a bit too “default” in appearance to be anything special aesthetically. Whether or not you will like the look of this keyboard comes down to whether or not you appreciate RGB lighting.
The difference between the 510k and the 410k is very small. They both offer RGB lighting and come in black, though the 510k does notably offer a white (or lunar light) option. If you like the raised aesthetic of the 410k, it will look far better as it gives more ability for the backlights to shine through from higher keys. For those that prefer the flatter look of the 510k, you will get a sleek-looking piece of machinery that still offers ample light behind the individual keys.
Verdict – The 310k for those that have a disdain for RGB. If you do prefer RGB, personally I would go with the 410k though the difference is minimal at best.
Unfortunately, all three of these keyboards did not offer a water resistance rating. This is a universal sign that you should not accidentally spill your coffee on any of these Alienware products. The design of all of these seems to be about the same and doesn’t differ in weight or size, so let’s focus on the one unique aspect of the 410k, the 100 million keystroke estimation. All three offer a braided cable which is going to give you more durability than a regular cable, especially if you own a dog.
As far as mechanical keyboards are concerned the “standard” seems to be about 50 million keystrokes for the average lifespan of one of these products. So while the 310k (especially for its price) or the 510k isn’t exactly lacking in this department, it is clear that neither can hold a candle to the unbelievably long lifespan that the 410k offers.
Verdict – The 410k with a 100 million keystroke lifespan takes it comfortably.
These products offer a lot of the same features. In fact, about 75% of all the features are exactly the same. Because of this, it can be hard to compare them all, but I still believe it is important that we go over everything these keyboards have to offer. So I will start with what they all offer, then go into what makes each keyboard unique.
All keyboards weigh around two pounds and sit somewhere near 18.40 X 6.15 X 1.40, give or take for each. They all use USB 3.0 and come with a passthrough. They come with a floating key design (makes it a bit easier to clean), they all offer music menu hotkeys (play/pause, skip, volume, etc), and come with anti-ghosting and n-key rollover (stops accidental key presses). All have a polling rate of 1000 Hz (ideal for gaming), 5 memory profiles, movable feet with 3 different alternative options, and an aluminum top plate.
Now that we know what they all have in common, let’s move to the unique features each keyboard offers.
The 410k and 510k are going to have RGB customization that can be accessed via the Alienware Command Center. For those who really enjoy a personal touch to their keyboards, this will really scratch that itch quite nicely.
The 510k offers a much quicker travel time of 3.2mm with far quieter keys, so if you are going to be in a shared office or an apartment with roommates, this might be ideal. Both the 410k and 310k have a travel time of 4mm
The Cherry MX Brown key switch of the 410k sounds incredible but it is going to prove far louder than the subtler sound of the 510k’s Low-Profile Red. The 310k comes with the Cherry MX Red which is my least favorite of the three, though your own mileage may vary.
Verdict – 410k/510k Draw – With the added customization options of the Alienware Command Center we have to give it to these two keyboards. Which you prefer past that depends largely on what you want from your keyboard as far as noise is concerned.
While all three have individual strengths it is quite clear which two stand out the most.
The Alienware 310k is a fantastic option for a subtle keyboard with a good response and a decent lifespan. With a sub-$100 price tag, this keyboard is worth every penny. If you are someone who likes a keyboard with added aesthetic flair, this is likely not the choice for you as it doesn’t look far different than the average keyboard you would see in a Wells Fargo.
The Alienware 410k is without question the most durable keyboard on the list that will last you the longest. On top of that, it offers the sensory-pleasing MX Brown key switches and comes with a number of customization options should you choose to use them. It is the most expensive of the three, but as far as my opinion goes, that price (which is still sub-$150) is warranted considering how long you will have this keyboard.
The Alienware 510k is the quietest keyboard of the three in terms of sound, but you can outfit this puppy in a hot pink backlight should you choose to. At nearly the price of the 510k, I struggle to recommend this to someone who could just as easily get a quiet, RGB keyboard for a third of the price. If you need that Alienware logo and are willing to pay the extra few dollars, go for it. There are better alternatives out there, however.
Overall Choice – The Alienware 410k