Surprisingly, Alienware hasn’t produced much in the way of gaming peripherals, which is just as well since competition has gotten extremely stiff, especially among high-end headphones. And that is certainly what these are. Like other Alienware gear, the AW988 is aimed at the top end of the market.
Aside from the sharp, angular planes that are Alienware’s signature design, the ubiquitous glowing alien-face logo complements otherwise very restrained use of RGB lighting. It works. It’s subtle, yet striking; it doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard. But, like the popular Logitech 935 headset, these are definitely on the large and bulky side. I really liked the fabric covering the cups, which kept things cool and comfy. And all heads are shaped differently, but I found that the oversized cups ended up pressing painfully into my jawbone after a few hours.
Pressing one alien-face button puts the AW988 in wireless mode to connect with the USB dongle plugged into the PC. The dongle cleverly slots back into the headset so you don’t lose it when you’re going cabled (plugging into your phone, for example).
The 7.1 surround sound is everything you’ve come to expect from high-end headphones. There’s a nice wide sound stage for both games and music. The mic boom has exactly the right amount of flex, and mutes and tucks away neatly when raised.
The button arrangement could use some improvement. There’s a dedicated button to cycle between gaming, movie and music presets, but the mute button, volume wheel and game/voice-mix wheel are grouped awkwardly close together, so it’s nearly impossible not to disturb some setting or other every time you remove the headset.
Over-ear design, wired/wireless, 7.1 surround, ±R6 000
The build, styling and sound quality of the AW988 are tops, but you would have to be a serious fan to pony up this kind of cash. Of course, these would look sensational paired up with an Alienware PC.