Alienware’s Upgraded Gaming Laptops Have the Good Cherry Switches

Alienware’s Upgraded Gaming Laptops Have the Good Cherry Switches
Image: Dell

Three years ago, Alienware partnered with legendary keyboard switch-maker Cherry to create a binary mechanical switch experience just for laptops. Now those switches are finally available in Alienware’s m15 R4 and m17 R4 laptops.

Unlike its previous MX Low Profile laptop switches, Cherry’s new MX Ultra Low Profile switches are significantly thinner, measuring just 3.5mm tall, which allows Alienware to retain the same chiclet-style keycaps it currently uses, but with the satisfying click that people have to come expect from nice mechanical switches.

Here's a GIF of the new switch in action.  (Gif: Dell/Cherry) Here's a GIF of the new switch in action. (Gif: Dell/Cherry)

Cherry’s new switches are about a third of the thickness of its previous MX Low Profile switches (11.9mm), while also incorporating a new design that was apparently inspired by the gull-wing doors on a Delorean.

By increasing the width of the switch, creating a new two-piece keycap structure, and using new stainless steel components, Cherry can make switches that are more stable and more durable than before, with each switch rated to withstand up to 15 million keystrokes. And even with a relatively deep (for a laptop) 1.8mm of key travel, the thinness of Cherry’s new switches meant Alienware was able to add them as an option on its m15 R4 and m17 R4 gaming notebooks without altering the laptop’s base dimensions.

And as you’d expect from keys on a gaming laptop, Alienware also includes AlienFX RGB lighting, 100% anti-ghosting tech, and n-key rollover to make sure every keystroke gets registered correctly.

Here's how the new MX Ultra Low Profile switches compared to Cherry's previous components. (Image: Cherry) Here's how the new MX Ultra Low Profile switches compared to Cherry's previous components. (Image: Cherry)

The one major downside to Cherry’s new MX Ultra Low Profile switches is that they will command a $200 premium compared to the standard switches used in Alienware’s default laptop configs. That’s not an insignificant price bump, which means people may be forced to choose between a fancier built-in laptop keyboard or purchasing a separate external mechanical keyboard that they can use when they’re gaming at home.

That said, as someone who often prefers the wider keycaps and low-profile design you get with laptop keyboards, it’s kind of nice to see that there’s still room for improvement. And with updated 11th-gen Intel processors and new Nvidia 30-series GPUs, Alienware’s m15 and m17 R4 gaming laptops have a lot of powerful options, assuming you’re willing to pay for the upgrades.