The Alienware 510K is a good example of why you shouldn't 'judge a book by its cover' - or a gaming keyboard by its appearance. It's an unassuming keyboard that you could argue is too plain, and somewhat light on features - particularly for a device that'll set you back $160 / £150. However, these criticisms melt away somewhat when you get your hands on it. The 510K may be low profile in more than one sense, but it's every bit as good as some of the best gaming keyboards nonetheless.
The Alienware 510K is streamlined, both in terms of its look and the tech powering everything. Its features are optimised for "ultimate performance", and that means Cherry MX Red low profile switches, per-key RGB lighting, programmable macros, and ergonomic floating-key architecture are all present and take center stage.
However, this isn't to say it's simplistic. The 510K earns its keep with linear switching characteristics (which makes for a smooth action) and less travel time thanks to its keys needing low actuation force. It also packs that highly-valued USB passthrough for charging your devices or plugging in the best gaming headsets, not to mention dedicated volume controls via a chunky rubber scroller.
Combine that with the intuitive Alienware Command Center for adjusting the 510K's programming and RGB display, and you've got a respectable suite of selling points.
And just wait until you've tried it.
When it comes to design and build, the 510K goes in the opposite direction to the Alienware 610M mouse: built from plain plastic, the keyboard is relatively unassuming. Yes, it shares sci-fi sensibilities with the Alienware Aurora R9 thanks to that flared bottom. But otherwise, it's not as 'loud' or expensive-looking as you'd expect from a keyboard costing this much.
That won't be to everyone's taste. For those who prefer a more subtle approach, though? It's ideal. An uncomplicated shell gives it a sense of class, and crisp angles lend it a futuristic air. The ridged rubber scroller is an equally nice touch, but is very easy to miss. It's pleasantly heavy, though, adding substance to an otherwise lightweight design.
Complaints about the 510K's appearance is all icing, at the end of the day; when you actually get going, the quality is evident. That's mainly due to those low profile Cherry MX Red switches. They have a delightfully lively bounce due to shorter travel time and low actuation force, allowing your fingers to leap from key to key with very little effort. This is beyond useful in shooters like The Division 2 that demand swift reactions as you sprint into cover, or MMOs such as World of Warcraft where ability management under pressure is essential for beating back foes or buffing your allies. It also results in a satisfying 'flow' regardless of whether you're doling out commands in DOTA 2 or organising a pincer movement during Total War: Warhammer 2's battles.
That snappy responsiveness carries over to daily tasks, too. It's a delight to type with, and I've enjoyed using the 510K in the GamesRadar+ offices. The muted design means it's a perfect unassuming companion for a work environment as well.
This excellent performance is what really matters. And the USB passthrough is great too, along with a sturdy braided cable that isn't to be sniffed at either. But the simple act of gaming or typing is where a keyboard's worth is decided. The 510K passes with flying colors.
You could argue that the Alienware 510K is a bit overpriced, but it works damn hard to justify that cost, and probably just about achieves that too. It's satisfying to use and more than worthy of your consideration as a result, particularly if you're thinking about building a full Alienware setup. Although I'd advise waiting until the cost has gone down a little, you won't be disappointed when you actually start using it.