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Alienware's Latest Laptops Debut Cherry MX Ultra-Low Profile Mechanical Switches

Alienware / Cherry
(Image credit: Cherry)

Alienware and Cherry have partnered to bring new Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile switches to the Alienware m15 R4 and m17 R4, the companies announced today. If it works well, it could be a crucial step in making the experience of gaming on those notebooks more like gaming on a desktop.

The MX Ultra Low Profile switches fit in a 3.5mm design with 1.8mm of key travel. It features stainless steel components that look sort of like wings. Alienware and Cherry claim the switches are rated for 15 million keystrokes per key and feature "two-piece" keycaps with a "gold-based cross-point contact system" to keep the keys sturdy with every press.

(Image credit: Cherry)

(Image credit: Cherry)

For the acoustically inclined, Alienware tweeted out a teaser yesterday that it has confirmed is the sound of the keys being typed on:

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Other specs include anti-ghosting, n-key rollover and per-key RGB backingthing with AlienFX.

Alienware introduced the m15 R4 and m17 R4 at CES 2021 and released them shortly after with 10th Gen Intel Core processors and new Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics in order to compete with the best gaming laptops. The keyboards will be on new configurations of the device that will add $150 to each laptop.

These aren't the first gaming notebooks with mechanical keyboards, or even with Cherry switches. MSI's GT Titan line, for instance, had full-sized Cherry MX Brown and MX Silver switches implemented by SteelSeries for a bit in the mid 2010s, and we just reviewed a Gigabyte Aorus 17G using mechanical switches, albeit not Cherry-branded. And a version of the Razer Blade 15 introduced optical mechanical switches to laptops.

But Alienware’s laptops offer a new approach and a new kind of switch. It's unclear how long (or if) the MX Ultra Low Profile switches will be exclusive to these devices.  

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.

  • BillyBuerger
    Huh, these look interesting. Looks like they came up with a way to include a contact system underneath a scissor switch. And a clicker of sorts as well. Nice to see Cherry actually innovating something here. Although we'll see how they feel after they start getting out there for people to use. I was interested in their low profile switches until the reviews showed them to be pretty meh. I still plan on picking up a couple sometime just to add to my collection.
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