Alienware may make some of the best gaming laptops, but its peripherals haven't quite made the same invasion into the realms of best gaming mice and keyboards. But the company is attempting to rectify that this year with a trio of new Tri-Mode peripherals announced at CES that match the company's "Legend 2.0" design.
We're still waiting to try out the new headsets, but we've been testing the company's Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Mouse (AW720M) for the past few weeks and, for the most part, have come away impressed. It's comfortable, attractive and versatile thanks to its ambidextrous design (complete with buttons on both sides) and wired, RF and Bluetooth connectivity (hence Tri-Mode). It also has a nifty USC-C charging cable with a magnetic tip, so you can leave it in the mouse for easy charging whenever you need to juice up your cursor controller.
The company also claims you should get up to 140 hours of gaming with the USB-C RF dongle, or up to 420 hours over Bluetooth, which is far longer than many other wireless gaming mice.
But at $149, the AW720M is also a very expensive mouse, which may limit its appeal to Alienware fans and lefties looking for the best wireless mouse for long gaming sessions.
Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Mouse (AW720M) Specifications
|Resolution||Up to 26,000 DPI|
|Polling rate||USB report rate: 1000 Hz|
|Cables||USB-A to USB-C rechargeable, USB-C Dongle, Dual USB-C dongle/magnetic USB-C connector|
|Connectivity||Wired, RF, Bluetooth|
|Battery||Rechargeable, 140 hours RF, 420 hours Bluetooth|
|Measurements (H x W x D)||4.93 x 2.43 x 1.49 inches|
|Weight||3.14 oz (89 grams)|
Design of the Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Mouse (AW720M)
At 4.93 inches long and 89 grams, clearly the AW720M isn't targeting the ultralight mouse market. But at the same time, it doesn't feel big or bulky. Its closest analog in terms of ambidextrous design, button layout, and general size might be Razer's Viper Ultimate. That mouse is a little lighter, at 74g. But the Razer mouse has a rated battery life of 'just' 70 hours, half the claim of the Alienware.
Note also that, while our review unit came in white, the company will also offer a black model starting in April. The white model may fit in better with your Alienware laptop, but if you're the type to keep peripherals for several years (which you should if you're spending this much on a mouse), the darker variant will likely do a much better job of hiding your finger funk.
Somewhat surprisingly for an Alienware device, the RGB here is constrained inside the alien head on the back of the mouse. And personally, that's more than enough mouse lighting for my taste. The rubberized ratcheting scroll wheel feels a little stiff to me, but not overly so. I do somewhat miss the dual-mode (ratcheting and free-spinning) wheel of my Logitech MX Master, but that's more for productivity purposes than gaming.
The pair of buttons mounted on either side of the mouse feel pleasingly clicky, and I personally didn't have any major issues hitting the side buttons by mistake during the heat of gaming. But resting my thumb along the left side and my ring finger on the right, I can see my digits are always quite close to those buttons. So those with large hands may have issues with accidental button presses.
Also, while each side of the mouse is textured to add some extra grip, the whole mouse shell is made of the same smooth plastic. Particularly at this price (or frankly, even a third less), I would expect rubber side grips, which the Razer Viper Ultimate has, as do many gaming mice priced at $100 and up.
The mouse features a fairly standard USB-C port up front for charging, and you can use a standard cable to charge it. But what Alienware includes in the box for charging and connectivity is surprisingly complex, although it mostly works well.
The included 6.5-foot USB-A-to-USB-C charging cable is both pleasingly long and braided. And for wireless connectivity, you get a small 2.4 GHz dongle that uses USB-C. Since many systems–and particularly many of the best gaming prebuilt desktops, have just one USB-C port, that could be a problem for some. But Alienware includes a small box that houses an even smaller dual-USB-C dongle, with two USB-C ports on one side and one five-pin magnetic port on the other end.
The idea here is that you can connect your wired USB-C charging cable to one of the two ports and the USB-C wireless dongle to the other. And a tiny USB-C magnetic plug can be inserted into the charging port of the mouse. The end result is that you use one USB-A port to plug in the charging cable, but that connects both the USB-C RF dongle and a magnetic connection for charging.
Move the front of the mouse anywhere close to the dongle and the magnets will snap together, charging the mouse and letting you game at the same time. The company claims just 5 minutes of charging will give you 20 hours of gaming.
There's also a small metal clip tool in the plastic box that's there to help you remove the tiny magnetic USB-C connector from the charging port of the mouse. But don't worry about losing that, because I had no issues removing the charging tip from the front of the mouse using my short fingernails.
All of this sounds a bit fiddly to describe, but in practice it works quite well. We wouldn't recommend gaming for long periods with the dongle and cable plugged into the mouse. But given Alienware's fast charging claims, you shouldn't have to. Plug it in for a few minutes when the battery dies and you should be good for a gaming session or three. And then just leave the mouse plugged into the magnetic cable at any point when you aren't using it and you shouldn't have to worry about charging again for weeks.
The bottom of the mouse has a switch to select 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth wireless (holding the switch in the lowest position for three seconds puts the mouse in pairing mode). And a switch on the right turns the mouse on and off. It will function in wired mode while switched off, but if the magnetic connection becomes detached (which it did a couple of times for us during testing), you are suddenly left with a dead cursor controller, at least until you turn the mouse on.
A textured button below the sensor (which Alienware doesn't disclose, save to say that it's 26,000 DPI) switches between five different sensitivity presets (800-3,200 DPI by default). And a tiny RGB LED above the sensor lets you know which you're on. I'm personally not one to switch up my sensitivity a lot during gaming, but this kind of control is a whole lot easier to access when it's on top of the mouse rather than the bottom.
Gaming Performance of Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Mouse (AW720M)
Likely due to its similar shape to many other mice, the Alienware AW720M immediately felt familiar and comfortable in my hand. And after a few hours of playing various FPS and strategy titles, I didn't notice any serious pain points in the design, although nothing truly stood out in a positive way either.
I died just as often in Elden Ring as I always do with the AW720M. I still can't get past the 100 days/low population challenge in the Desolated Wasteland map of They Are Billions with the AW720M. And while enjoyable in short bursts, I still haven't been able to dig into Doom Eternal the same way I did Id's previous demonic FPS using the AW720M. None of this is the mouse's fault. In fact, the fact that nothing really changed in my gameplay is, if anything, a testament to the mouse's competent design–and my not-so-competent gaming skills. I like a mouse that feels familiar and gets out of the way to let you game. But for $150, lots of people will expect more than that.
As noted earlier, the textured plastic sides are better than smooth sides for a bit of added grip, but rubber would go a lot further for maintaining a good grip–especially during long gaming sessions in the warmer months.
The side buttons are a bit small, but they were fairly easy to press with the edge or tip of my thumb. And even when I shifted between palm and claw grips, I didn't find myself accidentally hitting the pair of side buttons on the right edge of the mouse–-which can often be a downside of ambidextrous designs. That said, my fingers are fairly short and not that large. Those with large hands may have a very different experience with the side buttons, because there isn't a whole lot of room below them for your thumb and fingers.
In terms of battery life, I didn't use the mouse long enough to validate or disprove Alienware's claim of 140 hours of 2.4 GHz gaming time. Between gaming and testing the magnetic charging connection, the battery life indicator in Alienware's Control Center app never dipped below 75% in my time with the mouse. So long as you keep the cable and dongle somewhere near your mouse and leave the magnetic charging tip in the mouse, charging becomes so simple that you'll probably charge it more often than you need to. But so long as you give the mouse a full charge every couple of weeks or so (depending of course on how often and long you game), you should be fine.
Software for the Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Mouse (AW720M)
You don't strictly need to install the software to use the AW720M in any of of its three modes (wired, wireless RF or wireless Bluetooth). But if you want to do anything more complex than shift between the preset DPI settings (which you can juggle via a button on the bottom of the mouse) you'll need Alienware's software–of which cursor controls are just a small part.
If you own an Alienware PC, you'll be familiar with the company's Command Center app, which is used for lighting controls, various settings, and can also be used as a game launcher. It's also the software you'll need to use to change anything but the basic settings of the Tri-Mode mouse.
The software is generally intuitive and pretty. And for the mouse specifically, it lets you change the visuals on the RGB alien head, remap buttons, create and apply macros, update firmware, adjust the DPI presets (in 100 DPI increments), and choose between a 1 mm or 2 mm lift-off distance.
Overall, my only real complaint about the software is that it's a nearly 900MB download, and much of that software bloat has little or nothing to do with mouse controls. It's good for Alienware PC users since you'll already be running the software. But for everyone else, the software just feels unnecessarily bulky.
Alienware's Tri-Mode AW720M is a comfortable, competent gaming mouse, with long battery life and a nifty magnetic charging cable/USB-C dongle combo. But for most people, that's probably not enough to make this mouse stand out, especially considering its $149 price. For that much (and often less), you can get things like high 8,000 Hz polling rates (if you go the wired route), grippy rubber sides, more buttons, customizable weights, a lighter weight, or a number of other variably desirable features that this mouse either lacks or doesn't excel at.
That's not to say the AW720M is a bad mouse. I enjoyed using it and had no major complaints about its design or comfort. But without a major price drop, it will probably mostly appeal to Alienware PC owners and/or left-handers who like the promised long battery life and otherwise generally solid feature set and are willing to spend a lot for those features.