Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset: AW988 Review

We have spent the last few days living with the Alienware AW988 headset perched on our head and have gotten a very good idea of what the first headset from Alienware in nine years is all about. We gamed, we watched movies, and we listened to a lot of music. We tell you how it did and all the features and build quality.

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Alienware Headset Center - AHC

When I plugged in the AW988 the Alienware Headset Center software automatically installed. It is 113MB in size, and of course you could remove this if you wanted to, but it would remove all the 7.1 surround sound goodness with it, as well as the myriad of controls shown below. The AHC will reside in your system tray and allows easy access to quick profile selection or the full application with a right-click.

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On the first panel of the AHC software you get all your basic audio controls. At the top there are five gaming presets, and three multimedia presets. You have some very simplistic controls here, but everything works very well and is extremely intuitive. You can easily cycle, toggle, and slide these to where you want these for each profile should you want to make changes in the preset, and of course if you want to wipe out your changes, you simply hit the reset button in the corner. You can also slide over on this panel and get your hands on the equalizer settings should you wish to fine tune beyond what is given to you on the simplified panel. The "Alienware" setting I found great for shooter games. The Movies setting did work great for movies as well. Talking head TV was best with a dialed in Com setting. And the Music profile left me playing with the EQ some, which was fully expected. Whoever set these up was a big fan of reverb, and quite frankly we are not, but a quick click will take care of your wants and needs should you want any of the features turned off or on.

The mic settings are not as clear as to what those do, but if you hover over any of the buttons in AHC, it will give a popup and a quick description of what you are dealing with. Again, it is all straight forward and to the point.

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The AHC also includes a panel primarily for streamers. It works with OBS and XSplit should you want to use it to record audio samples and interject those into your stream or gaming session. We did not use these, so you are on your on.

ACH also includes "Audio Recon." This is equivalent to a little radar screen overlay that you can put on your display while playing games and it shows you what directions sounds are coming from. We are not a big fan of this as we see it as a cheat. ASUS has included a very similar application in its Sonic Radar software for years now, so this is nothing new.

I did try it out in DOOM and could not get the overlay to appear on my screen, so I played in a window with the Audio Recon panel visible to the side. I honestly don't see this ever being useful as there are so many environmental sounds that this thing picks up that it is useless to me. I see this as a gimmick more than anything else. I suppose if you are deaf, it might come in handy, but we truly can't speak to this either.

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OMG the RGBs! Have no fear, Alienware has not let you down when it comes to Frag Harder Disco Lights strapped to your head.

You get two controllable zones. The Alienware logo is zone 1, and the two LED strips below it are zone 2. You can customize what colors these show and how they change with profiles in AHC. You get a basic static color setting which is controlled either with a color wheel or you can type in the exact color you want by hand. Brightness is also adjustable. There are RGB animation settings that include Pulshing, Breathing, Morphing, Spectrum, and Arrows. You can control how fast or slow these effects change as well. We put together a quick video that scroll through all of these settings for your viewing pleasure.