Alienware's first wireless gaming headset covers all the angles

Alienware's first headset since 2009 looks like a jack-of-all-games, with a little bit of everything you need.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin

There's nothing particularly new or outstanding about the individual features of Alienware's AW988, its first headset in almost 10 years and its first wireless model, but in this case the whole is more than just the sum of its parts: It has just about every feature you're looking for. 

They include:

  • A USB dongle for 2.4GHz connectivity that you can store in the headset 
  • A 3.5mm combo jack for wired use with in-line controls
  • Moisture-wicking, rotating earcups with full controls on them
  • 7.1 virtual surround sound with expanded base response and Alienware's Audio Recon software
  • Swiveling, noise-canceling mic that automatically mutes when folded and LED indicator for mute
  • Two-zone programming RGB lighting
  • Up to 15-hour battery life

Alienware's AW988 wireless gaming headset has a little bit of everything

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It doesn't seem to be best-in-class for any of these -- especially at $230 (about £170 or AU$300). For instance, the 16-hour battery life rating is so-so, and drops to an even less impressive maximum of about 8 hours if you use the lighting. The headset doesn't use a suspension strap, so some people might not be able to optimize the fit. Moisture-wicking earcup fabric doesn't sound nearly as cool as the HP Mindframe thermoelectric solution. And Alienware's Audio Recon software, which provides an onscreen overlay to indicate where sound is coming from, isn't new and doesn't always work well. 

We'll tell you if it's worth the bucks when we test it for our wireless headset roundup.

Editors' note: Updated June 11, 2018, with pricing correction.

Watch this: How to buy a wireless gaming headset