Alienware x Cherry gaming laptop delivers DeLorean-inspired 'true mechanical key switches'

The Dell Alienware m15 R4 Cherry MX collaboration laptop, black
(Image credit: Dell)
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What began as a dream to bring the "next level of immersive gaming to mobile gamers," has now spiralled into an exciting collaboration between Dell Alienware and Cherry MX. The three-year alliance, which the companies are calling Project X, now brings "true mechanical key switches" to the Alienware m15 R4—the world’s first gaming laptop designed in league with the king of key switches, Cherry MX.

Designed as an "extension of the gamer’s senses," (how, I'm not entirely sure) the laptop's keyboard features all-new, ultra-low-profile key switch designs. The inner workings of which were inspired by the DeLorean—the car from Back to the Future to the uninitiated—to be specific, it's door mechanism. As such, these new, German engineered m15 Cherry MX switches feature a gold-based, cross-point contact system that's meant to steady the keys and prevent wobble.

The Cherry MX m15 key switches compared to previous designs

(Image credit: Cherry MX)

Michael Schmid, Head of Technology & Partner Marketing at Cherry MX, explained in a briefing that the most comparable switches are Cherry MX blues, but the m15's are around 6 times smaller.

If you're interested in how the switches sound in action, you can listen via Alienware's sneaky, pre-announcement hype post below. And, if we're going down the phenomenology rabbit-hole, the overall experience has been described as akin to "popping bubble wrap from a delivery box". That's very specific. 

Basically expect a tactile switch with a slight click.

Overall, we're looking at a full 1.8mm of key travel with a 0.8mm actuation point. The pressure point sits at 0.3mm and it takes 65g to activate the mechanism. The new switches also come with a self-cleaning mechanism to contribute to the promise of 15 million keystrokes per key. With all those bubble popping keys, you'll be getting 100 percent anti-ghosting and N-key rollover, too.

Let's get this straight: jamming full-height mechanical keys into a laptop is a difficult feat—one that often results in stocky, inconvenient laptops. Something had to change in that respect, and this is could be the evolution we were waiting for.

Thanks to this co-development, the Alienware m15 R4 now has the option of all the delights of a true mechanical keyboard, "without changing the dimensions of Alienware’s thinnest notebooks to date." The weight, however, may have been affected.

The Dell Alienware m15 R4 configurations include up to a 10th generation Intel CPU, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, along with "hyper-efficient voltage regulation technology" meant to improve performance in the long-run. Otherwise, these will come with up to 4TB of storage and fast charging Thunderbolt 3, which is always nice.

Those options coming with Cherry MX keyboards will cost a little more than the starter price of $1,800, but exactly how much more is yet to be divulged. I'd probably spend a little extra for what Schmid names "the fastest Cherry MX switch, by far."

Let's just hope the ventilation and overall engineering of the laptop is better than the DeLorean itself… Still, if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88wpm, you're gonna see some serious shit. 

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.