Player 2 was recently sent a complete Alienware home gaming system to test and review (you can see the unboxing video here:) and now that Matt has had a good few weeks with the gear he is ready to take on the task of telling you all about it. But this is a full gaming rig, from monitor to keyboard, so it is going to take more than one article. With that in mind, welcome to Player 2 vs Alienware
Player 2 Vs Alienware: Round 1 Alienware 510H Gaming Headset
Kicking off my coverage of Alienware’s goodie package was always going to be tough. Where do I start? There is so much to cover. So I decided to simply go in order of what was closest to hand at the time I started writing this article and that is the 510H 7.1 Gaming Headset.
Honestly, in this world of super blingy chroma lighting on everything from the computer case to a USB thumb drive, The 510H is a rather subdued beast. Some small programmable lights on the side, but otherwise it is rather free of excessive colours and lighting. I have to say that is rather refreshing, from an old man get-off-my-lawn point of view. There is a certain charm to a sleek design that doesn’t rely on excess to grab attention and that is exactly what the 510H is aiming for and mostly achieves.
Build quality-wise, the 510H ticks all the boxes. Sturdy plastic that feels well moulded and durable. The earcups are super comfortable but don’t feel like they are going to disintegrate at the slightest touch. Further to the earcups I was especially a fan of the adjustment system. The ability to move each earcup separately, both vertically and by rotating them, means that this headset will fit just about any melon out there, even my massive one. In fact, there was still room to move on my head, which never happens, so those of us out there cursed with heads the size of small planets, the 510H may just be the ticket. As with any mechanical adjustment system, I worry that with repeated use it may lose its effectiveness over time, but as it stands it is currently something of a revelation for me. It even fits comfortably over my glasses, not banging them at all. In fact, the only thing that really bothers me about the design is the location of the volume controls. They rest right on my shoulder and I found I was banging them all the time, muting the headset in the process. I would have liked the controls to be further down the cable so I could sit them on my computer desk or lap, or on the earcups themselves. It is a minor quibble, but one that kept popping up during my time with the headset.
The headset features a retractable microphone, which is perfect for that online session with mates but not the best for recording sound at high quality. Don’t get me wrong, it does the job of communicating with teammates perfectly, but it is no substitute for a dedicated desktop microphone, so if you are considering the 510H for something you could use to make YouTube videos or Podcasts, you should probably have a look at other options. That being said, you can’t ever expect a built-in mic to replace a separate product and it certainly doesn’t sound bad so it is fine if you are only occasionally using it for recording or are using it for Skype calls with the family.
Sound quality was quite impressive, there is a whole bunch of tech speak as to how the speakers work, but I am going to put it in layman’s terms. I tested it with a range of games, all of which use the 7.1 system well. Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Red Dead Redemption 2 were particularly impressive, with ambient noise seamlessly floating from channel to channel with no noticeable interruptions or flaws. It really is a testament to game design that 7.1 can add so much to a game and the 510H showcases that nicely. As for music, I found it to be a pretty good headset, that struggled a little with base. Smashing out the seminal Metallica classic Master of Puppets, the 510H was in the zone, with crystal clear audio, but when I cranked up Rammstien’s western breakout hit Du Hast, things started to get a little distorted thanks to the base heavy backing. So I would say if you are super into music, that a dedicated music headset from a company like Bose or Sony might be the better way to go, but if you are looking for an all-rounder that handles games brilliantly, then the 510H may be your saviour. The headset, while not technically noise cancelling, does an excellent job of drowning out external sound, to the point where I had to warn my family that I was using them, so they would come and tap me on the shoulder instead of yelling endlessly from the other room.
Finally, I want to talk about price. When I went to the Alienware website, I was expecting the worst. Alienware has a reputation for pricey, but well-built products, so I was expecting the cost of the 510H to be right up there. Boy was I surprised to find that it actually retails at $189 AUD, which considering its feature set, makes it one of the better priced 7.1 headsets out there and with Alienware’s frequent sales, there is every chance of getting a set even cheaper. In that price range, I have played with headsets from Razer, Steel Series, HP and Logitech and honestly I found the 510H to be the best of the bunch for both comfort and sound.
So all in all, I am pretty impressed with what Alienware has to offer in the headset department. The 510H has both USB connections and 3.5mm so it can be used on your PC and your consoles, it is super comfortable for a range of head sizes, sounds great with games and, perhaps most surprisingly, comes at a very competitive price. The 510H is an excellent option for your gaming needs and should certainly be considered when you next make a headset purchase.