HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
This year's HyperX Alloy Elite may not satisfy everyone, but it's a pleasure to have at your fingertips.
Clear everything off your desk with a big swipe-left of your arm. That HyperX Alloy FPS Keyboard you were eyeing is last season now – its successor is more your type. The HyperX Alloy Elite delivers the same excellent response that all “PC master race” gamers expect, but also manages to include some much welcome creature comforts.
But before we target those, let's explain why a new buyer ought to tap into the joy of mechanical keyboards. Gamers who require precision movement for their murder are obviously the main target audience with these products; however, the high durability of these units is also desirable for folks who don't so much type as they do stab at the keys in an accusatory fashion. Do too much of that on a regular butterfly-style keyboard and you'll kill it in no time, innocent or not.
Last year's HyperX Alloy FPS was Kingston's first foray into the crowded mechanical keyboard space. It was a solid statement of intent, though not without a few downsides; we personally had issues with the noise of the thing, the USB charge-only nature of its ports, and the redundancy of some of its backlighting modes. Not insurmountable flaws, but definitely things we looked out for when testing this new kid on the block.
HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Specs
- 444m x 226mm x 36mm
- Yes, red only
- Switch Type
- Cherry MX (red / blue / brown)
- USB 2.0
- RRP: $149.00
Upsides: Why you’d want the HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
- Tank-like durability/stability. Last year's Alloy FPS, while also a 104-key design, was quite compact – a non-desk-hog that was a cinch to transport (a very important feature for competitive gaming folk). The Alloy Elite is a heavier beast that's much larger, mainly thanks to the addition of a seven-button media bar that sits above the F keys. Boasting a solid steel frame, we're fairly confident one could use this keyboard as a makeshift weapon in a pinch, though the attachable plastic wrist rest, while nicely textured, isn't anywhere near as sturdy.
- Easy access media controls. To the top left, you have three dedicated buttons that handle your backlight options (six modes available). We quite enjoyed using this feature in LAN situations where a hard fought victory could be better celebrated with a fist pump and a quick tap into a “wave” mode to show off. Meanwhile, on the right hand side of the bar, you have the usual previous, next, play/pause and mute buttons to control your media, plus a volume roller (think a horizontally grooved cylinder that may be freely rotated up or down). The latter is a feature we honestly miss, now that we've packaged up this review unit and reconnected our old keyboard.
- Improved USB ports. The Alloy Elite's predecessor annoyed us with its charge-only USB port. Connecting that model required the monopolisation of two USB ports on my PC (not unusual in the mechanical keyboard space), but it sure wasn't ideal when the ports couldn't make up the difference by recognising peripherals. However, there was no such problem this time around as the Alloy Elite offers a USB 2.0 pass-through port at the top of the unit. It happily handled any peripheral or drive we threw at it (headsets, mice, etc). Definitely a step up, though we'd obviously prefer USB 3.0+.
- Cherry MX Red switches. As always, switch choice is a very subjective thing. Personally, we think MX Cherry Red switches offer a good middle ground between actuation and tactile feedback, making this a great starter option for users looking to switch from a typical membrane keyboard. We found these switches to be responsive and it didn't take much force to register (about 45g). You can also pick up the Alloy Elite in a variant that employs the Cherry MX Blue switches, so go that way if you're a typist after higher actuation force or if you just like your keystrokes to sound like a raven pecking at your forehead.
Downsides: Why you might not want the HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
- Lack of RGB. If you're buying into this for a fancy rainbow light show, best rethink your strategy. Unlike its predecessor, the keys of the Alloy Elite are individually backlit only by angry red lights. Perfect if you're a Sith looking to spruce up the workstation of your Interceptor craft; bit of a disappointment if you want more colour in your life. That said, we did appreciate that there's minimal light spill on the device.
- Thicker cabling. This is a minor aesthetic thing, but those of you upgrading from the Alloy FPS ought to be aware of it. The 1.8m cabling you get here is thicker, much like the higher end Corsair keyboards. This makes perfect sense, given that the upgraded USB port requires the bandwidth of a thicker wire to send the signal. Be that as it may, it's a bit more difficult to reposition this keyboard on a cluttered desk.
- Plug and play, but no macros. The downside of any plug and play solution is there's no dedicated software to let you switch between multiple profiles on the fly or to create a one-press macro to do many things at once. Having access to those functions is pretty important for any serious player who's into their MOBAs or MMOs. If you value that, this isn't your keyboard.
The HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is what it says on the tin: a device best suited for gamers. It differs from its predecessor in that it hasn't been built with much portability in mind and the additional money you're spending above the Alloy FPS only nets you a few more features, most notably a superior USB port and a handy media bar. Be that as it may, you're still looking at a very respectable mid-level mechanical keyboard that may not satisfy every gamer, but is still a pleasure to have at your fingertips.
Where can I get it?
HyperX sells the Alloy Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard directly through its web site for $149 outright. Otherwise, Amazon is currently selling the HyperX Alloy Elite USD$109.99 (AUD$138.10 at the time of writing).
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