HyperX Alloy Elite RGB mechanical keyboard review
HyperX steps up its game with one of the most comfortable and capable mechanical keyboards around.
- Fast, highly-responsive keys that feel satisfying to hit
- Sturdy and durable design
- The first HyperX keyboard to feature full RGB customisation
- One seriously comfortable wrist rest
- That hefty price tag
It's funny: mechanical keyboards have advanced to the point where it's difficult for any individual model to stand out. RGB lighting is practically a given at this point, while the vast majority of keyboards either use Cherry MX switches or ones heavily inspired by them. The end result is great for consumers, as you have to try pretty hard to find a bad board these days, but it means keyboard manufacturers have their work cut out for them convincing buyers that their board is the one worth dropping $100+ on.
Instead of devising some wacky gimmick or attempting to fix what ain't broke, HyperX has taken a more subtle approach with its latest board. Sure, the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB is the first HyperX keyboard to feature full-blown RGB lighting on both its keys and its light bar plus a brand new PC app for customising lighting and macros, but that's not what sells it. No, what elevates the Alloy Elite RGB above its competitors is one thing and one thing alone:
It feels good.
There's no shortage of elaborately-designed mechanical keyboards on the market. Wings, aerofoils and other features that would look more at home on an aeroplane or a scarab beetle are commonplace, and while they certainly stand out, I for one prefer a more reserved approach to keyboard design. That way, the board can easily serve double duty both in the confines of your study and in a more formal work environment.
This is the approach the Alloy Elite RGB takes. There's a sleek quality to its design, from its sturdy metal frame to its round-edged keys to its curved and textured wrist rest. It exudes the kind of style that comes from emphasising function as much as form. Practical beauty – I'll take that over the superficial kind any day.
The Alloy Elite RGB has a decent heft to it, too, which I appreciate. Its steel frame lends it a sturdiness that makes it truly feel like a premium product, one that will last you through many intense gaming marathons for years to come.
The keys feel strong and durable, with little room for doubt that they'll survive the 50 million clicks the Cherry MX switches beneath are rated for. There's no concern when hammering out complex commands that you could be causing them any damage – a critical trait for a keyboard that wants to accompany you into the realm of competitive gaming. You can't have your board suddenly carking it in the middle of an important match, no matter how furious your key-mashing gets.
Wrist rests are an often-overlooked component of a good keyboard setup. By providing crucial tendon support over long gaming and typing sessions, they protect you from the raft of injuries that can plague professional gamers and life-long typists. That, and they're seriously comfy.
HyperX clearly understood this when designing the Alloy Elite RGB. Not only is the wrist rest detachable – handy for travelling or when you're short on desk space – it's one of the most comfortable rests I've had the pleasure of anchoring my wrists to.
This is largely thanks to the rest's soft coating. Instead of going with stiff plastic or sweat-attracting vinyl, the rest on the Alloy Elite RGB sports is a textured surface that feels cool and comfortable to the touch, far more so than you'd think from looking at it.
Even if the more-reserved design of the Alloy Elite RGB doesn't grab you, there's a good chance its raw performance will. From the first touch of its soft-edged keycaps, it exemplifies the pure joy that can come from playing whack-a-mole with mechanical switches. Gone is the plasticky feel of many a lesser mechanical keyboard, and with a full suite of soft Cherry MX Red switches installed, each keypress is firm and punchy yet responsive to even a light touch.
It might not make for the catchiest bullet point on a box, but the Alloy Elite RGB's greatest strength is simply how good it feels to use. The act of typing itself is eminently satisfying, the precision in dancing digits from one side of the board to the other so invigorating that it almost feels arcane. It's not often that a keyboard becomes more than a tool and instead takes on a pleasure all its own, but the Alloy Elite RGB manages it.
Of course, even the best-feeling keyboard needs a suite of fancy features to remain relevant these days. The Alloy Elite RGB is a big step up in this regard. Where previous HyperX boards like the Alloy Elite and Alloy FPS Pro were limited to red backlighting and lacked macro support, the Alloy Elite RGB packs all the features you'd expect from a modern mechanical keyboard. You've got full RGB lighting spanning the entire 16.8 million colours of the digital rainbow; onboard memory capable of storing three distinct lighting profiles you can switch between on-the-fly with a single button press; and comprehensive macro functionality for binding multiple commands to a single key press.
Accompanying these additions is the debut of NGenuity, HyperX's new customisation software. As the manufacturer's first crack at a PC app, it's quite impressive. It's a simple process to create a new profile and kit it out with your preferred lighting patterns and macros, and you can even download a bunch of pre-made profiles built for specific games. The XCOM profile, for example, paints the keyboard with a range of appropriately alien-looking colours that highlight important shortcuts like backspace for ending your turn and X for swapping weapons.
If you'd rather get your hands dirty and build your own custom profile, the NGenuity tool makes it a breeze. Whether you start with something as simple as a multi-coloured wave effect or fiery light explosions that ripple out from each keypress, or you dive deep and specify custom colours for every single key on the board, it doesn't take an engineering degree to imbue the Alloy Elite RGB with your own unique style.
Beyond the RGB revelry, NGenuity also provides an interface for recording and assigning macros; rebinding keys to trigger different keys, register mouse clicks or even run specific programs; and defining what keys to disable when you activate the all-important Game Mode.
Admittedly, there's nothing outstanding about these industry-standard features, but they do represent a pivotal shift in HyperX's competitiveness. No longer do you have to sacrifice functionality to enjoy the tight feel of a HyperX board; with the Alloy Elite RGB, HyperX is easily now going toe-to-toe with the big guns like Razer, Corsair and Logitech.
The Alloy Elite RGB isn't content with just meeting expectations, either. Along with regular key backlighting, the board features an RGB light bar for creating even wilder patterns and effects to dazzle friends and foes alike. It also packs dedicated buttons for adjusting backlight brightness and switching between stored lighting profiles, as well as a row of multimedia buttons with one of my favourite minor yet handy features: a volume wheel. Given how inconsistent audio levels can be from game to game or stream to stream, being able to quickly crank the volume up or down is always a big plus in my book.
Another handy feature you don't see in enough keyboards is the USB port tucked away on the back of the Alloy Elite RGB. Provided you plug in both of the Elite RGB's USB cables, that port serves as a handy means of hot-swapping USB devices without needing to be close to your PC. For living room setups where you're sitting on the couch and want some extra slack on your wired mouse, or for those times you just can't be bothered getting up, having a USB port close to hand is a blessing.
With the Alloy Elite RGB, HyperX has built a mechanical keyboard that has no trouble standing alongside the best in the business. Its fast and smooth keys are tremendously satisfying to hit, and the firm response from each strike is a testament to just how glorious the act of typing can feel in and of itself.
Coupled with a supple wrist rest, a sturdy design and an extensive array of customisation options, the Alloy Elite RGB is a shining example of the benefits a good mechanical keyboard can offer. Whether you're a first-timer curious what all the fuss is about or a seasoned veteran looking to upgrade, the Alloy Elite RGB does not disappoint.
Pricing and availability
The HyperX Alloy Elite RGB retails for $259 and will initially be available exclusively through JB Hi-Fi from its launch on 5 March 2018.
HyperX Alloy Elite RGB Specs
- 168.9mm x 443.9mm x 38.9mm
- 16.8 million colours
- Macro support
- Full key rebinding, three on-board profiles
- Switch type
- Cherry MX
- RRP: $259.00
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