Over the last several years, few companies have climbed the ranks like HyperX. They first came to our attention with their excellent line of gaming headsets, but it didn’t take long before their other peripherals caught our notice. Today, we’re taking a look at the company’s very first entry into the RGB world. This is our review of the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB.
- MSRP: $169.99
- Unique light bar and dynamic lighting effects
- Solid steel frame
- CHERRY® MX mechanical keyswitches
- Dedicated media buttons and large volume wheel
- Quick access buttons for brightness, lighting effects and Game Mode
- Conveniently connect devices via USB 2.0 pass-through
- 100% Anti-ghosting and N-Key Rollover functionality
- Comfortable, detachable wrist rest with soft-touch coating
- Additional titanium-colored textured keycaps and HyperX keycap removal tool
When HyperX reached out to us before CES and asked if we would like to review the new Alloy Elite RGB, I jumped at the chance. The company first revealed their RGB flagship back at CES 2017, and I’d been waiting for an announcement ever since. It’s well known around here that I’m an RGB lover, and with HyperX’s excellent reputation, the Alloy Elite RGB was poised to shake up the keyboard landscape, even challenging the major players in this space currently working on multiple years’ lead time.
With keyboard freshly in hand, I’m happy to say that HyperX has delivered the kind of high-quality gaming board fans have come to expect. It has a smaller footprint than many flagship keyboards while sacrificing little in way of build. The lighting is bright and vibrant and easy to program, complete with onboard memory to take your profiles on the go. The same applies to macros, which can be recorded and edited with ease then mapped to any key using the HyperX NGenuity software.
Taking the keyboard out the of the box, you’ll notice it has a nice weight to it thanks to the solid steel frame. A keyboard’s weight may seem like a small thing, and it is, but it serves a functional purpose. Apart from making the board feel more premium than the pack-ins we all grew up with, it also makes sure that it stays put on your desk. Working with the two rubber-bottomed tilt on the rear, the Alloy doesn’t move without you meaning it to. Likewise, the steel frame cuts down on flexing, of which there is some when you’re really pressing and twisting, but none in normal use.
The keyboard has a great, stylish look to it. The multimedia buttons are silver and the contrast immediately draws your eye. You have your standard play/pause, track control, and mute, all backlit. HyperX also included a metal volume wheel which, like I’ve said before, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a metal volume wheel. I may not have actually said that. The point is, it’s nice and dialed into to give a lot of room for volume adjustments. On the left side, you have three buttons to set your brightness, choose your profile, and enable Game Mode. Oddly, these are not backlit.
Under these controls is the new 18-zone light bar. Even more than the keys themselves, the light bar on the Elite RGB just flows. There’s no stepping as colors shift between hues and they blend seamlessly through the lighting zones. It’s a great piece of trim.
The Alloy RGB adopts the “floating key” design style which eschews the top plate in favor of exposing the brightly lit switches below. It’s a great choice for a keyboard using genuine Cherry RGB switches like the HyperX. Since the top of the switch body is transparent, it creates a light show under the keys that intentionally blends together to create a “bed” under each section of the keyboard.
Since these are Cherry key switches, you can guess right away that they feel good to type on. The unit we were sent features Cherry MX Red switches, which are lightweight and smooth with no tactile feedback. Clicky Blue and Tactile Brown are also available. How a keyboard feels depends on a lot more than the type of switch, however, and here the steel frame goes the distance. Bottoming out is quieter due to the dense material and helps the keys to feel a bit more springy as they rebound back.
The keycaps are nothing to write home about but do fall in line with other gaming boards in this range. They’re made of ABS plastic with the standard thin walls we’ve grown familiar with. The caps are painted and laser-etched, which will make them more resistant to wear than pad-printed legends, but much less so than double-shot keycaps. It’s not unusual to see single-shot keys on gaming keyboards but given the MSRP, it would have been nice to see double-shots. They feature the standard layout, however, so if you’d like to upgrade keycaps, finding a replacement set shouldn’t be a problem. Another big plus is that HyperX has opted for more subdued, less gamer-y legends and also positions secondary functions alongside normal functions for balanced illumination.
Speaking of keycaps, HyperX has included a set of eight swappables in their titanium color and texture theme. These are used to swap out WASD and 1234 for your most common gaming keys.
Along the back of the keyboard, HyperX has equipped the Alloy Elite RGB with a thick cable that’s nicely braided. It features two headers, one for the keyboard and the other to fuel the USB 2.0 pass through on the rear. After having a pass-through for so long, it’s become a necessity in my desk space and perfect for a mouse or headset. Or, because this is 2018, a powered mouse pad.
HyperX has also included a detachable wrist-rest which snaps into the bottom. It’s plastic, but the area where you’ll be typing is finished in a soft touch coating and textured finish to help grip.
RGB keyboards live and die on their software. If it falls short, the entire keyboard falls short, so it’s important they package be well developed. HyperX’s NGenuity software offers easy customization that falls somewhere in the middle of the market’s other offerings. You can customize six different effects and even apply background and foreground layers (though there are some limits on what can be used when dual-layering). That puts it above many companies but still more limited than the likes of Razer and Corsair.
Still, what you can create can look very good. My favorite setting was to use the standard rainbow wave with a reactive “Trigger” effect on top.
Programming in your effects is very easy. As seen in the screenshot above, you’re given a layout of the keyboard and can apply your effects to the whole board (pictured), to individual zones (WASD, numpad, function row, etc), or to individual keys in the Freestyle section. With presets that begin without lighting, like Explosion (ripple), you can select the color scheme light will ripple across. Most effects also let you control their speed and direction, too, which is a nice touch.
I do hope that HyperX expands these offerings in time. They look great and are easy to make your own but there are too few of them compared to the other options out there.
With the Alloy Elite RGB, HyperX has offered a solid competitor into an already crowded RGB keyboard market. To stand out in this space, you have to be offering something special. In both function and flair, the Alloy Elite RGB just delivers. I would have loved to see a few more options in the illumination department and the bump up to double-shot keycaps, but it undeniably looks great and feels better to type on. So is it perfect? No, but it’s definitely up there and will surely be one of the most popular options this year.
- Bright, vibrant RGB lighting
- Stylish light bar
- Genuine Cherry switches
- Dedicated media controls with metal volume roller
- Too few preset lighting options
- No remapping or program launching - macros and lighting programming only
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.