If I had to name one company as a rising star in 2018, it would be HyperX. They’re not new by any stretch, but for more than a year now their products have stood out as challengers in their respective markets. Today, we’re looking at a refresh of one of their most popular mechanical keyboards with the Alloy FPS RGB. It has all-new switches, a fresh look, full programmability, and comes in at $109.99.
- MSRP: $109.99
- Switch Type: Kaihl Speed Silver
- Switch Lifespan: 70M clicks
- Actuation Force/Distance: 40g/1.1mm (versus standard 2mm travel)
- Anti-Ghosting: Yes
- N-Key Rollover: Yes
- Cable: Detachable and braided, 1.8m
- Key Caps: ~1mm, ABS
- Backlight: Customizable Per-key RGB, 16.7M colors
- Programmability: Yes
- Software Support: Yes
- Additional Features: Rear USB 2.0 Charging Port (no passthrough)
- Dimensions: 442mm (W) x 130mm (D) x 36mm (H)
- Weight: 1100g
The Alloy FPS RGB is a looker of a keyboard. As you can tell from the picture above, it features rich and luminous RGB lighting. Like many of its competitor keyboards, it features per-key illumination, which means that every single key has its own addressable RGB LED. Unlike many of the competition at this price, the LEDs are brighter than average, which really makes them eye-catching. In fact, that picture doesn’t do them justice. An RGB keyboard under photography lights isn’t realistic. How about this:
There, that’s better. The legends are placed at the top of the keys for great shine-through, including the secondary legends on the number row. The secondaries legends on the function row are bottom-oriented so are a bit dimmer but the extra brightness here definitely helps.
The lighting can, of course, be easily programmed using HyperX’s NGenuity software. There’s the usual assortment of lighting presets, including your color shifts and reactive typing effects, but creating a custom lighting profile is also quick and easy without any “zone” lighting forcing you to assign colors to multiple keys at a time.
This keyboard also gets bonus points for actually producing a quality white that doesn’t wind up as a light pink.
Pulling back from the lighting, the Alloy FPS RGB features a solid steel top which adds a little weight without being cumbersome. The FPS is designed to travel, so HyperX has wisely kept its weight down, but using steel also makes the board quite rigid and flex-free. Hammer away all you like: short of twisting it between your hands, the Alloy FPS RGB is solid as a rock. It also features a plastic bottom with rubber feet to keep it from slipping around on your desk.
The footprint is also smaller than usual with very little of the frame extending past the key zones. If you’re short on desk space and need a full-size keyboard, these things make a difference. As an MMO player, I’ll usually map abilities to my number pad, so I hate losing it. Before I built my office, though, space was a much bigger concern. Trimming those half-inches won’t make it a TKL but it definitely helps.
The Alloy FPS RGB uses the popular floating key design which is about perfect for clear-topped RGB switches. It really shows off the lighting. Since these LEDs are a bit brighter, you get a touch of underglow effect which is pretty cool, too. Anecdotally, my students literally oooh-ed and aaahh-ed when they saw this on my desk (I teach elementary school) and a pair of colleagues also immediately commented on how neat it looked.
Around the back we can see the detachable mini-USB to USB-A cable. It’s braided and double-headed but still thin and easy to manage. Should it ever break, the fact that it’s detachable also means you won’t be stuck buying a whole new keyboard. To the left is the mobile charging port. Sorry, no USB-passthrough, which is a bit odd considering that it is a double-headed cable.
HyperX also sent along their memory foam wrist rest, too. It’s one of the nicest wrist rests I’ve ever used. Since it’s fabric, it doesn’t make you sweat and stick to it like the leatherette rests out there, and the memory foam is clearly superior to the standard cushions in competitor options. This is an add-on, however, and ships separately for $19.99.
One of the biggest selling points of the Alloy FPS RGB is that it’s currently the only keyboard in HyperX’s line-up to offer Speed switches and one of the rare few to drop Cherry in favor of Kailh. While Cherry purists may scoff at the idea of leaving their fruit-based favorite, the reality is that while Cherry may hold more mindshare in mainstream keyboards, concerns about quality are a thing of the past. In fact, companies like Kailh are forging the way forward in the world of keyswitches, trying new ideas and innovating while Cherry seems content to take a much slower approach to product development.
Kailh’s silver switches offer a number of improvements over their Cherry counterparts. The actuation force and distance have both been reduced to 40cN and 1.1mm respectively. This makes the Alloy FPS one of the lightest and most nimble gaming keyboards available in the mainstream. They’re linear, so you won’t have any kind of click or tactile bump as you press them, allowing you to smoothly depress each key. The Kailhs also have a lifespan of 70M clicks up from the usual 50M.
For gaming, they’re great - so long as you have a light touch. Having such a high actuation point and light pressure, they’re easy to accidentally press, even from sloppy movements across the keyboard. As such, they have a bit of a learning curve to prevent accidental activations. Once you get used to them, though, they feel very nice to use and, if you’re reaction time is up to it, would theoretically allow you to input commands faster.
Speaking realistically, most gamers won’t see much difference between Kailh and Cherry speed switches. They’re both fast and sensitive and require time to learn. I’ve used many keyboards over the years, so take it from me when I say that you’ll be getting a keyboard that feels and performs near-identically to any Cherry MX Speed board without paying the hefty Cherry mark-up. Plus, they’ll probably last longer! As a cost-saving measure being passed onto consumers, HyperX undoubtedly made the right call.
I was also impressed to see that the entire keyboard is programmable! Using HyperX’s software, the entire keyboard can be remapped or assigned macros, windows shortcuts, media controls, and more. Macros can also be easily edited to add or remove delays. Typically, including “FPS” in the title of a gaming keyboard is shorthand for “limited programmability” so this was a nice surprise.
The Alloy FPS RGB continues HyperX’s streak of excellent products. The lighting is rich and vibrant and customizing your own effects is a breeze. I like that you can store three layouts onboard for when you head off to a LAN and that the cable is replaceable even more. The only nitpicks I could levy would be the odd charge-only USB port on the rear and the single-shot ABS keycaps, the latter is standard in gaming keyboards and typically only something keyboard nerds like myself worry about. For $109.99, this is an excellent deal for a great keyboard.
- Bright, rich lighting
- Full programmability
- Kailh speed switches are an improvement over Cherry
- Small footprint
- Detachable cable
- USB port is charge only - cannot be used for other accessories
- Speed switches aren’t the best for typing unless you’re a very careful typist - but you should know that getting into any speed switch
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.