HyperX Alloy Elite 2 reviewIt's hard to pinpoint the single most important component of a gaming PC. The video card is one of the parts that quickly come to mind -- but input devices are important too as you spend countless hours with both your mouse and your keyboard. These days, a lot of higher-end gaming keyboards feature mechanical switches. While mechanical keyboards are nothing new, it used to be quite hard to find mechanical gaming keyboards in the early 2000s. The history behind mechanical keyboards is quite interesting, actually.
The technology used to be common in the 1980s but got pushed out of the market almost entirely by the cheaper rubber dome technology in the 1990s. Mechanical switches did remain popular among enthusiasts but good keyboards were hard to find. About a decade ago, several gaming peripheral companies started pushing the technology for premium offerings, and together with the adoption of RGB LED technology the volumes sold really started exploding.
Nowadays there is a wide variety of mechanical gaming keyboards. All of the big gaming brands have mechanical gaming keyboards: in full-size editions, tenkeyless, and even 60% mini layouts. The subject of this review of a full-sized mechanical gaming keyboard from HyperX; the Alloy Elite 2. It hit the market about nine months ago and has all of the hallmark gaming keyboard features. HyperX equipped the keyboard with its own red linear switches, adopted a solid steel frame, implemented RGB LED illumination, a USB hub, and dedicated media keys. Read on to find out whether it's worth your money.
UnboxingHyperX Alloy Elite 2 ships in a cardboard box. Inside we find the keyboard, a quick start guide, and some instructions that invite you to download the HyperX NGENUITY software. The product is covered by two years of warranty.
After unboxing the keyboard, one of the features that really pops out is the keycaps. HyperX opted for pudding keycaps with a translucent dual-layer style to enhance the RGB LED effects of the Alloy Elite 2. The bottom 75 percent of the ABS keycaps is white and the upper portion is black. You can also see the HyperX red linear switches very clearly. You will either love it or hate it - there's no in-between. With compressed air, it should be relatively easy to remove dirt as it can't get stuck between the keycaps and the keyboard's frame.
Heavy keyboard with a steel frameIt's a heavy keyboard with a relatively small form factor due to the lack of a wrist rest. The HyperX Alloy Elite 2 measures 444mm x 174mm x 37.4mm (W x D x H) and weighs 1530g. The USB cable is pretty thick too and is not detachable. It's 1.8 meters long and has a braided design. There are two USB 2.0 Type-A connectors, one is used to power the keyboard and the other one is used as a pass-through for the keyboard's single-port USB 2.0 hub.
If necessary, ergonomics can be improved a bit by extending the keyboard's feet. The rear also has a couple of rubber rectangular-shaped grips that aim to minimize accidental sliding on your desk. Coupled with the heavy weight -- this board shouldn't move too much.
The side profile of the Alloy Elite 2 is slightly angled upwards. Located between the keycap area and the upper area, which has the light and media controls, is what HyperX calls its "signature light bar." It's basically a thin RGB LED strip that separates the upper and the midsection of the keyboard. The light bar is not very noticeable, especially when the keyboard is flat on your desk. Alloy Elite 2 has a steel frame for extra stability and a sturdy feel -- the build quality feels great.
Key layout overviewThe biggest special feature on the left side of the Alloy Elite 2 is the light and game controls. These are the only three keys on the keyboard without RGB LED illumination. From left to right, we have a button to control the RGB LED brightness, a button to change between profiles, and a button to enable Game Mode. You can switch between five brightness levels, from relatively dim to really bright. It's also possible to switch off the LEDs in case you want a stealthier look. The second key lets you switch between the profiles, the onboard memory can store up to three profiles. Game Mode is used to disable the Windows key, to prevent accidental presses during gaming. This key can be customized via the NGENUITY software.
Not a lot to write about the midsection. All keys are equipped with ABS pudding keycaps, which results in a more brilliant RGB lighting effect versus solid-color keycaps. The keycaps use a bold font and feel very soft and slick. ABS keycaps generally feel cheaper than PBT keycaps. You can remove and replace the keycaps -- should you desire it. The keyboard offers 100 percent anti-ghosting plus full n-key rollover (NKRO).
The media controls are another signature feature of the Alloy Elite 2. There are four dedicated media control buttons as well as a very large volume wheel. A cool feature here is that the four media controls are backlit too, the markings are translucent and have the same RGB LED effects as the regular keycaps. The infinite volume wheel is very smooth and allows for both fast and precise volume control. This area also has white LED indicator lights that show whether the caps lock, num lock, and Game Mode keys are activated.
As mentioned earlier in this review, the Alloy Elite 2 has two USB Type-A connectors. One connector is used for the keyboard itself and the other one is used for the integrated USB hub. It's a USB 2.0 hub and there's only a single port -- so functionality is a bit limited. It's good for connecting a mouse of a headset, but bad for fast storage. I'd rather have a smaller, more flexible cable than a single USB 2.0 port hub at the rear of this keyboard. The keyboard's braided cable is fixed and pretty stiff, which hinders cable routing on my desk a little bit.
HyperX NGENUITY -- basic custimizationThe HyperX NGENUITY app is your one-stop-shop for all your HyperX gaming peripherals. It's downloaded via the Windows Store and it focuses on the bare basics. The software is fast and snappy -- but is not packed with features. The first panel allows customization of the RGB LED illumination. Should you desire it, you can configure the RGB LEDs on a per-key basis. First up, you can pick a color and adjust the opacity. There's a selection of light effect presets including breathing, confetti, swipe, twilight, wave, and sun illumination effects. These are all looped effects. Next, it's also possible to choose flame, explosion, and fade effects that get triggered when you press a key. The speed of these effects can be adjusted and you can also control the RGB LED brightness from 0 to 100 percent.
The second tab of the NGENUITY app for the Alloy Elite 2 allows you to reassign keys. All keys are configurable, with exception of the seven special keys that are found on the upper row of the keyboard. There are no dedicated macro buttons on this keyboard -- but it is possible to assign macros to specific keys.
The behavior of the Game Mode key can be customized. By default, it blocks the Windows key but you can also set it up to block some key combinations like alt + tab and alt + f4. The keyboard has onboard memory, a total of three profiles can be saved to the keyboard. For example, you can assign a different RGB LED illumination effect to each profile.
RGB LED illumination - bring on the party!There are a lot of customization options for the RGB illumination. Whether you want a subtle single-color effect, a fancy rainbow effect, or a stealthy trigger effect -- it's all possible with the Alloy Elite 2. The pudding keycaps look a little weird in daylight but they really shine in dim-lit scenarios -- the translucent bottom of the keycaps makes it possible to create really brilliant light shows. The 16.7 million color RGB LEDs are really bright too -- at night I use the NGENUITY software to tone down the brightness level as even the first preset is really bright. If you are totally into RGB -- it's quite hard to find a more dazzling keyboard.
Key takeawayThe Alloy Elite 2 uses the in-house HyperX red switches. These switches have a linear operation style, with an operating force of 45g, an actuation point of 1.8mm, and a total travel distance of 3.8mm. HyperX rates the switches at a total of 80 million keystrokes. Whether you're typing on the Alloy Elite 2 or using it for a gaming session, the linear switches feel very pleasant. They're extremely responsive and offer great performance and reliability.
In terms of feel, the switches are similar to the widely used Cherry MX Red switches. It's hard to distinguish between the HyperX red and the Cherry MX red switches. The biggest negative is not specific to this keyboard but to mechanical gaming keyboards in general. Do not expect a silent typing operation -- it's a very loud keyboard. Some folks think red switches sound silent but compared to non-mechanical keyboards this is simply not true. The Alloy Elite 2 is also pretty heavy, this is not a negative for me as the keyboard has a very robust build quality. It doesn't bend and can handle some rage-fueled abuse during intense gaming sessions.
Overall, there aren't a lot of drawbacks to this keyboard. It's definitely a keyboard that stands out and not one that blends in subtly. You will either love or hate the pudding key caps -- and the integrated RGB LED illumination provides one hell of a show thanks to the pudding caps. The brightness of the RGB LEDs is customizable, fortunately, as they're extremely bright at 100% percent.
In terms of pricing, there is a very large difference between the US and Europe. In the US, the MSRP is $129.99 and the keyboard is currently selling for a very attractive $109.99 via the HyperX website. In Europe on the other hand, the MSRP is 160EUR and Amazon sells it for around 150EUR. At the US pricing, the Alloy Elite 2 is very easy to recommend. The European pricing on the other hand is a bit too steep. The final rating of this review is based on the US pricing.
The Good Stuff
- Good switches
- Bright RGB LED illumination puts on quite a show
- Decent level of customization
- Dedicated media controls
- Relatively compact design
- Build quality
The Bad Stuff
- Big and stiff USB cable
- The design will not appeal to everyone
- Not very fingerprint proof
- No dedicated macro keys
Fans of RGB rejoice as the Alloy Elite 2 provides a dazzling RGB LED party! DVHARDWARE gives the HyperX Alloy Elite 2 a 9/10 and our Seal of Approval.
Added: April 6th 2021
Product reviewed: HyperX Alloy Elite 2
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck