The new mechanical gaming keyboard from HyperX looks and feels great, but is it worth making the upgrade?
If you're after a clicky new gaming keyboard, then HyperX has a new product that may be of interest. It's called the Alloy Elite 2, a beautifully-built piece of kit that I've been using for the last couple of weeks, and it's time to reveal whether I've finally found a keyboard I like enough to retire my trusty old Corsair Strafe. Long story short... actually no, you can have the long version.
Straight out of the box, the Alloy Elite 2 impresses thanks to the sturdy steel frame that houses the keys. It's not too flashy, it's elegantly finished, and its utility is clearly and concisely signposted. Put it this way, you won't have to spend ages learning how to use its various features if you want to get the best out of it.
The two-tiered pudding style keycaps look great, further reinforcing the A+ first impression (there are no additional keycaps with this iteration, though). The first thing I did was start to play around with the RGB lighting because deep down who doesn't love flashy lighting. I quickly installed the Ngenuity software, which may be ingenious but isn't particularly intuitive. After spending some time poking around in there I found a number of pleasing preset displays and tinkered with customisation a little. My favourite is a solar effect where nuanced shades of red, orange and yellow shimmer away under your fingers.
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However, impressive RGB effects and the build quality only tells you half the story of the Alloy Elite 2, and the real reason you're considering this particular product is the boost across performance and response times that you get from using a mechanical keyboard. They're not for everyone, and if you're used to a membrane keyboard with lowered keys (like, say, an Apple keyboard, or the keys built into a laptop) then its quite an adjustment to make, especially if you plan on using the Alloy Elite 2 for typing.
That's the very same adaptation that I've had to make, as I've replaced both my Apple keyboard and my Corsair Strafe with this one keyboard. It has taken some getting used to, and I'm still not 100% used to the more pronounced positioning of the keys after a couple of weeks of constant use with the odf mistake still creeping in, but I am feeling much more comfortable using it now and it is very nice to type with. Importantly, it hasn't dented my productivity at all. Perhaps it's less pleasant for the people in the room with me as it is quite clicky, but at last, I've found a keyboard that's got enough all-round game that I'm happy to retire the two keyboard setup that has been cluttering up my workspace for years.
HyperX makes its own linear Red switches and they are very responsive. Naturally, I can't comment on the claim that they're good for 80 million keystrokes, but the overall build quality is such that it's a claim I'm prepared to believe. While the travel for each key is a rather distant 3.8mm, it wasn't a problem as the keys actuate around 1.8mm, which makes it more responsive than I initially thought it would be. It's a subtle difference compared to my old Cherry Reds but I definitely noticed it.
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There are more welcome features worth mentioning, in particular, there's a nice media bar in the top-right corner of the board, which is handy if, like me, you spend all day listening to music. Located on the same side of the board but more centrally is a USB 2.0 Type-A passthrough, which is a nice touch if you're struggling when it comes to USB ports (you'll need two for this). Next to that is the sturdy braided cable. In the other corner, you've got a trio of switches; one to switch on the RGB, another letting you cycle through three presets, and a third button to engage 'game mode', which essentially disables the Windows button (you can tinker with that a little).
The Alloy Elite 2 is actually compatible across PC, PS4, and Xbox One, but all of my gaming with it was done on PC, and I'm happy to report a pleasant experience across the board. It's able to register more simultaneous button presses than I'm able to reasonably administer, so absolutely no need to worry about ghosting and losing key inputs if things get too frantic. Overall, I found it to be pleasingly responsive, with tactile ABS keycaps that were satisfying to use across a range of game types. Thanks to the boldness of the RGB, it's also a breeze to use in lowlight.
Indeed, it's the RGB through the pudding-style keycaps, which sit elegantly elevated above a stylish steel body, that really catches the eye here. The downside of all those impressive lighting effects, however, is that you're constantly confronted by dust that easily collects, in particular in and around the directional keys and Enter/Backspace. You'll want some compressed air to keep it looking good and for some, that may sound like a hassle (then again, if you don't want to keep this keyboard looking good then it's probably not the one for you anyway). The HyperX Alloy Elite 2, like its predecessor before it, is a lovely gaming keyboard, and this refresh looks phenomenal thanks to the pudding caps and understated steel frame underneath, however, it ain't cheap and the software could be more intuitive. Minor gripes, at the end of the day.