Review: HyperX Alloy Elite
The Alloy Elite is HyperX’ full size gaming keyboard that includes media keys, a volume knob, wrist rest, and your choice of Cherry MX keys to suit your playing style. It’s a welcome addition to their existing line, offering the gamer a variety to choose from.
STYLING / DESIGN / COMFORT
The Alloy Elite looks really good. It’s got red LED lights illuminating the keys with six options for lighting sequences. It’s also bulit like a tank – you can physically feel how solid the body is when you pick it up. The keys themselves are smooth to the touch, though there’s a definite friction if you slide your fingers over them. It’s not a bad kind of friction either – there’s just enough for you to know the keys have “heard you.”
Above the typing area, there’s a separate set of media keys with a great volume knob and a detachable wrist rest below it. And at this point, I have to be honest with you… I was originally let down when I saw that the wrist rest was hollow, light and wasn’t made of soft, squishy material. Over time however, I got to changing my mind somewhat because in actual use, it was surprisingly smooth and not too hard on the wrists. There’s a hatch texture that helps prevent your wrists from sliding away on what is oddly a plastic that’s “softer” than it looks.
Attached to the bottom corners are squares of rubber material to stabilize and keep the board from sliding around on smooth surfaces. The built-in pull out feet that raise the top portion of the keyboard also have rubber on them too. It’s good to see that HyperX haven’t forgotten the small, but noticeable details like these.
Finally, a luxury’s been added in the form of an accent line of red light separating the media keys from the typing area. While it doesn’t serve any mechanical function, it does look like a signature design element with a kind of unique “gamer” feel. It’s a subtle addition that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, but nice enough to set it apart from every other boring “me-too” keyboard.
The HyperX Alloy Elite is designed for the gamer who doesn’t frequently carry around equipment to and from competitions. It’s best to use it at one location and having extra desk space never hurts. Unlike their compact Alloy FPS and TenKeyLess models, this one’s got a permanently attached cable. It’s super heavy-duty and braided, with quadruple the thickness.
Interestingly, the cable splits into two USB ports with one powering the keyboard itself and the other acting as a pass-through to a USB port in the keyboard. It’s actually a thoughtful implementation in the point of view of cable management. Instead of an unsightly mess of cables, you have one less to worry about by plugging your mouse directly into the keyboard instead. If you ever need to change up your mouse, you can do so quickly – it beats getting on your hands and knees, trying to figure out which cable to pull out of your computer.
No gaming keyboard is complete without good quality, mechanical keys. With the Alloy Elite, you have your choice of three different Cherry MX keyswitches depending on how you like it when you press them. Cherry MX Reds offer the least resistance and minimal sound – which is probably why it’s best suited for gaming. However, if you regularly use your keyboard for word processing and prefer to feel “clacks” while you type, you’ll probably appreciate MX Blues.
Not to get political, but if either type tends to lean too much to the left or right, the best idea would be middle-of-the-road MX Browns. They offer a slight clackety feel while giving you an easy key press that doesn’t require as much pressure as the Blues.
You get 8 additional keys in gray, with textured “A,S,D,W” keys so you can place your fingers without ever looking. Swapping them out is easily done with the included key removal tool. A word of warning though – while they’re great for a bout of gaming, you don’t want to use them when you’re typing. Swap them out or your fingers will get sore from excessive abrasion.
In time you’ll know just how far you need to press without having to push a key all the way down. It’s very unlike standard membrane (i.e. cheap) keyboards that give you finger fatigue after a few hours of use.
The PS/2 of USB
Most accessories manufactured today use a USB plug, and keyboards are no exception. The only problem with this is that most keyboards can only recognize two or three keypresses at any given moment.
What it means for you, dear gamer, is when you’re in the middle of playing State of Decay, you cannot reload (R) your empty gun clip while running away (left shift + W) from a zombie horde. You’re essentially screwed and may end up losing a character for the remainder of the game. What’s interesting is that prior to USB, keyboards came with PS/2 plugs that had no limit to the number of simultaneous key presses. But with standardization for “efficiency”, PS/2 has been more or less phazed out (in consumer products.)
Happily though, HyperX implements NKRO (N-Key Roll Over) in all their gaming keybaords – that is, the ability to press many keys at once. Technically, the ‘N’ is actually a 6 (6 keys at once), but unless you have more than six fingers on your left hand, you needn’t worry – your right hand will most probably be on your mouse.
The Alloy Elite has a polling rate of 1000Hz from which you’ll get almost instantaneous action with each keypress. Add anti-ghosting capabilities to this and you’ll have made the key-spammers happy too. I mean, it really sucks when your keyboard registers the wrong key just because it happens to be sitting next to one you’re tapping away at. Suddenly, instead of pushing away a zombie that’s wrapped its arm around your character’s neck, the game thinks you want to turn on a flashlight. And that’d be another character lost. Damn.
The media buttons on top add great convenience for controlling play/pause, next and previous. It also has a mute key and my favorite thing on this keyboard – a big scrolling knob for volume control. It’s a good size; wide enough for the biggest fingers and scrolls up and down smoothly with its stepless scroll (doesn’t click.) After much use, this is turning into a kind of built-in fidget spinner for me. It’s just so nice to use, the way it glides up and down without too much friction, but stays in place the moment your thumb breaks contact. Plus, the etched ribs ensure non-slippage.
Three other buttons inhabit the top edge to the left. The brightness key gives you four levels of key illumination, ranging from “off” to “extremely bright”. The LED control next to it gives you six options:
- Solid (all keys are lit)
- Breathing (all keys light up and fade as if breathing)
- Trigger (pressed keys light up and then fade)
- Explosion (light ripples outward from pressed keys)
- Wave (waves of light from left to right)
- Custom (keys of your choice are lit)
Finally, the “Game Mode” key disables the Windows key and prevents accidental interruptions while you play. While it doesn’t prevent Windows notifications from popping up, it at least minimizes any further annoyances by Windows keys that are unfortunately embedded between Ctrl and Alt.
This keyboard needs no software. It’s plug and play for the serious gamer who doesn’t need -no, who doesn’t WANT- extra software slowing their system down.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Of all the things that HyperX did right, there’s that one niggle that makes me wonder why. Why aren’t all the keys backlit? Everything on that keyboard lights up like a Christmas tree, but three of those media keys controlling the LED and Gaming don’t share in the joy. I don’t know why, but it’s like they forgot the cherry on an otherwise great looking and tasting cake. Quite a minor niggle to be sure, but since there isn’t much to criticize, this was all I could find.
The HyperX Alloy Elite is an excellent gaming keyboard offering additional media keys and wrist rest for a few dollars more than their compact Alloy FPS model. Overall, it looks great, works great, and comes with a choice of three Cherry MX keys.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. It’s worth noting that some of the best pro gamers in eSports -Taco and Coldzera of SK Gaming, Flamie of Natus Vincere- all have HyperX keyboards as a part of their gaming arsenal. If that’s not a good enough reason to get one of these babies, then I don’t know what is.
More Info: http://www.hyperXgaming.com
(Test unit provided by HyperX for this review.)
Check prices: http://amzn.to/2DWzV1D — Amazon affiliate link