The HyperX Alloy FPS is a mechanical keyboard that (if you believe the marketing) has been built from the ground up to suit those gaming hobbyists who spend most of their time playing first-person shooters. Known mostly for their eSports sponsorships, headsets and high-end RAM for gaming PC’s, HyperX’s first mechanical keyboard is one for the no-frills player.
As mentioned in the lead par, the marketing for this particular keyboard indicates that it’s purpose built for FPS players but in reality, there’s obviously nothing that prevents it being used for any genre you like.
Design-wise, this is a neat little board. The bezel around the keys is almost theoretical, and it measures up at 442mm wide and 1.05kg making it incredibly compact and easy to travel with. The reason for this, according to HyperX, is so that you can have as much room for throwing your mouse around during high-tension FPS gaming as possible. Extra desk space is always welcome and I appreciate a manufacturer taking that into account. The Alloy in the name refers to the plate beneath the board proper. The metal itself only adorns the top of the plate, with plastic beneath. This very much roots the keyboard to your desktop, making it extremely sturdy.
The board itself connects to the PC via USB and carries a spare USB port for charging external devices (though it won’t carry any data). They also throw in a slip case for it because they clearly assume you’ll be taking it with you. If you’re frequently hoofing it from LAN to LAN, this will be the board you’ve been looking for.
These are not the only areas the HyperX succeeds in. In addition to the extra USB port, it also comes with extra keys of differing shades. The 1-4 keys can be replaced with reddened versions, and the WASD keys can be replaced with reddened versions that have been texturised. HyperX says this provides a greater amount of grip but really its so you don’t have to feel around too long if you end up with your fingers on the wrong keys. The texturing is quite shallow as well so you may find you still struggle to find them if you loose your positioning.
While the keys themselves are backlit, it’s only single-colour. You can adjust the brightness to taste and you can choose between a few different light patterns using the arrow keys. It’s not the kind of kaleidoscopic imagery that some PC gaming enthusiasts may be used to from other mechanical boards but if that’s not what you’re interested in then it’s probably fine.
The launch version of the HyperX had used Cherry MX Blue switches, which caused a bit of an uproar among early adopters. Cherry MX Blue keys are far less commonplace than the Cherry MX Reds or Browns. They’re much heavier and far, far noisier than either the Reds or the Browns. My mother owned a WWII-era typewriter when I was a kid and it wasn’t as noisy as the Blues. Over the mic, the keys on the launch model sounded like a sledgehammer being dropped down a mineshaft. Thankfully, the version of the board we are currently reviewing is a much quieter one that sports the Reds. This means that those who’ve used competing mechanical boards before will likely find the HyperX more to their taste now. The board itself can be ordered in Cherry MX Blue, Red and Brown flavours and not a moment too soon.
The keys are apparently rated for 50 million clicks, 100% anti-ghost approved and feature full key rollover. There’s a neat little gaming mode that lets you disable the Windows key too — no more accidentally Windows keying your way out of a game at a crucial moment.
Another area where the HyperX’s design may lose a few fans is the fact that, in pursuing minimalism, it suffers from a lack of bells and whistles. You’ll have to learn to live without macro keys. There’s no media buttons, nor is there a wrist rest. This is an area that makes it harder to recommend to people in my particular situation — those who spend a lot of time typing as well as gaming. Take regular breaks to give your wrists a rest.
Another facet of the board’s minimal design is a lack of software or drivers. No software means you’re going to lose certain functionality you might have taken for granted on a mechanical board, like being able to set control profiles for specific games. It also means you can’t program the keys either. You might be able to rustle up a third party app that will do the trick but not having that support out of the box may be a turn off.
The HyperX Alloy FPS is a rock solid mechanical keyboard, perfect for those who are frequently on the go, and with enough features to appease those looking for a more low-fi mechanical board. It’s an impressive outing for a first time keyboard manufacturer and I look forward to seeing what HyperX will produce moving forward. There are a lot of lessons this board will have taught them (the fast addressing of the Cherry MX Blue key situation an example of this), and I’m interested to see how the design will evolve in the future.
Score: 8.0 out of 10
Highlights: Compact but sturdy design; Cherry MX Red keys a vast improvement over the Blues
Lowlights: Lacking the bells and whistles of its competitors
Price: $139 AUD