The keyboard is as old as the computer, dating back to the very first models of personal computers (PC) having one for users to interface with the machine. Since its first iteration, they keyboard has had many different changes over the decades, with certain aspects changing and evolving over the years to increase the usability, and other features. In general, though, the keyboard hasn’t really changed much since it was first released with a computer back in as early as 1807 with early tele-printer devices (thank you Wikipedia). But you didn’t come here for a history lesson. I’m here to tell you about the newest upgrade to my gaming system.
This October I celebrated my birthday, which as a gift from Tali, I had picked out the new HyperX Alloy Elite keyboard. We first saw this keyboard at the Edmonton Expo this year (2017) during our interview with Patrick and Mike from HyperX, who were kind enough to give us a quick run through on its specs and allowed me to test it out briefly while there.
Previously I had been using a SteelSeries Apex M300 Keyboard. A giant device which had tons of macro keys and customizable RGB lighting zones. Having used this keyboard for about 3 years, it worked flawlessly for the entire time, aside from the macro keys never being used since the SteelSeries software was utter garbage for most of that time (they have since updated it a little) I felt it was time to step up my game and switch from a membrane keyboard into a mechanical keyboard, plus I had a HyperX mouse, mouse pad and headset already and I felt a HyperX Keyboard would go nicely with them.
So, having my birthday following shortly after the expo, Tali ordered the Alloy Elite from our local London Drugs and kept it a secret from me mostly until my big day. Now I am not one for birthdays, but it turned out to be a nice surprise.
But enough of that, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the review, and discuss this keyboard. Priced at $150 CAN the HyperX Alloy Elite keyboard is a standard sized keyboard with a number pad. It comes with 3 flavors of mechanical switches, either Cherry MX Red, Blue or Brown. My unit came with Cherry MX Red switches, though I was never asked which flavor I wanted, perhaps an oversight on the part of London Drugs. Having not used a mechanical keyboard before I was a little surprised at the tactile feel of the keyboard. At the Edmonton Expo, HyperX was demonstrating an Alloy Elite with Cherry MX Blue switches (a quick breakdown on the differences between the mechanical switches can be found here – Insert link) which had a more click feel when pressed. The Cherry MX Reds are a bit more of a thunk, and less clicky. No matter though, they work very well, and are comfortable to type with after a very short adjustment period of about 2 days. The adjustment period might vary from person to person, but after having a membrane keyboard for the past 12 plus years, switching to a mechanical one is a nice change. I can see why mechanical keyboards are preferred by gamers.
The HyperX Alloy Elite is named because the main body of the keyboard is solid steel. That’s right, the keyboard is housed in metal. This is probably the first keyboard I have seen where it is metal, and not plastic. While aluminum adds some weight to the keyboard over plastic, you can a huge amount of stability and strength. Where most plastic keyboards will flex and twist if you try to twist or flex them, the HyperX Alloy Elite will do none of them, making it very strong and durable. As I mentioned, it does add a bit of weight, so if you are taking it on the road with you to LAN parties and such, there is a tiny bit more weight to contend with, but hey, it’s steel, what’s an extra pound of weight?
The Alloy Elite also includes an integrated/attached wrist rest which is a great addition. A wrist rest is usually required with a keyboard, and if one isn’t provided, users will generally go out and
buy one, or use one they already have. The wrist rest is attached by 2 clips on the bottom of the keyboard, and can be removed if desired. I personally like having it on there, but having it removable is nice to be able to transport the keyboard as a smaller unit, or remove it if the space that the keyboard is going to sit on isn’t deep enough to allow it. This is something my old G11 keyboard from Logitech had, which was great until the tabs securing the wrist rest broke after 11 years. The wrist rest also has a soft textured feel at the typing zone, and is very comfortable to use. While it isn’t padded, the material is like a soft rubber. And before you ask, it isn’t aluminum, but plastic. Having it be aluminum like the body of the Alloy Elite would have been a great touch though.
The keys of the Alloy Elite are of the standard size with a great plastic feel for them. They are all back-lit by a set of red LED’s in the standard HyperX color of red. Being a gamers keyboard, they include a set of grey textured key caps for the WASD and 1234 keys, to give gamers that extra bit of bling, and allow you to find those keys easily while gaming. They are textured in a cross-hatch pattern like diamond patterned aluminum. It is a very nice touch in my opinion. Also included is a key cap removal tool, which is standard for all mechanical keyboards these days. The tool slips over the key caps and with a gentle pull, you can remove them safely without damage.
The Alloy Elite also includes 4 media buttons on the upper right side of the keyboard. These buttons are a play/pause, skip forward, skip back and mute. There is also a roll wheel for volume. The volume wheel has a very free spin feel to it, but it is large enough that you don’t have to worry about needing to find it. On the opposite side of the top you find 2 buttons to control the lighting effects of the Alloy Elite; these are brightness and light pattern. The Alloy Elite has 3 brightness levels, including an off position, and there are 6 different light patterns available.
These patterns are as
- Solid on
- WASD only
There is also a game mode button, which disabled the windows button on the keyboard, so when you are gaming you don’t accidentally press it and minimize your game. This button is very handy, but it is also a little bit of a dated feature, since most games released today will disable the windows button by default. It is still handy to have for the games that don’t.
The bottom of the Alloy Elite has some great rubber feet to keep it stationary on your desk and won’t slide around, which is great, and the USB cable from the keyboard is braided, which is an excellent addition, and only adds to the premium feel of the laptop. The laptop also contains 1 USB 3.0 port to charge a mobile device, or use another peripheral, but the downside is the Alloy Elite requires 2 USB ports on your computer, one for power, the other for the keyboard, and both are required for the keyboard to function properly.
Overall, I feel the HyperX Alloy Elite, their latest offering in gaming keyboards is an amazing step, and they got many aspects of it perfect. I would recommend this keyboard to anyone wanting a great mechanical keyboard with a sturdy, high quality feel. The price is a bit higher than one might expect, but if you compare the price to Razer or Corsair keyboards, it is right at a good competitive level.