Reviewing the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard: minimalism always wins!
When we hear about HyperX, we instantly think about memory modules, solid state drives or USB flash drives. But, in the last few years, Kingston - the mother company - decided it was time for HyperX to become a brand known worldwide for gaming accessories too. We recently saw their Cloud Stinger gaming headset at work, and we were pleased with what it had to offer. As you can imagine, we were very curious to see how good their first gaming keyboard is. Recently, we had the pleasure of testing the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard, a minimalist keyboard that's designed for gamers who love first person shooters more than anything else. We've played a bunch of games on it, including shooters, and we also used it to write tutorials, reviews and all kinds of documents. Here's our opinion about the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard:
Unboxing the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard comes in a premium package: a box made from high quality glossy cardboard, painted black and with red accents everywhere. On the front of the box, you can see a large photo of the keyboard, surrounded by a few bits of printed information, like the brand and name of the keyboard and the fact that it uses Cherry MX Blue switches.
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The back and the sides of the box include a wealth of details about the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard. For instance, you can read about the the minimalistic design of the keyboard, its "solid-steel frame for long-lasting durability and stability", its detachable USB cable, or the eight additional gaming keycaps destined to be used in shooters.
Slide to open the box and you'll get to see your new HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard in all its glory:
Inside the box, right under the keyboard, you'll find a carry bag that's useful especially if you go to LAN parties and you want to take the keyboard with you. You'll also find a braided USB cable and 8 additional metallic red keycaps for the WASD keys as well as the 1234 keys, plus a keycaps removing tool to help you switch them easily. Of course, there are also some papers inside the box: a quick start guide, the warranty and a welcome note from Kingston.
Unboxing the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard was a very pleasant process. There are plenty of bundled accessories and the way everything is carefully placed inside the box shows that the company knows that details are important, especially for gamers. :)
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard is a noisy keyboard, there's no question about that. The model we tested uses Cherry MX Blue switches, which are very clicky switches, louder than other types of mechanical switches. Cherry MX Blue switches have a 4.0mm travel, their actuation point is at 2mm and the actuation force required for their keyswitches is 50 centinewtons. According to Kingston, the Cherry MX Blue switches used in their The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard are guaranteed for 50 million keystrokes each. The company also says that the gold contacts inside the switches will prevent dust and dirt from piling up.
Each and every key found on the The HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard is backlit by a red LED. They are also customizable: you can choose to use one of the five preset LED lighting modes, or you can create your own and light only the keys you want. The level of the backlighting of the keys can also be adjusted in terms of brightness and you have five different brightness level at your disposal.
The switches sit on a solid-steel frame made from a metal alloy which means two things: stability and durability. It's also probably the reason for the Alloy part in the keyboard's name.
In order to connect to your computer, this gaming keyboard uses a detachable braided USB cable with a Mini USB connector at the keyboard end, and with two USB 2.0 connectors at the computer end.
Kingston also equipped the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard with a USB charge port at the top right. It's a port designed to be used for charging your smartphone or other similar portable devices. Take care though, to plug both USB 2.0 connectors of the keyboard's USB cable into your computer, or otherwise the USB charging port won't be able to provide enough power for your smartphone to charge its battery.
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard also has a series of media keys on it, a dedicated game mode, 1000Hz polling rate, full 100% anti-ghosting support and 6KRO and NKRO support. If you need some translation, 6KRO means "6-key rollover" and it means that the keyboard can register as many as 6 different keys you press simultaneously, and it will not "forget" them. NKRO comes from "N-key rollover" and it means that the keyboard can register as many keys as you can press at once, and it will not "forget" any of them. That's something any gamer wants.
In terms of size, the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard is 17.39 inches (441.65 mm) wide, 5.09 inches (129.38 mm) deep and 1.40 inches (35.59 mm) high. The keyboard is also relatively heavy, weighing 2.31 pounds or 1049 grams.
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard will work with any modern operating system, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Mac OS X. If you're wondering why, the answer is in the fact that this keyboard is a plug-and-play device, with no special software required for it to work, which is great from a compatibility perspective.
If you want to know more about its official specifications, you will find them all on the HyperX website, here: HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard.
Using the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard is a minimalist keyboard. The first thing that draws your attention is its very thin solid-steel frame. Kingston believes that gamers who play first person shooters need and prefer keyboards with a thin frame and very small borders around the keys. What I can tell you is that you don't have to be a gamer to appreciate the small footprint this keyboard has on your desk. Especially if you have a small desk, like I do. :)
Although the keyboard bears the name of Alloy, the truth is that its frame is not made entirely of metal. The top part of the frame is metal, but the bottom of the keyboard is plastic. Even so, the metal part feels very solid and twisting the keyboard is a very hard thing to do.
The keys found on this keyboard use keycaps made from high quality black plastic and the characters, symbols and words written on them are written with a simple font in all caps, making them all easy to read by anyone. One other thing that's nice about the keycaps is that they have a concave form, which makes them ideal also for writing, not just for gaming.
The model we tested uses Cherry MX Blue switches, which are known for being very loud. If you intend to use this keyboard for playing or working with others around you, you should know from the start that they will probably get irritated by the noise you'll make. On the other hand, Cherry MX Blue switches switches are a great choice for gaming, especially because their tactile and audible feedback is very satisfying. They are also probably the best switches for typing, for the same reason.
We've mentioned earlier that the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard has a trick up its sleeves, that's aimed at gamers who love first person shooters. In its package, there are bundled 8 additional keypads: 4 keypads for the WASD keys and 4 keypads for the 1234 keys. If you're wondering why, the WASD keys are the most commonly used keys in shooters for moving around, and the 1234 keys are usually associated to weapons. These 8 additional keycaps are all painted red - in contrast to all the other keypads, which are painted black - and the WASD keycaps also have a different texture to make them even more easy to identify with the tip of your fingers, and to provide better grip. You will feel them better in games, that's for sure.
As is the case with most gaming keyboards these days, the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard also has LED lights for each key on it. They only light up in one color, which is red, but you can control their brightness levels (there are 5 of them) and you can also choose to use one of the 6 different lighting modes: static, breathing, ripple, reactive, wave, and custom. Changing the brightness level and going through the lighting patterns is done by pressing the Fn and the directional keys (arrows) on the keyboard. You can view a demo of all these modes in the video below.
Personally, I've found the static and the custom lighting presets to be the most useful ones. In regular day-to-day activities like writing or browsing, the static effect is what you need, as it lets you see all the keys easily, regardless of the lighting conditions around your desk. On the other hand, the custom lighting preset is what I want when I play games. The custom mode lets you choose which keys are lit. For instance, if you play shooters a lot, you could choose to light up only the WASD, 1234, Tab, Shift, Ctrl and Space keys. These are, after all, the most useful keys in such games. Leaving the other keys turned off will take them out of the way. If you're wondering how to make these settings, know that you will have to enter the custom mode first, by pressing the Fn + Right key until you reach it. Then you'll have to press the Fn + Right Ctrl key, which will make the keyboard enter its customization mode. Now tap each key that you want to light up. When you're done, press the Fn + Right Ctrl keys again and your settings will automatically save in the keyboard's flash memory.
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard also has a dedicated Game mode which can be activated by simultaneously pressing the Fn + F12 keys. It will disable the Windows key on the keyboard which can prevent you from accidentally quitting your battles when you least expect it. The F6 - F11 keys, in conjunction with the same almighty Fn key, are used for common things like controlling media playback and the volume on your computer, which I believe everyone will admit is useful.
During the time I've had it in testing, I've used the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard to play a few of my all-time favorite first person shooter games. I've used it in Metro 2033, in BioShock Infinite, and in Wolfenstein: New Order. In each of them, the keyboard worked flawlessly - the Cherry MX Blue switches, the anti-ghosting and the NKRO features meant quick, swift and error free kills all the way. Who could ask for more?
I love the minimalist design and the overall simplicity of this keyboard. The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard has all the basics you need, whether you are a gamer or a typist. It doesn't brag about fancy features or complicated ideas. This is a keyboard that does its job as rigorously as a Spartan soldier from the ancient Greece.
Software: there's none!
I had my doubts whether we should include this section in this review, because the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard doesn't have any software. It's a keyboard which you plug and play, literally. There are no special drivers required for it to work and Kingston doesn't offer any customization software either. While this minimal approach does keep things extremely simple, it also means that you don't get to create macros or save and use multiple personalization profiles for the different games that you play. Also, you don't get any statistics and usage reports like you do with gaming keyboards from other brands. The absence of any software may be a turnoff for some users.
Pros and cons
We have a lot of good things to say about the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard:
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- The Cherry MX Blue switches have a great tactile and audible feedback, which means it's a keyboard that will be loved by gamers and typists alike
- All the keys have backlighting, and you can customize both the brightness and the lighting patterns
- You get eight additional keycaps for the most used keys in first person shooters: WASD and 1234. The keycaps have a distinct texture and are painted red
- The keyboards has a simple and minimalist design
- The frame of the keyboard has a very low profile and it's made from solid metal, which means it's going to last
- You don't have to install any drivers or software for it to work
- It's very easy to carry around. If you go to LAN parties you'll love its carrying case and the detachable USB cable
On the negative side of things, the HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard:
- Has no software and that can be an important downside for some users. Because of this, you don't get macros, multiple customization profiles, advanced settings or reports
- Is not RGB illuminated and the keys light up only in red. Some people might not like this.
The HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical gaming keyboard is an excellent keyboard, and a great choice for those who like playing games. It has a simple and minimalist design, and its low profile and slim bezels make it ideal for people that need as much as free space as possible for moving their mouse, but also for those that have small desks. Its Cherry MX Blue switches, although noisy, are an ideal choice for people that play a lot of computer games and also for people who write a lot. It's pricing is rather reasonable for what it has to offer and we think that you will be very happy with your purchase.