- Proper Cherry MX key switches
- Customisable red backlighting
- Great build quality and compact design
- Textured replacement keycaps
- MX Blue switches are noisy
- No software or profiles
- No RGB lighting
- Review Price: £100.00
- CherryMX Blue mechanical switches
- Red backlighting
- Number pad
- USB port (for charging devices only)
- Removable braided cable
What is the HyperX Alloy FPS?
The Alloy FPS is the first keyboard from the HyperX (now a separate brand from parent company Kingston) and, apparently, it’s specifically designed for FPS players. It has Cherry MX Blue switches and a slim, minimal design – accompanied by a £100 price.
UPDATE: Black Friday deal on HyperX Alloy – £62 from Currys (with code GAMINGKEYBOARDS30)
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HyperX Alloy FPS – Design and Features
HyperX says that this keyboard is designed for fans of first-person shooters, but that designation is a marketing blurb, because this keyboard has features that gamers of all stripes will appreciate.
This ‘board is extremely compact, with barely any bezel around the keys themselves. HyperX says it offers more desktop space for FPS players to sling their mouse around during frantic moments, but it’s something that all gamers will welcome – whether they need room for their mouse or if they just have a small desk.
The HyperX isn’t the only compact keyboard I’ve seen recently. The SteelSeries Apex M500 is another unit that’s all keyboard and not much else, and both have similar dimensions: the HyperX is 442mm wide; the SteelSeries just one millimetre narrower. And the HyperX’s 1.05kg weight is only 150g lighter than the M500.
The HyperX has a detachable braided cable and a single USB port for charging your other devices (it doesn’t handle data), and a soft carrying case is also included. The Alloy part of the name refers to the metal plate beneath the buttons and the metal on the top surface. The underside is plastic, but this is one of the sturdiest keyboards I’ve ever tested.
The strong construction, handy bag, detachable cable and small size means it isn’t just suited to FPS players – it’s perfect if you regularly travel with your gaming gear, too.
The SteelSeries doesn’t offer any of these travel-friendly features – and the HyperX excels elsewhere, too. It has that USB port, and HyperX includes eight replacement keys. The 1-4 keys can be replaced with buttons with a red metallic finish, and the WASD keys can be switched for versions with a metallic texture – the firm says this provides better grip.
The HyperX has a single-colour backlight, just like the SteelSeries, but the Alloy goes a little further. Its brightness can be adjusted, but several different lighting patterns can also be chosen using the cursor keys. The backlight can be inconsistent, with the top of each key brighter than the bottom, but both keyboards suffer with that issue.
The red-lit keys are built using Cherry MX Blue switches. They’re not as common as the Cherry MX Red hardware used in the SteelSeries or the Brown switches used in many other mechanical keyboards, and they feel very different.
For starter, they’re far heavier with a 60g actuation force – 15g more than the Cherry MX Red switches in the SteelSeries. The extra force required to register a click is paired with a tactile bump about half-way down the key, which is something the smooth SteelSeries didn’t have.
The keys are rated for 50 million clicks and has 100% anti-ghosting and full key rollover, which is the same as the SteelSeries. It has a gaming mode to disable the Windows key, too.
The Alloy FPS has a minimal, focused design that outstrips the SteelSeries for features, but there’s still plenty missing: no macro keys or media buttons; no RGB lighting and no wrist-rest, which means it’s tricky to recommend for people who type as well as game.
There’s also no software, and no driver – this keyboard plugs in and plays, with functions such as the lighting and gaming mode controlled on the unit itself. That, sadly, means the keys aren’t programmable and game-specific profiles can’t be saved. While you could use some third-party software, having no dedicated buttons to switch between modes will be a drawback for some people.
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HyperX Alloy FPS – Performance
The Alloy’s Blue keys are some of the harshest and most clinical switches that Cherry MX produces – so they’re going to prove divisive.
The keys are consistent and hammer down unrelentingly into the solid metal base. They move with speed and precision, and they deliver a classic keyboard feel – when people think of mechanical keyboards, the envisage something like this, where the keys really need to be forced down to register hits.
The Cherry MX Blues will appeal to some gamers, although there’s a lot to be said for the Cherry MX Red switches in the SteelSeries. They don’t have the same clinical feel and hard base; they’re softer and more comfortable, especially for typing.
The choice of switch is subjective, but there’s no denying the HyperX’s noise output. This is the loudest mechanical keyboard I’ve tested – which is fine if you’re home alone, but not so good if you’re in an office or share a quiet environment with other people.
Gamers will also be attracted by the metal-textured keycaps available for the WASD buttons, but I found that they made very little difference in daily use. The texture is extremely shallow, which means it can barely be felt in the midst of fast-paced play – they provide a tiny bit more grip, sure, but they’re hardly game-changers.
Should I Buy the HyperX Alloy FPS?
The HyperX Alloy FPS is an excellent board that pairs a slimmed-down design with more features than its nearest rival.
It has customisable backlighting, textured keys, a USB port and travel accessories – all things that the SteelSeries lacks – and its steel construction makes it extremely sturdy.
The Cherry MX Blue switches are loud, clinical and divisive, however. The SteelSeries is a little cheaper and possibly better if you prefer a softer experience, but Kingston’s first gaming keyboard is a high-quality and traditional affair that mixes rapid-fire typing with a good slate of features.
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The HyperX Alloy FPS is great for all genres of gaming, and ideal for those on the move too. With a decent set of features considering its compact size, and its CherryMX Blue switches delivering an uncompromising and traditional typing feel, HyperX’s first keyboard is impressive indeed.