Do you like insane RGB lighting, satisfying mechanical switches and sequels? Then do I have a keyboard for you! The HyperX Alloy Elite 2 is a follow-up from the 2018 Alloy Elite that had CherryMX switches. This time HyperX is hitting hard with their own switches and insane lighting that draws the eye and then burns the retina.
One of the first things to notice about the Alloy Elite 2 is how heavy it is. The frame is made of stainless steel, bringing the total weight to around 1.5KG. Naturally, this makes it a fantastic choice for braining intruders or for using it as a small bridge, but it also means that the keyboard shouldn’t slide on your desk. In fact, it’s more likely to break the desk. As you would expect with a metal frame there’s no creaking or flex, giving the keyboard a nice, premium feel.
Since this is a full-sized board the folks over at HyperX have used all the space to add in a couple of extra features. Up on the top right there’s a selection of silver media keys as well as a handy volume wheel that actually feels pretty good to use. Over on the top left there are three keys dedicated to messing about with lighting brightness, swapping between three profits, and gaming key which simply deactivates the Windows key so you don’t accidentally knock yourself out of a game. The final little bonus is located on the rear of the keyboard and it’s USB 3.0 passthrough port. To use it you’ll need to hook up both USB cables to your PC, but it’s a handy thing to have especially if you plug a lot of thumb drives in.
This is a personal note, but I’d like to see a tenkeyless version of the Alloy Elite 2. I can’t even remember the last time I used the numpad, and full-sized boards take up a lot of otherwise useful desk space. With that said, HyperX do have their Alloy Origins tenkeyless board that also has their own switches, so that could be an option. It just lacks the excellent pudding keycaps, whichI’ll be talking about right about…now.
What gives the HyperX a distinctive look is how the bottom two-thirds of the keycaps are actually semi-transparent white. These are known as pudding keycaps, and sadly, despite the name, they do no actually taste nice. This design lets the RBG burst from the sides of the keycaps, unlike boring old normal keycaps where the light can typically only leak out from the top and bottom. There’s quite a gap between keys as well, giving the lighting even more room to sear your eyeballs. The bold font atop each keycap also allows the RGB lighting through for extra oomph. Unfortunately, the brilliance of the RGB proved to be too much and a passing airplane attempted to land in my garden having mistaken the bright light for a runway. Put simply, this is the best usage of RGB I’ve seen in a keyboard to date. It looks stunning.
Adding to the light show is a strip of RGB lighting that runs along the keyboard just above the F-keys. But it actually gets drowned out amidst the rest of the lights since its quite deeply recessed. By using the software you can turn off all the lighting except for the bar if you wish. In fact, the bar is separated into numerous sections for better customisability. However, even with the other lighting off the light bar isn’t very noticeable. That might be a good thing, though, since it doesn’t assault the senses quite like the rest of the keyboard.
As vibrant as the lighting is, I have to say that the pudding keycaps give the Alloy Elite 2 a striking look even with the RGB turned off. The switches are also mounted directly onto the plate, so if you look at the keyboard from an angle you can see them peeking out. Between this and the pudding keycaps, it gives the Alloy Elite 2 a very distinctive style.
For the switches themselves, HyperX has gone with linear Reds of their own making instead of using Cherry switches. They are a tad less durable at 80-million activations instead of Cherry’s which are rated at 100-million. With that said, I reckon you’d have to own the keyboard a very long time to ever arrive near those numbers.
On the technical side, HyperX’s Reds have a travel distance of 3.8mm and actuate at 1.8mm, requiring 45g of force. For comparison, Cherry Red switches have a travel of 4mm, actuate at 2mm and need 45.9g of force.
In terms of noise, they don’t have the immensely satisfying click of something like the CherryMX Blues but they also aren’t silent. There’s still a nice clack when they activate. The benefit of these Red switches is that they’re fast, springing back to position exceptionally quickly. When you combine that with the low amount of force needed and the linear nature of them (meaning there’s no interruption) make typing a very smooth experience. Coming from a smaller keyboard though, the larger keycaps and gaps between keys did take some getting used to. The pudding keycaps are wide, slightly slippy and there’s a fairly large gap between the keys.
Overall, I have to say HyperX has done a great job with their switches. They’re smooth, feel great to use, fast and I found them to be good for gaming and general typing. CherryMX has dominated the market for a long time, so it’s awesome to see companies bringing out their own switches to compete.
Whether or not the Alloy Elite 2 will be available with HyperX’s Aqua switches (the tactile ones) is something I don’t know. I’d imagine HyperX will offer them at somepoint.
You also get 100% anti-ghosting and N-key rollover. In other words, the keyboard should register every keystroke you make, no matter what. This can be tricky to test, but even when I went and got an extra pair of hands the Alloy Elite 2 successfully registered all 20-key presses. So that’s a thing.
In terms of extras…er, there are none. There’s no wrist rest (BOOOOOOOOOO!) or keycap puller included in the box. What’s strange is that the original Alloy Elite, released back in 2018, did come with a wrist rest. With an RRP of £130 the lack of extras that often come with other keyboards on the market for less cash is disappointing.
If there’s one flaw when it comes to the Alloy Elite 2 it’s the software. HyperX uses the NGenuity software suite which is currently marked as being in beta. That alone is a problem – you shouldn’t have to buy a keyboard only to find out that a lot of its functions are controlled by software that isn’t actually fully developed yet. Then there’s also the fact that the NGenuity software can only be gotten through the Windows store – you can’t download it directly from HyperX. As many of you will probably already know, the Windows store has a host of its own problems to deal with. I honestly see no reason to limit it to the Windows store. It’s a pointless inconvenience.
In terms of options, the software is solid. You can layer multiple effects onto the keyboard, which I love, and there’s a good selection to pick from. You can adjust keys individually and see the colour changes in real-time. Plus you can assign preset macros or make your own, although there are no extra keys dedicated purely to macro functions.
Saving your changes is a bit of a pain in the arse. For some reason you have to click apply, then save it to the keyboard and then finally assign it to one of the three presets. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a good example of the little things HyperX still needs to work on when it comes to their software. And it also means you’re limited to three profiles. Mind you, I can’t ever imagine needing more than that.
Really, whether you want the Alloy Elite 2 is probably going to come down to how much you love RGB lighting. As an unashamed fan of having my room look like it’s a freaking rave, I love the Alloy Elite 2. The pudding keycaps and HyperX’s very own switches are the biggest selling points the Alloy Elite 2 boasts, and they honestly make it a good upgrade over the original Alloy Elite. However, the software still needs work, and the asking price of £130 is just too expensive in my view, especially since you don’t even get a wrist rest or keycap puller in the box. Still, this is an unapologetically in-your-face keyboard that looks and feels terrific.