Last year, HyperX started making its own mechanical key switches—and good ones, at that. With that change, the Kingston subsidiary has decided to revisit its flagship gaming keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Elite, updating the design and switching out the original’s Cherry MX switches for its own. The name of the Alloy Elite 2 ($129.99) is something of a misnomer, as there are only a few changes from its predecessor, the Alloy Elite RGB. That said, those changes update the look and feel of the keyboard in subtle but impactful ways. Those changes, combined with a $40 price cut, make the Alloy Elite 2 a more impressive specimen, even if it’s not quite as full-featured as other flagship gaming boards.
Reinventing the Switch
The Alloy Elite 2 is very much a sequel to the Alloy Elite RGB, which is to say that the two are cut from the same cloth—or, in this case, steel. The new keyboard is functionally the same as its predecessor save for two or three significant tweaks, the most important being the jump to HyperX Red switches.
For the most part, that’s a good thing. The Alloy Elite 2 is compact for a full-size keyboard at 1.7 by 17.4 by 6.7 inches. Its low profile and steel top deck give the body a sleek, stylish look. The hardware design makes way for the RGB lighting to take center stage: The Alloy Elite 2 now comes with translucent ABS “pudding” keycaps, which in addition to having a higher durability rating let more colorful light from the switches’ LEDs shine through. Also known as “doubleshot” keycaps, keycaps of this kind are made using a two-layer combination of plastics; the lack of printed legends on the keys also helps resist apparent wear. If you like your keyboard bright and showy, the Alloy Elite 2 has got you covered.
And like the Alloy Elite RGB, the Alloy Elite 2 has what I’d call the core suite of premium keyboard features. In the top left corner, you have a trio of buttons that adjust brightness, swap among lighting presets, and toggle “game mode” (which can deactivate the Windows key or have it do whatever you set it to). At top right, you’ll find a set of dedicated media buttons including a metal volume roller. On the back of the keyboard, near the braided USB cable, there’s a USB pass-through port. While there are certainly other features you can and should want, in my mind these are the must-haves for any more-than-basic mechanical gaming keyboard.
The big innovation, as mentioned, is under the hood, or rather, under the keycaps. Where the Alloy Elite RGB was available with Cherry MX Red (linear), MX Brown (tactile), or MX Blue (clicky) switches, the Alloy Elite 2 is being offered only with HyperX’s own Red linear switches at launch. First seen in the company’s basic Alloy Origins keyboard, HyperX switches offer a comfortable feel, not unlike Cherry’s, but with slightly less travel—HyperX keys actuate at 1.8mm versus 2mm for Cherry MX Reds, and they bottom out at 3.8mm, as opposed to 4mm. While it’s unfortunate that there are fewer switch choices, the trade-off feels worth it.
There’s an additional benefit—the price. The Alloy Elite RGB was (and is) a good keyboard, but it didn’t really have the feature set to justify its $169.99 price tag. With new and (presumably) less expensive key switches, the Alloy Elite 2 starts at $129.99, which seems like a more appropriate figure for a keyboard that has the core luxury features but lacks truly elite extras such as macro keys or a unique flourish.
Unfortunately, there’s at least one other reason for the lower price point: The keyboard does not come with a wrist rest. My colleague wasn’t especially taken with the wrist rest in PCMag’s Alloy Elite RGB review, but it’s always nice to have one, so it will be missed.
HyperX’s configuration software, Ngenuity, was completely overhauled last year. The new version looks much cleaner and seems easier to navigate than its predecessor, which is what we had to work with when the Alloy Elite RGB launched in 2018. It isn’t perfect; for starters, you have to navigate surprisingly deep menus to find key features like the macro editor. Another example: The “gamelink” feature, which allows you to sync each profile to specific games and apps, feels hidden in the settings tab.
As with other HyperX keyboards, the Alloy Elite 2 lets you create as many profiles as you please and keep up to three of them in onboard storage. As I’ve said in past reviews, three is acceptable but less than what you’d like to see in a high-end device.
It’s worth noting that I experienced no technical issues with Ngenuity. Last time I reviewed a HyperX keyboard, the software was in beta and was something of a liability. HyperX seems to have done some polishing up, and the software is much more reliable.
“Elite” Is a State of Mind
With slightly lower-profile switches, a lower price, and a lot more RGB light, the Alloy Elite 2 is an interesting half-step upgrade from a basic mechanical gaming keyboard. That fills a rare and welcome gap, I think, for players who are willing to spend a little more to get some of the premium features of an elite board, such as USB pass-through and dedicated media controls, but aren’t quite willing or able to drop $160 to $200.
Our current top pick in the gaming-keyboard midrange remains that other HyperX offering mentioned earlier, the Alloy Origins. The Alloy Elite 2 may not blow your mind, but it goes way beyond getting the job done, and does it for less than most rivals.
HyperX Alloy Elite 2 Specs
|Number of Keys||111|
|Key Switch Type||HyperX Red|
|Key Backlighting||RGB Per-Key|
|Dedicated Shortcut Keys||Yes|
|Onboard Profile Storage||Yes|
|N-Key Rollover Support||Yes|