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Monday, October 7, 2019

The HyperX Alloy Origins Keyboard Offers a Great Metal Body at a Good Price

The HyperX Alloy Origins keyboard
Michael Crider

The mechanical keyboard market is in a weird place now, with everything from $250 cloud-connected overkill to $30 knock-offs available. The HyperX Alloy Origins isn’t cheap or fancy, but it nails the basics in a great package.

As a gaming-focused board that includes RGB lighting and HyperX’s new, customized linear switches, the Alloy Origins isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. But thanks to its aluminum body, solid key setup, and excellent value, it gets an easy recommendation even from a picky keyboard nut like me. Grab one if you’re looking for a full-sized board that’s a cut above the competition in its price range.

You Can’t Kill the Metal

The Alloy series of keyboards are made out of…wait for it…metal. Older models were made of steel, which is, in fact, an alloy. This one is made of aluminum, which is not. (HyperX’s marketing calls it “aircraft-grade aluminum,” which is a loose industry term, but probably indicates an alloy with magnesium and other metals.) So, that’s fun.

The Alloy Origins from the side
The body looks like someone stuck a bunch of key switches on a MacBook. Michael Crider

But don’t let the use of a lighter and more brittle material fool you: the Alloy Origins has a damn fine body. With a matte black finish and a single seam along the edges, it feels kind of like a closed Macbook with a bunch of keys sticking out of the top. It’s also surprisingly compact for a full-sized board (that means it has the 10-key area on the right), with only about a quarter-inch of the body sticking out on any one side.

Two shots of the keyboard's two-stage feet
Two different feet options raise the keyboard to 7 or 11 degrees. Michael Crider

Flip the body over, and you’ll see that the bottom is made of plastic. It’s hard to tell at first—it’s a very nice plastic, with a texture and color that’s perfectly matched to the top, but I suspect going full-body would have made this board both too expensive and too heavy. You’ll also see collapsible feet, which can be deployed in two stages: seven-degree and eleven-degree. This is a nice detail that I wouldn’t expect to see on a board in this price range.

a shot of the USB-C cable, removed from the keyboard's C port
The keyboard uses a USB-C cable because it’s 2019, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. Michael Crider

The only other notable feature of the board is the USB cable. It’s braided (yes!), detachable for easy management (yes!), and USB-C (YES YES YES). Do you see a theme here? This is all nice stuff that’s sometimes skipped on gaming-focused keyboards in this range.

Switches and Caps are Just Okay

HyperX is making a big deal about its self-branded mechanical switches, as opposed to the standard Cherry-branded switches on previous models. Our review board comes with HyperX Red switches (linear, no click or bump), which is generally preferred for gaming. Aqua (tactile) and Clicky (blue-ish, but no official color given) switches will be available in 2020.

The keyboard with caps removed and switches exposed.
The keyboard uses HyperX’s self-branded red switches. Michael Crider

These switches are almost certainly coming from a third-party supplier like Kailh or Outemu, and are probably one of the factors keeping the price down on this board. And they’re fine. They feel light and smooth—nothing amazing, but they’re comparable to Red linear switches from other suppliers. They use a standard cross stem with no box and are compatible with any standard keycaps.

The caps supplied on the board are…well, they’re keycaps. ABS plastic is nothing special (compare them to the more premium-feeling PBT plastic on some boards), and they suffer from the stylized and slightly annoying font that’s a pretty standard feature of gaming-branded keyboards. They’re also fine. Not great, not terrible. The RGB lighting shines through them extremely brightly, if you’re into that sort of thing, and they can be replaced with almost any keycap set on the market with a standard layout if you’re not.

A close-up of the illuminated keycaps
Michael Crider

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