The HyperX Alloy Core RGB gaming keyboard is a mixed bag of pros and cons. While it showcases decent value and some cool features, it isn't the best for gaming and definitely lacks in the RGB department.
HyperX started off as a division within Kingston Technology, one of the world's leading memory manufacturers, creating RAM modules tailored towards gaming PCs. However, since its creation back in 2002, HyperX has evolved into more of a peripheral tailored brand - offering a whole plethora of high-end headsets, keyboards, mousepads, and mice.
Today, however, we'll be taking a look at one of their budget keyboard offerings - the HyperX Alloy Core RGB keyboard.
The peripheral market is currently jam-packed with high-end keyboards priced between $100-$200. So when HyperX created this budget alternative, we were excited to see what it could bring to the lower end of the keyboard spectrum - a price point that desperately needed more variety.
We'll be putting the HpyerX Allow core RGB through its paces to see how it stacks up in build quality, features, and gaming. We'll also be looking at how it compares to some of the market leaders, including Corsair's K55 and Redragon's K552.
So, with that in mind, let's waste no further time and get straight into it!
- Nice Design - Overall, a nice looking design when considering the price
- Dedicated media keys - Probably the biggest plus. This keyboard offers media keys in the top-right, they do feel a little spongey though
- Showcases good value for money - Even though it isn't the best keyboard in the world, it's certainly not the worst, offering decent value for money
- Anti-ghost and Key Rollover - Two useful features that help eradicate unregistered keypresses - great for gaming
- Build Quality - Full plastic design that isn't the most robust
- RGB is fairly basic - Limited options to customize and no built-in software
Keyboard Size & Weight
- Weight: 1121g
- Size: Full Size
- Length: 443.2mm/ 17.44 inches
- Width: 175.31mm/ 6.9inches
- Height: 35.68mm/ 1.4 inches
- Switches: Membrane Rubber Domes
- OS Support: Windows 7,8,10
- Media keys: Yes
- RGB: Full RGB
- Passthrough: No
- Connection: Wired
- Cable length: 1.8 m
- Cable: Braided
What's In The Box
HyperX has kept the box as simple as possible, offering a red/white color theme and some generic branding for the most part. The back showcases some of the major specs that come with this keyboard, along with some of the features it has to offer. Inside, the keyboard is secured by a fairly thin piece of cardboard, and we find the following items inside.
Inside we get:
- HyperX Allow Core RGB Keyboard
- HyperX Manual
- Welcome Notes
The HyperX Allow Core RGB is a full-sized keyboard that boasts a fairly elaborate design when compared against some of the other options within this price point. It offers a predominantly black color theme that is accented by vibrant RGB across all keys and a small strip above the F-buttons. The HyperX logo is branded at the top of the keyboard in a chrome style finish - contrasting nicely with the black background. The top left of the keyboard offers RGB customization buttons, whereas the right hosts your dedicated media keys - something we'll touch upon in more detail shortly.
The Alloy Core is made almost entirely from plastic, but that's pretty much what we can expect from this price point, across the board. The plastic behind the keys has been finished with a light matte roughness, whereas the bottom of the keyboard offers some grip thanks to well designed row-style grooves. Another smaller HyperX logo can be found at the base of the keyboard which looks quite cool as well.
As far as shape is concerned, the Alloy Core has been squared off at the top and angled at the bottom, giving it a slight edge which I quite enjoy. It must be said, this keyboard is pretty large when comparing to, well, most other keyboards. It's certainly bigger than the Razer Blackwidow we just reviewed, and much taller as well.
The underside of this keyboard is fairly generic and doesn't really offer anything in terms of design features. There are no cable management routes or USB/Audio passthrough options either. There are four rubber feet that help stabilize this keyboard, and they work quite well on most surfaces. They can be popped out to raise the rear of the keyboard, but only come with one height setting. The cable is 1.8m long and is made up of a braided material that feels both robust and non-abrasive.
Overall, as far as budget keyboards go, this has to be one of the best looking out there. The RGB certainly elevates the look of this keyboard, making it look more expensive than it actually is.
On the downside, the plastic doesn't feel the most robust. It had quite a bit of bend when doing our quality tests, something we didn't see as much in other plastic boards. Furthermore, I've only been using this keyboard for around three days, and I can already see a healthy amount of dirt build-up in the bottom grooves. Having said that, it is easily wiped clean, but still a point worth noting.
Like any hardware offering, the HyperX Alloy Core RGB keyboard comes with a bunch of features and benefits designed to improve the overall user-experience of this board. However, considering its price point, it'll be interesting to see what features it brings to the table. At this price, the features can really make or break a keyboard.
So, with that in mind, let's get into it!
Let's start off by taking a closer look at the switches that come with the HyperX Alloy Core RGB keyboard. Unfortunately, this keyboard does not offer mechanical switches. Instead, HyperX has equipped the Alloy Core with membrane Dome switches which are much less responsive and spongier for the most part.
Now, there are keyboards out that (in this price range - Redragon K552) do offer mechanical switches. However, most of the time, you'll find that the manufacturer has to drastically reduce overall build quality/ onboard features to be able to incorporate those switches. So, you have one of two options. Either you get mechanical switches, and not much else, or you get the spongier membrane rubber dome switches, along with some on-board features.
In this case, HyperX has gone for membrane. Which, yeah, don't feel amazing when gaming - especially if you've just made the switch from a mechanical keyboard. They feel relatively slow in terms of response and don't really offer any tactile feel. On the plus side, these keys are extremely quiet. If you're looking for a keyboard to use for office work, but also like to game on the side, the membrane dome switch might be exactly what you're looking for.
Like many of today's popular gaming keyboards, the Alloy Core comes with its own brand of RGB lightning. Very nice. That being said, it is fairly lacking in terms of customization compared to the competition. Unlike other keyboards in this price range (Razer Cynosa & Corsair K55) which have dedicated software packages for onboard profiles and RGB customization, the Alloy Core only offers a selection of onboard presets that can be toggled using the RGB buttons in the top left.
The HyperX Alloy core only has five RGB lighting zones and six preset options to choose from - so pretty lacking if truth be told. Having said that, it does offer good amounts of brightness and a gaming aesthetic. Ultimately, if you've never used RGB before, you'll probably be happy with what this provides. However, there are much better alternatives out there.
Media keys are hugely functional and popular amongst consumers in today's peripheral market. However, not every keyboard comes equipped with handy dedicated media keys. Fortunately, this is one 0f the big benefits you get when purchasing the Alloy Core keyboard.
Found on the right-hand side of the keyboard, users will have access to volume controls, skip, play/pause, previous, and stop media keys. When I first plugged the keyboard in, I actually noticed that the media keys weren't registering. However, after a quick restart, they worked just fine. I did notice that the media keys themselves felt very spongey and not very well made, which was a little annoying. Overall though, I felt they definitely added something to this keyboard and weren't the worst I've ever experienced.
Anti-Ghosting & Key Rollover
From a gaming point of view, the best feature this keyboard offers has to be the anti-ghosting and key rollover features. Keyboard ghosting is when a keypress is not registered when several keys are pressed at the same time. Key rollover is a feature that ensures every keypress is registered no matter how many keys are pressed. This is great if you play games that require elaborate key binds or several keys to be pressed simultaneously. It's also great for "button bashing" games, as I like to call them.
Key rollover does come in a number of different forms, however. Most range from two keypresses to an entire board. The Alloy Core offers 6 key rollover, more than enough for most gaming scenarios.
Like many membrane keyboards, the HyperX Alloy offers a spill-resistant layer that has the capacity to take up to 120ml of liquid. Now, I'm not 100% sure what liquid was used, or whether the test was even performed, but that's what HyperX claim.
I was pretty intrigued by this, so, naturally, I decided to bathe the keyboard in 120ml of water. After doing so, I dried it out, and to my surprise, everything worked fine. Fair play. I'm not sure I would have had the same effects if it was a hot coffee or Mountain Dew, but I suppose only time will tell on that one. It's a nice feature to have regardless.
So, onto the hands-on results. This is the section where we run the keyboard through a number of different gaming scenarios to see how it performs. Let's jump on in.
Being an avid PC gamer, I like to have the best equipment at my fingertips when it comes to peripherals. I personally enjoy very responsive, accurate, and punchy key switches - anything else is considered a bit disappointing when it comes to gaming. So, going from my snazzy Ducky Miya Sakura to the HyperX Alloy Core was less than desirable. At first, I won't lie, it was not good. Moving from mechanical switches to membrane is a terrible move to make, however, for review purposes, I persevered. I'll try not to compare this to my Ducky and have a more open-minded, unbiased opinion on it.
I started off by playing CS:GO - my go-to game. The first thing I noticed when playing was how spongey the rubber domes felt. I mean, it wasn't that obvious when typing, but when gaming, it became much more apparent. As far as responsiveness went, I couldn't' really tell the difference between this and other keyboards of a similar price. They felt relatively responsive and accurate - albeit with a slightly harder actuation force needed for each keypress. Another factor I picked up on was the spring back force. I felt that other membrane keyboards offered slightly more in this department, aiding in rapid tapping on a single key. Overall, I thought the keyboard was OK when it came to FPS shooters as a whole.
We tried a couple of MMO titles after this. Let's be honest, a keyboard that doesn't come with macro keys is never going to be the best for MMO. Having said that, the key rollover definitely seemed to kick in at times and worked well whilst playing games like WOW. Ultimately, though, there just wasn't enough functionality to play MMO type games. Even the Razer BlackWidow offered a HyperShift function which theoretically doubles the number of available keys on the board. No such feature can be found on the Alloy Core, however.
Playing with the RGB was a past-time that lasted mere minutes. To reiterate what we've already touched on, the Alloy Core does not offer the greatest range of presets and customization as far as RGB is concerned. You do have the option to reduce the brightness or simply turn it off altogether - a feature one member of our team appreciated greatly. On the plus side, I did actually enjoy the brightness of the RGB on this board, even if the presets were fairly basic.
We finally come to our final thoughts of this budget gaming keyboard. This is where we give our final impression on this board and whether or not we feel it's worth your consideration.
So, the HyperX Alloy Core RGB gaming keyboard. Let's start with my biggest gripe. This is the entry version of the Alloy Core series and has been named the RGB by HyperX. So, you'd expect them to spend a decent amount of time ensuring the RGB was up-to-scratch - which, unfortunately, was not the case here. Annoyingly, the RGB was lacking against similarly priced alternatives.
On a more positive note, I feel after a decent amount of usage, the membrane dome switches aren't the worst thing ever made. I mean, they're nothing on mechanical switches, of course, but this is a keyboard that retails for $50. The membrane switches on this board felt fairly responsive and quite accurate - to the naked eye anyway. So thumbs up in this department.
The bottom line is, if you're a first-time gamer, or someone looking for a cheap board that offers fairly rudimentary features, this could very well be a nice fit for your needs. It offers a bit of RGB, spill-resistant underlining, dedicated media keys (big plus), and some cool overall aesthetics.
However, if you've played games for a while and need a keyboard that's going to take your game to the next level, this probably isn't the keyboard for you.