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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note that HyperX goes for a sleek layout that doesn’t have dedicated media keys, and its indicator lights hang out on a glossy panel in the upper right corner. If you demand always-on media controls, you’ll want to program them in the software or go with a different option.
Lighting and Software
RGB lighting has become almost standard on gaming sets these days, and the Alloy Origins has it. The lights are on the keys, with nothing particularly flashy beyond it—no ring of LEDs around the side or glowing onto your desk from the bottom, for example. The lights that are there are bright, but not blinding, and they’re adequate for illuminating the sub-legends on the built-in function keys.
Without installing the HyperX management software, you can get a rainbow effect, solid but shifting colors, or a splash of color that only activates around an area after a key is pressed. (Which defeats the purpose of having key backlighting, but what are you going to do? Gamers aren’t practical when it comes to lighting.) Once you install the NGENUITY desktop app, you get access to ten different lighting effects. These can be tweaked in terms of colors and speed, stacked on top of each other for some really weird effects, and linked to specific game profiles.
The software is pretty bare-bones in terms of lighting features, compared to more elaborate options from competitors that can link into smarthome systems or fully-fledged programming APIs. That’s not a problem for me since I turn them off anyway. But if you want a keyboard that can alert you when your smart microwave is finished cooking your Hot Pocket, this isn’t it.
The key programming options are similarly Spartan but cover pretty much everything you need. All the usual Windows functions and multimedia controls are supported (though, of course, changing anything up means that the function legends on your keyboard will be wrong), and macros can be programmed and linked to games or desktop apps. Reprogramming is a little tricky since you’ll need to click outside the current setting to apply it; weirdly, there’s no confirmation button.
The Alloy Origins does feature internal memory on the keyboard itself, something that’s not a given. Apply the settings, and you can move your keyboard around (or uninstall the software) and still have access to a maximum of three mapping and lighting profiles.
A Great Value Contender
In terms of software features or switch design, the Alloy Origins is unremarkable. And that’s fine, assuming you don’t need anything fancy. But its hardware design is great, thanks to that wonderful aluminum body, multiple options for feet levels, and a braided, removable USB-C cord.
This board doesn’t have any wireless options, newfangled removable modular switches, or keys activated by optical mechanisms. But it doesn’t really need them. It does exactly what it says on the box…or at least it will, once the choices for tactile and clicky switches become available sometime later.
Finding a keyboard with a body this solid typically puts you into the $150-200 range, making the Alloy Origins’ $110 price tag seem like a steal. If you’re looking for a solid board that doesn’t try to do anything too crazy, it’s a good choice at an excellent price.
Here’s What We Like
- Aluminum body
- Compact design
- Multiple feet options
- Braided, removable USB-C cable
And What We Don't
- No dedicated media controls
- ABS keycaps
- Only one switch choice at launch