Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Keyboard Review (Cherry MX Red)

by Reads (840)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 8
      • Features
      • 6
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Durability
      • 8
      • Utility
      • 6
      • Functionality
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 7.17
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Excellent tactile feedback
    • Sturdy, attractive design
    • Detachable braided cable
    • Includes carry case
  • Cons

    • No software configuration utility
    • Single-color keyboard backlighting
    • Lacks dedicated media control keys
    • Still noisier than a membrane keyboard

HyperX is Kingston’s gaming brand. They primarily offer high-performance PC components, including RAM, solid-state storage, and USB flash drives. More recently, they started offering peripherals like headsets and keyboards. The subject of this review is the Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS, a full-size desktop keyboard featuring mechanical switches and backlighting.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS

Kingston offers the Alloy FPS keyboard with three different kinds of Cherry MX mechanical switches, the first of which is the Cherry MX Blue. Of the available choices, these require the highest amount of actuation force (the amount of pressure needed to push the key down) and make the most noise. The noise was our biggest complaint when we reviewed the Alloy FPS keyboard with those switches.

The second type of switch is the one that’s in our Alloy FPS review keyboard this time around, the Cherry MX Red. By comparison, these switches require the least amount of actuation force, and makes the least amount of noise from the available choices. The last switch Kingston offers is the Cherry MX Brown, which is between the Blue and the Red switches when it comes to actuation force and noise. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong choice; it mostly comes down to personal preference. We’ll talk more about the typing experience later in this review.

The HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard retails for $99 across the board, regardless of the type of switches inside. As we’ll detail in the review, we think this is on the expensive side, but you’re definitely getting a high-quality product. Let’s take a look.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Build and Design

The Alloy FPS looks more upscale than the typical desktop keyboard. The keys are all full-size and full-height, as we’d expect, but there’s no border around the keyboard’s frame. This lets you see under the edges of each key for a modern look. This design furthermore makes the keyboard easier to clean and keep clean.

When the backlighting is turned on, the base of each key appears to glow.

The keyboard frame is rigid and inflexible, The upper part is made from steel, while the bottom cover is sturdy plastic. The two halves fit together perfectly, with almost no gap in between. The four corners of the keyboard are also smoothed off just right.

The underside of the keyboard has four rectangular rubber feet to keep the Alloy FPS from sliding around. The two swing-out tabs elevate the back of the keyboard about 10 degrees off the surface. That’s not a lot, but it was enough for us. The tabs have rubber feet on them, as well.

The USB cable for this keyboard is detachable. Detachable cables are one of our favorite features on keyboards, as they allow for easier transport, and also allow you to replace just the cable instead of the entire keyboard if the cable gets damaged. The braided cable included with the Alloy FPS feels tough and durable. We liked the checkered black and red pattern. The cable’s connection point at the back right of the keyboard can be inconvenient, depending on where you want to route it; we’d almost prefer to see it center-mounted.

A USB Type-A charging port is available next to where the cable connects. This is nice to see on a slim keyboard like the Alloy FPS, which typically forego extra ports. Note the port provides power only, not data, meaning it isn’t a USB hub. We were slightly disappointed by this.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Typing Experience

We found that the Alloy FPS keyboard offered an outstanding tactile experience. The Cherry MX Red switches don’t require much more actuation force than the typical off-the-shelf membrane keyboard, like the ones you’d see included with most desktops. However, the tactile feel of the Cherry MX Red switch is far superior than the typical membrane keyboard. Each keypress has a consistent and sophisticated feel. It’s obvious to your fingers when the key reaches the bottom of its travel.

Next to a typical membrane keyboard, the Cherry MX Red switches in the Alloy FPS make significantly more sound when pressed. The keypresses aren’t quite as loud as snapping your fingers, but that comparison isn’t far off. Keep in mind that the Cherry MX Red is the quietest of the switches offered in the Alloy FPS, so these are the go-to choice if you need to maintain a lower profile. Regardless, there’s no way someone in the vicinity won’t be able to hear you typing on this keyboard. To understand the level of noise, it’s best to try a mechanical keyboard out in person before buying if at all possible.

The Alloy FPS does well in terms of keyboard layout. It’s pretty much exactly as you would expect a desktop keyboard to be laid out, with a couple of extras. The first of these is the Gaming mode, allowing you to disable or enable the Windows key by pressing the Fn + F12 keyboard shortcut. The Fn key is located two keys to the right of the space bar. A status LED above the number pad illuminates in red when Gaming mode is enabled. There is no status LED for Scroll Lock, though there is for Num Lock and Caps Lock.

The Fn key also works with F6 through F11 for media control shortcuts, such as skipping forward and back, and raising and lowering the volume. We prefer to see dedicated media keys for convenience; four of them could have fit just above the number pad. The competing Corsair Strafe and SteelSeries Apex M500 don’t offer dedicated media keys, but the G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 does.

The Alloy FPS keyboard has backlighting only in red; the color isn’t customizable. It’s not yet common to see a keyboard at or under the $100 mark that offers per-key RGB backlighting, where each key can be changed to a different color, so we don’t view the single-color backlighting as a major drawback. The aforementioned G.Skill Ripjaws KM570 does offer it, but we didn’t find another mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting around the price point of the Alloy FPS.

The backlighting on the Alloy FPS has four brightness levels plus completely off. This is controllable with the Fn key and the up or down arrows. We felt the backlighting was plenty bright for daytime visibility at the highest brightness level. Each key is individually backlit, which looks even and laser-sharp.  We’re not thrilled with the font on the keycaps, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Although the backlighting color isn’t changeable, you can control the pattern using the Fn key and the left or right arrows. The modes include:

  • Static brightness (the default mode).
  • Pulsing; it takes just under five seconds for all the keys to illuminate and then fade out.
  • Light up and fade on keypress, where each key illuminates briefly after it’s been pressed.
  • Ripple effect, where the surrounding keys will illuminate in a wave after being pressed.
  • Visor effect, with the keys illuminating in a vertical band from left to right.
  • Gaming mode; only the 1-4, WASD, left Ctrl, and spacebar are illuminated.

It’s important to note these effects are controlled with the keyboard shortcuts only. There is no software you have to install to get the different backlighting modes to function. This can be a blessing if you use different operating systems, such as Linux, as the backlighting modes will always work. Note that the Alloy FPS has no software configuration utility, which we’ll discuss momentarily.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS with included carry bag

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Included Accessories

Our favorite included accessory is the carry bag. This is perfect for taking the Alloy FPS to LAN parties or general travel. It slips neatly into the carry bag provided the keyboard’s feet are closed, and its cable detached. The cable fits in a pouch on the opposite side of the bag. We liked the large HyperX logo on the front of the bag, and the padded, breathable material the bag is made from.

A key-changing tool and eight spare keycaps are also included. To use the key-changing tool, simply press it down horizontally over a key, then gently pull upward.

It took us only about two minutes to change all eight keycaps.

If you install the red ones, it certainly won’t hide the fact the Alloy FPS is a gaming keyboard. The WASD red keys have a textured surface to help your fingers retain their grip, though the 1234 keys are smooth like the standard black keycaps. The textures make it easier to find the keys by feel.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Wish List Items

In our view, the biggest drawback for the Alloy FPS relative to its competition is its lack of a software configuration utility. This keyboard has no macro creation, and keys can’t be reassigned functions. The competing Corsair Strafe offers both abilities with its Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software, as does the SteelSeries Apex M500 with its SteelSeries Engine software. Both of those keyboards are offered at the same price point as the Alloy FPS, and have approximately the same feature set.

We also wish the Alloy FPS had a set of dedicated media playback keys. The Fn-key combos on this keyboard work well enough, but they’re not as convenient as being able to mute the volume at the press of a single button.

Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS Final Thoughts

From a purely tactile perspective, the HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard has us hooked. The Cherry MX Red mechanical switches in the model we received for review provided responsive, sophisticated feedback. They’re still noisier to press than a typical off-the-shelf membrane keyboard, but aren’t terribly loud like Cherry MX Blue switches. (Those are also offered as an option in the Alloy FPS.)

We also quickly became fans of the sturdy steel frame on this keyboard, and its borderless appearance. Other notable pluses for the Alloy FPS include keyboard shortcut-controlled backlighting patterns, a gaming mode that disables the Windows key, the detachable braided cable, and the included replacement keycaps, key removal tool, and soft carry bag.

The Alloy FPS retails for $99, and that’s what we saw it going for online as we typed this review. We feel this keyboard really should offer a software configuration utility for that amount of money. The Corsair Strafe and SteelSeries Apex M500 keyboards both offer software configuration at the same price, and match the Alloy FPS when it comes to offering Cherry MX Red switches and backlighting. The lack of software on the Alloy FPS means you won’t be able to create macros or reassign key functions. If that kind of functionality is important to you, the lack of it will probably knock this keyboard off your short list.

But if you don’t need software customization, the HyperX Alloy FPS offers a fine typing and gaming experience. It’s a first-rate product the rest of the way.

Pros:

  • Excellent tactile feedback
  • Sturdy, attractive design
  • Detachable braided cable
  • Includes carry case

Cons:

  • No software configuration utility
  • Single-color keyboard backlighting
  • Lacks dedicated media control keys
  • Still noisier than a membrane keyboard



LEAVE A COMMENT

0 Comments

|
All content posted on TechnologyGuide is granted to TechnologyGuide with electronic publishing rights in perpetuity, as all content posted on this site becomes a part of the community.