HyperX, the former gaming division of Kingston (now owned by HP) is known for its gaming mechanical keyboards, among other things. The Alloy Origins Core is HyperX trying to create a no-nonsense mid-range TKL mechanical keyboard for both gaming and typing. A keyboard equipped with their very own HyperX mechanical switches. Did the company achieve its goal? Find out below.
What’s In The Box
The keyboard comes in a compact cardboard box that, once opened, reveals the board itself protected by a plastic wrap. Above it, packed inside another cardboard box, is the USB-C cable for the keyboard. And that’s it. Since this isn’t a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard there are no keycap and switch pullers. Nor do you get extra keycaps, which we found in some past HyperX keyboards (like the original Alloy Elite that came with extra WASD and 1234 keys).
In other words, the package contents are spartan but the box itself is sturdy. It will endure impacts and will keep the keyboard safe. On the other hand, HyperX could’ve put the cable alongside the keyboard. Instead, the company used another, smaller, box inside the main box for the USB-C cable.
The cable itself is of high quality. It’s long enough for any setup you might have and quite thick. It’ll come out of any ruffle undamaged. Now, the braiding makes the cable a bit too rigid. This isn’t an issue in regular use unless you tend to move your keyboard around the desk all the time. But the cable is tightly packed, and by this, we mean aggressively folded and secured by two rubber bands. It’ll take some time before it straightens up. Until then, you’ll have to deal with quality yet angled cable that won’t limit movement but could create issues if your PC isn’t too close to your desk.
Build Quality & Design
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a no-frills TKL keyboard. It doesn’t include a numeric keypad, making it more compact and better suited for gamers since it allows more space for mice movements. The keyboard has almost a low-profile form factor but the regular height of the keycaps makes it look like a regular TKL mechanical keyboard.
We like the aluminum body, which is 100 percent metal on both the top and the bottom side. The two aluminum plates are tightly screwed one to another, with the point of contact having no space between the two plates. In other words, HyperX did a great job when it comes to the keyboard’s rigidity. This is further confirmed when we tried to bend and flex the board. You have to really put your strength into it and even then, you’ll get minimal, almost non-existent flex. Again, great job by HyperX.
The keyboard itself is heavier than expected, weighing at about 850 grams. This is plenty for a TKL keyboard and makes it feel substantial and well-made while held in hands. The top aluminum plate has a soft coating on its surface. This makes touching the surface quite pleasant. On the flip side, the soft coating is a dust magnet. Not only that, but it also makes dust harder to come off. This means you’ll have to clean it regularly if you don’t want for it to get covered in dust after a couple of weeks.
As you can see, you won’t find any extra keys here. The front of the board is minimalistic, with only two white LEDs notifying you when Caps Lock is on and if the Windows key is locked. You can find the extra functions on the F row, with the up and down arrows used for increasing and decreasing the intensity of the RGB lighting. Personally, we like this layout but we know that many people love to see a volume knob and dedicated media keys.
On the back of the keyboard, you can find four rubber squares that keep the keyboard still on any surface. They’re supplemented with plastic, two-stage prop up feet featuring two rubber patches on their ends. The prop up feet feel very sturdy and impossible to remove from their sockets. The slope of the keyboard is only a couple of degrees (3 degrees, to be precise) by default. For the best typing and gaming experience, we suggest using the prop up feet. The first stage props the keyboard to 7 degrees, with the second one creating an 11-degree slope.
The low-profile body combined with regular, ISO keycaps, means that the HyperX Alloy Origins Core doesn’t require a wrist rest. We used the keyboard for about two weeks before writing this review and not once did we feel the need for a wrist rest. That said, if you do need a wrist rest, make sure you get one that’s not too tall due to the low-profile body of the keyboard.
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a wired keyboard, featuring a removable USB-C cable, which we always like to see. The position of the cable could’ve been better. It’s placed on the left side of the keyboard, which means it can get in the way of your mouse movements in case you’re using a wired mouse. This is a small nitpick but if you make a gaming keyboard, make sure the cable goes on the middle or on the right side of the body.
Another small annoyance is that the USB-C port on the keyboard is tucked inside a niche that isn’t very wide. In other words, if you happen to lose the original cable or if it somehow stops working, not all USB-C cables will be able to fit inside the niche. For instance, when we tried to use different cables only one of three managed to fit inside the crevice. So, be careful when and if you replace the original cable.
Since this is a regular, mass-produced mechanical keyboard, it doesn’t include hot-swap features. The hover-style placement of the switches is perfect for the keyboard’s RGB. Once turned on, RGB looks fantastic. It bounces off the plate itself, as well as of the switches, creating a very bright and very cool effect. On top of that, the per-key RGB seen on the HyperX Alloy Origins Core is one of the best RGB implementations we’ve seen on a mechanical keyboard.
RGB LEDs are, as we already noted, very bright but they also emit highly saturated colors. You have four levels of brightness and, for us at least, the second level is more than enough. Max illumination level is super bright and it can leave a visible reflection on your monitor at night. Overall, the whole RGB-friendly design of the keyboard makes RGB implementation shine (pun intended) brighter than on any other keyboard we saw. Overall, top-of-the-line RGB.
The keyboard comes with three pre-installed RGB effects but you can create your own in the HyperX Ngenuity software (more on that later). The only, very small, downside we found regarding RGB is the fact that switches throw a red shade when using while illumination. It’s visible but it doesn’t bother us. That said, we can see how others might not like it. Since the keyboard features hovering switches, you’ll get this effect no matter which switches you pick. The only difference will be the color of the shade (blue with clicky switches and turquoise with tactile ones). Now, let’s talk about keycaps, switches, and stabilizers.
Keycaps, Switches, & Stabilizers
The keycaps are, along with the awful software, the biggest downside of the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. They’re made of ABS plastic and, while they’re covered in a soft coating that’s pleasant to the touch, the coating will disappear over time, replaced by that ABS shine that’s a magnet for finger grease. We have used the Alloy Elite for years and can say, after a while, keycaps do not feel great.
They’re not the thickest keycaps we’ve seen but they also aren’t very thin. Overall, they make for a nice sound when typing. Just remember, since these are ABS keycaps the pitch is higher than when using PBT keycaps. Next, the print method used is laser etching. Again, this isn’t the worst keycap print method but it also isn’t the best. That said, you don’t have to worry about legends getting washed out. While they’re shiny and finger grease magnets, keycaps on our Alloy Elite are easily readable without even a single sign of them starting to fade.
The font used on the keycaps is super clear and the print quality is excellent. Unlike what we have seen on the Keychron K2. We like the font; it’s super clean and without sharp angles, unlike on many other gaming keyboards. The secondary functions on the F and arrow keys are readable even on the lowest brightness level, which is great to see. With RGB turned off, keys are visible in an average to well-lit room during the day; you can see even the secondary functions without issues. But once darkness falls, illumination is a must if you want to see which keys you’re pressing.
As for the switches, they’re pretty good. Our model features linear switches made by HyperX. These have an incredible lifespan of 80 million keystrokes, at least according to HyperX. This is great when compared to Cherry MX switches, certified for 50 million keystrokes. The switches have Cherry style stems, allowing you to use most custom keycap sets. Combined with Cherry or XDA keycaps, you can get an almost-low profile keyboard thanks to the slim aluminum body.
The HyperX switches have their actuation point set at 1.8mm and a total travel distance of 3.8mm. This is technically shorter than on Cherry MX switches (2mm actuation point, 4mm total travel distance) but we doubt anyone will notice the difference in real usage. If you want a keyboard with ultra-fast switches, either get a low-profile one (where the actuation point is set at about 1-1.2mm) or a keyboard with optical switches. Switches have some degree of wobble. It’s less pronounced than on Gateron Yellow and Brown, making the HyperX Red switches very stable.
They’re pretty smooth when typing. Not as buttery as, let’s say, Gateron Ink Black but about the same as Gateron Yellow. This means they feel fine even without lubing them, good news since this isn’t a hot-swappable keyboard. The see-through housing combined with RGB LEDs that are physically part of the housing is great for the RGB experience that’s, as we already said, fantastic.
Stabilizers found on the HyperX Alloy Origins Core are a noticeable improvement compared to older models. They’re much less rattly and feel pretty good out of the box. This isn’t just an improvement compared to older HyperX models, but also when compared to the gaming keyboards offered by big brands such as Razer and Corsair. Overall, these are one of the best stabilizers we’ve seen on a massively produced keyboard.
You can also lube them since there are improv methods for lubing non-removable stabilizers. We did that and the result is outstanding. Once lubed, the stabilizers are pretty quiet, with almost zero rattle, and with great feeling when typing. You’ll still hear very quiet rattling sounds, especially when pressing the spacebar but overall, this is a vast improvement over the out-of-the-box stabilizer experience.
Typing Experience & Software
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is great both for gaming and typing. First of all, the HyperX Red are linear switches with relatively short travel distance and actuation force set at 45 grams. This is the same actuation force found on Cherry MX Red and Brown, as well as Gateron Red, and only 5 grams lighter than on Gateron Yellow. In other words, HyperX Red switches are easy to press, which is great for gaming.
The fact that these are fairly smooth switches with little wobble makes them great for typing also. While many people prefer tactile switches while typing, we have to say these are great typing companions. We still prefer lubed Gateron Yellows but these are very close, which is an avid result given these aren’t lubed. Finally, the switches are pretty quiet, which makes for an even better typing experience. It’s almost like using silent switches.
The almost-silent switches improve the overall typing experience, but also the typing sound. The sound is very pleasant also thanks to the lubed stabilizers and the aluminum body. The body feels solid and very dense which translates into zero ping and no hollow feeling you often get on budget mechanical keyboards but also many mid-range models, like on the aforementioned Keychron K2, which features the 75% form factor. With the HyperX Alloy Origins Core, you get the same experience as on a heavily modded budget hot-swap keyboard.
As we already said, the slim profile means you won’t need a wrist rest. We typed and played various games for hours at a time and didn’t even once wish we had a wrist rest. The keyboard comes with a Windows key lock so you won’t accidentally press it when typing or gaming, which is another small but important plus.
Introduce the ABS keycaps into the equation and you get a fantastic typing experience. Smooth and fairly silent switches, amazing – for a mass-produced keyboard – stabilizers once you lube them, dense aluminum body, and the smooth coating on the topside of the plate create one of the best overall typing experiences you can find on a big brand keyboard.
Of course, you could buy PBT keycaps and get that deeper, thocky sound. HyperX has its own PBT pudding keycaps that are perfect for users who like RGB since, with pudding keycaps, the fantastic RGB experience becomes even better. These PBT pudding keycaps would fit perfectly with a white mechanical keyboard but, sadly, HyperX only offers it in black color.
If RGB isn’t that important to you, get a budget PBT keycap set and you’ll end up with the same thocky sound. Technically, you can get a better experience when buying a custom keyboard. The thing is, that enjoyment costs many times the price of the HyperX Origins Core.
Now, let’s talk about the sole major downside of the HyperX Origins Core, the awful Ngenuity software. First of all, the software is only available on the Microsoft Store and it’s still labeled as Beta despite it being out in the wild for years. That said, given the number of issues we encountered, HyperX could’ve just called it Alpha version.
For instance, if you want to switch between the three available lighting effects, you can only do it after you close the app. You can create new effects, and the app will save them, but to actually use them, you have to close the app. While Ngenuity is open, you can only use the currently active RGB effect. Next, while the app has a number of presets and supports creating new ones, they aren’t doing anything. No matter which preset you pick, the app will save new effects in all presets at once. In other words, the RGB presets are broken.
Finally, when you create a breathing RGB effect, it works flawlessly while the app is open. Once you close the app – to be able to cycle through the available effects, for instance – the breathing effect becomes broken. While one side of the LEDs works great, the other half flickers constantly. If you find that the breathing effect doesn’t work, it’s probably software, not a hardware bug. So, yes, the Nguity software is a broken app that noticeably dents our overall impression regarding the HyperX Alloy Origins Core.
HyperX Alloy Origins Core – Conclusion
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is available with linear, tactile, and clicky switches. At its current price, it’s a steal. The keyboard’s built like a tank and has one of the best RGB implementations we’ve seen on a mechanical keyboard. Next, a removable USB-C port is always a plus, especially at this price. The design is slick and, with the right keycap set, you can transform it into a quasi-low profile mechanical keyboard.
The HyperX switches are pretty good linear switches. They’re great both for gaming and typing, are fairly quiet, and feel excellent under the fingers. ABS keycaps could’ve been better but at least the font is clean, they sound nice, and if you want you can get the keyboard bundled with the HyperX PBT pudding keycap set. Overall, the typing experience is excellent thanks to the combination of quiet linear switches, nice-sounding keycaps, and an aluminum body that’s extremely dense, resulting in zero rattle and no hollow feeling while typing.
Stabilizers are also great, for a mass-produced keyboard. They rattle a bit but if you spend a couple of minutes to lube them, the result is phenomenal. The USB-C port is tucked away in a niche so not all cables will fit. The cable itself might seem too rigid, but at least it’s quite long and of high quality. The only major downside of the HyperX Alloy Origins Core is the Nginuity software that’s, in the lack of better words, plain thrash.
At the end of the day, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a fantastic TKL mechanical keyboard that’s perfect both for typists and gamers. The HyperX Origins family also offers a full-sized version in case you need the numerical keypad and a 60% model that comes with PBT keycaps out of the box, for those who like smaller form factors. It’s too bad we don’t have a 65% Alloy Origins keyboard; that one would certainly be one of the best 65% mechanical keyboards on the market.
- Superb build quality
- HyperX Red are excellent linear switches
- Top notch RGB Implementation
- Excellent typing experience
- Removable USB-C port
- Slick, quasi-low-profile design
- Placement and dimensions of the USB-C port
- Ngenuity is an awful piece of software
- Keycaps could’ve been better