The Alloy Origins Core is the newest addition to the HyperX keyboards line-up, we are going to open it up and examine it all both from the inside and from the outside. One of the biggest differences from its predecessor - the Alloy FPS - is the fact that it uses HyperX proprietaries switches which are brand new in the mechanical keyboard market.
We are examining the Core version which is the name HyperX gave to its TKL version of the Full-Size Origins, that should be the only difference in a keyboard that is supposed to compete in the high-end market of gaming keyboards.
HyperX Alloy Origins Core Review
The first thing you think when you pick it on your hands is that it is a premium product, the finish of the metal plate is extremely well done and it really enforces the "high-end" aspect, the round changers on all edges might be also be helping in the feel.
It's backside is also made of military grade aliminum with rounded edges. The back side of the keyboard can be raised and there are 2 steps of elevation, both of which have rubber domes on them.
The cable is removable and uses a USB-C to USB-A connector something that should have already become a standard on all keyboards by now. The good side of that is that you can bring one less cable in case you are travelling somewhere with your computer, and that is always a plus to me. It is 1.8 meters long and is braided in Nylon, so it will probably last a while.
Now we go to one of the most important aspects of a keyboard: the keycaps. They are the part you touch the most and are frequently ignored by many manufacturers.
Even though we can already find very cheap keyboards that are already making use of double-shot keycaps, HyperX has not yet made the move, and that is not something we would like to see in a 89.99USD keyboard.
What we find on top of the Alloy Origins Core is a standard laser-etched ABS keycaps that won't tear apart in the next year or so but also won't last 5 years or more, which is what double-shot keycaps can easily last, specially if they are well made (like the PBT ones found in the Razer Huntsman TE).
Even though the printing methods have improved substantially in the last couple of years it is still no match to the durability and strength that DS made ones have, and when finding those on sub 40USD keyboards becomes a normal thing, asking for HyperX to do it as well is the least I can do.
Then the next step is to open the keyboard and take a look at its PCB, soldering and see if the internals match the external finish.
Gallery at the end of section
Now it is time to talk about what we can find inside the keyboard, this is one of the key parts of the review as it directly relates to how long the keyboard will last and how well made it is. A keyboard with a well designed PCB and nice soldering will take you far, but if one of those is not properly made it might not last long.
Happily the beauty is not only outside for the Alloy Origins Core, here we can find a nice and well organized dark PCB with a pretty good job on soldering the switches to the board as well, there are very few soldering points with just a bit much of tin but nothing that is excessive or that can cause a problem in the long run.
As for the controller we find a Sonix SN32F247B which is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 with 8KB of RAM and 64KB of flash memory. It handles the internal profiles - three in total - as well as the lighting effects that are built into the keyboard.
When we take a look at the LEDs we will find SMD 5060 models - though I am not 100% sure of that as I did not remove the silicon tops to avoid damage as I have to return this keyboard to HyperX.
The USB-C connector is fixed onto the PCB, so in case it goes bad it will be very quite complicated to be replaced, however I doubt it will be needed if taken good care of.
One curiosity that we could find is that the same PCB designed is used in more than one model and that has a direct correlation to where it is sold. In the Brazilian version for instance we get some special letters such as Ç, and therefore we find the 89-key ticked in the PCB, however if you get it in the US you should be greeted with the 87-key version.
In general the keyboard is very well made inside, the soldered joints are well done - not the best, but it shouldn't cause issues - and the PCB seems to be in nice shape. It is not completely clean inside but that little bit of residue is not harmful in any way.
Now here is the star of the show: the new switches that HyperX designed and began using in this very model. In our example we got the Red variant which is a linear switch with 45g of actuation force, actuation point at 1.8mm and total travel of 3.8mm, very similar to the Cherry MX Red that we can find in many other keyboards. There is also an Aqua variant which is inspired in the Cherry MX Blue switches and has a tactile feeling and clicky sound as well.
My first impressions when I used it for the first time were pretty good actually, they feel very well lubricated and are smooth during the whole travel of the switch. There have been some talks that Gateron actually helped the brand develop the switches, but there is nothing that guarantees it, they are just rumors.
Even though the Red switch is based on the Cherry MX counterpart its weight is completely different, and that is a good thing - at least for me. The Cherry Reds are to light for me and I end up accidentally pressing keys when resting my fingers on them so the bit of extra weight only helps out.
The brand claims around 80 Million presses and if we go by that it should last a long long time, as Cherry's can last over 10 years easily and are rated for "only" 50 Million presses but unfortunately only time will tell. Since our original review in portuguese on the 28th of February it has not failed, but two months is a very short time for a mechanical keyboard.
This is the aspect of the keyboard that received a bug chunk of attention from the company, the lighting in this keyboard is already stunning looking through the camera and it gets even better when you can see it in person. The lights are very bright and well spread throughout the whole keyboard even without a white backplate.
The physical part of the lighting in the keyboard has been very well done, but unfortunately the software side hasn't. The Software made by HyperX (NGenuity) is very poorly optimized and most effects don't work properly or simply don't work at all, you also don't get any kind of support for music visualizer, in-game interaction and other things that most keyboards around this price have.
You'll be kinda stuck on the presets that are included in the keyboard, which is not exactly a bad thing but surely disappointing when you see so much potential being wasted, at least right now. Maybe when the Software is updated this part of the review might change, but right now this is what you get.
And this is where the it is let down by HyperX, and unfortunately not by little. To begin with you have to get it from the Microsoft Store - for us it is not a big deal, but if you use anything older than Windows 10 that will be an annoyance - and that is by far not the biggest deal.
The actual issue is that the problem is full of glitches and bugs, there have been numerous reports that the software has completely bricked the keyboard and they had to be sent back to HyperX for fixing, and that almost happened to our unit as well.
Another thing is that you MUST leave the program RUNNING in order to have the modifications applied and working, if you change anything in your lighting or a macro key you cannot close the program or leave it minimized in the taskbar, otherwise it will just reset to its factory settings, and that for 2020 is a big "no no".
Besides that you can create macros and change some lighting effects, but that's about it. No extensive customization, no Hertz changes, no turn-off LEDs option for being AFK or anything like that.
In my opinion you'll be better off without downloading the NGenuity software, at least for now while it is at a Beta stage. Maybe when the brand updates it to a decent level you should have another go, but for now I do not suggest it at all.
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a good one and HyperX has made a good job at bringing a good product not only at its price point but also in general, and that is what we like to see. It is of course not perfect as the keycaps are not the best out there, but you can easily get a PBT doubleshot set anywhere from 15 to 40 bucks, so even if they don't last long you can still get a "better" deal than the Razer Huntsman TE.
It might not be the best option out there when we talk about pure quality as I would give it to the Akko 3108 that costs the same but has fewer features, and that is something that is important to many who are shopping for a mechanical keyboard. Going along with Akko we can also find Ducky and its One 2 model, if long term usage and extreme quality is what you are looking for then this is the one to go for. You will lose RGB and Software, but will get more basically everywhere else, so I would personally go with one of these (I actually went for a Ducky One 2 Rainbow Full-Size as my main keyboard 3 years ago and it still feels and looks like brand new).
As direct competition with we can find the Cooler Master CK530 with Gateron switches and double-shot keycaps. The lighting is not on the level of the Origins, but it is also the best I have seen in that department yet. You still get software support, TKL form factor and metal plate underneath the keycaps, very similar in build quality in the end.
If you get this keyboard or any of the mentioned above you should have a pretty good experience overall and probably won't disappoint you, but be mindful of the few issues that were pointed out in this review.
- Excellent external build quality
- Excellent illumination
- USB-C detachable cable
- Decently priced
- Laser-etched ABS Keycaps
- Software is REALLY bad (at the time of writing this review)