Two years ago, I reviewed HyperX's Cloud Revolver, a newly-designed headset that branched out from the company's famous Cloud. In that review, I mentioned that I'd briefly tried out the Cloud II, the refreshed edition of HyperX's original. Unfortunately for me, the Cloud II was shipped off as part of a giveaway to some lucky soul, but even in its short time with me, it became the standard of a high-quality gaming headset in my mind.
Since then, a number of Cloud headsets have succeeded the Cloud II, each with slight improvements or added features. The Cloud II left such a lasting impression on me that I've paid close attention to those changes over the years, so when the Cloud Alpha was announced, I was curious to see how it differed from previous Clouds. Thanks to HyperX, I was able to actually get my hands on the Alpha for myself in order to see how well the Cloud has aged and advanced.
The Cloud Alpha barely looks like it has aged a day. Some of the softer edges on the outside of the driver housing have given way to more angular looks, but you probably wouldn't notice without comparing it to a picture of the Cloud in its younger years. HyperX's classic red-and-black look hasn't faded from the Alpha. Some previous Clouds were available in more muted colors, but that isn't the case for the new top dog. Besides the red accents, there isn't anything particularly flashy about the Alpha. You won't catch it trying on any of the LEDs or stealth fighter-esque angles that seem to be all the rage these days. The design is clean and simple. It actually looks like a pair of headphones instead of some sort of sci-fi headgear.
The Alpha's only noticeable visual change is the presence of a number of cut-outs in the metal connecting arms from the headband to the earcups. The Alpha has actually lost some weight, and the cutouts are at least partially responsible for that. The Alpha weighs in at 0.7 lbs, or 336 g, with the microphone and cable attached. That's 14 grams lighter than the Cloud II and 40 grams lighter than its younger, bulkier sibling, the Cloud Revolver.
As far as I can tell, the weight savings come without any compromises to the structural integrity of the Alpha. HyperX's latest remains one sturdy headset, thanks to its aluminum frame and external driver housing plates. Even some of the more high end headsets I've reviewed are primarily composed of plastic and feel a little chintzy as a result. The Alpha is most definitely not chintzy in any regard. Its metal frame is flexible enough to comfortably accommodate gamers' differing heads sizes and not snap if it's accidentally bent. Instead, it straightens itself back out without any sign that it was ever in a different shape. The metal frame can also extend out of the headband to further match different head sizes. There are eleven different lengthening notches in the frame, and each has an accompanying mark so that gamers can easily reset their favorite position if needed. The sections of the headset that are made of plastic are made of a sturdy composite with a nice matte finish that's smooth and somewhat soft to the touch.
Fortunately, what comes in contact with the user's head is not metal or plastic, but rather thick leatherette. HyperX has, without a doubt, some of the highest-quality padding on the market. The lightweight design and quality padding are the namesake of the Cloud brand, and the Alpha certainly does them proud. My awareness of the presence of the Alpha on my head quickly faded as I engaged with the task or game in front of me. There have only been a few times after wearing the Alpha for multiple hours on end that I've felt the need to readjust it on my head. Unlike the Revolver, it also feels comfortable and stays securely in place on my head, instead of sliding off when looking around or bending down.
HyperX is courteous enough to provide a two-in-one extender cable and y-splitter with this headset in addition to the primary cable, which can be unplugged from the headset itself. This setup makes the Alpha compatible with both the PC and any device equipped with a standard four-pole 3.5-mm port without any additional cables or adapters. The removable cable also means gamers with chew-happy pets or errant chair wheels won't have to toss the entire unit if their cable is ruined somehow.
Both included cables are round and braided. The primary cable is 4.25 ft long, while the extender is 6.5 ft long. The primary cable has a built-in dongle with a volume wheel and a mic mute switch. Unfortunately, the audio port is not flush with the bottom of the headset, and the cutout that surrounds it is form-fitted to the provided cable. Those who might want to plug in their own cable may find the hole too small to fit the connector.