Flashes of Ngenuity
Peripheral software can make or break a product when it's done poorly, but HyperX's Ngenuity utility is as straightforward and functional as the keyboard it controls. The app is clean-looking and offers helpful tutorials as you click through it. Should you miss one of those tutorial screens, a help icon in the toolbar will bring back the corresponding help screen for each section of the utility.
The top of the Ngenuity hierarchy for the Alloy FPS starts with profiles. The board has onboard memory for up to three different combinations of lighting settings, macros, and key-deactivation settings for the Alloy FPS RGB's gaming mode. Once you choose a profile to edit, you'll gain access to lighting, game mode, and macro sub-settings. Lighting is the most complex part of Ngenuity, so it's where I'll focus most of my overview.
You won't find as flashy a set of pre-baked effects through HyperX's software as you might in Corsair's iCUE utility, and HyperX doesn't have any RGB LED sync partnerships in its corner to keep colors or effects consistent across multiple brands of peripherals. Still, I suspect Ngenuity has enough effects to please both mild and wild fans of RGB LEDs.
For the RGB LED-entranced, Ngenuity's "Effects" tab offers the user seven prebaked lighting effects. Each of its prebaked effects can generally be set up to use a single color or dual colors of the user's choice, and they can also trigger random colors chosen by the software.
On top of the usual solid, breathing, wave, and color cycle settings, Ngenuity has a couple distinctive effects of its own. Trigger lights up a key when it's pressed and gradually fades back to black. Explosion causes a wave of color to emanate from each key press. HyperX Flame causes a multicolor cascade to rise from the last key pressed to the top of the board, an effect that can be quite striking if you set up two contrasting colors.
If you prefer to use RGB LEDs to set apart different keys for functional reasons, Ngenuity's appropriately-named "Zones" tab offers five lighting-region presets it suggests for FPS, MMO, MOBA, and RTS titles, as well as a "five zones" preset that simply applies five different colors to five different regions of the board. If none of those presets fits your fancy, the software also allows per-key backlighting setup in its "Freestyle" tab.
In today's crowded mechanical keyboard market, it's easy for a company to miss the sweet spot of build quality, features, and value. I think HyperX has hit the bullseye with the Alloy FPS RGB, though, especially if you're a fiend for the dry and pleasant feel of PBT key caps and want to add a set to your typing experience.
The Alloy FPS RGB is as rock-solid and pleasant to type on as its RGB LED-free predecessor, and the company has priced the board perfectly, too, at $109.99. That's a killer price for an RGB LED-illuminated keyboard from a respected brand. Even better, the Alloy FPS is on sale at Amazon for just $85.99 ahead of the holidays—a move that takes this keyboard's value from "killer" to "incredible."
I do wish the company offered this board with more switch options than the rather unusual-feeling Kailh Speed Silvers, but once you get past the high actuation point of those clickers, the Alloy FPS RGB feels just like any other linear-switch mechanical gaming keyboard: fast, solid, and responsive.
Best of all, folks concerned about the feel of the keys under their fingers can add a set of HyperX's double-shot PBT keycaps to the Alloy FPS RGB for just $25, far less than similar sets from the competition. HyperX's "pudding" caps let the RGB LED under each key shine through brilliantly, and I think they're a no-brainer for making this board feel like a much more expensive input device.
The Alloy FPS RGB's $135 all-in price tag with those PBT caps looks like an unbeatable value in today's mechanical keyboard market, especially as prices seem likely to creep up in the wake of the holiday discount onslaught. Anybody looking for a no-frills, value-packed gaming board should put the Alloy FPS RGB at the top of their lists, and I'm happy to bestow it with the high honor of a TR Editor's Choice award.