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HyperX Alloy Elite 2 is a bold mechanical gaming keyboard with brilliant lights for $129

Pudding keycaps help the company's Red linear RGB switches pop.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The new Alloy Elite 2 mechanical gaming keyboard from HyperX is blindingly bright. And heavy, which is probably the first thing you'll spot. But once it's on your desk and plugged in, you'll definitely notice how bright the keys are. Part of the reason for that is the company's homegrown Red linear switches with surface-mounted diode LEDs. Combined with the translucent walls of HyperX's ABS pudding keycaps included with the keyboard, light seemingly pours from all directions. 

Aside from the keycaps, the second-gen Alloy Elite essentially looks the same as the original. The $129 keyboard's thick steel frame and attached braided cable weigh in at 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg). It's not travel-friendly like the company's Alloy Origins Core TKL keyboard, but between its heft and the rubber pads on its underside and on its flip-down legs, the keyboard stays put on your desk. A pass-through USB 2.0 port is available on the back if you want to hook up your mouse or wireless receiver there. 

Also read: Best gaming keyboard for 2020: Razer, Corsair, Logitech and more

At the top left of the keyboard are three keys: LED brightness (four levels and off); switching to one of up to three custom lighting profiles; and turning on Game Mode, which shuts off the Windows key and other key combos that might accidentally take you out of your game. Oddly, they're the only keys that don't light up. Opposite those keys on the right side are a set of media control keys and a volume dial at the top right. 

A light bar separates the main keyboard from the extra controls. The keyboard has per-key lighting so you can set everything up the way you want, including the light bar, using HyperX's Ngenuity app. It's pretty straightforward and can also be used for setting up macros or remapping individual keys. 

The first Alloy Elite used Cherry MX switches and HyperX's Red switches are similar to Cherry MX Reds, but with minutely shorter actuation and travel. I can't say I can tell the difference, but the switches are smooth and fast with a pleasing clack when they bottom out. I prefer the tactile feedback of the company's Aqua switches more for typing, but the Alloy Elite 2 is Red only at the moment. 

Overall, though, the HyperX Alloy Elite 2 is a solid pick if you appreciate a good lightshow, media controls and a sturdy build that should stand up to getting slammed around in the heat of battle. 

Correction, July 7: The Alloy Elite 2 comes equipped with HyperX ABS pudding keycaps, not the company's PBT pudding keycaps as was originally stated.