60% keyboards are nothing new. In fact, it seems lately that we’re in a new renaissance where these tiny alternatives to full sized keyboards are everywhere. Even just looking through the GBAtemp reviews section, you’ll notice that the various writers on staff have covered more than their fair share of 60% keyboards in the past. And most likely, this will not be the last 60% keyboard you see reviewed here. Enter HyperX’s first foray into the 60% keyboard market, the Alloy Origins 60 percent! If the name sounds familiar, it’s because HyperX has actually sent us the full sized Alloy Origins keyboard twice for review; once with HyperX aqua switches, and once with HyperX blue. So, how does this miniature model of an already good keyboard hold up against its predecessors? Let’s start, as always, by looking at tech specs.
- Switch: HyperX Switch
- Type: Mechanical
- Backlight: RGB (16,777,216 colors)
- Light Effects: Per key RGB lighting and 5 brightness levels
- Onboard memory: 3 profiles
- Connection type: USB-C to USB-A
- Anti-ghosting: 100% anti-ghosting
- Key rollover: N-key mode
- Media control: Yes
- Game Mode: Yes
- OS compatibility: Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7
- Switch: HyperX Red Switch
- Operation style: Linear
- Operating force: 45g
- Actuation point: 1.8 mm
- Total travel distance: 3.8 mm
- Lifespan (keystrokes): 80 million
- Type: Detachable, Braided
- Length: 1.8 m
- Width: 296.0 mm
- Depth: 105.5 mm
- Height: 36.9 mm
- Weight (keyboard and cable): 781.5 g
- Material: PBT (Accessory keycaps are ABS material)
As the name implies, the Alloy Origins 60 takes the already compact form of the original Alloy Origins and knocks 40% off; removing the tenkeys, arrow keys, the top function row, and the special keys. Everything has been stripped down to its most basic here: the number row, the letters keys themselves, and special keys such as shift, enter, escape, and spacebar. To accommodate for the lack of a function row, those secondary functions have been migrated down to the keyboard proper, and each keycap has the corresponding function printed onto the side of it, so each can be quickly identified when needed. The aluminum body from the full sized counterpart is back here as well, offering a stable and durable board to house everything in.
Functionally, the Origins 60 is working with HyperX’s red switches, offering an operating force of 45g, 1.8 mm actuation point, and total travel distance of 3.8 mm. This keyboard also comes equipped with double-shot PBT keycaps, a welcome change and a noticeable deviation from the ABS keycaps of the full sized model of this board. The PBT caps are durable, with a texture that feels nice to the touch especially when compared to the smooth, shined ABS keycaps from the older model. The texture and weight of the keycaps, mixed with the linear red switches, offers a pleasant and satisfying typing experience when putting it up against my usual suspects of testing; writing, gaming, and video editing. One point to note is that, as of the writing of this review, the 60% board is only available with the red switch option, as opposed to the full sized variant having the choice of HyperX red, aqua, or blue switches. Despite my preference for blues, I really did enjoy my time working with the red switches. Beyond this though, an issue I did have in my testing was really just the learning curve of going from a full sized keyboard to a 60% board. Having to grab the function key and re-learn where the secondary controls on the keyboard are is a bit of a pain. And having to use the function key to quickly use my arrow keys when writing wasn’t ideal. On top of this, the key spacing is similar between the two models, but the Origins 60 has the keys squished slightly closer together in order to save space, and it’s just really not something I’m used to in my workflow. It’s entirely a personal preference, but it is worth addressing here.
Aside from the keyboard itself, there’s a few extras thrown in with the box here; a keycap puller, and two replacement keycaps; an extra ESC key, and an extra spacebar. The ESC replacement key simply swaps the lettering for the HyperX logo, while the spacebar has some funky transparent designs etched in, which really does pop and look cool with the RGB in motion. These two key caps are some of the few non-size related changes included with this smaller model, and I really like them. The spacebar I think looks especially cool, and really adds some flair and personality to the keyboard. It even fits on my full sized Alloy Origins nicely, which was expected but still a pleasant confirmation. That all said, though, there is one major issue I take with these replacement keycaps that hold them back in my mind; while the rest of the keycaps are made from PBT material, these replacements are made from ABS. They do feel high enough quality, and in fact they feel very similar to the ABS keycaps from the full sized Alloy Origins keyboard. But it’s a stark contrast when using these keys with the 60 percent variation, and I could immediately tell the difference between the PBT and ABS caps, not just from the feel but even in appearance they just stand out when mixed in on the same board. This leaves me worried for the durability of these replacements in the long run too, though that’s something that obviously can’t really be tested one way or the other in a short term review like this. Definitely not a deal breaker, especially since these keycaps are just extras, but something I immediately took note of and it really just confuses me as to why they wouldn’t just make these last two keycaps from PBT to match the rest of the keyboard.
Much like it’s larger predecessor, and like all HyperX hardware I’ve reviewed in the past, the Origins 60 is customizable through HyperX’s Ngenuity desktop app. Through the app you can adjust where the keys are mapped, adjust which key your secondary functions are set to, and customize your RGB lighting options. Much like on the Alloy Origins, the customization options are a bit limited, but you’re still able to get the most out of them if you play around on the app. Much like last time, there’s only three keyboard profiles available in total, with one being pre-programmed out of the box. Options such as backlight color, key effects, opacity, and effect direction are all only customizable through the app, which is only available for Windows machines currently. So once again, if you’re not on Windows you’re just out of luck if you want to move beyond the standard keyboard profile that comes included.
I know I’ve focused a lot on the comparison between this keyboard and the Alloy Origins, but that’s for good reason; beyond the keycap material switch, and the cramming of everything into a smaller form factor, it really is just the same thing we’ve already seen. It’s the same build quality, same customization options, and if you happen to own the Alloy Origins with red switches, the switches are very much the same. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest, I really liked the Alloy Origins and this is just an extra option to make that keyboard more available to those with different preferences in their setups. If you’re looking to tighten up your setup, or just prefer 60% keyboards in general, you really can’t go wrong picking up the Alloy Origins 60. It’s a very good keyboard, it just doesn’t do much “new” compared to its larger counterpart.