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For anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolysis, challenges include finding an optimal catalyst for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), as the noble metals are scarce while non-noble metals are inferior. Here, the noble metal amount is reduced in a straightforward solution synthesis which produces Pt-Ru surface nanoparticles and unique intratube nanowires decorated on single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT). In half-cell tests, 5 wtPtRu-% Pt-Ru SWNT demonstrates stable 10 mA cm−2 HER current at 46 mV overpotential and outperforms commercial electrocatalysts. When integrated in an AEM electrolyser, a high current density of 500 mA cm−2 at a low voltage of 1.72 V is achieved with 34 µg cm−2 metal loading. First-principles calculations reveal that both the Pt-Ru alloy nanoparticle and intratube nanowires promote near optimal H* binding energy, thereby releasing the H2 faster. Thus, our approach yields an active low metal loading alkaline HER catalyst without sacrificing the performance in an AEM electrolyser.