Mechanical alloying of elemental Al, Si, NbB2 and VB powder mixtures constituting the matrix alloy composition of Al-12.6 wt% Si and particulate-reinforced compositions of Al-12.6 wt% Si-x NbB2 and Al-12.6 wt% Si-x VB (x = 1, 2 and 5 wt%) were carried out for 2, 4 and 8 h in a high-energy ball mill. Mechanically alloyed (MA'd) powders were subjected to cold pressing (450 MPa), cold isostatic pressing (400 MPa) and pressureless sintering (570 degrees C/2 h) processes. Powder particle morphologies changed from flaky to equiaxed shape after the optimum MA duration of 4 h. 1 wt% NbB2 and 1 wt% VB particulatere-inforced Al-12.6 wt% Si based composites exhibited better mechanical properties than the Al-12.6 wt % Si matrix alloy and Al-12.6 wt% Si-x NbB2 and Al-12.6 wt% Si-x VB (x = 2 and 5 wt%) composite samples. In particular, Al-12.6 wt% Si-1 wt% NbB2 had the highest yield strength (378 MPa), compressive strength (491 MPa) and hardness (1.86 GPa) values. Investigations on the wear behaviors of the composites revealed that significant amount of wear loss occurred as a result of debris formation due to pull-outs of reinforcing boride (NbB2 and VB) and oxidized Al (Al2O3) particles. (C) 2018 The Society of Powder Technology Japan. Published by Elsevier B.V. and The Society of Powder Technology Japan. All rights reserved.