Corsair K68 RGB review: A spill resistant keyboard that only wants to get its toes wet

Corsair K68 RGB

We’ve all done it. I’ve even ruined a rather expensive gaming laptop doing it. And yet, I still keep a long, tall glass of water on my desk every day (not to mention multiple mugs of tea) because I’m an idiot who can’t learn from her own mistakes. Right next to my keyboard. One accidental swipe of my arm, or a mad dash across my desk from one of my cats (as they are increasingly wont to do these days), and it could all end in ruin.

I’m a fool, I know – which is why Corsair’s new K68 RGB keyboard may be the answer to our collective drink-related woes. It’s IP32 water and dust-resistant, you see, which means it’s got some mild protection against accidental spillages, making it a bit more durable than your typical mechanical keyboard. I’ve got the RGB version here, which costs £120 in the UK, but it’s also available in plain old red LEDs for a lot less (£87 or $88). Let’s see what it’s made of.

So what exactly does that IP32 rating actually mean? Well, you’ve probably seen IP ratings bandied about in smartphone circles over the last couple of years, and most of the top ones these days have a rating of at least IP67, which signifies they’re completely dust-tight and can be dunked in up to a metre of fresh water without issue. The higher the IP number, the better.

A sprinkle of water is no problem for the K68

A sprinkle of water is no problem for the K68

IP32, therefore, doesn’t offer nearly as much protection, but it’s still better than nothing. Admittedly, the 3 bit, which relates to its dust protection, isn’t actually all that useful, as this only means it’s protected against things like tools and thick wires from getting into its chassis. Anything under 2.5mm in thickness, like thin wires, small screws, crisp flakes, cheesy Monster Munch dust – and large ants of all things, according to Wikipedia – is pretty much fair game. So much for my dreams of a cat-hair resistant keyboard, then…

Instead, it’s the 2 bit we’re interested in, as this tells us its water protection. This means it’s resistant to dripping water – an equivalent to 3mm of rainfall – over a period of ten minutes in total. Crucially, it’s also protected when the keyboard’s tilted at a 15 degree angle. So when you lift it up to try and drain it, you shouldn’t have to worry about causing any additional damage.

What it’s not protected against are splashes of water. That would require a rating of IP34. I’m going to test both – a pitter patter of drippy water splashes and a full-on glass of water knocked over it. But I’m only going to do it at the end of this review just in case I do actually break it and can’t finish typing the rest of it.

Corsair K68 RGB palm rest

Putting aside its water protection for a moment, then, the K68 RGB is a pretty straightforward mechanical keyboard. It doesn’t have a USB port because of that aforementioned water protection, and in terms of decoration its plain matte chassis is adorned with a single groove along the top, partitioning off its volume, LED and Windows lock buttons from its Fn and media keys. It also has exceedingly sharp corners, so it’s just as well it’s got a bit of liquid protection as you’ll need it for when you accidentally slice open your hands setting it up.

At the moment, the K68 RGB only seems to be available with red Cherry MX switches, which are still pretty noisy in the grand scheme of things, but at least they’re not as ear-deafeningly loud as blue Cherry MX switches. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it for use in communal spaces, as its CLACKY CLACK remains pretty grating even when used in isolation.

The K68 also comes with a textured space bar. I really didn’t get on with this when I first started using it, and even now after many more hours of use I’m still not overly fond of it. My main beef with it is that it doesn’t offer as much purchase as I’d like when typing at speed, but it also just feels plain weird compared to the smooth caps on the rest of the keyboard. I’ve grown more accustomed to it as time’s gone on, but what I wouldn’t give to swap it out for a plain one.

Corsair K68 RGB space bar

I had the same problem with the palm rest as well, which is finished in the same tiny triangle pattern (as seen above). It’s comfy enough for general typing and gaming, but I was constantly aware that my hands were gradually slipping down it with every passing second, so I got rid of it in the end and made do with resting them on the table.

In every other respect, though, the K68 did a perfectly good job. Each key felt very responsive while blasting through a quick round of Doom, for example, and their height didn’t make too much of a dent on my general typing speed. I still prefer slightly shorter keys if I’m doing a lot of typing for work, but on the whole I got along with it just fine.

Since this is an RGB keyboard, you can, of course, customise its lighting effects using Corsair’s Utility Engine (CUE) software. Here you get all manner of RGB colour profiles, but you can also use it to change the function of the Windows lock key to disable Alt+Tab, Alt+F4 or Shift+Tab if you get the non-RGB version. You can also add your own recordable macros to any key you please.

Corsair K68 RGB media keys

So how about that water resistance, then? Let’s start with baby steps. First, I went and rinsed my hands under the sink and shook off the excess water onto the keyboard. Result: still typing absolutely fine. Hooray. Next, I gave the K68 RGB a bit of a shake and a tilt, swishing the water around a bit to make sure it got into the cracks. Still all systems go, it would appear.

Not bad, not bad. But let’s get real for a second. How often do you only spill such a teensy bit of water onto a keyboard? When I destroyed a laptop of mine a couple of years ago, it was because I knocked a giant glass of water all over it, killing a number of keys in the process. I know the K68 isn’t splash resistant, but I do this in the name of science. It’s time to see if it can survive an accidental knock of my giant Les Mis glass, which is my preferred water delivery receptacle. 3…2…1…

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Oh dear. I’ve plugged in a different keyboard now because that just started happening as soon as I connected the K68 RGB back up to my PC and wouldn’t stop. Sorry Corsair.

Cosette looks on unimpressed...

Cosette looks on unimpressed…

So the K68 RGB won’t survive a proper, traditional spillage (and will almost certainly go kaput if you spill a soft drink or mug of tea on it, as IP ratings only relate to fresh water), but you’ll probably be okay if it’s on the edge of a wayward splash and gets hit with those last few drips. Maybe.

RIP K68 RGB.

Update: It took a full two days to dry out, but the K68 RGB is now fully functional again. Hooray science!

16 Comments

  1. Risingson says:

    Thanks, scientific method!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    But after it dried out, did it work again? That’d be a good point to have, right?

    Either way, I think calling it water resistant and meaning that you can splash water nearby and if a drop or two land, it’s fine, is a bit disingenuous. Like that sentence structure.

    But hey. Maybe some people need a mechanical keyboard they can use near a pool with kids playing in it, or on a boat or something.

    • ShadyGuy says:

      I recently spilled half a cup of coffee on my Corsair Gaming K97 keyboard (an older discontinued model that doesn’t even have RGB). It started acting weird, but after drying it and meticulously cleaning every key with alcohol it worked fine again. So I can’t say anything about the K68, but I’m happy my keyboard is decent quality. :)

  3. crazyd says:

    A keyboard reviewer that hates having a solid click on their keys is just insane to me. The closer to Model F, the better in my mind. The idea that clicky keys are grating is just silly. I get that it’s a preference thing, but if you let the minor, soft, mooshy sounds of a Red switch bug you, you must work in an isolation booth or something.

    • Risingson says:

      “IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE CLICKITY NOISE YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CONSIDER YOURSELF A [K]EYBOARD [R]EVIEWER”

      • crazyd says:

        Well, I certainly wouldn’t consider you a good mech keyboard reviewer if every damn review of mech keyboards, even the ones with intentionally quiet switches, featured whining about clickiness. Just like how I wouldn’t consider someone to be a good supercar reviewer if their article on a Tesla Roadster complained about the excessive engine noise.

        • Risingson says:

          And you cannot review movies if you don’t like Kubrick, right?

          This is not how critical analysis works. What you look for is validation.

          • Premium User Badge

            Drib says:

            I think it’s more like someone reviewing movies and complaining that there are images and sound in the film.

            Kubrick was one creator. Part of the nature of mechanical keyboards is the clicking. Yes, it’s worth mentioning ’cause people who are used to $10 Logitech membrane boards won’t expect it, but complaining about it is just complaining about the intrinsic nature of the item.

        • Ragnar says:

          Mentioning the clicking is absolutely essential for anyone coming from a membrane keyboard. And I feel like that’s largely who these reviews are targeted at.

          Existing mechanical users can just ignore that part since they know it doesn’t bother them. But then existing mechanical users likely already know what kind of switches they like and don’t need these reviews as much.

  4. kagechikara says:

    Just wanted to come in and say, I /love/ the sharp click of Cherry Blues. So much so that it bothers me that there’s a slightly sound difference between Razer Greens and real Cherry Blues, and the Greens don’t sound as crisp.

    And since someone will be sure to come in and say that RGB is silly, I also love the bright, flashy colors of an RGB keyboard. All I want is to type/program on a loud, clicky rainbow.

    (That being said, everyone has preferences and apparently some people don’t like the super-clacky sound the Blues make. That’s okay too! Your preferences are valid!)

    Sad this one isn’t actually more waterproof, though.

    • HiroTheProtagonist says:

      If you want a loud, clicky rainbow for typing without breaking the bank, check out Tomoko’s line. They sell Cherry Blue (of questionable authenticity but still very clicky) boards for around $40USD. At that price point, you could easily buy a second as a backup and still come in cheaper than a Corsair.

  5. Premium User Badge

    wsjudd says:

    If you don’t fancy it yourself, could I have a go at reviving it? I have some secret methods that might work… :-)

  6. Ragnar says:

    Has the quality of keyboards just really gone downhill over the past 20 years? I always see mechanical keyboards lauded for their durability, and now there’s this spill resistant model. Is that really necessary now? Has the quality of membrane keyboards gone down the drain?

    I ask because I have a 20 year old Microsoft membrane keyboard (Natural Pro) that’s still working great. I’ve spilled soda and beer on it more than once – no issues. Not a single key shows any sign of wear (they have yellowed a bit, but I haven’t tried cleaning it). Do they really not make them like they used to anymore?

    • L3TUC3 says:

      No, not really. If you take care of your things, they might last you a good long while before wear is noticeable on a keyboard. If anything a membrane board will probably hold up better to a spill if it’s the kind with the raised keys overlapping the port, if it’s flat laptop style scissorkeys it will probably break.

      Personally, I am still rocking a $5 LiteOn SK-1688 I bought in 2005. I bought it because: It’s a full keyboard, it’s black and it doesn’t look silly. 13 years later, the WASD keys have worn off, but the rest still works great.

      At work I went with a Das Keyboard Model S Professional with brown switches. I like it a lot, not too loud sturdy and good typer. And it doesn’t look like a clowncar either.

  7. Glubber says:

    I got a k65 compact last year and within 3 days my cat knocked a cup of coffee right onto it (ok, I’m the one that placed it there). Needless to say, it stopped working.

    So I took it apart, submersed it in distilled water (unplugged, mind you) for a spell and then stuck it over my heater with only slightly-warmer-than-room-temp air blowing on it for several hours and voila, it worked (and still works) just fine.

  8. KDR_11k says:

    Back in school some of my classmates would regularly wash their keyboards like dishes to get all the grime out. Obviously they’d unplug the thing for that and dry it out completely afterwards and those keyboards didn’t have fancy lighting and stuff but I didn’t hear of any keyboards breaking from that.