Gaming keyboards nowadays are often accompanied by fairly long specification lists ranging from switches to lighting, but a feature that doesn’t often appear on keyboard specification sheets is water resistance. However, given how important a keyboard is for most PC gaming and simply general computer use, spill protection isn’t a bad idea. Accidentally knocking over your drink onto your keyboard usually results in worry-filled suspense as you impatiently wait for your keyboard to dry in the hopes that it hasn’t been ruined by your mistake. Water resistance could certainly bring some peace of mind to those worried about spills resulting in a dead keyboard, given that it actually reliably works.
Corsair’s latest addition to its keyboard line up, the K68, boasts IP32 dust and water resistance. The company sent us one of these boards not only to put its water resistance to the test, but also to see whether that feature affects its usefulness as a standard keyboard.
The K68 is a fair bit different than the Corsair keyboards I’ve reviewed in the past, in a number of ways. First of all, the K95 Platinum and K70 Rapidfire are reinforced by full metal plates, while the main body of the K68 is entirely composed of hard plastic. There are plenty of sturdy keyboards with plastic bodies, and the K68 is no different. Even so, the plastic construction makes it feel cheaper than its older brethren. It is, in fact, substantially cheaper than the K95 or K70 at only $100 list, or $80 on sale at Newegg right now. That’s a fairly low price for a mechanical keyboard.
Another departure from other Corsair keyboards is the lack of RGB LEDs. The K68 only comes with red LEDs, which also contributes to its affordability. The detachable wrist rest is on the cheaper end as well. It’s made entirely of plastic and is significantly thinner and lighter than other Corsair wrist rests I’ve used. Fortunately, the inexpensive design doesn’t diminish the wrist rest’s usefulness. My wrists felt sufficiently comfortable while sitting atop it.
The K68 is in keeping with other Corsair keyboards when it comes to the spacebar and layout of the bottom row. The space bar is textured, which I like. I find it nice to have an obvious physical difference between the space bar and all the rest of the keys. However, the textured space bar definitely falls under the category of personal preference. If possible, I suggest you try it out yourself, something that’s always good to do before buying any computer peripheral.
The bottom row sticks with the non-standard layout of other Corsair keyboards. The switches are positioned slightly differently to allow for a larger space bar and Ctrl keys. I think the larger space bar and Ctrl keys can be helpful while playing FPS games, but the unconventional switch placement unfortunately means that standard keycaps won’t fit on the bottom row. That might be a concern for folks looking to add custom key caps.
The K68 does have dedicated media controls, like other Corsair keyboards, but it lacks the full metal volume wheel that is one of my favorite features on the K95 and K70. In place of that wheel, the K68 has volume up and down buttons. Completely separate media controls are still great, but once again, part of the premium feel that Corsair keyboards usually possess is compromised by the move from metal to plastic.
As you can see in the picture above, the K68 does have the same brightness control and Windows-key lock buttons as the K70, so I have nothing to complain about in that realm. There are four brightness levels, including a dark mode.
The K68 departs from the classic Corsair design once more at the edge of the keyboard. A big part of what makes Corsair keyboards stand out from the pack is their “floating keys” design. The switches on Corsair boards usually jut straight out of a flat metal plate without any lip hiding them from view. However, there’s a slight lip in the K68. That lip still doesn’t fully extend up to the height of the keycaps, but it is there. I presume it’s supposed to stop any spilled liquid from running straight out the bottom of the keyboard, all over your desk, and into your lap. I’m not a big fan of getting my pants wet, but if I spilled a drink on my keyboard, I’d want as much of the liquid as possible to run out the bottom so it doesn’t pool up on the keyboard and potentially cause damage.
Underneath the keycaps, you can see the membrane that shields the switches and internals from liquid, but we’ll go over that later. For now, let’s focus on the switches. A red theme runs throughout the K68, so unfortunately, the only switch type available is Cherry MX Red. Reds are high quality switches, but for those who prefer Browns (like myself) or any other switch type, tough luck. If you don’t know what all this talk of colorful cherries means, take a look at our switch guide.
The switches felt perfectly responsive both in games and for normal typing. My movements were crisp and clean in Titanfall 2 and Overwatch. I never ran into any hitches or unexpected behavior. The same goes for typing. I wrote multiple articles on the K68 and didn’t encounter a single issue. The water-resistant membrane of the K68 thankfully doesn’t affect the key feel of the Cherry switches themselves.
The bottom of the K68 is home to two flip-up stands that can give the keyboard some extra height in the back in order to slant the keyboard slightly. The stands feel slightly chintzy, but as long as you don’t slam your keyboard down onto your desk in rage too often, they should get the job done.
Before we cover the board’s water resistance, I should point out that the K68 only has a single USB connector and no USB pass-through port. The cable is also made of rubber, rather than the usual fabric braid that coats the cables of other Corsair keyboards.
As you may have determined already, the K68 has a rubber cover to keep liquid from reaching the parts of the keyboard susceptible to damage. The cover is sealed at the edges of the keyboard, but loosely surrounds the switches and LEDs. Without the keycaps, any liquid spilled directly onto the keyboard would have no problem getting down into the switches. It’s important to note that the K68 is only rated for IP32 dust and water resistance, so it won’t survive full submersion or high-pressure blasts of water. You probably shouldn’t attempt to clean the keyboard by hosing it off. Ironically, while the rubber stops dust from getting down inside the keyboard, it allows particulates to more easily stick down between the keycaps.
I tested the K68’s water resistance twice with increasing intensity. I first simply sprayed water on the keyboard (as pictured above), let it sit for a little while, and then wiped it off. The keyboard worked perfectly fine afterward, so I ramped things up.
Even though it pained me to purposely do so, I took a cup of water and poured it directly onto the keyboard. All the water resting down between the keycaps made it much more difficult to dry than when I just misted the keyboard. I ended up taking all the keycaps off and as far as I could tell, no water had made it into the switches, so I mopped it up and set the keyboard outside to finish drying. I plugged the keyboard back in with much suspense, but lo and behold, the K68 immediately lit up and functioned without a single issue. I don’t recommend regularly dumping water on the K68 as it isn’t completely waterproof, but it’ll certainly allow gamers with a drink nearby to rest easy.
I have the same thoughts now about the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) as I did when I reviewed the K95 Platinum. CUE doesn’t have as clean and straightforward of an interface as it used to, but it’s still one of the better pieces of gaming peripheral software out there. It can sometimes run a bit slow and require the occasional bit of digging to set things up exactly how you want. Otherwise, it’s a powerful utility that doesn’t assault your eyes with an ugly color pallette and too many unnecessary gimimcks. You can set up complex macros and LED configurations, keep things simple, or simply not install CUE at all. It’s entirely up to you. The K68 functions fine without it.
I wrote in my K95 Platinum review that every time I set out to write a Corsair keyboard review, I know I’m going to be working with a high-quality product, and that quality usually comes with quite the hefty price tag attached. The K68 is a bit of a unicorn in this respect. It doesn’t come with a particularly high price tag, because Corsair scaled back on a number of the heavy-duty features present on some of its other keyboards.
Corsair’s usual metal body plate was removed in favor of a full plastic body on the K68. Two plastic volume buttons take the place of the usual metal volume wheel. The wrist rest and flip-up stands are thinner and lighter. Lastly, a slight lip has been added in, detracting from the usual “floating keys” style, not that it would have the same look anyway given the rubber cover.
However, even with as many things as you can point to that cut down on the price, Corsair certainly didn’t cut corners with the K68. It is still a well-built, high-quality keyboard. The features that were revised are still perfectly functional. What’s more, IP32 dust and water resistance, which have never been seen in a Corsair keyboard before, come standard. Our testing shows that they can protect the board from expensive mistakes with nearby liquids, and that protection could pay for itself with just one spill.
For its $100 list price tag, or for the $80 you’ll pay on sale at Newegg right now, the K68 is an excellent keyboard. Despite its reduced feature set, it gives the Strafe RGB a run for its money. If you like Cherry MX Red switches, the only things you lose by picking the K68 over the Strafe RGB are the lights, a few texured keycaps, and a USB pass-through port. You actually gain separate media controls and water resistance by going with the K68.
The K68 also has more features than other keyboards at the same price, such as the SteelSeries Apex M500. If Corsair would make the K68 available with all of Cherry’s typical switch types, that’d be fantastic. For now though, if Cherry MX Reds are your preferred switch type, the K68 is a great value for the price. It definitely deserves a TR Recommended award.