Corsair’s K68 water-resistant gaming keyboard reviewed

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.

 

Keyboard poncho

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.

Software

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.

Conclusions

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.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    Wasn’t there a thread in the forms about someone here who spilled beer on his keyboard? This one’s for you, bud.

      • just brew it!
      • 2 years ago

      JAE already linked to the thread. (And the “someone” was me.)

    • Clint Torres
    • 2 years ago

    C’mon, were these really designed to be “water” resistant?

    • just brew it!
    • 2 years ago

    Hard to tell whether it is compatible with o-rings. Based on the pics, I’m thinking maybe no (they could get hung up on the edges of the holes in the spill protector)? That might be an issue for some people.

    • just brew it!
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Ironically, while the rubber stops dust from getting down inside the keyboard, it allows particulates to more easily stick down between the keycaps.[/quote<] Between more thorough cleanings, I run the sticky edge of Post-It notes between my keys to pick up the accumulated particulate matter. On the one hand, the rubber spill protector might make this more difficult by snagging the edge of the Post-It note; on the other hand, it looks like it would channel the particles so that they are directly under the gaps between the keycaps, making it more likely that they'd get caught in the adhesive.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 2 years ago

    This could be a perfect gift for someone.
    [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=119019[/url<]

      • just brew it!
      • 2 years ago

      Not a fan of Cherry reds, and it is unclear whether it is compatible with o-rings.

      For Cherry red fans who don’t intend to do an o-ring mod and want the spill resistance, this looks like an excellent choice.

    • morphine
    • 2 years ago

    One can certainly say that this release… made quite the splash.

      • Gyromancer
      • 2 years ago

      [i<]groan[/i<]

        • morphine
        • 2 years ago

        Oh come on, you know this comments section is going to be sprinkled with puns.

          • [+Duracell-]
          • 2 years ago

          I’d expect a deluge of puns come in pretty soon.

            • superjawes
            • 2 years ago

            Unless a mod decides to wash them all away.

            • EzioAs
            • 2 years ago

            If puns like this keeps pouring down, they might.

            • Redocbew
            • 2 years ago

            That would surely douse our enthusiasm.

            • just brew it!
            • 2 years ago

            Fans of MX red mechanicals should be wetting themselves over this. I expect a tsunami of enthusiasm from gamers who prefer linear switches and enjoy having some liquid refreshment while they’re at the keyboard. Those of us who prefer tactile switches are apparently hosed, though…

            • BIF
            • 2 years ago

            Okay, who’s turn is it to mop up?

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    Sploosh!

    • TwistedKestrel
    • 2 years ago

    Wait, what happens when the K95 gets a drink spilled on it?

      • Neutronbeam
      • 2 years ago

      It starts a fight.

    • XTF
    • 2 years ago

    Why does Corsair insist on smaller then normal start and menu keys?

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t know.

      It’s crazy how manufacturers try to differentiate themselves from each other by breaking the standard layout to specifically do something different, and by different I mean [i<]wrong[/i<]. The 104-key windows layout with three-quarter inch centers has been a standard for almost 32 years, and the only change it has had in that time was to insert three windows keys into the empty spaces of the original 101-key IBM-PC layout. As a touch typist, I'm expecting a standard layout and I pretty much refuse to buy anything that isn't a standard layout. Laptops and portable wireless keyboards get a begrudgingly-given pass for weird layouts if there's no other way to fit the standard layout in the given space, but that's the only exception. It's a frickin' standard layout and anything that doesn't conform is the literal definition of wrong and should not be allowed to bear the "104-key US keyboard" moniker.

        • just brew it!
        • 2 years ago

        Preachin’ to the choir here. I’m the same way with non-standard layouts. Apple’s layout drives me especially crazy; it’s why I have an RK-9000 at the office to plug into my corporate IT-issued MacBook Pro!

        However, I think Corsair may be getting some undeserved hate here. Even with “standard” 104-key layouts, widths of the keys in the bottom row varies. Yes, the canonical Cherry switch mechanical keyboard layout has all of the Ctrl/Win/Alt/Menu keys being the same width, but this is not universally true of 104-key keyboards. (E.g. the Unicomp buckling spring mechanicals make the Ctrl keys a little wider.)

        When the Windows and Menu keys got added in the transition from 101-key to 104-key layout, the spacebar was shortened slightly, because the new keys took up more space than the gaps in the original 101-key layout. If you go back even further (to before the Alt key was added), the spacebar was often even wider still.

        So what Corsair has effectively done is to give us a 104-key mechanical ‘board with a spacebar that is closer to the size it used to have in the classic 101-key layout. Would I have done that if I was designing this keyboard? No, I would’ve gone with the standard Cherry MX key sizes. But in the grand scheme of keyboard layout blunders, I’d say it is way, way, down the severity list. I can forgive it.

        But keyboards that arbitrarily move stuff around (e.g. f*ck with the Ins/Del/Home/End/PgUp/PgDn cluster), L-shaped Enter with the tiny backspace key, “Fn shift” modifier to make the Fn keys behave normally, or (especially) Apple’s MBP layout… these deserve a special place in hell.

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve never been able to get CUE software to install/run. Tried a couple times on different software versions 🙁

    • NeoForever
    • 2 years ago

    Digging the highlights!

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