What Makes a Waterproof Mechanical Keyboard Waterproof?


Waterproof mechanical keyboards on the switch and click blog

Question and Answer

Hey, you two, I know that mechanical keyboards and water probably don’t mix well together. Most technology involving electronics and water generally do not mix. I spill drinks such as water or souparound my mechanical keyboard all the time. I’m wondering if the keyboards that advertise themselves as being waterproof are viable options to buy. So, what makes a waterproof mechanical keyboard waterproof? Is it actually?

When manufacturers advertise their device as waterproof, spill-resistant, or water-resistant, many of them are doing so without necessary scientific testing. When we want to rate a device on its dust and water-resistance, we must look at the IP (international protection or Ingress protection) rating scale. It has two digits, the first digit is solids-resistance, the second is water-resistance. The higher the number, the more resistant to being infiltrated by the substance. A device with IP68 means that it is dustproof and can withstand water immersion up to a specified pressure. Many mechanical keyboards that are advertising themselves as water-resistant can withstand small water spills, but you must read reviews and see if any tests have been done with that keyboard specifically since many keyboards have an IP rating. We’ll list some options down below.

water

The Basics of Being “Waterproof”

IP Rating

Many of you have heard of the IP rating of electronics such as your cell phone having an IP68 water resistant rating. What do the numbers mean?

IP stands for International Protection Rating or the Ingress Protection Rating. It consists of the letters IP followed by a two-digit number. This rating was created to standardize the information of protection from solids and liquids of an object. It’s better to know something such as IP68 rather than saying it’s “waterproof.”

The first number is protection against solid objects. When it comes to protection against water, the second digit is what you want to look at.

A low number means very minimal protection, but a high number will protect against things such as spills and possibly immersion as well.

First Digit: Protection against Solids

IP LevelProtection against:
0Not protected against any contact
1Solid objects greater than 50mm (hand)
2Solid objects greater than 12.5m (finger)
3Solid objects greater than 2.5mm (screwdriver)
4Solid objects greater than 1.0mm (wire)
5Dust protected; some dust permitted
6Dust tight, zero dust permitted

Second Digit: Protection Against Liquids

IP LevelProtection against:
0Not protected
1Vertically falling drops of water such as light rain
2Vertically falling drops with device tilted at 15 degrees from the vertical
3Water spray less than 60 degrees from the vertical
4Water spray from any direction
5Low pressure water jets from any direction
6High pressure water jets from any direction
7Immersion between 15cm and 1m in depth
8Long term immersion up to specified pressure

So, if your cell phone is rated IP67, this means that it has total protection from dust and can be submerged underwater between 15cm and 1m in depth. An IP68 is the best rating that a device can get, dust-tight and long-term immersion within a certain pressure depth.

dust

“Water-proof”?

When manufacturers or sellers advertise their products as being waterproof, spill-resistant, or water-resistant, spill-proof, these are mere terms that are used to make the keyboard seem sturdier and safer to use.

Some keyboards have a plastic/rubber membrane around the switches or partially around the switches so that liquids don’t touch the device’s primary electronics.

When you are specifically looking for a waterproof keyboard, make sure that the keyboard is rated on the IP scale. If it’s not, then you probably shouldn’t take that feature too seriously.

“Waterproof” Mechanical Keyboards

Corsair K68 Mechanical Keyboard

Yes, we have talked about this keyboard before, and we did not enjoy it. But it is an IP32-rated keyboard. The Corsair K68 offers a rubber membrane that covers approximately 80% of the switches, preventing water from going into the keyboard’s core electronics.

On Amazon, this keyboard is currently $89.99 for Red backlight with Cherry MX Red switches.

An IP32 rating means that this mechanical keyboard is resistant to solid objects greater than 2.5mm (which is the width of a screwdriver) and water-resistant to vertical water drops when the device is tilted at 15 degrees from the vertical.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the keyboard is spill-resistant or water-resistant. But a test video by NCIX, which involved them pouring an entire pitcher of water on top of the keyboard while it’s on and in use, shows that the keyboard can withstand water spills without any problems.

The water brushed right off. They did not open the keyboard to see if any water got into the keyboard switches or PCB. They did not do a submersion test because fully submerging a mechanical keyboard would never happen in a real-life situation.

Corsair K68
Corsair K68

Aukey KM-G3, G6, and G9

There are different options of waterproof keyboards that can be bought on Amazon. We’ll just name a few, but they’re not IP rated. Some of these include the Aukey KM lineup.

The Aukey KM-G9 is a TKL mechanical keyboard with Oetemu Blue switches. It’s advertised as being water resistant, but they do not specify what in their design makes it water resistant. It does have double-shot molded ABS keycaps. This keyboard is currently $29.99 on Amazon.

The Aukey KM-G6 is a full-sized mechanical keyboard with Oetemu Blue switches as well. It has a full metal top panel and RGB lighting. It also features a floating key design.This keyboard is currently $39.99 on Amazon.

The Aukey KM-G3 is also a full-sized mechanical keyboard with Oetemu Blue switches but it has a more compact design. It has full RGB lighting and double-shot molded ABS keycaps. It has a brushed aluminum panel. It currently costs $65 on Amazon.

A complete water spill test was done by UNWRAP on YouTube. The results show that the keyboards were completely functional during and after the water spill for typing and gaming, which is pretty awesome.

Blackwidow Ultimate Mechanical Keyboard

Razer Blackwidow
Razer Blackwidow

The Blackwidow Ultimate is water and dust resistant. It is rated at IP54. This means that it is dust-protected with only a limited number of dust particles entering the keyboard and can sustain water spray from any direction.

Whether you are snacking or drinking water or soda, this keyboard can sustain it all, even Cheetos and Cheetos dust. In terms of dust and water resistance, this keyboard has the highest IP rating.

The new Blackwidow Ultimate Green switches have two side walls around the switch stem, preventing dust and water from entering the switch. The PCB is coated by a water-repellant protective layer, giving the keyboard extra protective if something enters the switches.

Razer themselves tested how their keyboard held up against different real-life situations. When they spilled a cup of water on it, the water escaped through the drainage holes beneath the keyboard and remaining liquid was wiped off.

The side walls protected the switches from dust and crumbs such as Doritos, Cheetos, and salt.

However, make sure to not submerge or splash the USB connector opening with water as that will damage the keyboard. Razer also offers a 2-year warranty on this keyboard.

This keyboard is currently $87.99 on the Razer website, and it was originally $109.99.

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate

Sources

What is IP rating, and why is it important? 2M CCTV

COMPLETELY Spill-proof! Corsair K68 Mechanical Keyboard YouTube.com

This Keyboard SPITS Soda, We Try It In Fortnite and CS:GO YouTube.com

Jake Harrington

Jake has been an avid mechanical keyboard user for the past six years. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and wants to apply his expertise to break down how mechanical keyboards work and show the world all of the cool aspects of the mechanical keyboard hobby.

Recent Content

%d bloggers like this: