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Is That True Black PCB board Means High-end Product?

Black PCB board is More High-end?

I don’t know when the black PCB became a representative of high-end electronics in the minds of many people. But that’s true today many major manufacturers have adopted black PCB in motherboard design, such as Apple, Asus, MSI and so on. Some PCB manufacturers also use black as a premium parameter.

So is the black PCB really as high-end PCB as people feel? Today we will specifically discuss this issue.

iPhone Mainboard
iPhone Mainboard

First of all, to clarify what is solder mask

Solder mask refers to the colored ink directly printed onto the copper foil of the printed circuit board. At present, the common colors include green, red, yellow, blue, purple, white, and black, in which green is the most used.

The role of solder mask:

  1. Prevent physical disconnection of traces
  2. In the soldering process, prevent short circuit caused by bridge connection
  3. Solder only on the parts that must be soldered to avoid wasting
  4. Reduce copper ion pollution
  5. Prevent insulation deterioration and corrosion caused by external environmental factors such as dust and moisture
  6. High insulation, it increases the density of the circuit

Black PCB board = high-end product?

In fact, the difference between the black PCB and other PCBs such as green PCB, blue PCB, and yellow PCB is that the color of the solder resist paint is different. If the PCB design and manufacturing process are exactly the same, the color will not have any impact on performance. Those large brands didn’t use black PCBs as motherboards at the beginning, for example, until iPhone 4 was born, the motherboards of Apple’s products were still blue. While, the black PCB has some obvious disadvantages.

  1. Low surface resolution. With insufficient light sources, it is difficult to distinguish the routes on the surface of the black PCB, which makes it difficult for factory visual inspection and also a headache for DIY makers.
  2. Any slight stain or scratch will become noticeable on black PCBs, especially on matte black surfaces. Once transported and stored improperly, it may be an ugly look, and handling stains on black PCB might tend to make things worse.
  3. Black inks are a little bit more toxic. Although black inks are more expensive than green inks, the composition makes it more toxic. For PCB manufacturers, the wastewater treatment is also more trouble.


So, why these giant use black PCBs?

  • Anti-plagiarism. Because the traces of black PCB are difficult to distinguish with the naked eye, it can be counter-pirated somewhere.
  • Better visual experience. Black is usually synonymous with luxury. In the automotive field, the black shape can reflect its line design to the greatest extent, and it appears calm. Now this aesthetic is also cited in the electronics field.
  • As a panel or a matching shell. In the design of the front panel of many products, the black PCBs are the most popular, also often used to match the black case or chassis.
  • Cater to user preferences. The survey shows that the top 3 colors of PCBs that users like most are black, blue, and green, which do not only involve the color theory but also affected by the implication of the use of black PCB design by major brands. What is worth noting is that the user support of purple, yellow, and red is low, which may be due to the impression that these three color products are mainly in the low-end product lines.

Some misconceptions about black PCB

1. Black PCB increases the bad rate of PCB manufacturing?

Black PCB is not a rare application, especially under the premise that most PCB factories have AOI or even X-ray automatic detection equipment. If black PCB will significantly increase the bad rate of a factory, it is dubious whether this factory has capable of making good quality PCB boards.

2. The use of black PCBs reflects the brand’s confidence in the capabilities of its RD department and product quality?

The facilities of the RD department of the big brands are fully equipped, and it is rarely seen to manually inspect and repair the black PCBs. For them, no difference in different PCB colors. It is only difficult for some DIY makers.

3. Black PCB has better heat dissipation, so it is widely used?

According to the classical law of radiation of physics, black dissipates heat well, but it also absorbs higher heat, which will be a hidden danger in manufacturing and use. When we select a PCB based on its heat dissipation capability, it is never based on its color. If high termal conductivity needed, such as high-heat LED products, metalcore PCBs or ceramic PCBs are the ideal choices.

Another question, why is green the default option for PCB factories?

Green PCB
Green PCB
  1. Green has less irritation to the eyes. Teachers have told us since childhood that green is good for the eyes, protects the eyes, and resists fatigue. Production and maintenance personnel are not prone to eye fatigue when they stare at the PCB board for a long time and do less damage to the eyes.
  2. Low cost. Because green is the mainstream in the production process, the demand for green paint is very larger, and the purchase cost of green paint is lower than that of other colors.
  3. When the board is soldered, it needs to go through pick-n-place machine and AOI verification, both of which require optically positioned and calibrated. The green background has a better recognition effect on the instrument.

In conclusion

Choosing a black PCB, a green PCB, or a red PCB is not much different in essence. If the user feeling is the critical part, then the black PCB will look good. If the PCB is only an internal part, then the color will not be the main problem, green might be the regular choice. As an experienced PCB manufacturer, PS Electronics has always respected customers’ choices. Whether black PCB, green PCB or white PCB, we have a lot of production experience, advanced AOI, X-ray equipment, strict quality control, and the careful staff allow us to consistently deliver high-quality PCBs and PCBAs.

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