The Vault - Fallout Wiki

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The Vault - Fallout Wiki
The Vault - Fallout Wiki
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For the Fallout 2 joke item, see Water chip (Fallout 2).
Water chip
Fo1 Intro Water chip OR.png
Value$ 10000
QuestsFind the Water Chip.
Message FilePRO ITEM.MSG

The water purification control chip is the cornerstone of the Vault-Tec Industries water purification systems installed in Vaults.


The chip that controls the system is a fine example of 21st century electronics. It is a large circuit board with embedded vacuum tubes that regulates the filtration systems inside the water purifier and monitors the output for signs of contamination.[1][2] While the water chip can be jury-rigged for small scale water purification,[3] it is specifically designed to interface with Vault water computers (via a specific slot and jack; the chip still requires independent power supply through its own cord), making it useless for large scale water purification without a Vault.[4]

While it is theoretically designed to last, the chips were manufactured by a low-bid contractor, resulting in poor quality and a high failure rate. Such was the case with Vault 13 in 2161, exacerbated by the fact that the process was too complicated for a workaround system.[5] Perhaps that is the reason they came in boxes with five chips each.[6]

Fortunately, the chips are interchangeable and work in any Vault water computer, they just require a self-test and reboot after connecting.[7]


Behind the scenes

The visual of the waterchip just evolved into a visual joke while I was modeling it - I thought it would be funny to be showing the simplest, most basic motherboard type thing while the overseer was describing something so complex they couldn't hack together a workaround. That was how a lot of the design went on those things - we'd just come up with something we thought was funny while we were filling in the details. A specific detail I've never seen anybody mention is that the schematic behind the waterchip is actually for a Moog synthesizer.

Leonard Boyarsky
  • Technically, the water chip is not a chip at all. The term is reserved for devices using integrated circuits, an invention that has never really caught on by 2077, printed on circuit boards. The water "chip" is a large processing unit built on a full metal chassis with thermionic vacuum tubes.
  • The blueprint shown in the background of the intro is actually a schematic diagram for a Moog synthesizer.[8]
  • In Fallout 2, the Guardian of Forever special encounter allows the player to break the water chip and set the events of Fallout in motion.


  1. Kane: "{156}{}{A water chip? Never heard of it, we only sell drinks. Go see Bob's Iguana Bits, if you're hungry.}"
    The Vault Dweller: "{157}{}{It's an electronic device that regulates the filtering system of a water purifier and monitors the output for any contamination. Mine's broken and I'm looking for a replacement.}"
  2. PRO ITEM.MSG (Fallout): "{5500}{}{Water Chip}"
    "{5501}{}{A water purification control computer system chip. Looks suprisingly like the chip that your Vault needs.}"
  3. Vault 101 terminals: "Experiment PP216: After "borrowing" a few more water chips and rerouting some of the power here in the clinic, I've finally been able to affect the latest sample. It's not much, but considering what I have to work with it, a definite step in the right direction."
  4. The Vault Dweller: "{104}{}{Do you have a water chip?}"
    Martha Rastello: "{112}{}{Water chip... hmm. Oh, those old Vault purifying control chips. Well, I'm sure I speak for the entire town when I say you won't find one here. Without the proper equipment they're worthless. Only a Vault, or maybe Necropolis would have any use for one. Why do you ask?}"
  5. The Vault Dweller: "{105}{}{Do you have a water chip?}"
    Paul: "{134}{}{A Water Chip? The ones from the old Vault-Tec shelters?}"
    The Vault Dweller: "{135}{}{Yes!.. Do you have one?}"
    "{136}{}{No. Those things were junk, they were prone to failure. We don’t deal with purifying our own water here. We have water delivered by caravans from the Hub.}"
  6. PRO ITEM.MSG (Fallout 2): "{5500}{}{Water Chip}"
    "{5501}{}{This is a Vault-Tec water chip. They are typically packaged in groups of five to a box.}"
  7. Jacoren: "{156}{Over_31}{Okey-dokey. One moment, the chip is initializing. Here - here - here - There it goes . . . Self-test is green . . . re-boot is good . . . Hah! It's working! And it looks like we have a winner! Haha! [The overseer sighs with relief.] You -- you've saved us. You've done it!}"
  8. RPG Codex interview with Leonard Boyarsky