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Handling Components Correctly

This section could have gone into the appendices of this walkthrough but its best to get the precautions here. The components you are handling are high precision ones built under highly controlled and standardized environments. They are fatal towards Electro-static Discharge or ESD. ESD, in our case, is the discharge of static electricity from our bodies into the micro components and it is true that ESD can destroy your computer components. So you need to handle them with care. But just how much careful do you have to be?

Walk into the backroom of any of those regular computer assemblers in your city and most usually youíll find that the guy digging into a computer is not wearing a wrist-strap. And yet the computers this store will turn out will be as reliable on average as any other computer assembler you could walk into.

Sure you could say "What about the big manufacturers? What about Dell and Compaq? Don't their techs wear wrist straps?" Sure they do. But the thing is, I don't believe that Dell (as one example) has a parts failure rate that is significantly lower than that of any other major or minor manufacturer, and if there is a minor difference, it would be because major manufacturers have a standardized quality control system in place that your local XYZ computer store is not going to be able to emulate. With a few simple precautions, there isnít much to worry about ESD.

Simple precautions such as these would do for you:

  • Build your computer on a hard surface, away from carpets if possible, since walking on carpets produce ESD.
  • Wear shoes or rubber footwear.
  • Wear a short-sleeved cotton shirt. Avoid synthetic.
  • Use the anti-static bags that come along the components as mats to rest the components on your workspace.
  • If you often get static shocks in your house, it may be a good idea to plug the power cord into the power supply (SMPS) and turn the switch on the SMPS to the OFF position. You can then touch the metal case of the power supply (or the unpainted metal area of the computer case if the PSU is already mounted) to ground yourself while you work. Be sure to unplug the power cord from the power supply before connecting any of the power cables to the components, however.
  • When handling computer components like motherboards, video cards, memory or even a hard drive it is best to hold them by the edges. This way you can avoid touching those conductors planted on the PCBs (printed circuit board).
  • Do not let your cat near the computer parts. Cats are walking death bombs.