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COMPUTER SYSTEMS

A Computer Builder’s Guide to ESD
By: Dngrsone
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    2006-02-07

    Table of Contents:
  • A Computer Builder’s Guide to ESD
  • How bad is ESD really?
  • ESD protection
  • What can I do about static?

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    A Computer Builder’s Guide to ESD


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    When building a computer or working with any components inside of your PC, Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) should be a consideration. You should prepare properly to avoid ESD, or you might have some serious problems. It could even destroy your brand new hardware. Read this article by Dngrsone to find out more.

    So, you are about to build yourself a computer.  You researched the components, ordered the parts and now everything is sitting on a worktable, ready to be assembled.

    You open the box containing the motherboard and note that it's in a strange plastic bag.  Likewise the processor and even the memory sticks are packaged in bags and containers that say something along the lines of "ESDS" or "ESD Sensitive Component."

    "What is ESD," you wonder. "Should I take any precautions?"  You jump online to your favorite forums and posit the question: Should I use ESD prevention?  The answers you get are many and conflicting, and you are left wondering what you should do, whom should you trust.

    Fear not, brave assembler, for I have the answers to your questions.  I will detail for you what ESD is, how it is generated, what it can do to your components, and tell you what you can do to minimize the risk of damage from it.

    What is ESD?

    Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) is defined as the transfer of charge between bodies at different electrical potentials.  These different potentials are often classified as static electricity.  Clearly defined, static electricity is an electrical charge caused by an imbalance of electrons on the surface of a material.  The imbalance produces a measurable electric field.  By measureable, I'm talking about potentials ranging up into the tens of thousands of volts.

    ESD is what happens when you drag your feet on the carpet and "zap" yourself on a doorknob.  It's also the lightning you see during a thunderstorm.

    ESD can change the characteristics of an electrical or electronic component, degrading it, causing malfunction and, ultimately, failure.

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