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ESD damage to graphic card = being just hysterical (being claimed)


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Being a forum lurker, drifting between different forums when being bored, also among those for computers - like Toms hardware, and a couple of local forums.

Bored stuff - trying to make some sort of resyme here
So at one of the local foums, there was this user have ordered a graphic card, and somewhere between someone had touched it (visible fingermarks) and the user asked around if he should accept that or if he better return the product. He had paid full price, that is the package is supposed to not being opened - but in person I have not seen anything as this was only his claims on the forum.

So basically I adviced him to return the graphic card, reasoning that if somebody have opened the box and touch the (brand new) graphic card, there is a real chance that person touching the graphic card is not aware for any esd damages that may occur when not inside a proper bag.
This may or not be true as I haven't acually seing any schematic (and probably never will) that may answer if that craphic card have some sort of protection for esd damage, but still I rather bring this posibility to the user because he has paid full price for the product.

That forum was originally (early 2000) ment for people discussing computer problems, but has later mergerd with other forums and expanded, so all kind of users will be present - included those that never have used a screw driver.

Not long time after, here comes one of them troll (non-technical users bugging around writing lot of nonsense) claiming that my answering is just being hysterical bearing no grounds, and some other redicilous statements, which I rejected properly in a post - and after then another non-techy users throw himself into the discussion giving the "troll" credit with no reasoning at all.

No bad mind, I'm not mad or get upset by this - BUT - like any other forum I bet other people in future will have similar problems, they search the web and fint the thread - and sure enough thei will also find the trolling post the will obviously raise confusion on the matter. It surely happens in forums like this, but this is supposed to be focused on the electronics part, and a big part of the members will throw into the discussion and (thank you for that) rip apart false statements for future readers.

This is the part I want to have a discussion about

Because that local forum have that many members, many false statements will be standing forever not being discussed against. So what I'm basically want to discuss is how to best answer such comments, in a manner so that future readers (non-techy) got to understand that the trolls are trolls, even without have a decent cource on web to ground my statement.

Nigel Goodwin

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Most Helpful Member
Not long time after, here comes one of them troll (non-technical users bugging around writing lot of nonsense) claiming that my answering is just being hysterical bearing no grounds, and some other redicilous statements, which I rejected properly in a post - and after then another non-techy users throw himself into the discussion giving the "troll" credit with no reasoning at all.
Sorry, but I'm with him - you are been 'hysterical' - the chances of ESD damage is EXTREMELY slight, particularly on a built-up board. Even with individual components, the chances are still very small, but once those components are installed on a PCB the chances are much less likely.


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Most Helpful Member
I take the opposite view from Nigel.

Presumably the board was made in a factory which used good ESD practices.
The board was delivered in suitable ESD protective packaging.

That someone has opened the package and handled the board in an unknown environment,
it could be that it was handled correctly in an ESD protected environment, we do not know,
it could have been handled on a static generating carpet where you can draw great big sparks after walking a few steps.
I think Grossel is in Norway where it gets very cold and dry in winter - ESD Central!

I know for a fact that I have damaged chips due to poor ESD handling, big expensive chips, and my wife would not let me forget it!

Does that mean that I am a shining example of ESD handling here in my home workshop?
No I am not.
But if there is any doubt, I will put on the wrist strap before handling big expensive chips and boards.

The last place I worked, there were places where you could not enter unless you were wearing the correct ESD safe clothing and heal earthing straps.
Because failure of a unit when on the bottom of the sea would be both embarrassing and cost £1,000,000s to change out.

So, no, you are not being hysterical.



Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I'm with Nigel..

As the board was in the factory supplied anti-static packaging, it's impossible for anyone to have touched the board without already having discharged any possible potential difference between their body and the board.

Admittedly, if it was then put down, the person walked about & picked up a static charge then picked the board up again by something other than the bracket/metalwork, a possibly harmful static discharge could have occurred - but if it's a new board from a supplier in a sealed package, it seems rather more probable it was from some kind of random quality control check in the factory, rather than an end user.

It's one of my pet hates on non-technical computer forums - people advising others that they should use anti-static wristbands and claim that will avoid any possible static problem.

Wristbands are only useful in conjunction with a full ESD workstation; conductive flooring, bench surface & component storage etc..

A wristband alone does not magically remove any possible potential difference between the components and the user/ground; it's false security and if anything can make the situation worse.

Just with proper handling, any charge can be safely equalised when picking up or placing components, which can totally avoid any chance of static damage & without any special equipment.

A full workstation is convenient in large production situations as then handing is safe regardless of what's touched in what order.


Well-Known Member
Thanks, like to hear comments from "both sides", so I'm ok being claimed "hysterical" if good reasoning indeed.

So far, all of the posts above includes good arguments in some or another way. Like I said in first post - I have not in any way make any knowlegde in what person have handled the card, and I rather not know if packaging is being visible broken. That is the stupid thing I admit.

Now falling back on scambaiting uploads on youtube - some of them are really hillarious :woot:


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Most Helpful Member
i did have one VGA card get toasted by static, but when you hear (read) how this happened, you will see it's definitely a situation to avoid, and can easily be avoided just by keeping the board in it's antistatic bag. i worked for a banking equipment company, and was looking to put together a PC to use for testing hardware. one of the software guys said he had an extra VGA card with 4M of ram on it (you can guess this was a long time ago....). i continued putting the PC together, while this guy goes and gets the card in his office at the other end of the building (the corridor was of course, carpeted). unfortunately, it's not in an antistatic bag and when he gives it to me, there's a loud SNAP!, and i could feel that one all the way to my elbow... while i'm putting it in the machine, someone else who heard the snap came over and asked me if i thought it would work. i wasn't sure because the board was handed to me slot-cover first, and the other guy was holding it by the other end... when i tried turning on the PC, the power supply went into shutdown mode. i removed the vga card, and the computer would boot, so the VGA card was shorted. i eventually found another video card and got that machine running. that machine was the first machine i installed linux on, and it was very useful for testing PC hardware, and rebuilding crashed windows hard disks (yes, linux disk tools can repair windows partitions that get themselves corrupted).

i haven't had the VGA card mishap repeated since then. i usually keep cards in antistatic bags. when installing boards i keep a hand on the PC frame and the power supply plugged into the wall outlet, which provides a ground connection.

Now falling back on scambaiting uploads on youtube - some of them are really hillarious :woot:
my favorite ones are where they get the scammer to lock themselves out of their own computer by passwording the BIOS with a long impossible to remember random password. or they let the scammer break into their computer (or a virtual machine) which is infected with destructive malware which instantly begins breaking stuff on the scammer's computer.

there's one on youtube where the guy sets his computer up with the FBI seal as the background, and makes it look very much like what you might expect an FBI agent's computer to look like. then he gets the scammer to run TeamViewer, or whatever else the scammers use to remote in to the victim's PC. when the scammer starts nosing around in the baiter's PC, they suddenly come up with "oh, i'm sorry, i got the wrong contact info, your PC is fine, i just had the wrong phone number..."
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