Yesterday, I replaced my i5 2500k's stock cooler with a hyper 212 plus. After the installation, my computer would turn on but wouldn't boot. I'm in the process of RMAing my motherboard, which I think I static-killed while installing my cooler.
But what worries me is the chances that I static killed all of my components. A colleague of mine once mentioned a story when one time he sent a charge through his motherboard that went into all his components and destroyed his computer. When I turned my computer on (no beeps, so I think it's a motherboard error), all my components appeared to receive power properly, but I'm still not too sure if I static killed all of them.
Bottom line is: What are the chances that I static killed all of my components?
The chance that you static killed all your components in one fell swoop is zero. The chance that you static killed a single component is low, computer parts are becoming more and more resilient to such things. After fifteen years of tinkering, installing and uninstalling, and not being careful during any of it, I've seen zero damage from ESD. Just my experience.
I, too, doubt that you have killed all of your components. The only time I killes a mobo was when I tried switching cards in a live rig. What a dumass I was. In all probability the mobo wasn't connected properly (did you check to make sure all the power was reconnected?) on your restart. Before I'd ship it out I'd double check all the connections.
I would recheck your installation of the heatsink back-plate on the back of the motherboard. I cant count the amount of times people have installed them incorrectly and shorted out the board. If any metal from the back-plate touches any "component legs" that are sticking out the back of the motherboard you will short it out.
I've also seen some motherboards where the component legs were abnormally long or untrimmed. In those cases you need to carefully trim them off close to the board surface with some cutters any place where they will contact or come very close the the back-plate when installed. These legs are pointy and can poke right through rubber/foam insulating pads that are on most back-plates and contact the metal. Make sure the board is disconnected from a power source first before trimming and don't lose any of the cut off pieces of the legs as they might get stuck somewhere and short something else out!
ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) can kill a LOT of components on a motherboard, but will not likely hurt things like resistors, transistors, and capacitors. If it looks like a "chip", even a very small one, ESD can kill it. ESD generally will cause a component to degrade at a rapid rate (several months or a year) after the incident. It rarely will kill a component on contact unless it is an extremely sensitive or very low voltage component.
I don't think you can hurt anything with static electricity once it's all installed. Not at all. There are, however, many other ways of damaging a mobo, mechanical strain not least among them---you can break traces and feedthroughs by flexing the board. Pinching wires in screws, bending leads over, and shorting traces by misaligned installation of hardware are a few more ways.
You could have killed the motherboard. The most likely thing to die or be damaged is RAM, but killing the CPU or motherboard is also possible. The only thing that can really kill all your components though is a cheap and/or defective PSU.
Turns out the error was just a VERY stupid mistake on my part.
After I wiped off the old thermal compound from my i5 processor, I misaligned the processor in the motherboard. As in, I literally put it in rotated 90° (I was tired after a long day at school, which is an hour and a half of a commute away from my house, so I wasn't exactly paying attention when I put the processor back in).
That being said, the computer is working great now. I also must profess that the i5 is EXTREMELY well built. I locked it into place rotated 90° off and it appears to be working normally. The processor was not damaged or cracked at all.