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Post-Build Static Electricity Risks

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  • Power Supplies
  • Computers
  • Build
  • Components
Last response: in Components
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January 25, 2013 4:46:02 AM

So I have this question that's been nagging at me whilst I prepare to build my first gaming computer: I live in an apartment building (mostly carpet in my apartment, save for the kitchen, bathroom, and front closet) where there seems to be a great deal of static. It doesn't exactly help that it's very warm, so I usually keep a window open most of the time (even in the winter, when it can be easily -15C, meaning the air can become very dry... and static-y).

So, naturally, I'm concerned about my new computer and static electricity. Especially since I have a cat that loves to rub his statically charged furry self all over everything. So I guess my question is this: Just how well will a case (assuming it's mostly metal) protect my components from static electricity?

I mean, the problem can't be that bad, since I'm writing this from a computer (2008 MacBook, white plastic enclosure) in my apartment right now, and my cat has been rubbing himself all over me and my computer. But that said, my computer's performance has only been getting more abysmal lately. Of course, it is 5 years old...

What are people's thoughts? As someone who wishes he had a better grasp on the tenets of static electricity, I would think that a conductive (steel or aluminum?) case with rubber feet and a PSU connected to an outlet with a grounding wire would mean that I don't really have to worry. Would I be wrong? Do I need to keep my new build elevated somewhere my cat can't rub all over it?

*Side note: I'm aware of the risks associated with static when building. I plan to build in my kitchen, keep my cat locked out, and take several precautions against static (regularly grounding via faucet, wearing a rubber bracelet, etc.).

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a b ) Power supply
January 25, 2013 4:50:51 AM

Generally speaking, after you've build your rig, you should be totally risk-free from static electricity. Once everything is closed up inside your case, you have nothing to worry about.

Stand-offs will prevent your motherboard from making direct contact with any metal inside your case and as long as you don't have any random pieces of metal dangling around ( :lol:  ) you should be fine :) 

I'm sure there's still a risk even after you finish building, but I highly doubt it's anything to be worried about. Since you mentioned your room is warm and that you open your window on occasion, I would be more concerned about condensation building up inside your machine.

On a side note, if you want to give that MacBook a second life, try swapping out the HDD :)  I personally use a late 2007 MacBook as my laptop (Windows installed of course :lol:  ) whenever I'm not around my main rig.

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a c 1205 ) Power supply
January 25, 2013 4:56:39 AM

Opening a window in the middle of a cold winter just increases the potential for static electricity because cold air is dry (i.e. very low relative humidity).

To reduce the production of static electricity you need to humidify the air.
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January 25, 2013 5:29:38 AM

Thanks, mocchan :)  All good things to bear in mind. I was thinking of a RAM and CPU upgrade (not sure if this thing can take anything other than a Core 2 Duo, but I'm sure there are better Core 2 Duo's out there...). That said, my HDD is pretty full and I could maybe use some more space, so thanks for that little brain seed :) 

As for the condensation, since it's so dry in here already, I'm not overly concerned about that. I find even cold glasses of water don't find much condensation on them at my place :??: 

Quote:
Opening a window in the middle of a cold winter just increases the potential for static electricity because cold air is dry (i.e. very low relative humidity).

To reduce the production of static electricity you need to humidify the air.


And ko888, I'm aware that the cold makes for drier, more static-y air. That's why I said... exactly that. But what with my carpet and my cat, the static electricity in my apartment isn't going away any time soon, even if I buy a humidifier (which I won't be). I was looking more for people's opinions and input on whether the existing (and pervading) static will be a problem. Thanks for the thought, though.
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a c 1205 ) Power supply
January 25, 2013 4:46:23 PM

SyntaxSocialist said:
Thanks, mocchan :)  All good things to bear in mind. I was thinking of a RAM and CPU upgrade (not sure if this thing can take anything other than a Core 2 Duo, but I'm sure there are better Core 2 Duo's out there...). That said, my HDD is pretty full and I could maybe use some more space, so thanks for that little brain seed :) 

As for the condensation, since it's so dry in here already, I'm not overly concerned about that. I find even cold glasses of water don't find much condensation on them at my place :??: 

Quote:
Opening a window in the middle of a cold winter just increases the potential for static electricity because cold air is dry (i.e. very low relative humidity).

To reduce the production of static electricity you need to humidify the air.


And ko888, I'm aware that the cold makes for drier, more static-y air. That's why I said... exactly that. But what with my carpet and my cat, the static electricity in my apartment isn't going away any time soon, even if I buy a humidifier (which I won't be). I was looking more for people's opinions and input on whether the existing (and pervading) static will be a problem. Thanks for the thought, though.

I've seen USB controller chips damaged by static electricity so it can happen and it doesn't even matter if the case is well grounded.
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January 27, 2013 7:07:41 PM

Best answer selected by SyntaxSocialist.
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January 27, 2013 7:13:30 PM

Thanks ko888 :)  I'll definitely have to be careful about the USB and other peripherals then. Since the static seems to be more of a problem for my cat than for me (I only ever get shocked when I touch him, and never when I touch the faucets or doorknobs) I'll just have to keep him away from those ports—I guess by either placing/mounting the tower on a table or by having the peripheral ports otherwise out of his reach (on top of the case, or tucked away inside a cubby or something).
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