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Static causes BSOD

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February 15, 2013 7:04:27 PM

I have a reoccurring and consistent problem with my computer. Virtually every time the case gets touched resulting in a static shock, I get a BSOD. I can always restart without issue. I have looked throughout the case for anything obvious, plugged the computer into another outlet and cannot get the problem to stop. This has been happening for over a year and I'm afraid at some point this may result in hardware damage.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. -Pete

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a b B Homebuilt system
February 15, 2013 7:09:55 PM

Pete_59 said:
I have a reoccurring and consistent problem with my computer. Virtually every time the case gets touched resulting in a static shock, I get a BSOD. I can always restart without issue. I have looked throughout the case for anything obvious, plugged the computer into another outlet and cannot get the problem to stop. This has been happening for over a year and I'm afraid at some point this may result in hardware damage.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. -Pete


It sounds as if the case isn't grounded, or grounded well. Can you verify the ground continuity of your outlet ? Try a surge protector with a proper-ground indicator LED, or one of those cheap HomeDepot wall plug testers.

That static electricity needs to be dissipated into the wall.
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February 15, 2013 8:52:39 PM

I have ground continuity from the outlet the computer is plugged into and other house outlets. The case has continuity to the ground in the computer plug. So at this point it seems the problem would be within the case itself?
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February 15, 2013 8:53:08 PM

A simple sounding problem that might not be so simple..

Maybe your computer power supply cord has a bad ground.
1. Get a multimeter (a test light with small battery will also work).
2. Set the multimeter to Ohms, put the leads together and see what your reading is, it should be close to 0 Ohms (a dead short).
3. With the outlet side of the cord unplugged, keep the other end into the power supply. It should read close to 0 ohms from the ground on the plug to the case.
4. Put each lead on the middle ground wire on your cord, if it's not close to 0 ohms, it's just a bad cord.
5. Maybe you case is painted and when you installed your power supply, the mounting screws are not grounding the power supply to the case. Take one screw out and scratch the paint off neatly where the screw touches the case. Reinstall the screw. (you want to only scratch the paint off where the circle mark is in the paint that the screw made or it will look like crap.)
If not the power supply has a bad ground inside.

6 A. If your home is a rental, call your caretaker DO NOT REPAIR A RENTAL.
It is likely they wont want to fix it. Run a small wire from your case to something metal like a water line to make your own grounding wire if you can. (The outside braided shielding wire on your cable tv/internet coax cable should also be grounded and work too)
Or paint or cover any metal parts on your case so that you can't spark them.

6 B. If your home lacks the third grounding lug on various plugs and was built before 1950, it might have "knob and tube wiring" and a ground wire does not exist. It is fairly common for people to "cheat" and put in a 3 prong plug when there is in fact no ground wire connected to it. If your panel has fuses and not breakers, it probably lacks ground wires.
Be careful not to touch a tap when using a appliance or your stove. No this is not so safe and this is why houses are now wired with a ground wire. Do google "knob and tube wiring" so you know the hazards of this kind of wiring.

6 C . If the above 1-5 tests checked out good. Your home might have a wiring problem. THAT IS A BIG DEAL AND VERY DANGEROUS, AND ANY GROUND FAULT PLUGS OR BREAKERS WILL NO LONGER PROTECT YOU FROM SHOCK.

Most homes are grounded to a water line, or grounding rods, some are grounded to the metal natural gas line. It could just be a bad plug at the outlet too. A corroded connection is the most common trouble. It might be as simple as the ground just dried out and needs to be watered around the grounding rods.

If your home was built between 1968 and 1986, you might have silver colored aluminum wiring. It is common for the connections to get loose or corrode. Tightening the screws normally fixes it. This wire was banned after about 1986.
A bad connection at the plug is the most common. Yes do google this too if you find out you have aluminum wiring. In spite of the bad things people say, with some maintenance it can be ok.

The grounding plug should read close to 0 ohms or light up your test light when going from the grounding lug to the left blade plug (the common). If not you have a bad ground.
(you can buy cheap testing plugs that have led lights on them that tell you this too)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDhYDY9A4TI

IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH HOME WIRING, CALL A FRIEND WHO IS, OR GET A ELECTRICIAN.
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February 15, 2013 9:37:32 PM

I have a digital multimeter that I use for all my testing. There is continuity with the case and the ground lug on the power cord indicating continuity of the case and the power supply.

I don't believe the home wiring is an issue, I had the house built in 1993 and as I said, there is continuity between outlet grounds.

I'm assuming is must be something within the case, I just don't know where else to look.
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February 15, 2013 9:50:07 PM

Hi Pete,

Take care to notice where you are touching the case when the BSOD happens. I agree that your ground continuity is most likely OK between your Power supply and your outlet earth ground. This does not mean your entire case is properly grounded as I have witnessed in the passed with chrome plating paint on buttons or chrome plated plastic molding attached to the case and conducting the stray ESD via a spring behind the buttons into your system. Do you know the make/model of your case, power supply and Motherboard?
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February 15, 2013 10:03:30 PM

The shock has caused the BSOD by touching the case in multiple locations.

Case - Cooler Master RC690
MB - Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3R

Thanks for everyone's ideas!
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February 15, 2013 10:15:56 PM

Is your front panel USB/audio combo cable connected to the motherboard... also known as the I/O panel cable? In other words does your front panel headphone/mic and USB ports work?
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February 15, 2013 10:16:55 PM

1993 is pretty good, a major building code and wiring code change was made in 1988. I doubt its your house wiring now.

Many power supplies are painted too. Maybe try and take a screw out and reinstall it about 10 times because the threads might be painted over too.

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February 15, 2013 10:26:23 PM

Your case appears to have a removable Front Bezel and I do see what appears to be chrome plated plastic molding on the front. You may want to provide your own grounding from that bezel to the case/power supply mounting screw as a sanity check.
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February 15, 2013 11:02:09 PM

I worked the PS screws verifying good contact. Grounding the bezel is an excellent idea! While looking at that I checked the continuity of the bezel to the case frame and found there is NO CONTINUITY. Static shock must be finding it's way from the metallic parts of the bezel through the USB ports on the top of the case, to the MB.

Any suggestions on how best to ground the bezel?

Thanks for the help!
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2013 12:52:11 PM

Pete_59 said:
I worked the PS screws verifying good contact. Grounding the bezel is an excellent idea! While looking at that I checked the continuity of the bezel to the case frame and found there is NO CONTINUITY. Static shock must be finding it's way from the metallic parts of the bezel through the USB ports on the top of the case, to the MB.

Any suggestions on how best to ground the bezel?

Thanks for the help!


I would check the front USB Ports to the motherboard connection. Make sure there is continuity on that ground between the USB ground to the motherboard ground (try the back ports metallic exposures for ground point to test).

If the bezel is plated or just plastic, then usually they are not grounded.

Also, is your power supply the one that came with the case ? If so, that's an awful power supply to my memory...
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February 16, 2013 5:46:58 PM

Maxx_Power said:
I would check the front USB Ports to the motherboard connection. Make sure there is continuity on that ground between the USB ground to the motherboard ground (try the back ports metallic exposures for ground point to test).

If the bezel is plated or just plastic, then usually they are not grounded.

Also, is your power supply the one that came with the case ? If so, that's an awful power supply to my memory...


I ran a ground from the metallic parts of the bezel to the case frame and now have ground continuity including the USB metallic exposures.

The case didn't come with a PS, I installed an OCZ StealthXStream - OCZ600SXS.

Hopefully this cures the problem, but only time will tell. I'm surprised others haven't had this same issue with this case.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2013 7:07:56 PM

Pete_59 said:
I ran a ground from the metallic parts of the bezel to the case frame and now have ground continuity including the USB metallic exposures.

The case didn't come with a PS, I installed an OCZ StealthXStream - OCZ600SXS.

Hopefully this cures the problem, but only time will tell. I'm surprised others haven't had this same issue with this case.


It is a combination of the case+board+PSU, I would think. Usually the board should ground the shielding parts of the connectors, and the ground plane should have a very low resistance to the PSU ground, and this PSU ground to the house-ground. So if there is any current on those parts, it gets shunted to ground. What I suspect is happening is that some onboard IC (possibly USB controllers) have very poor bypassing and power filtering, and the ground is shared with the return on those USB ports (so the shield and 0V line are the same), then a voltage surge (say static discharge) on this line seems like a large voltage change on those lines, and either the controllers suddenly crash or some IC higher up on the electrical tree (say the southbridge) experiences the fluctuation and shuts down. The fact you get a BSOD says that some part of the board is not cleanly shutting down, as would be the case if the board power management senses the power fluctuation and shuts down due to over/under-voltage, so the static isn't travelling that far up the chain, and is likely causing more local issues.

The other explanation is that the static is somehow jumping traces onboard, which means that some traces are either too close together, or have poor insulation between them, and it could be the USB connector/cable assembly itself. However, I don't see how if the surge got into the signal lines, it would shut down the whole system with a BSOD, usually you just get a malfunctioned device warning for a non-critical device.
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February 26, 2013 12:13:36 PM

Best answer selected by Pete_59.
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March 26, 2013 6:28:25 AM

Just a quick update...I have not had a BSOD problem since grounding all the metal and metal coated areas on the bezel. Static must have been traveling from the bezel through the USB shielding causing the issues.

Thanks again for all the help!
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April 10, 2013 1:50:34 PM

Good to hear Pete. Others are sure to have the problem and certainly the manufacturer has heard of it although, they may not admit it. I tend to avoid anything chrome or chrome-plated on plastic bezels.
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