What is ESD and how is it created? In a nutshell ESD is a static charge which is created whenever there is movement between objects. Most individuals have a static charge that typically can reach levels of 5,000 volts; the human body can contain these high static charges through movement or by coming in contact with objects that contain high static voltages (some plastics have static voltages which can exceed 10,000 volts).
How do ESD charges damage electronic devices? Here is the issue; most electronic devices utilize some type of IC (Integrated Circuit) which can be damages by voltage levels as low as 8 volts! Inside the IC you will find a collection of very small transistors that are built into the electronic part using something referred to a P and N material (the gus of electronic parts). When electronic parts of exposed to ESD charges the junction between the P and N materials look as if a explosive device was detonated within the electronic part. Depending on the damage the electronic part could be totally defective or may fail within the near future.
How can ESD be prevented? Well we can never totally remove the ESD factor but there are things we can do to reduce the chance of ESD damaging your newly purchased motherboard:
- purchase a ESD Wrist Strap/Mat (kits can be purchased for less than $35)
- purchase Anti-Static Bags which can be use to store cards, memory and storage devices
- store motherboards in the Anti-Static bags within the motherboard box
- work on a grounded bench (ensure that your bench is truly grounded)
- maintain a RH (Relative Humidity) level of 60% or better using a room humidifier
Many of the items listed above can be purchased for less than $30 per item if you do some shopping (find someone to share the cost of 100 Anti-Static bags with).