A computer components & hardware forum. HardwareBanter

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » HardwareBanter forum » Processors » Overclocking AMD Processors
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

How to Fix Your Computer

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 11th 03, 09:39 AM
Ben Dellar
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a
Default How to Fix Your Computer

Many computer users perform their own hardware upgrades, and a

distressing number of these result in insufficient damage to the

system. Destroying your own computer is every user's right and is

the pattern of behaviour expected by the manufacturers and,

especially, repair personnel, whose very livelihood is put in peril

by those users who perversely persist in correctly upgrading their


This article will explain to you, the user, the most common ways by

which you can cause your computer to cease to function. Follow the

instructions carefully and you will shortly find yourself making

appropriate contributions to the all-important service sector.

First, it is essential to be incorrectly prepared.

When opening the case of your computer, you will probably be

presented with a number of hexagonal head Phillips-slotted screws.

These can be easily removed with a Phillips screwdriver or 6mm nut

driver, but using a flathead screwdriver, especially one that is

slightly too big, maximises the chance of the screwdriver slipping

from the screw head and smashing into one or another of the

computer's connectors. Personal injury is also possible, especially

if excessive force is used when turning a screw the wrong way, but

the object is to damage the computer, not yourself.

If any components of your computer are held in place with Pozidriv

screws (superficially similar to Phillips head screws, but

recognisable by the cross scored on the screw-head at 45 degrees to

the slots), use of a Phillips head driver instead of the squarer

tipped Pozidriv gives the maximum chance of reaming out the screw

head and, with luck, damaging the driver as well.

When removing screws from the back of an ordinary clone case, ensure

that you extract every screw in sight, not just the ones around the

edge that actually hold the case on. This will, with any luck, cause

the computer's power supply to fall off inside the case and cause

serious damage, before you even have to take off the lid.

Leaving one fastening screw still done up in the corner and then

attempting to wrench off the case may cause significant damage to

the metalwork, but this is generally easily bent back into shape and

not very expensive to replace. You can do better.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of computer case designs, and a

gratifying number are fiendishly difficult to take apart and,

especially, reassemble. To maximise the chance of damage, ignore any

locking tabs and slots, don't worry about pinching cables in the

case, and make sure you push really hard.

When replacing screws, remember to tighten everything as if the

computer were a major structural component of the Sydney Harbour

Bridge. Overtightening screws increases the chance of reaming the

heads, and the extra frustration involved in removing super-tight

screws increases the chance that someone will give up and turn the

machine over to a professional. Use of an electric screwdriver makes

screw destruction easy for anyone.

Use of computer cases as furniture is an excellent way to obey your

entropic imperatives. Many PC cases are in fact very strong, and so

it's necessary to balance large monitors, tabletops, grand pianos

and twelve foot fireproof safes upon them to ensure rapid

destruction. Fortunately, the pop-riveted construction of most cases

and their poor endurance under lateral loads means that even

relatively small stresses can, over time, cause sufficient

structural creep to snap a solidly attached motherboard. Patience,

and not buying enough chairs, can be a virtue.

Static Is Your Friend

It is possible to destroy computer components just by touching them,

thanks to electrostatic discharge (ESD). Static electricity

accumulates best on humans when the air is dry and both the carpet

and the soles of the shoes are made of synthetic materials.

Unfortunately, static discharge damage is actually a fairly rare

cause of computer problems. On the bright side, however, a discharge

as low as 200 volts is sufficient to destroy a chip, and this level

of charge can easily be accumulated in just a few steps on carpet.

Static discharge can only be felt when the charge gets up around the

2000 volt mark, so it's possible for a truly adept user to

unknowingly destroy several components in one session.

If the user employs an anti-static discharge strap connected to an

earthed object or simply leaves the computer plugged in (thus

maintaining the chassis earth connection) and takes care to touch

some exposed metal on the power supply before handling

static-sensitive components (and periodically during the job), the

chance of static damage becomes depressingly low.

Old-fashioned belt-drive vacuum cleaners are quite efficient static

electricity generators, so cleaning computer componentry with one is

an excellent way to bolster the income of a service engineer. Newer

cleaners are still good at accumulating static, and are also quite

powerful enough to seriously damage fragile components with sheer


Air force

Electronics stores stock canned "air duster", which is actually

compressed difluoroethane gas, and can be used to clean various

devices. Air duster is quite useful for cleaning more robust items,

but can also be usefully employed in computer destruction, where it

is more than capable of blowing chips out of sockets, spinning fans

to prodigious speeds and destroying their tiny brushless motor

assemblies, and, of course, redistributing dust from relatively

accessible locations to far more exciting ones, like deep inside

expansion card connectors and CD-ROM drives.

For truly powerful air-blasting, though, the discerning user will

have to employ the services of an air compressor. These can be

rented cheaply from many equipment hire shops, and as well as their

greater power (which can snap a RAM module and its socket right off

the board) offer the added bonus of high-speed water delivery,

provided of course that the user makes sure not to use the

condensation drain valve provided for less focussed operators.

Get it wet!

Contact with plain water is surprisingly unlikely to destroy

computer componentry, unless the device in question is left wet for

a while. Beverages like coffee, tea and (especially) cola are much

more effective, and so it is important to have a tall, unstable

container of one or more of these within elbowing distance of the

work area. Crumbs of food can foul connectors and floppy drive

moving parts, but intensive open-mouthed chewing over the computer

is required for a reliable kill.

Killing chips

If the job involves inserting or removing socketed chips, the

options for destruction of expensive devices open up enormously.

Inserting and removing Pin Grid Array (PGA) processor chips in Zero

Insertion Force (ZIF) sockets is unlikely to break anything, unless

the user somehow manages not to operate the locking lever and forces

the issue. PGA chips in old-style sockets are easier to damage; PGA

pins are annoyingly hard to bend, but the forest of pins under the

processor gives many chances to bend just one and make the chip


If the computer is an 80486-based system, the Central Processing

Unit (CPU) can be plugged into its socket in more than one way. One

corner of the processor is bevelled and the matching corner of the

socket will also be marked, but if these markings are disregarded -

or if the user decides instead to line up the printing on the CPU

with that on the motherboard - then the processor can be inserted in

one of the three other alignments. This makes the chip's

destruction, possibly with the emission of smoke, quite likely.

Intel regrettably made processor misalignment impossible with the

introduction of the Pentium series, unless of course the

enterprising user is equipped with a mallet.

Conventional Dual Inline Package (DIP) chips, with a rowof pins

along either side, are much more gratifyingly susceptible to damage.

The very best tool for bending and breaking pins on DIP chips is the

inexpensive springy "chip extractor" available at various

electronics stores. U-shaped, the steel tool has an inward bent lip

on the end of each leg, and is designed to hook both ends of a chip

at once, and give the user the impression that it will in fact

extract both ends at once.

This never happens.

When one end of the (usually very firmly inserted) chip comes out of

the socket, the considerable pull being exerted by the user

immediately causes that end to be lifted well clear of the board

while the last few ranks of pins are still plugged in, resulting in

badly bent or broken pins which are difficult to bend back and very,

very difficult to repair.

Truly adept users can also hook a DIP chip extractor under the

socket, not the chip, and bodily rip it from its soldered-in

location. This can lift tracks from the board and render it

practically irreparable, if done with sufficient gusto.

Chips are much less likely to be damaged if a small screwdriver is

used to lever each end in turn up a little at a time, until the

whole chip comes free at once. Those who have purchased stock in

chip makers recommend against this strategy.

The other common kind of chip package is Plastic Leadless Chip

Carrier (PLCC), which is square with a row of contacts on each side

and which fits into a socket somewhat reminiscent of an above-ground

swimming pool. It is difficult to insert these chips incorrectly,

since one corner is bevelled so they can only fit into the socket

one way, and firm pressure snaps them into place annoyingly


It is also hard to break PLCC chips when removing them; a

purpose-built PLCC extractor does it in a snap and has none of the

redeeming danger of the DIP extracting tools, and removing PLCCs by

prying under the corners with a very small screwdriver is annoying,

but not very hazardous. Fortunately, users seldom have to work with

PLCC chips, and the other types are satisfyingly easy to break.

Inserting Single Inline Memory Modules (SIMMs) should be relatively

simple, since SIMM sockets require one only to insert the module at

an angle, then swing it upright until the locking clips click into

place. Fortunately, many PCs are cramped inside and have at least

one SIMM socket fouled by the power supply or other metalwork,

making it more difficult to insert a memory module in that socket

without damaging it or the socket. Inserting modules backwards (even

though they are designed not to fit that way), jamming them straight

in vertically and, of course, using plenty of force, increase the

chance of a misadventure.

Bugger the BIOS!

The ceaseless march of progress has made it possible to wreak

functionally unfixable harm upon essential computer components

without inflicting any physical trauma at all. Modern "flash"

BIOSes, which allow the Basic Input/Output System software of a PC

motherboard to be upgraded by the user, afford considerable

potential for harm.

If a flash BIOS is "flashed" with the wrong data - preferably a BIOS

for a completely different motherboard, or, if the flashing software

will accept it, even some randomly selected file; an MP3 of William

Shatner's "Mr Tambourine Man" is ideal - the motherboard will, upon

restarting, utterly fail to do anything useful until its BIOS chip

is physically removed and re-burned with correct data. Interrupting

the flashing procedure will produce the same results.

If the BIOS is socketed, exchanging it for a working one is

disturbingly easy. Fortunately, many current BIOS chips are soldered

to the motherboard, and cannot be economically replaced. The

iniquitous invasion of motherboards with built-in BIOS backups must

be stopped at all costs, lest their terrible reliability paralyse

the industry.

Cables, connectors and calamity

Ribbon cables are often difficult to plug in incorrectly, because

the connectors they go into are "keyed" to match the cable in only

one orientation. If a ribbon cable plugs into a bare pin header with

no surround, though, damage can result if the user takes note of the

tiny "1" often printed on the circuit board by the connector to

indicate pin one, and also takes note of the stripe on the cable

which indicates which side is should connect to pin one, and

reverses the connector. Incompetently made cables with one end

backwards make this much simpler. Note that reversing a cable at

BOTH ends is likely to result in perfect operation of the hardware,

which is not the aim of this exercise.

If the pin header on the motherboard isn't "shrouded" - surrounded

by a plastic box to correctly align the plug - the intrepid user can

quite easily connect the plug in such a way as to miss one row or

column of pins. This can very excitingly change the details of the

connection being made.

When connecting an older style, "AT" power supply to a motherboard,

the two-part power connector offers a marvellous opportunity for

destruction. Make sure at all costs to avoid the plug configuration

shown below.

This configuration, with the black wires towards the centre, will

cause the computer to work perfectly. Reversing the two plugs so

that the red wires are towards the centre will, gratifyingly,

destroy the motherboard. Some manufacturers appear to have

temporarily abandoned their sanity and made AT power supplies that

will not work when connected incorrectly. Such supplies are, of

course, to be avoided if at all possible.

Fortunately, modern motherboards have introduced a new way to blast

tracks clean off the board. On-board fan connectors have three pins,

and two adjacent ones are the positive and ground supply. Mistaking

one of these connectors for a motherboard configuration jumper

allows the adept user to slip a jumper block onto the fan connector

and short the positive pin to ground, which can and will burn out

traces on the motherboard and render it useful only as a wall

decoration. Motherboard manufacturers are clearly aware of this

possibility, and some assist by labelling, say, a three pin CMOS

clearing jumper block "JP2", and marking the CPU fan connector "J2".

The use of the normal motherboard annotation font (one point

Flyspeck Sans Serif) makes misidentification simple even for those

with perfect vision.

Plugging and unplugging peripherals that attach to computer ports

while the machine is turned on is unlikely to damage the peripherals

and not much more likely to damage the computer - plugging and

unplugging cards inside the computer when it's on is a much better

way to damage things.

If, in the course of diagnosing a problem, you have a hard drive out

of its assigned bay and resting on top of the open machine, remember

that the logic board under the drive can generally be shorted out

easily by chassis metalwork and position the device accordingly.

PSU pulverisation

Power supplies can be obliterated in a number of ways. The simplest

is provided by the ubiquitous voltage selector switch on the back.

If the user is lucky enough to reside in a country where the mains

supply is 220V or higher, switching a computer PSU to the 110V

setting will result in a satisfyingly exploded supply, and possible

considerable secondary damage.

In comparison, the more pedestrian sport of dropping screws into the

PSU fan in hopes that they will cause a dramatic short circuit is

scarcely necessary. Particularly in view of the fact that the fan

often spits them back out.

Remember - slapdash, ill-informed, incompetent work is what's

expected of you. Don't let the industry down.

Old November 11th 03, 09:41 PM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

"Ben Dellar" wrote in message

You left out dropping the hard drive(s) on a concrete floor!
And leaving the plastic tape over the thermal pad on the heat sink.
And neglecting to plug in the cpu fan!

Old November 11th 03, 09:41 PM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

"Ben Dellar" wrote in message

You left out dropping the hard drive(s) on a concrete floor!
And leaving the plastic tape over the thermal pad on the heat sink.
And neglecting to plug in the cpu fan!

Old November 12th 03, 01:39 AM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Ben Dellar wrote:

or simply leaves the computer plugged in (thus

maintaining the chassis earth connection)


Old November 12th 03, 01:39 AM
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Ben Dellar wrote:

or simply leaves the computer plugged in (thus

maintaining the chassis earth connection)



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Off Topic - Lou Costello buys a computer :J:W:B: General 0 September 1st 04 03:37 PM
Hewlett-Packard & Circuit City Richard E Sgrignoli General 2 March 17th 04 09:42 AM
Major Computer Problems Toronto Garage Door Company General 20 November 13th 03 09:41 PM
how to trace a stolen computer ? General 3 October 9th 03 03:14 AM
Silent Computer - Advice David Taylor General 49 October 7th 03 11:26 AM

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 08:54 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2022 HardwareBanter.
The comments are property of their posters.