How To : install computer hardware at difficult times

In my experience in installing hardware inside, I’ve learned that nothing goes in easy all the time. As much as manuals and booklets tell you that ZIF means no pressure to push down the lever on CPU sockets, the reality is, there is going to be some pressure involved.

The first time I installed an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ processor in a PGA ZIF socket, I thought I broke it because I had to use a lot of pressure to push down the lever to lock the CPU in the socket correctly. But then, when I finally turned on the computer, apparently I had done it correctly, because it booted up fine and I actually still have it to this day.

So yeah, hardware is going to be a pain to install sometimes. That’s reality.

Another reality is, installing RAM sticks in RAM slots.

Another one of those “it’s real easy, no problem” deals.

You’re going to run into difficulty.

So during my experiences with hardware, I’ve also learned easier ways of installing hardware, without hurting yourself or the hardware.

We can start with the CPU I suppose. This of course goes for PGA ZIF style socket processors. Ol skool Intel processors, modern AMD processors.

The thing you need to remember is as follows. Stay away from electric or magnetic tools. If it creates any outside force (i.e. magnetic or electrical field) it’s bad! Computer hardware is very sensitive and expensive.

So get yourself a nice screwdriver with a plastic handle and push bits.

There is a metal latch on both sides of the stock heat sink and fan unit that came with the processor on PGA style CPUs. That latch is for the plastic unit that will hold the heat sink unit onto the motherboard.

You want to get the other latch holding the plastic on the opposite side. And then put a screw driver in the hole of the latch with a hole and pull towards yourself. It will automatically do what it’s suppose to do.

RAM sticks.

They can be a pain for sure. They are thin and you want to be careful to take precautions not to touch or damage the black chips on either side. But what happens when they refuse to be inserted into the slot?

I’ve had this happen many times before. I hated installing RAM because of this. But then I got smart.

The handle on my non magnetic non electric screw driver was all plastic. So I just pressed down on one side of the RAM stick and snapped it into the plastic latch and then used the plastic handle on my screwdriver to push the other side down. It locked into place perfectly.

And my finger was saved the aggravation.

You can do the same for those pesky video cards if they are AGP style. Just remember to insure the latch is locked when you push it in.

Obviously you don’t want to overdo it and break the cards. Exercise proper ESD methodsĀ  and use some common sense. But tools can be used to properly install hardware in the computer when your fingers just won’t do it.

As for other problems that I’ve had with computer hardware, if the hardware isn’t fitting in the slot or space where it’s suppose to be fitting, it’s good to ask why?

Sometimes something is in it’s way. For example, I’ve had computer chassis houses that the optical drive wouldn’t fit in. And after a few minutes of trying to shove it in the 5.25″ slot, I pulled it out and looked in the slot. One of the metal levels was bent up. Therefore the optical drive could not slide into the slot properly. I had to go and bent it back down and make sure it was leveled before I could put the drive inside. Which, once I did, it slid in perfectly.

Same thing goes for the plastic front face panel. You can take that off with a screwdriver as well. Just remember not to accidentally short out any circuit board for the USB or front audio or whatever.

Another tip, don’t assume the motherboard is dead until you have at least tried to boot it up properly. For example if you spilled something on the boards surface or dropped something and think you’ve ruined the board. Don’t assume it until you’ve tried to boot it up. I’ve done this a couple of times and feared the worst until I tried to boot it up and realized it was actually fine. Yes computers are sensitive, but make sure it’s broken before you try to fix it or throw it out.

You’re going to want to make sure that whatever you’re storing computer parts in is a standard anti static bag. Another stupid mistake i’ve made before, using old poor quality anti static bags. If you need to store these things, or at least have a platform for working with them, I’d recommend getting new ones from time to time. The last thing you want to do is short out a customers video card because you were too lazy to have a proper work area and follow the safety rules.

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