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Acer's 15.6 inch E5-571 series laptop manufactured in 2014.

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I want to install an SSD in my laptop. Should I worry about ESD?

Hello there. If I forget something important , I'm sorry, this is my first post here after all.

A few weeks ago, I got an Acer Aspire E5-571 series laptop from a relative who didn't need it anymore.

While it is great that I was lucky enough to get a recent-ish laptop for school without having to spend a dime, I find it to far too slow. This is why I have decided to purchase a solid state drive to give it a new lease on life.

However, to get to the hard drive enclosure I must take the whole keyboard apart and get to the motherboard. Not wanting to zap any component with ESD, I have done extensive research on how reduce that risk to a minimum and this is where my problem comes in.

Accounts on wether or not one should use an antistatic wrist strap when working on a laptop seem to conflict each other. Some say they have worked on computers for decades without any antistatic equipment and have never fried anything, while others say it is very unsafe to work on electronics without such equipment.

Grounding also confuses me quite a bit. If I do get an anti static wrist strap, where should I clip it? On a metallic part of a desktop case? On a metallic part of the laptop itself? Is it enough to simply touch a faucet before starting? I'm not really sure.

Long story short: Should I use an anti static wrist strap and if so, how?

Answer this question I have this problem too

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It only takes one time of fighting for days to discover ESD damage (that can be intermittent) to make a believer out you. And I’ve done it.

Here’s a good guide on setting up an anti-static mat and/or wrist strap:

How to set up your Anti-static mat and wristband

Here is iFixit’s book on ESD: ESD Awareness Guide

ESD Awareness Guide Image

Product

ESD Awareness Guide

$2.99

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Yeah, on second thought, I'd really rather not take any risks, I'll just get a mat and a wrist strap. One more question though, do I need to attach the mat's alligator to laptop I'm working on or any unplugged computer?

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You need to tie the mat to a good ground point like an electrical outlets ground. Plug in an outlet tester to make sure. The pre-made mat should have one or two snaps mounted one is for the strap and the other is to tie the ground cord. The idea here is everything is on the mat so the static charge is drained off.

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Good advice Dan.

Salif, it is up to you. If unsure definitely use the strap. I guess I'm just very careful when touching boards. Never had ESD damage in 35 years.

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Hi Salif,

Your laptop can be upgraded to 16GB of RAM in two banks of 8GB. This web site will check for you:

http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/compatible...

The SSD drive will speed up loading of software. RAM will speed up the running of apps....O.K. just saw your reply.

Antistatic wrist straps are to be connected to the antistatic pad which you have placed on your bench. Look it up. BUT, if you are careful and just discharge your self by touching something metal, you should be alright. Just try to not touch any of metallic parts. Hold the RAM by the edge of its little circuit board, etc.

Just work slowly and carefully. Take photos of each stage and keep track of the screws and where they go . I use disposable plastic take away sauce containers. I presume you have watched some of the videos for your laptop? Good luck!

Mike

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Alright, so as long as I periodically touch something metal (like a PC case), I'm safe?

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Yes bare metal. When I do these jobs, I am very careful to only touch the edge of the circuit boards and slowly, slowly. If you are getting too tense then take a little break. Let us know how it goes.

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Thanks for the great advice, I will give you an update when I'm done.

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The rub is different people will encounter different conditions! Someone in a very dry environment can encounter ESD damage quite easily! Someone in a very humid environment is less likely to encounter this as a big a risk.

Now here in Boston in the middle of the winter we have to be extra careful, yet today it’s like soup outside but the AC is going full blast so we have very dry cool air inside so we also need to be careful as the risk is heightened.

Using a wrist strap is just a good move! Clipping the clip to the bare metal of the chassis of a system which is grounded via its power cord (I use a modified cord, where the ground pin in the plug end is the only pin, I cut the others off).

If you take a logic board out you really need a good ESD mat and it needs to be tied to ground and your strap also needs to be tied to the mat.

Bottomline here is be ESD smart! Don’t take the chance!

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So, I went ahead and did the replacement using a mat and... the keyboard isn't working... I guess I might have to get it replaced or repaired. Not going to lie, I'm pretty bummed out...

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Did you connect the pad to a ground point? As well as connect the wrist strap to the mat?

You might want to check the keyboard connector.

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Hi Salif, Yes keyboard connctor. They can be tricky. Check it.

How did the rest of the job go?

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For me, I'm in a humid environment and don't have problems with ESD - generally speaking I've always been able to get away with touching something with bare metal to cover myself once in a while but outside of that I really haven't had any problems with ESD in years. As long as you touch something metal once in a while, you should be fine. Modern boards made within a reasonable period of time are protected from ESD by design. While it isn't zero, the risk is inherently lower on these modern boards. You are more likely to damage bare components (Ex: EEPROM and processor) that aren't installed to the board then the assembled board.

That said, ESD isn't a load of crap either; it's real. However I do feel like the risk is overblown to scare people into treating it as if it's going to kill you in your sleep to some extent. As long as you're careful, use common sense and don't touch the actual components the risk is minimal, even if you don't use an ESD strap or mat. Touching bare metal will usually suffice.

However, you need to take the risk into account with how many precautions you take. I can get low end laptops like the Celeron and Pentium models for so little, I don't exactly stress over getting every single detail regarding ESD 100% correct for these systems. I usually just settle on touching something metal like the keyboard in this case. I'll certainly take greater precautions with higher value/uncommon equipment like dual GPU i7 machines since you don't see those as often as the run of the mill Intel video Pentium laptop.

If this is as good as you'll get for a while (relative to your other options), it's probably not worth the risk. Likewise, I don't take as many precautions on low spec equipment because it isn't hard to replace it compared to a dual GPU i7 laptop. Low end laptops are simply a dime a dozen, which is why I don't stress over it as much.

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MOSFET transistors are sensitive!

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That's why even though ESD is effectively a "don't be stupid" thing where I live, I still suggest taking some measures like using a strap if you aren't sure if you can go without one.

It's not a total write-off (even in a humid state), but the risk is lower then the companies selling the ESD protection mats and straps say it is. I think that's more then reasonable.

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i have never used any esd protection either to replace hard drives or motherboards. if you want more speed try installing the maximum ammout of ram

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I could do that, but on this particular model, the ram slots are behind the motherboard, making them even harder to reach than the drive bay :/

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Salif Diarra will be eternally grateful.
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