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We handle computer parts without ESD protection most of the times. But what does it take to break one with ESD through human body? Let’s check it out!
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By: Mehdi Sadaghdar

Hi today, i'm preparing to go meet with the great lioness from the lioness tech tips channel. You know the guy from the sadliness meme make sure to subscribe to him because i'll be in his video. He wants to test something we keep saying ground yourself when you want to touch bare electronics like computer parts, because electrostatic discharge or esd from your body can kill them. Linus wants to know how easy it is to kill some ram memory modules.

By esd i mean we keep picking them up and they don't die. Is it all a conspiracy, i'm going to borrow an esd gun and shock linus? I mean join him for testing. We will wear masks due to pandemic, of course, which means you can't see our mouths and i can't dub any voice over on the video. You better not take our videos and make your own voiceovers hi, i'm here with linus, and we are going to do things.

Hi elektra boo: i love your channel you're awesome. Oh thanks! You're awesome, no you're, awesomer, no you're awesomest! No, you! No you! Now we have done tons of testing with linus already that you can watch over in his channel linus tech tips link in the description. There were laughs, cries and tons of pain and suffering and damage. What we do is we charge our own bodies with the esd gun to 10, 000 to 25, 000 volts and discharge from our finger to electronics and try to kill them.

And although we killed some electronics by the gun directly, we couldn't quite kill them discharging through. Linus's fingers i'ma be real. Super careful, that's my promise, just like i promised to my sponsors to expressvpn myself. What what's going on here? This is my sponsor.

No, i have a sponsor too. You know my sponsor fine i'll do mine at home. I keep using expressvpn because it's a reliable service that helps me get around locked content on youtube, netflix and others, and on top of everything, it provides another layer of security for my internet communications, so find out how you can get three months of expressvpn for free By visiting electro bull or clicking the link in the description, so we tried our best with linus to kill our rams and our best wasn't good enough. So i'm gon na see what it takes for us to kill.

This ram got a new victim. I have a question for you: is the heat spreader going to interfere with our ability to short a data line rather than a ground like it just seems to give us less access to the circuit board. Well, with the heat spreader, especially heat spreaders are connected to the ground. It means that if we zap that it will definitely go to the ground and the board probably wouldn't die which what we want, but these are not connected to ground.

I mean if they are not connected to the ground, then they can jump to a random point, and in that case it might be a data line and it could be to our advantage, even with that on. I think all the data and address lines are exposed on the side of the board here, so we should be able to zap that i'm thinking i'll connect these heat spreaders to ground and then try to find the data line then and just try to kill it With your finger yeah with my fingers, so this time i get to hold the gun yeah, exactly the rolls are switched to make it reasonable. Are you changing the voltage there? What don't change the voltage on me? Okay, to make it realistic, i'm going to connect the heat spreader to ground, so we are assuming that it's sitting on some conductive table, because it would be the worst case and then i zap it with my finger to a data or address line. That would be the strongest discharge and hopefully, we'll kill the ram.
Let's do it. So what linus is gon na do is to charge my my body with with what what did you do there go ahead, i'm not touching any other ground, it's just 12.. It's just 12.: i'm not good. Okay, go ahead! Charge me up so now i'm trying to find a data line, hopefully couch.

Oh, it was painful. I told you it was painful. I i feel your pain. Now i think that 20., oh, my god, no well.

Let's try it now. I think i, if i'm not wrong, maybe i jump to a data line. Let's see if it's dead or not uh, the nearest one to the socket is definitely working. So oh, it works anyway.

No luck! Well i mean i was lucky. I get to do this again now. Vengeance is mine. Now we switch sides and we think this will make the ram fail.

No, that's not why we're doing it. Cable management? Okay, you know i try to zap multiple times it's not going to kill my watch. Is it okay here charge me up? Oh my god! Oh yes, i mean. Oh, no, that's a data line.

Isn't it geez? Okay, again, i'm gon na diss up as many out. I i think it's just jumping to the ground, i'm not getting any data lines. Oh, my god, let's try it, i mean. How strong can this thing be there? We are it's working, it's working, damn it it's great.

He was like how about for my channel. We do a video where i keep trying and we definitely kill it with a finger and i'm like fill your boots. I'm gon na kill it one way or another, because it's not easy. I know it seems like they are actually designed not to die that easily.

That's surprising, it really does seem. Like i mean based on what percentage of the pins, we know our data, it seems like we've zapped it enough times that if it's random, we should have hit one by now yeah. But maybe it is something about the design of this makes it more likely to jump to a ground. Pin i don't know, but i didn't expect it to be that good.

Okay, what do we do now? Well, it's not exactly through a finger yeah! That's cheating! That's not a finger at all, that's a much smaller! No! You will still charge me, but it will go through the so we're assuming that you've got a metal freaking spatula that you're working on your computer with - i don't know man well, i just want to be more accurate, so i know that this edge jumps directly to The fine i'll do it with my finger. I just want to make sure that we zap the data line for sure this is way more fun. I can see i can see why you were having so much fun in my video. Exactly i hold all the power.
It's like oh yeah, got that big power - energy. Ah, okay, so i'm gon na continue. Zapping like there seems to be a bunch of data address lines there charge me up. We are gon na, kill it one way or another: oh where's, the ground, the ground.

You had to know that was happening, come on sometimes forget, oh, my god. Okay, where is that date line? I was looking at that one ouch, my god. Why do we have to do this? Well, we don't have to, but we have the opportunity. Did you get it? Could you tell like? Are you trying to watch exactly which one arcs i'm shaking so much? I don't know where i'm it's zapping, oh, let's try it you're gon na have to press the button there.

This is a fun toy. Oh yeah! It's working it's alive. Why don't these just die? This is the same question. I was asking myself for the last two hours, especially because the first one was so easy to kill.

Like remember one shot, i think we directly zapped it with the gun, though right maybe they designed the gun stronger so with the margin so that, if the gun passes for sure a human body will pass too, if we have a curved blunt object, even if the Very very tip is closest to a data pin. It could easily jump out somewhere else. If the ground pin is a path of least resistance, correct yeah, that's why they spread out all the ground pins. It makes sense uh, maybe maybe, if i just connect it directly to a ground, pin if you connect it directly to a ground pin.

So it's assuming that the the thing is already plugged into a computer. So it's connected to the ground and then i'm gon na touch it in my hand, what do you say is that cheating or do you want to complain about that too uh as long as you're sure it's on a ground pin? How can i convince you that i'm doing it properly? One thing we can do: we can scratch the surface of the ground. That would work that way. We are sure that we are connected to the ground, as we mentioned in the video over on the linus tech tips channel by having the module grounded there, it's a it's a stronger shock that goes through it.

Basically, is that fair to say, yeah exactly yeah if it is not connected to the ground, only the little charge on the board is misplaced but connected to the ground. The whole ground moves around. So, okay, let's hope it's connected to the ground. Now i scraped that so that, hopefully the ground is connected better only to the ground.

Now now i'm gon na do this. I'm gon na leave it at the edge of the table right, so i'm gon na grab it like this. Oh, i see just a bunch of fingers just grab everything i'll just go right here right now, i'm going ouch that was painful, but wait. Okay! Okay! Let's pick it up well pitch it up pick it up not pitch it up.
Listen to what i'm saying! Okay, hey, if it dies from falling on the ground, that's cheating! Now we won't know what killed it. If it's dead, i i expect it. It could be the fall ready, nope, it's like it's alive. What else can i do just to ramp up the voltage? I mean you can do anything you want.

I can help you with that. What's a good voltage nowadays uh, i did 20. sure. Let's do 20., you know what else we could do.

I mean we were reading about this before we worked on the first video and as little as 10. Volts should theoretically be enough. So maybe what we should do is like 1000 volts, but like hold it for a long time like really manhandle it like touch. Every single contact.

Just have your finger just like here, yeah: let's, try that you can put it on a bigger frequency too, like 10 hertz, sure 1000 volts. Of course, this 1000 volts is pulsed, so it's not a continuous dc 1000 volts. Otherwise i would be fried right. Now is 1000 volts, it's a thousand volts! It's two thousand volts right: okay, yeah! Okay! Now i'm gon na just touch the hole.

Oh, the voltage is way more, not sad. I don't feel anything at all yeah, it's definitely going. Is it yeah? So in this way, static electricity can absolutely be like a silent killer. You might not even realize you zapped your hardware yeah, it's a thousand volts at 10 hertz and i don't feel anything at all.

Let's see if a thousand volts more continuous discharge killed it. The problem is that, with my finger being on so many pins, the energy might spread and not kill. It would be funny if it actually killed it. It didn't didn't it's even funnier if it didn't, because now we get to turn the voltage back up.

Let's set it to a more tolerable voltage, so i can just go like six kilowatt, so we are doing six kilo volts, but we are doing it at 10, hertz and more continuously. Okay: let's go okay, it's still probably going to hurt, hopefully not as much ouch. It is hurting. Damn it.

Oh, oh, oh, come on, you better kill it ow! No, i hope it's dead really. If you guys were wondering it's even better in person than on youtube and the pain is not hammed up for the camera, it hurts exactly as much as he says it hurts it's. Not it's not dead. What do we do now? Amp it up again, uh? Okay, technically, that's not amping it up.

Is it holding it up? Oh, i got one yeah you're right, one extra point for you: why doesn't it die? That's very strange! I can't think of why you know how much i've done. Esd testing in my life and how easily i've killed boards before and this thing with no protection is withstanding. All that discharge is just annoying just pick the voltage you enjoy the voltage i enjoy 69.. Six doesn't dwell, it doesn't go over 25.

Sorry, all right! I i i can't i don't. I don't: have it in me to send it to a higher one. You said it: okay, you're gon na do 20. Okay, we are done being reasonable.
This is 20 kilovolts one hertz. Are you ready hope it doesn't hurt? Let's hit it again: well, let's see if it's dead, hopefully it's dead. I don't want to try that again for the love of god be dead. Please have some mercy it's alive.

I don't think it's gon na die. The protection is just too good. It's almost like the engineers who design computers like do it for a living, we're gon na, remove the heat spreader and get to the signals better. So you know the heat spreader is actually helping this thing, because it's covering most of the signals and chips and if you touch it, it is less likely to touch a sensitive area and will most likely will jump to ground, but without the heat spreader.

Maybe my finger can glow get close to it like a sensitive signal and kill it. The only trick is when you remove the heat spreader, you got to make sure you don't pop off a memory chip. Oh damn it. I popped a memory chip see esd killed.

Our ram, as you can clearly see all right, did you pull it off. Yeah pulled off most of them actually. So far we have been unsuccessful in killing the ram. I was expecting it to be much easier, but no, but don't raise your hopes.

You always ground yourself to make sure you're not charged on your body, because if you touch electronics with it, you will very likely well, apparently not very likely, but you may end up killing it and it will be an expensive death, yeah and likely in sort of The word i would not i'm going to knock it apparently from our experience. It's not likely to kill it. At least i don't know anyway yeah with the setup we have gun connected to my body and my body jumping to the ram. It's not killing it, but the gun directly, jumping to the ram it's much easier to kill the ram.

Now we can see my beautiful assistance here is trying to remove the heat spreader by heating, the heat spreader and the glue will come off without raising all the chips with it yay. Well, let's make sure it still works, i'm not going to let you cheat this poor memory. Oh, it's a lie. Manchester.

What you're doing you're not planning any evil deeds are you? I would never plan any evil deeds. Well, let's do 12. Now that everything is exposed. Maybe you are in a better shape.

You kill it in a more reasonable way. There's no way you're going to be able to hit that like that. It's not so blunt. Why? No! I was zapping, this pull-up resistor there just one discharge, one and a half.

Actually, let's see, no, i think it's just probably not enough voltage. That's not problems! Oh okay, put it on 20k. You want 20k, i'm sure. Okay, your wish is my command.

Okay, ready! Okay! Is it 20? Now it is. What is it jumping to what's going on? You have your hand on the table. Oh, i was charging the table ouch. Okay, that was a good shot.

That was a good shot. Let's try another one. Are you not done yet? No, no! I'm gon na kill it. No matter what okay! That's it all right? I want to get in on this action too.
No, no, don't press it before you hit me. Oh you're, right, you're, right! Okay! I was always doing that yeah. It was totally unnecessary. Okay, i don't think it's dead.

I don't know what i would do if it's not dead. Now it's dead it's! Yes. All we need to do is to raise the voltage to 20 kilovolts and zap it like eight times, yes yeah, so that is theoretically possible to do in the real world. Yes, it is so touching say: computer parts without esd protection is like playing russian roulette with them.

It might not be very likely, but it can kill them so at least discharge your body touching ground before touching them. Yes, they will kill your ram. You saw it here. First, yes, brought to you by uh some random companies.

No, it's expressvpn! It's mine! It was a very fun day with linus he's such a great guy and has a great team make sure to watch his side of the video and subscribe to his channel for awesome tech tips and thanks to expressvpn for sponsoring this video thanks to expressvpn, i can Connect to internet through a different country by rerouting my connection through one of their many servers around the world, not only expressvpn masks my ip address from annoying tech companies trying to collect my data, it unblocks shows and movies that are only available in other countries. For example, you want to watch the grizzlies, but it's not available in canada. You connect to expressvpn through us refresh and there you have the grizzlies as well as a ton of other content. You can find using expressvpn and without a vpn encrypting your data, your internet service provider, can see all the websites you visit, even if you use incognito mode even in incognito in some countries they even store logs of websites.

You visit for two years and in some countries like america, they are legally allowed to sell your data so make sure to check expressvpn.com electro boom to find out how you can get three months free. So you can watch all the new shows you want, while staying protected and thanks for watching.

10 thoughts on “What It Takes to Break a RAM with ESD (ft. Linus Tech Tips)”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars David Long says:

    Back in the old days I managed to kill a SCSI raid controller, just by touching it.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Amberish Kalyankar says:

    Linus:today's video is sponsored by the
    Mehdi:express VPN
    Linus: hey that is my sponsor
    Mehdi:hey that's my sponsor
    Also mehdi:ah ok you do it
    Mehdi in his room:today's video is sponsored by express VPN

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Tanush Jaianti says:

    Can we appreciate that he promoted his sponsor in both Linus' and his own video

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars LuHeartSwarm says:

    you don't need an electric discharge to kill hardware
    just let linus hold it for a bit

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Steve Brigance says:

    What's not to love? Big thanks to your contribution my son's education!

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars edwin delfin says:

    Why in the philippines i never expi esd….. but in riyadh ksa i almost every day expi esd?…..humidity have an effect?

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Extraneus says:

    wrist strap? i try to do the one handed technique, keep one hand in the pocket while working with electronics

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Tin Kyaw Oo says:

    I think RAM already have internal ESD protection chip at data lines. If you have connected GND to grounded. ESD should pass from dataline through ESD zener to GND.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Siraj Ahmed says:

    It it possible you actually caused some damage that would only be noticeable in a real usage scenario? For instance causing slow downs and random failures while working on memory intensive applications, etc…
    Maybe it boots up just fine, but could fail under stress because of the damage? Or is it a guarantee that it would continue to work well as soon as it boots up?
    I remember having a laptop's memory fail on me once in the past but continued to work normally for a while with decreased performance and would shutdown randomly sometimes.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Josh Friesen says:

    I kinda forgot that they both live in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. I thought that mehdi would have to travel far to meet Linus. Nope! Probably just a 15 minute drive!

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