I bought a used CPU on ebay, and after the person shipped it they told me to be careful opening the box because it's coming wrapped in printed newspaper in a box. No antistatic bag or proper protection for the pins. Needless to say I was not happy. It hasn't come yet.

Even if the CPU immediately tests fine, is it possible some sort of ESD damage could have occurred that will not be immediately evident, even in a 100% usage stress test type of scenario? Like could it have less usable life or become less stable as time passes even if I take care of it from here on out, or something like that?

Is it possible for the CPU to suffer ESD in transit with this type of packaging or only when the box is opened and the CPU handled by a person?

2 Answers 2


Newspaper is a good alternative to anti-static bags if you don't have any laying around. If the seller has it wrapped good and protected well from bouncing around, I think you will be ok.

The fact that the seller, from eBay, immediately warned you may point out that they already damaged the CPU and are trying to sell it, then blame the damage on the shipping or the way you handled it. This seems of something typical an eBay seller would do, especially if they have very few reviews.

I don't think the shipping itself is going to ruin the CPU, and you taking it out of the box shouldn't hurt it either. The only way you will cause damage is if you're purposely rubbing your hands along some nylon, trying to create enough electricity to run your home. Or if you happen to break out your Van de Graaff generator or Tesla coils, you could cause some problems there too.

I've heard that ESD damage can be slow and gradual, but I've never handled any parts while using an anti-static strap, etc. In my opinion if it's ESD damaged, it won't work from the start.

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    People live or die on ratings at eBay, everything I have bought there was 100% as stated and arrived in excellent condition, besides eBay has a buyer protection policy. If the seller has high ratings you can expect the product to arrive as stated, if it arrives doa, they will make it good in order to keep their rating as high as possible.
    – Moab
    Apr 8, 2016 at 22:32

As far as wrapping in paper goes, these people seem to have a low opinion of it. It seems that it would come down to whether or not the paper or ink is laced with some sort of conductive metal like lead. I would imagine even at best though paper would never create a Faraday cage like ES bags are designed to, so it's definitely shaking hands with the devil to attempt it.


Check out the posts by weeble42 on this reddit. He doesn't get into his credentials, but it sounds like he manages and monitors many chips perhaps for his job, and he has the equipment to see irregularities in the electrical properties of these things from such damage. His opinion is that useful life of a component can be shortened by this sort of abuse even if it works out of the gate, and he also gets into how little voltage it takes to ruin a chip.


Finally, I found this paper from Compliance Engineering Annual Reference Guide. Understanding this fully is a little above my pay grade, but it corroborates weeble42's assertion that damage does not have to be immediately evident, and it indicates that properly protecting components from ESD in shipment is a difficult problem for the manufacturers.


The people who say not to worry, including the seller, all have the same basic argument. Let me paraphrase the seller, "well, I've never taken any precautions and even been abusive to my chips and never had an issue". This is not convincing at all because you may have just never connected the dots on that motherboard that mysteriously burnt out after 1 year that you had once, etc. People whose business it is to deliver working chips all seem to take the problem very seriously.

I'm satisfied with what I found but I definitely won't mind more input.

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