how to ship a gpu from hither to yon and protect it from static and physical damage

edited January 2014 in General

Hi all,

I have, unfortunately been dealing with some fan failures on gpu's due to circumstances documented here:

I actually spent days doing research trying to find ways to replace the
card's cooler with an alternative higher quality version that would
STILL FIT IN A DOUBLE WIDTH SLOT since I run my cards adjacent to each
other.  I spent large amounts of time trying to find cards or fans with
ball bearings.  Most of these fans have sleeve bearings.  Basically,
you take a tube, put an axle in it, add some lubricant and some seals,
and call it a bearing.  In my mind, that's rubbish.  It's not a bearing
at all.  Fans with those "bearings" tend to die quickly if  they're run
at heavy loads.

I failed with all that research.

I couldn't find an aftermarket cooler which will fit in the space.  I
couldn't find a card with ball bearings.  I couldn't find replacement
fans with ball bearings.  Water cooling costs almost the cost of the card.

Considering the fact that unscrewing the cooler voids the warranty, I
finally reconciled myself to the idea of sending several cards back for
RMA before their warranty expires.

The next question that arises is how to do that safely.

Your first thought might be to send it back in the manufacturer's box
if you have it.  There is a BIG reason not to do that.  Bear in mind
that those boxes are not usually meant as outer shipping boxes.  If you
order a gpu from amazon or something, they'll put the gpu box in
another box.  But the bigger reason is that YOU LOSE YOUR BOX.  They
send you a different refurbished card in a different box.  And that box
is just a generic box that's not specific to your card.  You may regret
that later as I did once.

So, I spent today looking for anti static packaging that I can use to
send cards to the factory or possibly to sell them once refurbished if
I don't have the original box.  You would not believe how hard it was
to find things suitable for this specific task.  One reason is the odd size of a gpu.

It turns out there's more to this question than is immediately obvious.

There are thousands of vendors of this stuff.  I spent many hours
searching for one with decent prices and who wouldn't make me buy a
whole case of boxes when I need 5.  I found one good vendor, and I
stopped searching.

The best box I found is a "shipper" box with anti static protection. 
This gives the physical protection so I don't have to do the box in a
box thing.  I just pack up the card, slap a label on it, and send it
off.  It also provides the anti static protection.

This should work nicely and the price is nice.

Protektive Pak 37067 ESD-Safe Shipper with Foam, 14-7/8" x 6-5/8" x 2" (ID)

Price: 5.91 ea.

Then I turned my attention to anti static bags.  It was a challenge to
find the RIGHT bag.  You definitely want to enclose your gpu in such a

You may have seen "anti static" bags or packing peanuts.  You may have seen "conductive bags".

They're usually transparent pink or blue or opaque black bags, or clear
bags with a "conductive grid".  You don't want any of those.  They are
conductive, so they DISSIPATE static, but they don't provide
SHIELDING.  For example, if static arced to the bag from you when you
pick it up, it could still damage the contents.

See this technical bulletin.\Selecting the right ESD Bags.pdf

You want a STATIC SHIELDING bag.

It turns out there are several kinds of those.  They have a metal layer
which provides the shielding.  Metal-in bags have the metal embedded
between layers of static dissipative plastic.  These are probably what
you want.  They are economical, semi transparent, and effective. 
Metal-out bags have the metal layer outside, with an anti abrasion
coating.  They provide better protection, but are less durable and more

So, more specifically, you want a METAL-IN STATIC SHIELDING bag.  If it's semi-transparent, so much the better.

You can get these in variations of top opening and structure.  These
would include open top, zip top, and bubble wrap with either type of

Now, how do you size the bag?  You could measure the one that your gpu
came in.  Mine were 7" x 15".  But, essentially, if the gpu is
rectangular in each dimension, subtract the gpu's thickness from each
dimension of the bag for the inside dimensions once you put a gpu of
that thickness in.  Thus, a 7" x 15" bag will hold a 5" x 13" gpu if
the gpu is 2" thick.

3M is a top tier and top quality manufacturer of these products, so
here are some links for their products from the vendor I found.

3M 100716 Transparent Metal-In Static Shielding Bag - Open Top (7" x 16")

Price: 21.89 / 100

Here are some others of different sizes.  The last three digits of the 3M part number are the size.

Here's a zip top bag.

Bubble wrap static shielding bags are probably not worth the money for
casual use if you will provide other physical protective packaging.

That should give you a good head start if you have a need to ship gpu's
around without factory packaging.  Of course, it's not free.  So, my
overhead to RMA a card is going to be about $ 20 including packaging
and shipping charges.  The packaging part of that is worth it to me for
the convenience of knowing the part is properly protected.  And, well,
you're stuck paying shipping charges.  Other electronic products could
easily be shipped with different sized bags and boxes.

Hope this is helpful.



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