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Q: How to render a computer useless ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   13 Comments )
Subject: How to render a computer useless
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: markyboy-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2003 05:29 PST
Expires: 27 Nov 2003 05:29 PST
Question ID: 270382

This is going to sound pretty odd! I recently got hold of about a
dozen old desktop computers from my dad's work-he upgraded.
I've sold a few and kept a few to mess with.

How do I go about rendering the components of one of these useless? Is
there some way of increasing the power so everything fries? Maybe
something to do with settings on the bios?

Will immersing the computer in water for a period of time have the
same effect?

I know this sounds mad but since I was a kid i've always wanted to
know what it takes to kill a computer outright!!

The computers are Athlon 800s with 256 megs of RAM. 

Many thanks to anyone who can help me out. You guys do a fine job.

Request for Question Clarification by endo-ga on 28 Oct 2003 06:37 PST

Thanks for your question, I can come up with a few suggestions, let me
know if you're happy with them.

- You can overclock the CPU by as much as it'll take but still boot,
then remove the fan as it's running, it should go up in smoke.

- If you are prepared to put some effort in stripping wires and
soldering, you can change anything that takes 12V on the board to take
17V instead; this will certainly fry the hard-drive, the CD-drive and
the floppy drive.

- Similarly you can change the voltage being delivered to the
motherboard itself and destroy all the components on it.

Putting water on electrical components is never a good idea, you can
cause a fire.


Clarification of Question by markyboy-ga on 28 Oct 2003 07:10 PST
Hi Endo

These sound great. Feel free post as an answer.

Just a few queries: How do I overclock my CPU and, after removing the
fan, what exactly will this destroy!?

Will Jamming the fan have the same effect as removing it?

Is there a simple way (without soldering as I am a clumsy oaf) to
increase the current to the motherboard?

Kindest regards,


Clarification of Question by markyboy-ga on 28 Oct 2003 07:14 PST
Almost forgot, will this fry the monitor too? I don't want to do them just yet.
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
Answered By: endo-ga on 28 Oct 2003 09:50 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thank you for your question.

Concerning your queries:

- Overclocking the CPU depends on the motherboard, this either
consists of changing BIOS settings or flicking DIP switches on the
motherboard, or moving jumpers around. Considering you're talking
about an Athlon 800, I'm guessing the motherboard should able to
overclock the CPU from within the BIOS. Just increase the FSB by as
much as it'll take, so you'll see it in action before dying.

- Removing the fan should see the CPU go up in smoke. As long as you
don't inhale the smoke or touch the CPU while it's hot, there should
be no danger to you. Jamming the fan should have the same effect as
removing it, but be careful not to cut yourself by jamming it.
Secondly if you completely remove the heatsink and fan during
operation, the effect should be more spectacular. You can use the
dissipated heat to cook something if you want, someone has already
cooked an egg on their CPU.

- None of these operations should have any effect on the monitor.

- The advice concerning switching the PSU supply voltage, is good if
your intention is just to destroy the PSU. In most cases the other
components will survive, so you might want to do this as a last step.
It might be disapointing as I think the fuse in the plug would stop
anything interesting from happening.

- You can increase the voltage supply to the motherboard without
soldering, but you would still need to strip wires and hold them into
place yourself, if you are interested I can write a guide.

- You could also just remove the case, fill it with charcoal and use
it as a BBQ, or resort to something drastic as in this image:

A computer that has just been set alight with lighter fluid and a

- Please also consider the comments below, some people would dream of
having such a PC at their disposal. :)

If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask.


Request for Answer Clarification by markyboy-ga on 28 Oct 2003 10:18 PST
Oooh! How long will it take to smoke if I rip the fan out?

Clarification of Answer by endo-ga on 28 Oct 2003 10:48 PST
Anything between 5 to 30 seconds :)
Here's such an experiment in action:

Hot Spot - How Modern Processors Cope With Heat Emergencies

And the video that goes with it (you will need the DivX codec to view

Thanks for the great rating.
markyboy-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Look East my Yankee friends and prepare to see a small mushroom cloud
appearing over Wales. Blame it on Endo for his concise and speedy
answer to my rather odd question. Thanks Endo!!

Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Oct 2003 06:41 PST
'Frying' is not a good idea ... you might fry yourself, as well.

Why not just get a very heavy hammer and thwack the hell out of it?

You could add sound effects by shouting 'Take that!' 

Of course, you will first don your safety glasses and tons of protective clothing.

Do take care.
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: tutuzdad-ga on 28 Oct 2003 07:00 PST

Jumper cables (like the kind used on a car)

PRO: It'll probably do the trick.

CON: You could kill yourself doing it.



PRO: It'll also do the trick

CON: Nasty. Might burn your face off.


Industrial magnet

PRO: It'll probably do the trick also. It'll erase all data and pull
almost every wire and diode in the thing out by the roots.

CON: You can only find these at wrecking yards. The same place that
smashes and grinds cars up into small peices, which, by the way, will
also do the trick.

Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: markyboy-ga on 28 Oct 2003 07:13 PST
He he

I really would like to avoid any harm to myself/home/cat. 

Maybe I could market this a s form of therapy-anger management for
people with too many spare computers.

Lets see if it works....
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: mrpun46-ga on 28 Oct 2003 07:39 PST
wOw !!!  TURN Community Services would fry you a good meal instead, if
you donate computers you no longer want. We recycle used computers for
people with disabilities and staff who provide services for them. More
about us at
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: omnivorous-ga on 28 Oct 2003 08:26 PST
Markyboy --

Probably the simplest and easiest way to fry the motherboard and its
components is to set the power supply to run at the wrong voltage. 
This will be quicker and more effective if you happen to be in a
country where the voltage is 220Vac -- and you set the switch on the
power supply (back of the computer) to 120Vac.

Unplug in case of smoke.

You win the prize for unusual-question-of-the-week -- though it's
still only Tuesday.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: markyboy-ga on 28 Oct 2003 08:35 PST
Omniv- I'm in rainy old UK. The little switch thingy at the back says
230v and our voltage is 240v. Does this make any difference? Can I
simply switch that to a different setting and watch the comp go all
pretty and fiery?

Mrpun- I'm in the UK but your comment has inspired me to look for
similar ideas over here. I'm sure I can find a more benevolent use for
the comps than frying them all! Thanks for the idea.
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: gwagner-ga on 28 Oct 2003 08:43 PST
Since you are in the UK,
:// should give
you a few ideas of what to do with your unwanted PCs.

Best wishes,
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: omnivorous-ga on 28 Oct 2003 08:54 PST
Markyboy --

The red switch on the power supply at the back of the computer allows
power supply voltage to be set at 110Vac or 220Vac.  Since you're in
the U.K., setting the computer's power supply for 110Vac will provide
over-voltage electricity to the system, effectively frying components
in a short time.

Again, unplug when the smell of smoke (or the appearance of smoke) is

Best regards,

Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Oct 2003 10:23 PST
Wow, Mark

You must be careful.

I, too, live in the UK and a guy I know bought a printer without
realising that it had been made for the US market.

He plugged it in and WHOOSH ... it went up in flames.

Fortunately, it wasn't a disaster.
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: tlspiegel-ga on 28 Oct 2003 12:38 PST
Go to the shore.  Rent a boat. Tie it up securely to the boat and use
it as a boat anchor.  (just kidding of course!)   :)

Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Oct 2003 22:17 PST
Hmmm ... I would not have chosen Wales as the best place for the
experiment, just in case it goes pear-shaped.

And then think what HRH your very own Prince of Wales would say!

Why not Baghdad?
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: markyboy-ga on 29 Oct 2003 03:35 PST
They might let me have a free flight if I told them I was going to
Bahgdad to 'blow things up'!
Subject: Re: How to render a computer useless
From: sublime1-ga on 02 Nov 2003 16:14 PST
I just came across a creative method for destroying a computer,
and I thought of your question here. So here goes:

"How To Burn A Computer From The Inside Out - by Bor"

1.) 3.5" floppy disk of any brand.
2.) One VERY small piece of magnesium
3.) One Eyedropper
4.) Water to put in the eyedropper of course. 
1.) Open the floppy disk carefully. Make sure that you'll be
    able to put it back together once you're done doing what
    you're going to do. 

2.) Put the VERY small piece of magnesium on one side of the
    inside of the disk. 

3.) Put your water in the eyedropper, and put one or two drops
    of water on the other side of the disk. 

4.) This is the most important part to make sure that you won't
    get your ass burned. Put the disk together, but make sure
    that the water and the magnesium DO NOT TOUCH. If they touch,
    when that bitch sizzles, run away... fast. 

5.) Now that you have the disk put together, find the computer
    that you want to destroy. 

6.) Take the disk, and oh so carefully insert it into the floppy
    disk drive. 

7.) RUN!!! 

8.) Now from the computer you should see a very bright white fire,
    when the disk begins to spin. This will without a doubt fry
    most of the components inside the computer, and will make the
    computer impossible to use."

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