In one sense, working on computers is easier than most laypeople think it is. Most components simply plug together, and soldering is never required — at least for desktops. The most complicated part of building a PC is actually making your parts list, and determining which components are compatible. Actually putting the whole thing together is the easy part. It’s a simple, step-by-step process that children complete on a daily basis.
But even the easiest task can be nigh-impossible if you don’t have the right tools. Imagine you get a flat tire. You probably learned how to change one when you were a kid. But what if you open your trunk, and there’s no lug wrench alongside the spare? Suddenly, you’ll have no way of doing the job. Even if you’re a NASCAR pit mechanic, you’ll be stuck calling AAA.
The same logic applies to working on a computer. Computers are made up largely of small parts, so normal-sized screwdrivers won’t do more than open the case. Along the same lines, you’ll need plastic spudgers and other specialized tools for dealing with delicate components. That’s why it’s so important to use the right repair tool kit.
Today, we’re going to review three of the best tool kits for working on computers. We’ll start by reviewing the iFixit Pro tech Toolkit. This is a versatile assembly kit, with an impressive 64-bit magnetic driver set. It also includes an anti-static wrist strap for safety. Next, we’ll look at theStarTech.com Computer Tool Kit. This kit has considerably fewer screwdrivers, but includes a soldering iron for laptops and tablets. Finally, we’ll consider the Syba Computer Technician Tool Kit. This comprehensive kit includes multiple drivers and hexes, so it’s suitable for small rack servers. Let’s take a closer look at each, and see how they compare!
iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit
The iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit consists of a number of tools. However, the main attraction is the versatile, rugged driver set. The heart of this set is a single aluminum handle, complete with a free-spinning plastic base. This base makes it easy to apply pressure to smaller screws, while turning the driver with your other hand. At the tip of the driver, you’ll find a hexagonal socket for inserting your driver bits. This socket is magnetic, so it will hold tight to screws as long as your tip is conductive. It also measures a standard 4mm in diameter, so it works with most small aftermarket driver bits.
Then again, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right bits for your needs. The iFixit toolkit includes 64 of them, enough for almost any computer repair purpose. To begin with, there are five small Philips drivers (#000, 00, 0, 1, and 2), as well as six small flathead drivers. Torx drivers come in T2, T3, T4, and T5 drivers, and larger sizes use the enhanced Torx Security format. These include TR6, TR7, TR8, TR9, TR10, TR15, TR20, and TR25 drivers. Other tips include Pentalobe, Hex, Tri-Point (Nintendo), Square, Spanner, Triangle, and JIS, among others. The point being, you get every driver you could possibly need, including small 2.5-5.5mm nut drivers.
The next thing you’ll notice in the package is an anti-static wrist strap. If you’ve never seen or used one, it can look a bit weird. Essentially, this is a wristband with conductive contacts, and a wired tether that ends in an alligator clip. The reason you need one is because some computer parts are sensitive to static. Walk across that shag carpet, grab hold of your motherboard, and zap! You get a little shock, and the motherboard fails. To avoid this, wear the wrist strap, and attach the tether to a metal part of the PC case. This will ground you, so any static charge is discharged into the case, not your valuable internal parts.
Additional tools are dedicated to opening your case. Most PC cases will open with just a screwdriver. However, there’s a suction cup to help open tablets, or to remove glass PC case sides without leaving smudges. There’s a set of three plastic opening tools, and six plastic opening tips. These can be used as spudgers as well as opening tools, so you get a fair bit of versatility here. If that’s not enough, there’s a dedicated spudger, a metal spudger, and an angled halberd spudger for awkward jobs. A set of quality tweezers more or less rounds out the kit. There are nylon-tipped, blunt, and angled options for a variety of jobs and scenarios.
There are a few useful storage options that provide some added value. First, the package includes a magnetic pad. This makes it easy to keep track of screws, and even for drivers that you’re using throughout the job. Everything comes packaged in a four-fold nylon weave carrying case. This durable case has a spot for each tool and tip, so all your stuff stays organized. It’s also surprisingly durable, and very difficult to tear.
StarTech.com Computer Tool Kit
Of the three manufacturers we’re considering today, StarTech.com is probably the best known. They produce a wide variety of PC parts and accessories. For instance, we’ve reviewed their SATA hard drive enclosures, and we were impressed with their offering. So when we saw they were making a computer repair kit, we knew we wanted to get our hands on one.
The design of this kit is a bit different than the iFixit Pro’s. Instead of focusing on an array of tiny tips, the StarTech.com kit includes individual drivers with your most common options. You’ll find #0, #1, and #2 Philips drivers, as well as ⅛, 3/16, and ¼-inch standard drivers. There are also T10 and T15 Torx drivers for a bit more versatility. All the drivers have beefy, durable resin grips, as well as magnetic tips. This helps keep screws from getting loss while you’re performing your repairs. The downside is that this is really not a lot of drivers.
The Philips and Standard drivers should meet just about any ordinary need. But T9, T7, and T12 Torx drivers are at least as common as T10 or T15, And there are other commonly-used sizes, too. So this set is a winner when it comes to ordinary drivers, but lacking in the Torx department. Nut drivers are also included, but with only two sizes, your mileage may vary. Then again, there’s an adjustable wrench included, which should be able to fit any oddball sizes.
What it’s missing in drivers, the StarTech.com kit makes up for with other components. There’s a soldering iron in the package, which shouldn’t be needed for a desktop computer. But for laptops, mechanical keyboards, smartphones, and other devices, a soldering iron is essential. The kit includes solder, so you won’t have to go out and buy any before you can work on your system. To compliment the soldering iron, there’s also a standard multi-gauge wire cutter and stripper. This makes it easy to splice connections and create your own circuitry. Again, this might be more useful for other devices than for a desktop PC. But it’s still nice to have the necessary tools.
Much like the iFixit kit, the StarTech.com kit includes a few tools for inserting and removing connectors. There’s a chip inserter, which includes a pin straightener. This nifty little tool is particularly helpful if you’re dealing with a bent pin. You can gingerly bend it back into place instead of ordering an entirely new part. Along the same lines, there’s a chip extractor that’s made to remove parts without causing any damage. Two sets of tweezers are also included; one with wider tips, and one with ultra-fine tips.
All the tools come packaged in a stiff nylon case that opens and closes like a book. It features a zipper closure, to keep it from popping open by accident. It also has loops for retaining all your tools, so they won’t get mixed up in storage and transport.
Syba Computer Technician Tool Kit
Syba is another manufacturer we’ve reviewed in the past. We’ve looked at their PCIe serial port cards, and we heartily approved. Now, it’s time to see if the Syba Computer Technician Tool Kit is up to snuff.
As with the iFixit Pro kit, the Syba kit is based around a set of quality drivers. To begin with, there’s a set of six small precision screwdrivers, three in small Philips sizes and three in flathead. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also a set of 17 assorted bits with a standard ¼-inch base. These include Torx, Torx Security, standard, flathead, and four square drivers. Not only that, but there’s a socket adapter for attaching 3/16, ¼, 5/16, 11/32, and ⅜-inch sockets. There’s even a 6-inch flexible extension for accessing hard-to-reach spaces. And with a 9-piece Allen wrench set, you can work with just about any small Allen screw on the market.
The Syba kit includes an anti-static wrist strap, to keep you from damaging your components. It also includes a flashlight with a belt clip. This can be helpful inside a computer case, where it can actually get quite dark. There are also wire cutters, needle nosed pliers, and other wire-management tools. Among these are a wire stripper and splitter, as well as a crimplier. These tools may or may not be necessary, depending on what machine you’re working on. But they make the Syba kit versatile enough to be used with a variety of electronics. On the downside, there’s no soldering iron in the package. For many applications, you’ll have to provide your own.
With that being said, you’ll get a handful of additional assembly and disassembly tools. There’s a scalpel-style blade for cutting zip ties and splitting seals. There’s a brush for cleaning off dust and removing debris from inside the case. Additionally, there’s a double-sided spudger for popping open cases and inserting and removing components. Last but not least, there’s also a set of tweezers, and even an injector for applying thermal paste. This gives you everything you need to assemble or disassemble the vast majority of computers.
As with the StarTech.com kit, the Syba kit comes in a simple zippered carrying case. It’s nothing terribly fancy, with a folded design that simply swings open and closed. That said, it’s reasonably rugged, and will keep all your tools organized. Compared to a fragile hard plastic case, it’s a far superior option.
So, which computer technician repair tool kit is the best choice for you? If you’re just working on ordinary desktop PCs, the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit is the best choice. It comes with all the drivers, and spudgers you’ll need for a typical assembly. The suction cup mount, prying tools, and array of very small drivers also make it suitable for smartphones. You can even work on a Nintendo Switch controller, using the tri-wing screwdrivers. This makes it an exceedingly versatile repair kit.
The StarTech.com Computer Tool Kit is better-suited for laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The included soldering iron is a must for repairing these devices, albeit not for most PC jobs. The lack of Torx drivers is a bit annoying. We would have liked more than just a T10 and T15. But depending on what you’re trying to do, you may not even notice the lack.
The Syba Computer Technician Tool Kit is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it seems to be well-suited for rack-mounted machines. The nut drivers certainly push the design in this direction in a big way. That said, the kit is also well-suited to a variety of PCs. With a good assortment of drivers and spudgers, you’ve got everything you need. On the other hand, the iFixit kit has more drivers, and the StarTech.com kit has a soldering iron. The Syba kit has neither, which makes it simultaneously weaker and more versatile than our first two options.