Can you bring a CPU, GPU, or PSU on a plane? | TSA rules about PC parts.

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about safely bringing a CPU, GPU, or PSU onto a commercial flight.

The TSA says that computer parts such as CPUs are allowed on planes in carry-on or checked luggage.

You can even bring them in your pocket, considering that consumer CPUs are very small.

I recommend bringing your CPU in your carry-on or on your person to avoid potential damage to the CPU pins which can occur if they are checked in a suitcase.

If you decide to pack a CPU in a piece of checked baggage, use a sturdy plastic box to pack it separately from your other belongings.

You can take both the cooler and the CPU on an airplane. Bear in mind that if your CPU has a custom heavy cooler with fans that look like blades, this might be a problem.

TSA agents don’t like sharp, shiny objects that look like ninja stars and could be used to hurt someone.

Also, because of its size, the cooler will need to go through the airport security scanners.

The airport x-ray scanner does not damage the CPU, so there is no need to go to the extreme of wrapping it in aluminum foil.

Can you bring a GPU on a plane?

According to the TSA, you can travel with a graphics processing unit inside your carry-on or in checked luggage. 

Keep in mind that if your GPU is inside the manufacturer’s box and sealed, TSA agents will need to open it.

If you are transporting a GPU for someone else, it’s better to let them know from the beginning that they will not receive the package unopened.

Also, because of its size, you will need to put the GPU on a separate tray to be scanned.

The scanner will not damage your GPU. On any given day, thousands of laptops go through the scanner daily without sustaining damage.

Is it better to pack your GPU inside the carry-on or checked baggage?

Storing your GPU inside your carry-on is typically considered the safest route.

However, some people believe you can also travel with a GPU inside checked luggage without any issue if you packed it properly. 

They argue that professional gamers pack their GPUs inside their checked luggage when traveling from tournament to tournament.

To a certain degree, they are right, but people don’t realize that professional gamers have dedicated, sturdy aluminum cases where they safely store their hardware parts.

Do you have a Rimowa aluminum case lying around?

It is unlikely.

If you spent big bucks on your GPU, I recommend packing it in your carry-on. Checked luggage should be used only as a last resort.

You want to avoid the meeting of your GPU and careless baggage handlers, as you can see in this video.

Can you bring a PSU on a plane?

You can bring a PC power supply unit on the airplane in either your carry-on or checked luggage.

The TSA states that there are no restrictions on bringing them on board.

However, keep in mind that if you pack your PSU in your checked luggage, security will likely open your baggage after they scan it.

TSA agents don’t like metal boxes with wires coming from them.

I wonder why?

After the manual inspection, they will allow your piece of luggage to pass through.

When you bring a PSU packed in your carry-on, TSA agents will take a closer look to ensure that you didn’t stash other things inside the PSU.

If your PSU is brand new and inside the original package, TSA agents will likely break the seal.

PSUs don’t contain any lithium, regardless of their wattage.

Taking it one step further, I want to mention that the TSA doesn’t care about the wattage of your PSU, so you can safely bring PSUs that are over 1200 watts or more. 

The only restriction the TSA has is on power banks, which are not allowed on checked luggage because of their lithium content. 

Weight does not represent an issue either.

A friend of mine traveled with a 19 lb. PSU inside his carry-on and TSA agents let him pass, indicating that you can take a PSU inside an airplane regardless of how heavy it is.

My friend told me that the TSA agents briefly used a flashlight to check inside the PSU to be sure it was an electronic device and not something else.

All PC PSUs have holes to vent the air, and the TSA agents can easily see the inside them.

FAQs

Can you bring hard drives on a plane.?

The TSA states that PC parts such as hard drives are safe to bring on a plane. You can store them in either your carry-on or checked luggage.

I hope you know that mechanical hard drives are prone to damage when dropped; thus, I don’t recommend packing them inside a checked bag.

SSDs are more robust and better at coping with mechanical shocks than classic hard disks, but even so, I would advise against bringing them in checked luggage.

You never know when your piece of luggage will cross paths with a clumsy baggage handler.

However, if you choose to bring a hard drive inside your checked luggage, pack it separately, and don’t spare the bubble wrap.

Conclusion

As you can see, CPUs, GPUs, and PSUs can be brought with you on an airplane.

There are a few precautions to consider, but the TSA allows them on airplanes, and there are currently no airlines that have restrictions on them.