My buddy Alex had an unfortunate accident with his Nintendo Switch the other day which resulted in the need to borrow my Precision screwdriver set to fix one of the JoyCons. He liked it so much that he started asking me where I got it and what to look for when buying a set. I eventually just told him keep to mine but he had a lot of good questions about what makes one set better than the other. As a bench tech, I have gone through my fair share of bits. Some last me a long time and others strip or round out or worse... break off within the first few uses... It took me a long time to figure out what the difference in quality is between these sets. Why are some better than others? Quite simple.. its all in the metal..
There are a few different types of metal used in bits. but the most common are...
- CRV - Chromium Vanadium Steel
- S2 Steel
So how do you tell the difference? Lets take these two kits from amazon for example..
Both of the kits above look almost identical. The one on the left is made out of CRV - Chromium Vanadium Steel and the one on the right is S2 Steel. They almost identical though right? The only way to tell the difference is to look at the details in the description from the seller. I find that most sellers will advertise that the kit is made with S2 steel and state that right in the decription. The others you will have to either either ask the seller or just assume that is is CRV.
Both of these materials have their pros/cons. CRV is softer and generally the bit will not strip the screw head. This is good if you don't want to ruin the screws but these bits themselves almost always round or strip rendering them useless in about 10-20 uses. S2 Steel is harder metal which means it isn't quite as easy to strip or round the bit out but they more brittle and have the potential of striping out screw heads if used improperly. The trick is to really push down hard and go slow and never use the bits in an electric driver unless you really know what you are doing. SO which do I prefer? When it comes to precision bits, you want the S2 steel if you are going to be taking apart laptops and gadgets. Also make sure the bits you need for the device you are tasking apart is included in the kit. I found that the 60 piece kits almost always come with everything you need. If you want to spend a bit more money and get a guarantee, you could always get a kit from ifixit. I own a kit from them and they are wonderful kits. If you are working with something like watches or delicate devices, you may want to go with the CRV material as it wont damage the screws. For me, I always go with S2 as there is just no comparison in longevity. Rarely does one of my S2 bits round out or strip. They do chip and break every so often however. I have found that all the sets that I have owned which are made from CRV are generally destroyed within 10 uses. Not so with my S2 bits. In fact, I have a kit that has lasted me three years and all the bits are still in really good shape.
So now you know what to look for when buying a bit set. The driver handle in most kits are pretty standard and a personal preference. I prefer the wider handle as it gives more torque but requires you to push down harder in order to not strip screw heads. But pick what is comfortable for you.
So you are probably wondering... what set did I end up buying to replace the one I gave my Friend? I ended up getting this HX Studio 60 in 1 Screwdriver Set, Magnetic Driver Kit,Professional Repair Tool Kit for iPhone X, 8, 7,Phone,Computer,Tablet,Xbox,PlayStation, and I couldn't be happier with my decision.