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Bad Capacitor on Motherboards Reported

Heads up all. I haven't seen this anywhere else, but this is from a reputable magazine.

The February 2003 IEEE Spectrum Magazine reported that large numbers of motherboards are being sent into shops for repair because of electrolyte leaking out of the large aluminum electrolytic capacitors used on the motherboards. According to the article ABIT and IBM MB's have been heavily hit. Other brand MB's are denying any problem but are also showing up at the shops.

The article title is:
Leaking Capacitors Muck up Motherboards
by Yu-Tzu Chiu (Taipei) & Samuel K. Moore

Anyone else see anything on this?

XP Abuser

I Found an article ages ago telling you how to replace the capacitors for better quality ones on your mobo to give a cleaner digital signal
a risky endeavour if you ask me:eek:
Has anyone tried to replace one of those caps? It's pretty difficult, especially with these multi-layed motherboards!

I had an old Gigabyte SlotA mobo that needed a new cap. I tried to remove it but all the traces acted like a heat sink and couldn't get the solder to melt. So I had two choices: use a 100W soldering gun (definitely not the best option, too much heat :)), or just yank the old one off (I wouldn't do this unless the board is old enough that you don't really care if you ruin it). Yanking the old one off usually leaves the leads behind so you can solder the new cap to them. Not very pretty but it works. I then hot-glued the leads so they wouldn't accidentally short on anything. The board works fine now.

Thanks for the link. From the time frame it looks like my MB is safe, but I wonder how much consumer electronics got bought at Christmas with bad parts in them...


I have to pull parts off high density multilayer boards at work sometimes. Don't use the big iron, it will lift the pads off the pcb. The trick is to pre heat the area of the board before trying to desolder a part. Be careful not to overheat anything. A hair dry (on low!) can be used. The second trick is to cut the body of the component off if you can. The metal foil in those big caps absorbs a lot of heat too.
Thousands of boards have been affected by this issue and not just the big name ones either. Recent evidence supports the theory that nearly all recent (last two years) boards have problems with the larger capacitor sizes used on motherboards and can take a long time to fail. Capacitors used on multi layer boards where it’s flush to the surface are best left to experienced professionals with freezer kits to replace but you can do it at home if you take the necessary precautions. Most capacitors consist of wound metal foil with a gel like substance in-between and only two wires connected to the motherboard. It’s quite possible to cut right thought the capacitor near the base, removing the can and foil leaving the two wires in place and then solder the new component to these wires. However bear in mind the following: -

a) Capacitors store electrical energy, the larger the capacitor the greater the stored charge and this can be present even many hours after power has been disconnected.
b) If you attempt this measure you will either need to ground both capacitor connectors before you start (usually not a good idea) or remove all components from the board including PCI cards, CPU’s, BIOS chips, memory modules, power supply connectors and any led connector etc.
c) The chemicals used in the construction of capacitors can be dangerous once exposed also there could be a risk of explosion with the larger types so if in doubt (brown deposits on the top of the capacitor) take it to a professional.

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