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Author Topic: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure  (Read 528 times)

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DaveLembke

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8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« on: February 11, 2018, 08:05:59 AM »
So I decided to open up my main computer to clean it of dust that I have used for the last 8 years and its has been the most reliable computer I ever owned. Sadly I found a capacitor by a VRM near the DDR2 RAM that is swollen badly and standing 1/3 length higher than the other capacitor next to it of same size and so I realized I needed to pull the plug on this system because when and if that capacitor finally shorts internally it might kill other components and I dont want that blown capacitor smell in my office which I have had happen before and it took 2 weeks to get rid of that fishy smell.  ::)

Fortunately I have a number of computers, over 14 of them to pick from with 2 systems far better in performance ( 8-core FX processor 3.3 and 4.0 Ghz beasts vs the Athlon II x4 620 2.6 Ghz) to use but I am trying to decide if I should just junk that motherboard or remove the capacitor and replace it. All other electrolytic capacitors on the board look healthy, and it was totally unexpected to find that swollen capacitor that was starting to blow out its rubber stopper at its base of the can like that. The capacitor plague happened about 4 or 5 years before this board was manufactured and it might have simply failed because electrolytic capacitors dry up and dont last forever. If that's the case that they are all aged then the fate of this motherboard is more grim as for it means that every electrolytic cap should be replaced with same spec/value capacitors and for a Biostar MCP6PB M2+ low cost budget motherboard its then beyond realistic non desperation repair.

Not sure if anyone ever grows attached to a computer similar to a car that has brought you so far and so many miles and then when its the end of the life for that computer or car its kind of bumming. I have had better computers that I could use but was drawn to this system for most of what I do because its been a good work horse for me and paired with the Athlon II x4 2.6Ghz and 4GB DDR2 800Mhz RAM it even has been able to play most of my games that I play with no problems.

 Undecided on if I will junk it or not. I might just hold onto the motherboard since it doesnt take up much space and save it in case I ever have a need for a socket AM2+ motherboard for something and swap out that one capacitor, but I dont feel that I can trust that motherboard anymore with as rugged and work horse that it once was because in the back of my mind there is the thought of will something else die on this board and take out other parts like video card, RAM, hard drive, CPU, power supply, etc. So its now a risky board to use for anything important.

The good thing is that since I have been using Google Drive for the last year, I dont have any important data to migrate. I can wipe the SSD drives and use those in another build. I fired up my AMD FX-8300 3.3Ghz 8-core with 8GB 1600Mhz DDR3 and GeForce GTX 780 ti and upon installing Google Drive I then had access to all my important data on the cloud.

I have a AMD FX-8350 4.0Ghz system but I dont like that system because its 125 Watt TDP CPU causes the CPU fan to run full tilt on the stock cooler that is barely adequate for its heat output and the fan is noisy and annoying. The 95 watt TDP AMD FX-8300 3.3Ghz is almost as powerful and runs much cooler and far quieter on stock heatsink that came with it. So thats why I chose the 3.3Ghz vs the 4.0Ghz system as my next main system to use.

BC_Programmer


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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 08:44:27 AM »
It is my understanding that electrolytic capacitors usually fail open, so I don't think shorting would be a serious concern. The "vent" on the top is designed to expand but the entire casing is not, so if a cap is taller than another it probably has always been- the Vent at the top is the main "flex" area and it's designed simply so when it does fail it doesn't build pressure and explode, but rather leaks out more slowly- and, through the top, away from the mounting PCB, in an obvious way.

usually they fail to work electronically before they leak or explode, because their ESR (Electrical Series Resistance) goes up and causes problems for whatever circuit they are in. for VRMs, this usually means the system will shut itself off or hard-hang arbitrarily.

I was trying to dereference Null Pointers before it was cool.

DaveLembke

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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2018, 11:17:55 AM »
Looked online for a healthy motherboard to see what the correct height is on the 2 capacitors near the VRM's by the RAM.

Come to find out the 2 capacitors that I thought were the same height are different in height thanks to finding this picture on google images. From looking into the case I thought they were the same cap with the dust on them and the failed one heavily lifted. I've seen them fail before and lift off the PCB when pushing out their rubber stoppers and assumed it was 1/3 the way up.

The top of the capacitor is domed where it should be flat to indicate failure and the X in it hasnt split yet to vent, so I assumed the pressure went to point of least resistance in which it would continue to vent out the bottom at its rubber stopper and legs or pop its aluminum casing off or explode.

I had a computer 19 years ago that I built from a mail/internet order computer business called JDR,  http://www.jdr.com/ , and the low cost case came with a power supply and I built an inexpensive Pentium 3 700Mhz computer as a requirement for a college course where I didnt have much money and the professor wouldnt let me assemble used parts together but it had to be completely parted out and brand new parts and software. I went with them because they were the cheapest I could find. The chinese cheapo case power supply after Windows Me was installed on 20GB hard drive EXPLODED after reboot of Windows and the computer was pumping out white fishy smelling fog like smoke. JDR made it right in shipping me a replacement power supply at no cost to me in which this other one didnt explode, but the oddest thing is that the power supply was still powering the computer and computer was running just fine but became a party fogger of fishy smelling stench. I ended up yanking the cord out of the wall to stop the fishy party fogger, but my office an part of house smelled nasty for about 2 weeks after that from this.  ;D

In the picture #1 I added a small picture at top left of capacitors that fail that can push out their rubber stopper and raise off their legs as pressure inside the cap builds but doesnt vent from the top.

[attachment deleted by admin to conserve space]

Coco423



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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2018, 11:55:52 AM »
Is the capcatator in question  slightly slanted? I think I saw that in one of the photos.

DaveLembke

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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 01:33:39 PM »
These photos are off the internet, but not my pictures. Just used these as example to reference to my motherboard and the capacitor location and the smaller image at the top left of the first image is to show how capacitors that dont blow their tops can blow out their bottoms as pressure goes to point of least resistance. So such as on my motherboard at home the capacitor is domed over and the X which is where the top is suppose to crack open to vent when it fails reached a point to where the aluminum wont yield to open a means of venting and so the capacitor itself started pushing its rubber stopper out of its bottom. I thought pressure raised it about 1/3 higher than it should be, but the capacitor actually is a taller capacitor where I thought looking into the dusty case with motherboard still mounted that it was same height capacitor, but BC's suggestion that the capacitor might be of a different height made me look online for pictures of the MCP6PB M2+ motherboard to see if that is the case or not. To which I found that BC was correct in that the capacitor that I thought was lifted 1/3 the way off the board while it has failed hasnt lifted itself as dramatic as I had thought when looking at it last night.

BC_Programmer


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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 01:52:48 PM »
For what it is worth, I have a Socket 478 (Pentium 4) motherboard where a few of the VRM caps are bulging which works fine; and another one where they weren't bulging at all, but had failed enough that the system would freeze within 5 minutes of use and wouldn't work again without a "rest". Obviously the bulging caps are worse than not ahving them bulging because you know something is wrong but without other symptoms personally I don't think it's worth worrying about (as long as they aren't leaking on the board, of course!)
I was trying to dereference Null Pointers before it was cool.

DaveLembke

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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 06:40:03 PM »
This system was otherwise working completely fine. If I wasnt looking for problems inspecting it all when cleaning out the dust I would have still been using it unknowing to the capacitor issue.

I was looking through some dual-core systems I have to see what motherboards they had in them, as for I thought i had a motherboard that could take 4 x 2GB sticks for 8GB and instead I found a motherboard that I didnt know was newer and a better hardware pairing for the AM3 quadcore...

A socket AM3 ( Biostar A780L3C ) that can take up to 16GB DDR3 RAM ( 2 x 8GB ), and make better use of the Athlon II x4 620 2.6Ghz CPU. I got it off a person getting rid of it with a Athlon II x2 215 2.7Ghz because they bought a Core i7 for gaming and no longer had a use for it because the dual-core wasnt enough processing power. I didnt know I had a extra socket AM3 board system kicking around and so this was a cool surprise. I thought they were either AM2 or AM2+

Going to install that better AM3 motherboard in place of the troubled board, install the Athlon II x4 620 2.6Ghz to that better board and I have 8GB of DDR3 1333 that i can stuff into it. It has the legacy IDE so I can still use my DVD-RW drive that is IDE and my SSD drives can plug into SATA ports and then just reinstall Windows 7 64-bit.

The old board that has the cap issue I will put that dual-core into it and install into the tower that the better board came out of and save it for the occasional project that I work on that is separate from my regular system.


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Re: 8 year old computer - signs of near failure
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2018, 07:44:17 PM »
You said:
Quote
The capacitor plague happened about 4 or 5 years before this board was manufactured and it might have simply failed because electrolytic capacitors dry up and don't last forever.
Is it important to you to keep thisthng?