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Feb 092010

When I went to boot up an old computer which had sat dormant since I moved in April, nothing happened. No lights, no whirring, nothing. I assumed it was a bad power supply, and left it for another day. Over the weekend my boyfriend got sick of seeing it out, guts exposed to the world, and threw a new power supply in it. Still no life. Then he pulled out everything but the motherboard, and it booted! Or at least, as much as a computer with just a motherboard can.

As he added each component in one by one, the culprit became clear without even having to power up the machine:

exploded capacitors

Not seeing it? Here, let me get a little closer:

This is, or was, my video card. A reasonably nice (at the time) 7600 GT. The most remarkable thing is that this is not the first time I've seen this happen to this particular card. In fact, it's the third. Two other friends of mine have had theirs blow capacitors as well. And a google search for "exploding capacitors 7600" brings up tons of results.

Goodbye, video card. We have these in a number of the computers in the house, including my main machine. I wonder how long it will be until the next one goes.

  8 Responses to “Exploding Capacitors”

Comments (8)
  1. On the bright side you can get a 9600 GT for less than $200.

  2. Why not try replacing the capacitors?

    • YES. Do this. Savings aside, you will feel like such a badass when you're done. Or farm it out as a spare hackathon project!

      Caps are the one component not to cheap out on. There was a period in the first half of the '00s when every computer electronics manufacturer was trying to shave pennies off their board cost and ended up using shady caps. A huge proportion of the mobos and graphics cards from that period have blown caps. Some power supplies too. We've had a few stepper drivers blow up in the field, and the first thing I'm checking when we get them back are the caps.

  3. In the spirit of maker culture – replace them. They are 1500uF 6.3 volt aluminum electrolytic capacitors. might work though I can't really tell their physical dimensions.

  4. Much cheaper to have the video card's caps blow up than the motherboard's.

    Good video cards are amazingly cheap, $100 buys a ton of power.

  5. just replace them and check if it works. it is a cheap try, take their height and footprint, and order them from digikey or somewhere like this. you save a few hundred bucks, plus you don't make this end up in the pile of trash like lots of other people do and don't even realize (after all, for just $100 or $200 you can get a better one, even if you don't really need). and please, don't throw them in the normal waste, you wouldn't want it back in the water you drink.

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