My caps are backwards
March 17, 2006 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Bad Caps. A site dedicated to the faulty capacitors present in even highly-rated manufacturers' boards. There's a forum with individual boards dedicated to identifying specific boards with faulty caps.
posted by cellphone (17 comments total)
I have lost at least five mainboards due to leaking and cracked capacitors over the past four years. I'd really like to know who made the decision to save a penny or two... They need some learnin'... with a sand filled rubber hose.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2006

I can't prove it, but this feels like linkspam to me.
posted by Malor at 8:53 PM on March 17, 2006

Yeah, I did it. I was a Nazi sympathizer. I also sold out Jesus. Fuck off.
posted by cellphone at 8:56 PM on March 17, 2006

Most interesting is that faulty espionage bit.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:02 PM on March 17, 2006

Bad caps have figured in on a couple of AskMe questions - Please help me frankenstein my machine and Blown capacitors and power supply problems. There was also one Mac related thread about it - iMac randomly goes into sleep mode. I really thought there were other examples, but I can't find any others..

I guess the more brand neutral term is capacitor plague, and from that wikipedia entry:
The fact that these failure-prone capacitors are still being used has angered many people, especially in cases where a motherboard populated mainly with high quality capacitors has one or two of the bad capacitors on it, leading to accusations of planned obsolescence on the part of motherboard manufacturers. Indeed, a strong case can be made that these capacitors (which often fail in 6 months or less) are still being manufactured, and are still being chosen over superior components by manufacturers to use in their products.
posted by Chuckles at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2006

posted by lalochezia at 10:24 PM on March 17, 2006

I just lost a motherboard. It around 5 years old. It's the Abit KT7-Raid. Three of its capacitors are seriously bulging. Hadn't bothered to look for that. I guess I know now why it might have died...

It's odd that it ran, nearly 24/7, with bad caps for 5 years.
posted by teece at 12:04 AM on March 18, 2006

posted by russilwvong at 12:30 AM on March 18, 2006

Bad capacitors are also one of the main reasons laptop power supply bricks fail.

I've had to repair a number of my own personal power supplies over the years, and when replaced with same value, higher quality capacitors I've never had any problems with them ever again.

I've also personally junked hundreds of bricks over the years at various laptop support related jobs. You can actually hear them failing if you know where, when, and how to listen. Basically: plug it in, put your ear up to the brick and listen quietly. They'll often be making sporadic weeping and whining noises rather then the quieter, more consistent hum or buzz a non-failing unit makes.

I would not be surprised at all to learn that planned obsolescence was a factor in using lower grade caps. Replacement power supply bricks for laptops, be it OEM or third party, is big business. And they fail surprisingly regularly, and are nearly impossible to repair in an economically feasible way unless you just do it yourself. Most bricks are glued or epoxied shut and require deft, nearly daft precision to cut open with a Dremel. Attempting to crack them open with a screwdriver or chisel is even more challenging.

Same goes for system mainboards or peripherals. How many end users would be comfortable with soldering on their mainboard? Certainly few. How much does a decent, reputable tech cost to simple solder a few caps on? Often more per hour then the cost of a new, equivalently equipped mainboard, especially after depreciation.
posted by loquacious at 12:59 AM on March 18, 2006

I wasn't surprised to find a lot of Abit motherboards on that site. I recently bought the Abit KN8 Ultra, and the first thing I noticed on the packaging: "100% JAPANESE CAPACITORS FOR BEST QUALITY", in bold red letters. I certainly hope so...
posted by livingdots at 2:45 AM on March 18, 2006

Just this week I had an external drie enclosure go bad. When I did the autopsy I discovered bulging caps on the power supply. So I guess it is not limited to logic boards. Oh I also have had a couple of 17" iMac G5 systems with bad caps.
posted by Gungho at 5:23 AM on March 18, 2006

I am pretty sure this is a double, at least the issue (not including the askme questions referenced above), but even if someone tracks down an earlier post this one needs to stay because this is truly an important issue if you have one of these faulty boards. It came to light several years ago during the lawsuits but the bad caps are still out there causing trouble.
posted by caddis at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2006

Yeah, I did it. I was a Nazi sympathizer. I also sold out Jesus. Fuck off.

Dude, yer bulging. You really should store up that anger and release it slowly over time. It will be easier on the board.
posted by srboisvert at 8:28 AM on March 18, 2006

The high pitched noise is indeed the clue --- once the capacitor starts to fail, it builds up a partial charge and makes a click as it discharges through the pinhole in the insulation. Very rapidly cycling, making a nice musical note that doesn't belong there.

I suppose you could even use the auto mechanics' method, putting a wooden rod or plastic tube at different points on the hardware to conduct sound and detect which piece is noisy.
posted by hank at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2006

Are these capacitors not filled with tantalum, which is mined via horrendously abusive slavery in the Congo?

If so, I've no sympathy. Karma's a bitch, even when it comes to having one's laptop fail because our drive for lower prices is resulting in human rights abuses.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:01 AM on March 18, 2006

According to wikipedia, electrolytic capacitor can refer to both the tantalum and aluminum varieties, but in my experience the term has always implied the later. While tantalum capacitors are also electrolytic, as far as I can tell they are always referred to specifically as tantalum capacitors. The industrial espionage incident was an attempt to steal the formula for the electrolyte in aluminum can electrolytic capacitors.
posted by Chuckles at 2:09 PM on March 18, 2006

excellent quality product
posted by farnastic at 7:24 PM on March 18, 2006

« Older Our album is done, and so is our crappy website.   |   Escape to Freedom Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments