Michael Ramsey

CompTIA A+ Certified Hardware / Software Technician

Oracle Database Specialist


Bad Capacitors on Motherboards

This problem has become widespread among all major motherboard manufacturers.

It is generally accepted that this major problem was due to some Taiwanese companies stealing an electrolyte formula from one of their competitors.  The formula was incomplete and this problem was not discovered until they had produced and distributed millions of these capacitors to the major motherboard manufacturers.  The flawed capacitors will start to bulge, then leak, and eventually fail in as little as 6 months.

A bad capacitor on your motherboard can cause your system to randomly crash, power off or reboot itself, lock up, or just never restart again.  What can you do if this happens to your board?  If its under warranty, you should send it back.  If its not under warranty, you can buy a cap kit for about $35 and try to remove and re-solder the capacitors yourself.  I would NOT recommend buying a cap kit unless you know what you are doing AND you are 100% sure the motherboard quit working because of the bad caps and nothing else.  The 3rd option is to send it to a place that will replace the caps for you.  This is going to cost at least $80 and is NOT worth it in my opinion because you can just buy a new motherboard for a little more money.  The counter argument from the companies selling these kits and services is that you will need to reinstall your OS if you change your motherboard.  What they don't make clear to the layperson is that they are referring to a new TYPE of motherboard.  You CAN just buy the same motherboard over again and swap out the old one with minimal problems.  Many times you can even get away with using a newer version of your motherboard if it uses the same chipset and architecture.

Therefore, if your motherboard is under warranty just send it back.  If its not under warranty, and you want to keep your current OS just like it is, you can re-purchase the same motherboard again and have it swapped out.  If your motherboard is no longer available, you can try the newer version of your motherboard.  If that is unsuccessful, and you only have one computer, you can still save all of your files by adding a new hard drive and installing your OS to that new drive.  Of course there are many more ways to save your data, but you get the idea.

Here are some pictures of some bad cap motherboards from clients we have done work for.  These particular motherboards were just under 6 months old.  The clients motherboards were replaced with the same or new versions of the original so that an OS reinstall was not needed.

Cap in the middle is already leaking out electrolyte fluid.  Cap on the right is bulging.


Cap on the right has leaked fluid.


All the top 3 caps are bulging.  The 4th cap is leaking.  Bottom cap is ok. 


Cap on the right is leaking.  Cap on the left is ok.

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