Bad electrolytics now in my PC

Why modern high tech electronics fail? Too often the reason for that is electrolytic capacitor failure. I have had a quite high number of electronics that has failed by this reason after few years of service. I have had a quite number of devices failed by capacitor: PC motherboard, PC graphics card, set-top-box, DVD player.

Last device that had it’s electrolytic capacitors failing was the graphics card of my Fujitsu-Siemens PC. Was the failure due bad quality capacitors or due bad design I can’t say for sure, but I expect both have had their influence in this. It is not a good idea to place the capacitors to place where the hot air coming from the GPU heat sink cooks them…


Four capacitors capacitors on the picture have “exploded” with noticeable “bang”. It was quite amazing that even after this incident the graphics card almost worked well for some time (showed some errors in picture and sometimes crashed the computer). After replacing the capacitors with new high quality low ESR electrolytic capacitors the graphics card worked again flawlessly. Again components that cost few Euros and some soldering work gave the life back to this computer.

My earlier Electrolytic capacitor failures posting gives more details on this too common failed capacitors problem.


  1. Tomi says:

    Capacitor problems are everywhere.

    I just found a good picture series on repairing Samsung TV power supply
    (broken capacitors there):

  2. Electrolytic capacitor life « Tomi Engdahl’s ePanorama blog says:

    [...] If your LED driver has caps at temperature 80 °C, the LED driver only can last about 2 years or less. After that time you can expect poor performance (lowered capacitance, increased ESR) or even capacitor exploding. [...]

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It seems that the capacitors used on this card are all pretty bad quality and/or the designer has pretty well optimized their life. Just few days ago two more capacitors failed (the ones on the top of the picture).

    This made me to replace all the original capacitors with newer better quality capacitors. After this fix everything works again perfectly and I can expect some more years of life for this PC.

  4. About Things We Build and Fix « Tomi Engdahl’s ePanorama blog says:

    [...] doing some small fixes to my smarphone, PC and some more electronics, is for sure keeping older technology running [...]

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Heroic Register reader battles EXPLODING COMPUTER

    A heroic Reg reader who battled an exploding computer to save his son’s homework (and possibly his life) has written in to share the harrowing tale of a power supply unit gone MAD.

    Yesterday my son was sitting at his desk working on a school project, when he heard a loud bang. He said it sounded like a large fire cracker. Immediately following the minor explosion, smoke rose out of the back of his desk. When I came into the room small flames were jumping out of the case’s side vent and the back of the PC.

    After examining the singed machine, I discovered that the relatively new power supply had been the source of the fire. I should have known better than to buy a cheap, no name power supply. I don’t really know what caused the explosion and resulting fire

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fused tantalum chip capacitors offer ‘fail-safe’ design–fail-safe–design

    KEMET has introduced the T496 Hi-Rel Fused Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) MnO2 Series of tantalum surface mount capacitors.

    The devices are ideal for use in high reliability applications where a capacitor short will disrupt the overall performance of the system. The internal fuse in the capacitor results in a fail open condition.

    Applications include decoupling and filtering in computing, telecommunication, defense, and industrial end applications requiring a built-in fuse capability. This includes filtering for point-of-load and switch-mode power supplies.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EEVblog #42 – Exploding Capacitors in High Speed

    Dave blows up some tantalum and electrolytic capacitors in front of his new 300fps Sanyo Xacti high speed camcorder!


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