Two different sellers of motherboards online, both with bad caps


My hobby is computers and I fix them like crazy. However, I am seeing used or “refurbished” motherboards being peddled with bad caps. I had two of them over the weekend. One was for a Shuttle and the other for a Dell. Both had caps that were blown and even my teenage grandson could spot them.

Another seller of used goods I know couldn’t get a couple of Dells to finish installing. I looked inside and started counting out the bad capacitors.

Just because a MB will POST doesn’t mean it isn’t failed. Failed caps will mean it acts flaky under any sort of a load. Your OS may not reinstall. It crashes a lot. Eventually it may quit working at all.

About half the used Dells in the P4 era I take in have failed caps. I took in an AM2 Gateway from a friend with several bulged or popped caps.

Sadly, a lot of computer novices assume they have a virus. The Gateway owner assumed their system was so infected it couldn’t be saved — and removed their hard drive and destroyed it. I bet the issues came from a failing motherboard and not malware.

If you go to get used gear — manually check the caps. Shine a light one them and feel free to use a magnifying glass or reading glasses if your eyes aren’t great. Look at the caps and then feel the tops. Make sure to look at the ones hidden by the HSF shroud (particularly with Dells). Caps that have popped are easier to spot, but caps can also leak out the bottom (typically with bulging on the top). Or, you may just feel a slight bulge on top as the only symptom.

Blown caps = DOA MB. Unless you are either handy with a soldering iron or are OK with a computer flakier than a blizzard, don’t get the system. it doesn’t matter if it still boots. It is failing and you will have problems when it is under load.

Also, don’t assume the seller of used systems of motherboards has done their due diligence. Again, I just took in two DOA boards.

Checking caps before getting used gear is easy enough to do. DO IT!

Also, cap failure in power supplies is also pretty common. Often you can shine a light in and see the failed caps. I will open it up tp confirm, but don’t do this unless you have fully discharged the PSU. If you don’t know how to do it, then stay away from the insides.

Capacitors hold a charge like a battery. You can get shocked from one after the power has been disconnected.

UPDATE: One eBay seller (the Shuttle) gets high marks for not only issuing an RMA, but paying return shipping and supplying a personal apology. However, another person just sold me a Dell OptiPlex GX270 motherboard with a dead cap — and was so nasty about it that they have earned their own blog post.

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One Response to “Two different sellers of motherboards online, both with bad caps”

  1. An update to the blown caps motherboard saga. This time the eBay seller is openly abusive. « Jamesacooley’s Blog Says:

    […] Just another WordPress.com weblog « Two different sellers of motherboards online, both with bad caps […]

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