Blown Capacitors

So a while ago the video card that I’ve been using in our MythTV box started going really bad; it developed a jittering and distorted display that got progressively worse, eventually becoming unreadable. I imagine this could be related to leaving it on 24×7 for the last few years, which we’re not doing anymore since I noticed how much it costs in the electricity bill.

Usually when a component like this (motherboard, video card, etc.) goes bad, there’s really only one solution – replace it. It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the actual problem, and even if you could, it would usually be more expensive to repair than a new one would cost.

Luckily, though, I decided to take a look at the actual card when I went to remove it, and found these two capacitors with pretty obvious signs of malfunctioning. In case you can’t see from the picture, the tops had cracked open. “What the heck”, I figured, “individual capacitors are cheap, so it’s worth a shot.”

I headed over to Fry’s and picked up the two replacements (16V, 1000µF – $1 each), and broke out the trusty soldering iron. As you can see from the final result image, the two new ones don’t look exactly (or remotely) the same, but that doesn’t matter when you’re dealing with internal computer components like this, unless you work for Apple, who probably have artsy designs even inside the cases that they don’t ever want you to open. :-)

Keeping my fingers crossed, I started everything back up… yes! It worked. Just saved myself the cost of a new video card.

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3 Responses to Blown Capacitors

  1. Jason Brooks says:

    Awesome Jared. I’ve always thought this was possible. Inspiring. Wonder if my solder skills are up to snuff.

  2. JB says:

    Yeah; to be honest I was a bit surprised when it came back on; I was fully expecting it not to work.

    I figured whatever went wrong may have also fried one of the ICs or something that I couldn’t do anything about, but luckily that wasn’t the case this time.

  3. Starbuck says:

    It’s really amazing that you just posted this blog. I’ve been fighting some hardware issues over the last couple days, heard a loud pop yesterday and knew something bad happened. Long story short my video card has three blown capacitors just like you document here but it kept working and it looks like damage has moved into the rest of my system. I found this blog post looking for related keywords. I dunno about just replacing the cans – some power issue blew them open and while replacing them will get this card going again for now or forever, there’s probably a larger issue that will need to be addressed. Regards.

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