Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Capacitors! - revive dead Video cards and Motherboards (and other electronics)

Disclaimer: while it is possible to repair power supply unit capacitors, just stay away from them and buy a new one!, they deal with high voltages and amperage, and  should not be tampered with ! this guide deals with low voltage capacitors!

Computers and electronics: We have made our life around them, and sometimes rely heavily on them, everything is fine and well until one day, when  you try to boot your computer, the fan noises are made, the hard drive spins to life, but there is no image on the monitor, this is possibly not a power supply issue, it might be bad ram, but if everything was well and running up to that moment, you might very well be looking into the eyes of death!. A dead Motherboard or Video card!!!  All is lost!abandon ship!

This happens more often than you might believe, and the course of action is to check  and replace components, Re-set or use another ram stick,  swap out and check with another power supply unit, unplug the Dedicated Video card and use the integrated one, but some times no matter what you do, the system just stays there, with no signs of life... so is it time to buy a new Motherboard / Video Card?


Electronic Boards rely on Direct Current (DC) low voltages to function,  Power supply Units (PSU) take common household Alternate Current (AC), and convert it to DC current, all those yellow and red cables you see inside the computer carry the juice to make it all work!, but there is a need for CLEAN and STABLE voltage running trough all those components, and capacitors are the salvation, as they are basically batteries that "charge" up  and deploy their current when its needed, almost every single electronic device has at least some sort of capacitor inside , and if they fail, they render the electronic useless!

look at all those dead caps D:

You are in luck! because if you replace those dead capacitors you have great chances of reviving your mother board or Video card!, and it all comes down to buying the replacement parts and making the switch!, but there are some thing to take into consideration,  capacitance and Voltage! else you could cause  a massive explosion!, ok not really, but just a loud fire cracker  boom!.

stay away from 50V+ capacitors!

You can seek and head out  to a  small electronic repair shop where they will be happy to do the capacitor replacement for you, but sometimes you have to weight the repair cost versus the cost of a new mother board or Video card, or if you are an adventurer  you could try to replace it yourself!, and for that you will need a few tools:

Soldering Iron: A tool that heats up to melt the soldering materials, get  30-40watt one:D aprox 10$-20$

 Solder Wire: The stuff that is gonna melt and weld stuff together,get the small ones for electronics! 3$~
Solder Flux: A nice little paste that helps the weld material to "flow" onto and into the stuff you weld! 2$~
Solder Sucker: yes that is the name! do not laugh D:, this .. sucks the melted metal from the board circuits 5$~
Solder Wick:a wick made of copper  wires, that helps to pull weld material away, and clean the area and excess weld material 5$~

You will also need Pliers/Cutters for cutting up new capacitor "legs" as they come longer than needed, and of course capacitor replacements!, Like in the video check that they have the same capacitance and the same or greater VOLTAGE rating. you can also Salvage Capacitors from other electronics or dead mother boards / Video cards that died for other reasons just make sure they don not  look bloated!.

Well here comes the tricky part, it is not easy to remove and replace a capacitor, you do need some soldering experience , and care to not heat up the capacitors so much that they crack in your fingers, if at any moment, the capacitors feels too hot, just put the solder iron away and wait till the capacitor is warm and try again!.

  all fat and dead capacitors: you can see 3 of them! the green ones :D 

1-You have to inspect the mother board, and see which ones need replacement, then look under the board and find the pins corresponding to them, this is where you will heat up to liquify the solder and pull the capacitor out!, my method consists of applying a blotch of weld onto the pins and then heat up the weld bubble, so that it heats up the pins, and then you twist and move the capacitor and pull it right off the board from below!
the underside of the board, capacitor pins righ tin the middle of the picture!

2-Now, you just can plug in your new capacitor in place, as the weld material is blocking the holes, and if you try to heat up the area and push the pins inside, its gonna be TOUGH and ROUGH, you will get frustrated and hate it with all your might, so please use the solder sucker and or copper wick to remove the material from the holes,  my  method consists of applying yet again a little bit of molten weld material to underside of the board on  the spot you gonna clean and heat it all up, then dive in with the sucker and BAM!, suck it all away and leave a nice clean hole... D: (that sounded bad..), you can also use the solder wick and the flux to "pull" the weld material off, but this takes too long and has yet to function properly for me yet D:
 a blotch of solder weld in place to make the heat tranfer even greater, heat it up and pull the cap off!

3-With the clean holes D:..  you can now push the new capacitors pins in place and apply yet again molten weld material, but this time just a nice enough quantity to weld the capacitor in its place, capacitor flux is your friend here on both the weld iron tip and the capacitors "legs",  and then after snip off any excess of "legs" and check that there is not any residue of weld material on the board that might cause a short circuit!

new capacitors in place! time to fire it up!

Alternativedly you can seek out and buy a Desoldering iron, which is basically a solder iron but with a vacum pump that sucks weld material away as you heat it up, quickly removing the weld from the holes in one clean swoop, and ready to insert the new one! these just cost a lot more!

With Luck you now have a fully functional electronic device in your hands, its time to put it all together and cross your fingers you did not short anything and placed the capacitors the right way, enjoy your repaired mother board / Video card, and the savings from not buying the same one at full price, i have saved many 9800GT and 9600GT this way, this batch i bought years ago seem to have faulty capacitors, and i also have repaired 5(five)  Zotac motherboards, each one with 4 Bad capacitors within 2 years, but i least i saved myself a few hundred dollars!

I hope you find this guide use full and please do not hesitate to check out more videos about soldering and de-soldering, it never hurts to be prepared!
 A great soldering/desoldering picture guide!

thank you and see you next week :D


  1. Wow, that's great. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Really helpful. Hopefully i can remember this if my computer ever has this problem

  3. Didn't know what they were for until now

  4. really interesting, thanks for sharing!

  5. Very handy! Keep up the good work!

  6. I'd heard of this before, thanks for the detailed info!

  7. thx usefull info

    it's your video?
    i've one MB dead cause a bent pin on CPU socket...any advice?

  8. Very helpful information. I like your guides. Every detail is well described.

  9. That really is awesome, thanks! I have some dead parts, I'll look into it.

  10. Excellent write up! Bookmarked for future reference. :)

  11. Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  12. They are also a tremendous amount of fun to blow up!

  13. Wow, that is really a nice guide to it... If I knew this before then I probably shouldn't have bought a new gpu XD

    thanks for sharing =D

  14. I wish I knew your blog before. I just threw my broken video card last month though after reading your post, I know it was just a minor damage and I could fix it easily with some capacitors.

  15. What's a good soldering iron to use? Are they all the same?

  16. Oh wow! That's some pretty neat job!

  17. That might come in handy, I didn't realize so much that capacitators are as important parts of electronic devices at they are. On the other hand, I really hope I won't have use your pieces of advice to repair anything at all : )

  18. hm...i liked this post! and i like that u upload picture of what you're talking about!

  19. Wish I had found this before buying my new card... Better late than never though! Thanks much!

  20. very useful stuff, thank you!

  21. pretty simple only if you know what you are doing.

  22. Thanks man! My friend fixed my power supply with changing few capacitors :) Now i know how to do it too :3