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Is this alcohol residue on the back of my PC video card?

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by Lawlbringer, Jun 21, 2012.

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  1. Lawlbringer

    Lawlbringer

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    Jun 21, 2012
    There were some nasty fingerprints on the back of my new video card(MSI GTX 680) so I attempted to clean them with what I've used for years...97% isopropyl alcohol. Mind you, I've cleaned a lot of video cards over the years with the same stuff, from the cheapest ones to higher end cards and I've never seen this happen...

    Here is a picture of the back of the card: http://tinypic.com/r/1z2f41z/6

    The PCB is blackish/brown and you can tell where I ran the clean q-tip dipped in alcohol around. I'm currently using the card, and it works fine, but this is sort of bugging me since I'm not sure what it is. It also looks quite ugly, especially since I have a side window on my PC.

    I've considered maybe trying some denatured alcohol or contact cleaner that isn't suppose to leave residue. My other concern is that it's a coating of some sort on the card and I've just screwed it up.
     
  2. CocaCola

    CocaCola

    3,635
    5
    Apr 7, 2012
    Welcome to PCB cleaning ;) There are entire articles and studies on what the white powder is, what causes it and how to avoid it...

    From my experience alcohols are the biggest offender, followed by alkaline based cleaners... From what I have found it's a reaction to the current 'no clean' fluxes and ROHS solders...

    I have had real good luck with dollar store natural 'orange' based cleaners, or pure acetone (be careful around plastic components)

    I have also had good luck with "Goof Off" (does a good job on resin flux clean up) but it leaves a slightly 'oily' residue, I remove that residue with a quick scrub using regular dish soap and water...
     
  3. Lawlbringer

    Lawlbringer

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Orange cleaner? Is that safe for the back of a computer GPU? :(
     
  4. CocaCola

    CocaCola

    3,635
    5
    Apr 7, 2012
    Safe for most parts yes, avoid getting parts like switches, coils, pots or any other open frame parts soaked and wet and make sure it's 100% dry before you put it back under power... I have a toaster oven that I set at 150° F and give all my cleaned boards about 15 minutes in before using them...
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  5. naqionline

    naqionline

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    Jun 23, 2012
    @CocaCola: couldn't have said it better myself ;)
     
  6. Raven Luni

    Raven Luni

    798
    8
    Oct 15, 2011
    I'd go with the solder / flux theory. It reminds me of what happens when a smoking soldering iron is next to a solid surface
     
  7. CocaCola

    CocaCola

    3,635
    5
    Apr 7, 2012
    As I said there is a lot of research if you Google it up, enough to make my mind ache... About a year ago I had a batch of boards done in flat black resist with Gold plating and had to devote a ton of time into figuring out how to get them clean and free of the white residue as it was an exposed board in the design and thus needed to look good... It was nothing short of a pain, I ended up dipping them in a mixture of dish water no streak finishing additive rinse after cleaning as the clean rinse solution seemed to temper any further white powder growth ;) And there was no water streaking ;)
     
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