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Wiggly Capacitors on PC Motherboard?

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by Super TWiT, Aug 8, 2011.

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  1. Super TWiT

    Super TWiT

    Aug 8, 2011
    Hi everyone, I am new here, but want to learn more about electronics. Anyway, to start off, I have a question about my pentium 4 motherboard. I am having issues with it where it will randomly crash, the clock will tick every other second (sometimes), and the BIOS splash screen sometimes says the cpu has hyper threading, but most of the time it doesn't, even though it is enabled and the cpu and motherboard both support it. I've tried many things, I've replaced the power supply, replaced the CPU, replaced the CMOS battery, upgraded the BIOS, cleaned the CPU socket contacts, tested the CPU and ram both for 24 hours, and I've found nothing:( So, I noticed today that several of the capacitors seem really loose, as I can wiggle easily them with my finger. Is this a sign of a poor connection? Could this be causing my problems? I know an electronic repair shop that would replace those caps really cheap. (I'd do it myself, but I don't know how to solder!) However, I wanted to make sure this really was a problem, as I thought caps were supposed to "have a little wiggle room". Apparently eHow says this is abnormal.
  2. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    A lot of boards these days have small spacer installed under some components that
    are meant to keep the device up off the board when it's built. Sometimes for heat
    dissipation of the component, sometimes to relieve stress on the component leads.
    The spacer dissolves in the board washing final processes to remove flux and other
    chemical from the board.
    Don't know if that's your situation, but some info I thought you should know.
    Wiggling caps COULD be a problem, but not necessarily THE problem.
    Maybe you'll get more info in response to your question from others here.
    But that's my two-cents worth.
  3. TBennettcc


    Dec 4, 2010
    Especially with all you've done so far, sounds like it's time for an upgrade...

    I had an AMD Athlon 2600+ years ago... every once in a while, it would blue-screen for absolutely no reason. I did all kinds of tests, could never find anything. I suspect my problem was a bad processor. I finally got tired of it, and replaced my system with something newer.

    I've been fixing computers for over 6 years now, and some of the intermittent problems I've seen, I just can't explain. Thankfully, I haven't had any recently (fingers crossed, knock on wood...)
  4. Reaper_666


    Aug 12, 2011
    Well as sh said that could be the problem, i've been building and fixing computers for 5 years now and one of the things i've learnt over the years is that no matter how small the problem maybe or how insignificant you think it seems. Never rule it out so it may very well be the problem but i have had some motherboards that have had wiggly capacitors and they've worked completely fine but then again as TB has said with all that you done so far it maybe time for a upgrade or you could try booting up into safe mode allowing you to fix problems that are keeping your computer from functioning normally
  5. davelectronic


    Dec 13, 2010
    RE motherboard capacitor

    Hi there
    You can use a analogue multi meter set to ohm/s calibrate the needle to end scale, black prob goes to + volts on the capacitors track, and red to the common or negative capacitors track, your meter must not use more than 1.5 volts for resistance testing, this is a basic way to see if your capacitor is charging, on application your meter needle will give full scale deflection if there is continuity from track to capacitor, testing prob goes on both capacitor tracks coming from your suspect capacitor.

    If all is ok the meter will charge your capacitor up defecting the needle, then as charging nears completion the needle slowly returns to zero, no more than 1.5 volts on the resistance check IE, 1 AA battery, all power MUST be removed from the mother board, if unsure about the 1.5 volts on the analogues meter resistance scale test with another meter what the analogues meter resistance power is, basically its a continuity check, but charging the capacitor, all the above does no harm to an un powered motherboard . Dave. :)
  6. electro_pa


    Aug 14, 2011
    Hey fellow members,
    You aren't helping Super TWiT much, unless you advise him about the horrendously widespread (Bad & Counterfeit) electrolytic capacitors, being supplied to the electronics industry, by component makers in China and Taiwan.
    It is really very bad!
    Problems occur in any electronic product, since about 1997 & onward.
    Most famously in computer mother-boards, because of the higher stress levels.
    Nearly sent Dell broke!
    There is a very helpful Wikipedia article:, containing basic historical info on the subject.
    In the past ten or so years, many computer niggles & uncertainties are attributable to poor quality capacitors.
    Many competent technicians are doing successful repairs on gear by replacing faulty capacitors.
    First thing to do is always carefully scrutinize the electrolytics!
    It helps to test with an ESR meter.
    See the industry forum:
    and detailed advice sites like this:
    Good luck SuperTWiT, even buying a new mother-board is no guarantee of a trouble free product, without inside knowledge.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  7. davelectronic


    Dec 13, 2010
    RE wiggley capacitors

    Hi there.
    That little nasty has bitten me more than once, cheap nasty capacitors bulge explode etc, pc's radio gear, the list is huge, i googled it and found loads of interesting information on company's having installed bad capacitors on there boards, ive had dodgy radio gear with them in, pc's with bad ones in, apparently its in part due to bad electrolyte mixes in the far east, and one write up i read said theft of an unfinished or unstable electrolyte was used in many capacitors from about 2004 onwards up to about 2009.

    One pc company is in debt to the tune of millions due to machines leaving the production line with bad capacitors, the bad capacitor bug has hit staggering amounts in consumer electronics, it looks like current products are less likely to be affected as people are aware of the past bad products containing these bad capacitors, if your lucky you can replace the bad capacitor, but in the worst case scenario you can lose your latest purchase, shameful of some company's.

    Yes it pays to do some research on the latest products ( example ) the misses not long purchased a good make new mobile phone, it started playing up after a few days after she bought it, good company, i read some reviews on it and loads of people had no good things to say about it, the misses returned it for a refund, no quibble as many before her had returned the same product.

    Company's / manufacturers are to keen to get the product to market, before enough intensive testing of a said product is a success. Greed, profit call it what you will.

    Some products stand the test of time, bring back the 80's and early 90's Japanese manufacture quality, but unfortunately china cheap labour is the industrial hub of the world for many products, just a little more attention to detail is needed, shop carefully. Dave. :)
  8. jackorocko


    Apr 4, 2010
    Intermittent problems can be a sign of those cheap and bad caps. But really a p4, couldn't you pick up an old known to be working MB on ebay or some **** and test it against the other parts. I bet it would cost you more money to replace the caps on that board then to buy an old MB in working condition.

    Unless labor is free these days.
  9. Super TWiT

    Super TWiT

    Aug 8, 2011
    Well, looks like that decision was made for me anyway. I took it to the electronics shop, and he suggested that the northbridge be re-soldered. He told me it did have risk, but would likely fix the problem. Well, the board didn't survive, as I booted it up and nothing happened. other than the fans spinning. I can even take out the ram, and there's no beep. Hey, at least he only charged me $20! Guess I am going to get me a new computer!
    I do think it was a cap problem though, because I already had one bad one replaced on that board.
  10. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    Heh, did he then offer to sell you a new motherboard?
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