Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I had an old windows PC floating around in my house somewhere and I decided to dust it off and use it as a server. When I tried booting it with the panel opened, I realized that the fan was running very slowly. Quite intriguing. Hm. I decided to let it boot all the way (which took a few minutes, thanks Vista). Then, suddenly, it turned off without any warning or anything. I touched the CPU/Fan and it was /really/ hot. I think the CPU might be overheating. I looked around the fan area and saw a few broken capacitors. Pictures: 1 closer view:

Could those broken capacitors be related to the issue?

share|improve this question
According to the first image, you forgot to insert the cpu. – ott-- Jul 26 '13 at 19:28
^^Lulz, but it's definitely the blown capacitors. – Pretzel Jul 26 '13 at 19:31
Hahahah, you're a funny person ;P – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:31
Sounds like the hardware is bad and your computer overheated I am shocked the system didn't crash instantly because of heat protection – Ramhound Jul 26 '13 at 19:36
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The capacitors on the board appear to have overheated, become swollen, or look like they are "venting" and could definitely be the reason for the machine shutting down. The bad capacitors on the board would need to be replaced (if possible) or the motherboard itself would need to be replaced.

Your CPU fan or other parts of the machine are likely not getting enough of power to run at full capacity, causing overheating and eventual shutdown to try and save the board from overheating too much.

It might not be out of the question to find a cheap board to replace this one, considering it's age, instead of going through the hassle of trying to replace the capacitors.

share|improve this answer
The motherboard is an M2N68-LA and they seem to be around $45... I already have the necessary equipment to do the soldering so I'll get some new capacitors. – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:36
@David Murray Just thought it would save you the hassle of the extra work, just in case it still comes out not operational. – Pretzel Jul 26 '13 at 19:38
I don't really care if I break everything will soldering new capacitors, it's an old computer and I don't really use it. ;P – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:41
@DavidMurray Sensational – Pretzel Jul 26 '13 at 19:41
I realized that the fan was running very slowly. 

I am no electrical engineer, but those capacitors are close to your chipset and could be why your fan is not getting enough power. This could most definitely cause your CPU to overheat and put the board into failsafe.

A surgical replacement of capacitors can be accomplished if your willing to go that deep. If not then I am afraid there is not much else that can be done short from cooling the CPU via an externally powered device.

If Those capacitors are not powering the fan then they are surely powering something else that may be overheating your system as a side effect.

ultimately blown capacitors are a bad sign.

share|improve this answer
I've done soldering before so I should be alright. Just need to get some 1000μF 16v capacitors. – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:34
@DavidMurray A fair number of them, I should think; there look to be a couple of caps which haven't popped their vents, but are still a bit swollen at the top, and since all the caps on the board almost certainly came from the same plague-infected manufacturing batch, you can't really be confident in the thing until you've replaced them all, especially since not all failure modes produced by bad caps are as obvious as an undervolted CPU fan producing an overheat. – Aaron Miller Jul 26 '13 at 19:36
@DavidMurray I mean, I'm all in favor of your can-do spirit, and I'm no stranger to recapping; I got a $400 surround receiver that way for $20 in replacement parts and a couple hours' effort, and it lasted just fine for years, right up until my ex-wife's cat shorted half a dozen voltage regulators at once by throwing up into the cooling vents. But you've got to consider the ROI here, as opposed to spending a few bucks on a new motherboard left over from the same era, or just running up a server VM on one of your boxes that actually works right now. – Aaron Miller Jul 26 '13 at 19:38
@AaronMiller Honestly I don't really care if it breaks, it's ready for trash anyway. The CPU is a 2005 AMD Athlon 64 and the graphics card is an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS. That used to be good, but now it's crap ;P – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:44
@DavidMurray In that case, why would it be worth your time to recap it? – Aaron Miller Jul 26 '13 at 19:52

Another sad victim of the capacitor plague. In theory, you can desolder the blown caps and replace them with new parts of the same spec; in practice, it's a considerable effort for relatively small reward.

share|improve this answer
Amen to that... – Pretzel Jul 26 '13 at 19:35
Yeah. Sadface.png – David Murray Jul 26 '13 at 19:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .