My Intel motherboard suddenly sparked and caught fire. I was able to quickly turn off the fire and upon inspection discovered that a chip near the processor area has burned out.

Can anyone tell me what this chip is and why did it catch fire spontaneously? I didn't see any damage on any of my other hardware, but I haven't and the chance to test them so how likely is it that other hardware components are affected by this as well?

This has been running OK for nearly two years now.

I have attached the images of the Motherboard with the CPU fan and both the components separately. The burned part and nearby area has noticeably turned black.

I have always thought that Intel components were of highest quality, although I'm not so sure, will some one be able to clarify whether this is a normal occurrence in any manufacturer or if I'm just misguided?

Burned area with the fan on enter image description here CPU fan burned area

  • its pretty hard to tell - is that a component with 3 pins? 2 on one side, one on the other? If so, its likely a voltage regulator – Journeyman Geek Oct 28 '13 at 6:04

From the picture, that looks like a transistor, or a mosfet, but you'll need to take a picture with a macro lens to find someone who really knows for sure. Try and see what the numbers are on the front of the neighboring, still unburned parts.

In 15 years of working on computers, and electronics, I've only seen burns like that once. In that situation it was caused by a small metal shaving landing on a high power mosfet and shorting the pins.

Typically Intel does make high quality parts, Don't let one isolated incident convince you that all products of one company are bad. Remember that motherboard manufactures make millions of motherboards, and purchase 10's of millions of desecrate components. It is impossible to guarantee that 100% of the parts are defect free.

My guess is that you simply got unlucky and received a motherboard with a desecrate component outside of the lower acceptable limit, that was not caught in intel's testing.

I would conjecture 3 possible explanations, with the 3rd being the most likely.

  1. That part had imperfections when it was created that caused an internal short.
  2. The insulating material in the pcb deteriorated to the point that the current was able to overcome the insulation.
  3. The power supply was out of specifications and was delivering dirty, or incorrect voltage to the board.

As a personal rule, If I ever see a motherboard die, I error on the side of caution and assume it is the power supplie's fault, and dispose of it.

I've seen multiple brand new motherboards die needlessly from people reusing the power supply after their original motherboard mysteriously dies.

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  • Number 3 is a definite. I will also add, with that component so close to the heat sink, overheat may also be a factor. Intel stock fans are ok in the beginning, but I would rather upgrade to something with a bit more cooling capability. – StBlade Oct 28 '13 at 6:26
  • No RMA it seems.... :-( Is there a way to test the PSU? Or should I just discard it? – Thihara Oct 28 '13 at 7:17
  • @Thihara The PSU testers you may find just show if the PSU is outputting current, they don't show how stable or clean the current is. Personally, I would just buy a new PSU in addition to a new MoBo. – spuder Oct 28 '13 at 15:07
  • Damn :-(. Thanks spuder I will also do that to be safe in that case. Do you know if PSU manufacturers provide RMA for that kind of PSUs? Or are they unable to test that as well? – Thihara Oct 29 '13 at 4:35
  • @Thihara Manufactures do offer RMA and can test Power supplies by applying a load, and measuring the current. – spuder Oct 29 '13 at 4:48

Check near the main power connectors for any other burned / charred components, as well as bulged capacitors, or other signs of failure.

If all seems good there, you might want to remove the cover from your power supply and check there too.

Usually, chips do not just burn like that, and it is caused by something else, like over voltage.

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