So I’m looking at an ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe board that stopped working some time ago and I had no time to figure out why. The board is from early 2008, not exactly vintage hardware, or at least not just yet. It gave up the ghost approximately in 2013.
I was about to fire up the board when I noticed that about half of the capacitors look like they’re trying to poop out the rubber seal at the bottom. It’s not terribly obvious at first glance and I also can’t find any traces of leaked electrolyte, but those capacitors look very sick.
The interesting thing is that the caps near the CPU, which I would think (perhaps naively) get stressed the most, look just fine. And I’m reminded of another board, an Intel DG965RY, which still works but has 3 or 4 rather unhealthy looking capacitors far away from the CPU.
I strongly suspect that the problem is insufficient case cooling. The capacitors near the CPU get good airflow from the CPU fan which is blasting air at them. That’s part of the design—Intel started requiring omnidirectional heatsink/fans in the early 2000s, to help with board cooling. While the M3A32’s CPU fan only blows out air in two directions, it’s very obvious that that’s where all the high-temp components are, and the other two areas adjoining the CPU are much emptier.
But the caps on the other side of the board far away from the CPU might get very little airflow in a standard case, and were probably exposed to considerably higher temperatures than what they were rated for. After a few years of relatively heavy use, the M3A32 board simply stopped working. The capacitors probably weren’t bad per se but were abused.
It seems like re-capping the M3A32 shouldn’t be a horribly difficult soldering job but I’m not at all sure it’s worth it. I really hate leaky capacitors.
If anyone has tips for reliably identifying bad capacitors without de-soldering, please let me know (if I’m going to de-solder a capacitor I might as well replace it with a known good one).