If your laptop computer is running slower than usual, randomly freezes or restarts, or refuses to boot, you could be dealing with a failed capacitor on the computer’s motherboard. A system with failed capacitors can display a wide range of symptoms, some of which can be mistaken for other computer problems.
There are two types of capacitors primarily used on computer circuit boards, water-based electrolyte, and polymer-based electrolyte. When a capacitor fails, the electrolyte inside vaporizes, causing the capacitor’s case to bulge and sometimes leak. Aside from visual and physical signs of failure, the most obvious symptom of a failed capacitor is the gradual diminishing of your computer’s stability over time. If your computer increasingly shuts down without warning, a failed capacitor could be to blame.
Checking For Failed Capacitors
To check for faulty or failed capacitors, use the following instructions.
- Turn off your computer and remove the power cord from the power supply. Additionally, disconnect all other cables like USB cords.
- Open your laptop’s case using your specific laptop’s motherboard replacement guide, which can be found on your specific laptop’s device page.
- Using a flashlight, visually inspect all of the capacitors on the motherboard. Visual symptoms of failed capacitors include the following:
- Bulging or cracking of the capacitor’s top vent,
- The casing sitting crooked on the board if the capacitor’s base is pushed out,
- Rust-colored electrolyte leaked onto the motherboard,
- Missing or detached capacitor case.
If you find any capacitor that has visual damage, you can be nearly certain that the capacitor is the root of your system’s problems.
What To Do If You Find A Failed Capacitor
If you find a failed capacitor on your motherboard, you can either replace the capacitor or replace the motherboard. If your computer is still operable, be sure to backup your data before attempting to replace a capacitor or the motherboard.
To replace a faulty capacitor, you will need some soldering experience and equipment. To replace a failed capacitor, use this guide for recapping your own motherboard or device.
To replace your computer’s motherboard, see the Computer Motherboard Replacement page.
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