Like any good geek I used this opportunity to upgrade the hardware but I lazily left the faulty motherboard on a desk and forgot about for several months. A few days ago I picked it up and happened to notice a handful of bulging capacitors.
I've read many tales of capacitors failing and how replacing them can bring electronics back to life but never had first hand experience. I saw this as my opportunity to attempt something risky... without risk.
I ordered a bunch of replacement capacitors, some no-clean flux and solder wick and sat back patiently awaiting their delivery.
In the following image you can see the two capacitors closest to the camera are bulging at the top. If you look carefully you may be able to see a few others in that picture exhibiting the same symptom.
If they are subject to high temperatures the fluid inside these 'little towers' evaporates, turning to gas, increasing pressure inside causing the casing to bulge. As you can see, this area of the motherboard is where the ATX cable attaches so these capacitors are likely involved in voltage regulation, an area often synonymous with high temperatures.
After replacing the first capacitor I re-tested the board. It booted! I had not expected this at all. It seems with just one replacement the board was operational again. But I could see there were several other failing parts and I didn't want to have to redo my work so I unplugged the unit and set out replacing all the others too.
All the failing caps were of the same rating so I suspect they were from a bad batch. There are 11 of this particular capacitor on the motherboard but I chose only to replace the six around the ATX connector. Replacing the others would have involved removing a large heatsink and none of the rest had any visible damage at all.
I'm happy to report that everything went swimmingly. The board has been running for a little over a day now with no problems. In fact, I was so pleased with myself that I had to instantly go show my wife what I had achieved with no training in electronics and a £5 soldering iron, just determination and a steady hand.
She was nonchalant.
The new capacitors are easily identified as they are brown while the OEM units are black.