Faulty capacitors give resellers the mother of all headaches

The clandestine world of corporate espionage has hit the hip pocket of Australian channel. Resellers are finding they can't get motherboard vendors to honour warranties on faulty products.

Faulty capacitors on motherboards have affected PCs worldwide, but the problem is only now beginning to surface in Australian components.

The capacitor problem reportedly began when a Japan-based scientist working on an electrolyte formula for use in capacitors stole the formula and then sold it to a Taiwanese company.

Unfortunately, the composition wasn’t quite right: hydrogen gas builds up, causing the capacitor to bulge and - in the worst case - burst. This means that motherboards can fail over a period of months, which has hampered diagnosis of the problem.

However, resellers report the products have made their way to Australia. They are now facing an uphill battle to get vendors to honour the warranties on faulty stock.

“Certain brands of motherboards have been dropping like flies,” Ian Grieve from Computer Ambulance Services in Queensland told ARN. “I would estimate a 70 per cent failure rate within two years.” Other retailers had experienced the same problem, he said.

According to a report by IEEE Spectrum, the only motherboard manufacturer to admit to the problem was ABIT Computer in Taipei. However, it is clear other vendors have also used the components.

IBM is the only PC vendor to admit to being affected, but as reports flood in from around the world, it is obvious the scale of the problem is growing daily.

Disaster recovery and risk management specialist, Tim Cousins, said he had noticed a disturbing pattern of computer failures that fitted in with the capacitor problem.

“The symptoms leading up to the failure include the system failing to boot, locking up or rebooting randomly,” he said in a message on his Web site. “This develops over a long period of time with increasing severity. On the claims that we have looked at the erratic and illogical behaviour of the computer system generated extensive and unsuccessful repairs and ultimately the replacement of the computer.

“We believe that many capacitor failures have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed,” he said.

With no-one willing to take responsibility for the problem, resellers have largely had to foot the bill for faulty products.

Greive said he was waiting for a class action against manufacturers and distributors who had refused to honour the warranties on the faulty motherboards.

“I have made good to my clients on every single board and that has cost me thousands of dollars,” he said. “The manufacturers and distributors have only got a limited amount of time left before someone like the ACCC starts imposing regulations in this industry, as they have in others.”

Sales manager at Century Technology in North Sydney, Jimmy Song, said he hadn’t experienced any problems with motherboard failures.

“ But I did have a client bring in an IBM Aptiva and when I looked at the capacitors, three were faulty,” he said. “I have never seen anything like it.”

However, Cousins said the extent of the problem could be far reaching.

“We are yet to see the full ramifications of this problem, how the Australian Insurance Industry reacts and how the warranty returns will be managed back through the supply chain,” he said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?