Fire onboard--Pics included

Anyone ever have one of those blue-white capacitor cap-thingies blow and turn a small area of your motherboard into charcoal? I'd been using that thing for about a year and a half, and while I was always curious about that slightly-cockeyed cylinder, I never thought much of it, since the system was perfectly stable, even with continuous use.

Then, the other night, right after I'd installed BF:BC2, I was cutting my way through the campaign. About an hour, hour and a half in, my monitor went black, and I heard a "POP!" and a sizzle. The smoke came soon after that. I scooted back from my desk and looked down. Orange flames were shooting up from the board, visible through the side vent. I panicked and killed the power from the outlet. Sure enough, a second attempt to start the computer resulted immediately in the orange glow followed by more flames.

I'm writing from what is virtually the same computer right now (only on a Gigabyte motherboard). The fire burned straight through the board itself. BOTH sides, top and bottom, show signs of the damage. The board itself was an MSI K9A2 CF V2 mainboard. I received it as a Christmas gift back in '08.

Interestingly, MSI seems to have stopped making this model. The only one I could find on Newegg was an open-box item. Coincidence? Maybe....

Anyways, if you ever receive a board with a crooked cylinder on it--take the cautious approach and, before you boot it/live with it, get in touch with the manufacturer and see if you can get a replacement. DO NOT make the same mistake I did.

(To those who are thinking it, I never touched or damaged that particular capacitor. I examined it from all angles to make sure it was secure, and when I booted the computer, and everything worked, it was all fine.)

Learn from my experience so you guys don't have to live it. Peace!
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  1. Capacitors do go bad now and then. The angle may have had nothing to do with it, or perhaps it damaged the connectors or shorted with another component.

    That said, in an electrical lab some students hooked up a large capacitor backwards and the thing blew up. Sounded like a gunshot and put out a bit of smoke. When they do fail (fairly rare these days) they go out with quite a bang (or in your case flame).

  2. This was easily the scariest moment of my computing life so far. Please tell me this isn't a common occurrence. XD

    Like I said, it wasn't a problem with the setup or anything. Almost everything performed flawlessly. (There was a light on the front of my computer case that didn't seem to work--I "fixed" it by plugging it into the correct slot. LOL!) But you can see the way the capacitor is bent off at an angle. I think a seal burst or something. I never overclocked, the temperatures were always within system tolerances ... it was just weird.
  3. Oh wow, that was in the power circuitry. No wonder such fireworks.

    I have never had a cap go, however, just the other day I was helping someone who had one explode in his PSU. So rare, but not unheard of. Never seen one burn though the board though. The best advice I can give is buy high quality components and hope for the best.
  4. EXT64 said:
    Oh wow, that was in the power circuitry. No wonder such fireworks.

    I have never had a cap go, however, just the other day I was helping someone who had one explode in his PSU. So rare, but not unheard of. Never seen one burn though the board though. The best advice I can give is buy high quality components and hope for the best.

    Yeah, I feel pretty blessed that my hard drive and RAM and CPU all still work. Pretty much, it seems like the only thing that was destroyed was the board itself. It even got so hot that it left charcoal on the side of my computer case. I have a Corsair PSU though, and it seems to have been pretty reliable so far. I've heard that power supply units can stop functioning correctly and not convert the house electricity into the form the computer uses properly, and I wasn't sure if that was what happened or not.

    But I guess I know now. Just shoddy construction on that part, I suppose.

    I definitely won't be leaving my computer alone too long anymore though. That could've been messy if I hadn't been there to intervene....
  5. Best answer
    Yeah, that is scary. I'm a little surprised some overcurrent protection didn't kick in. I had a defective 4850, and the computer would just shut down every time I tried to start it (so nothing got hurt). Maybe that was a more solid short in a line directly connected to the PSU so it could detect it better.

    That is great news on the rest of the components though. I was worried they wouldn't make it.
  6. Best answer selected by KNightSeiber.
  7. @OP:

    Full specs?
  8. Wow, I just had something like this occur too! My BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX A2+ just fried two days ago, and while there was no fire it did have a massive spark!

    It was running earlier in the day so when I saw that it had turned off I started wondering what had happened. I flipped the switch on the back of my PSU (Thermaltake 550w [don't know any more then that right now]) so that it cycled. I turned it on and then sparks.

    CPU: AMD Phenom x4 9950+ (OC'ed to 2.8GHz, 2.6 stock)
    RAM: 2x2GB Corsair XMS series, 2x1GB G-Skill
    GPU: SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 5770

    All the voltages were at stock except for the RAM, which I needed to change due to stability issues.
  9. In the power section too I see. Wow, this is very odd.
  10. EXT64 said:
    In the power section too I see. Wow, this is very odd.

    Yeah it is, but in my case I am thinking it might be the PSU. I'm working on finding out more about it, but I can't check voltages on another computer (only spare round here is an old Dell) or a multimeter (just don't own one). I've been trying to get input on this idea, but its like I've been ignored once this was suggested.

    EDIT: Ok, so it turns out that my PSU is a Thermaltake PurePower 500w (not the 550 I thought). Shows it has over-voltage protection though... PSU Info
  11. Its possible. I have no idea how to prove whether it was the PSU or the MB. Probably want to replace both if you can.
  12. If the OP would care to post his specs, I have (confident) suspicions it was caused by an overclocked 95W CPU, a 125W CPU, or a 140W CPU. Why?

    MSI made two versions of MS-7388, aka K9A2-CF F, appropriately dubbed V1 and V2 upon the release of the V2. What's the difference? V1 never had the proper power MOSFET circuitry to support CPUs with a TDP greater than 95W. V2 "fixed" this and actually added a heatsink on the MOSFETS. (Shown clearly in his 2nd and 3rd pics.) General suspicion amongst V1 owners is that the V2 simply added the heatsink and that was it. I mean, take a look at this pic designating the V2:

    Here's the V1:

    It's just a sticker over the V1 designation indicating that the top one is a V2. A sticker! Not silk-screening! And look at the silk-screening above it! "MS-7388 VER 1.0" ! It's identical! No actual model number difference can be found anywhere on the silk-screening of the board! If that doesn't tell enough of a story, then I dunno what will.

    Now, as for RogerDeath... It's likely a similar situation. He's got a 140W CPU OC'd a wee bit on a single-plane mobo that barely handles the 140W it's rated to in the first place. His pic already shows it, but here's another:

    Hmm... No heatsink on the power circuitry and a 2+2 pin power cable, yet it's supposed to support 140W CPU's? Yeah right!!!
  13. I remember that fiasco. A lot of boards were burned up.
  14. Actually, I have the 125W TDP Version, so I'm not entirely sure if that was the problem. Plus, it took two years for this to happen so it is still covered by warranty. My father has been running a near-identical setup and he has had absolutely no problems with his Gigabyte board.
  15. There's a big difference between most Gigabyte motherboards and Biostar motherboards. I mentioned the difference but didn't get in to the details of it.

    Dual Power Plane vs Single Power Plane. Here's an illustration that somewhat explains the difference.

    Basically, Biostar is using the middle example. It's cheaper, older technology left from the AM2 era. This is the reason why many of their boards don't support Deneb core AM2+ and AM3 CPUs and many CPUs that have been released since, all of which require implementation of a dual-plane design.
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