How To Recognize Flawed Capacitors
Our capacity gauge shows 1000µF, indicating that this capacitor retains full capacity.
An exploded exterior reveals a broken capacitor. A lumpy top or even an opening at the predetermined breaking point are clear indicators that a capacitor is about to die, if it hasn't died already. From time to time, the rubber plug, closing the capacitor on the bottom, gets pushed out by gas pressure inside the body. It is especially difficult to detect broken capacitors, whose electrolyte drained over time and didn't leave any traces on the aluminum body. The dryer a capacitor, the less capacity it has to store electric charge. You definitely need a capacity gauge (see picture) to measure the capacitor. You can get these devices for less than $30. We use a Digitek DS-568F, which was sufficient for our purpose and at less than $40 it was affordable as well.
Welcome to the Emergency Room
We found a several year old board from MSI in our shelves. Defective capacitors are a problem with mobos from just about all manufacturers. So, please don't take our choice of product as an indictment of MSI. The motherboard just happened to be hanging around our lab, so we used it.
Due to its dual processor sockets, we believe that the K7Master is well suited to reanimation. Exchanging this motherboard for another would entail replacing the two processors as well as RAM (registered DDR memory in this case), which would be an economic nightmare.
We could not see if all capacitors had deteriorated. However since they were all of the same kind, we assumed that all of them needed replacement. So we began a search for 26 substitute capacitors with equal capacity.