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Your Rev. 1.6 XBOX is In Danger! (Aging Capacitors)

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Hey all,

I was doing some maintenance on my pile of derelict tech when I noticed that one of my original XBOX consoles, a rev. 1.6, had multiple failed capacitors. Apparently these are from a bad batch of caps from Nichicon. 

These are not the clock capacitors that notoriously leak and destroy rev. ≤1.5 boards, but the 3300µF 6.3v caps that are near the CPU (probably not helped in any way by the CPU heat).

As seen in the photo below, only the larger capacitors with the cross-shaped vents had begun to fail to the point of leaking. A couple of the smaller 100µF 25v caps also looked suspect, so I replaced those as well. All those with the K-shape on top appeared fine. 

image.thumb.jpeg.3b3289cd2eff156a10e2153cb74cface.jpeg

 

New capacitors in:
image.thumb.jpeg.db3a242ce3120327e4a51a1ba6673a0c.jpeg

 

And we're back in business!
image.jpeg.3d479c42c9af9f971fef66f604d31f7a.jpeg

 

These 3300µF capacitors seem to only be present on the rev. 1.6 XBOX boards. 

You can cross-reference your console's serial to its revision here:
XBOX Dev Wiki: Hardware Revisions

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44 minutes ago, thermalgoop said:

original XBOX consoles

anything made after 1995 prone to weak cheap capacitors.

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"Ultra low ESR" electrolytic capacitors tend to have a more aqueous electrolyte (as in more liquid) and are more susceptible to producing gases when the material inside is damaged due to various reasons. 

As an example United Chemicon KZG and KZJ series also craps out on old motherboards due to bad electrolyte formulation (too much watery, too little anti gassing/self-repair chemicals) but the KZE series (which is still very low ESR but not "ultra low" ESR) is rock solid and rarely goes bad. 

 

Nichicon had a problem with some of their series, but limited to some time interval ... one of their factories was overfilling the HM and HN series with electrolyte, and they found this and corrected the issue in 2004 .. so HM and HN series from them from around 2002 until early 2004 can go bad. 

 

Panasonic's ultra low esr capacitors from back then - I think it's FJ or something like that - also had a more than normal amount of failures, again same deal, the electrolyte formula traded stability for ultra low esr, to achieve good specs on paper.

Their FM series is great very low esr series, and also uses an aqueous electrolyte. The newer FR series has even lower ESR than FM series but actually uses a different electrolyte which is more gel/ like, not watery.. 

 

If you want long term fix, you can replace these electrolytic capacitors with solid (polymer) capacitors - and in some cases (if you know what you're doing) you can use less capacitance. Especially on old motherboards, they often use 6-8 or more electrolytic capacitors but have them in groups of 2 or 3 in parallel in order to reduce ESR or use more capacitance than needed because the bigger volume capacitor has lower ESR and the focus is on achieving a low ESR, not a minimum capacitance... so often you can replace 2 electrolytic capacitors in parallel with a single solid (polymer) capacitor, or use lower capacitance solid capacitors.

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17 hours ago, SupaKomputa said:

anything made after 1995 prone to weak cheap capacitors.

Except that those were from a reputable brand, plus capacitors and heat don't get along that well considering that the worse affected caps were right next to the CPU.

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