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ASUS recalls motherboards that flame out thanks to backwards capacitors

Z690 Hero motherboards recalled because batch is borked, design itself is fine

A few weeks ago a curious thing started happening to gamers whose PCs are powered by the ASUS Z690 Hero motherboard – their systems started to catch fire.

Reports of smoldering boards started surfacing on Reddit and various forums.

ASUS issued a recall on the product, or rather what they call a “replacement program.”

With the internet ablaze with reports of faulty ASUS motherboards, a few netizens got to work on finding the root cause, and it turned out to be a simple manufacturing and assembling mistake rather than a design flaw. Netectives noted that a single capacitor was installed in a reverse position causing reversed polarity, and enough heat for the components to fail and catch fire.

That's a simple, but big, oops.

“In our ongoing investigation, we have preliminarily identified a potential reversed memory capacitor issue in the production process from one of the production lines that may cause debug error code 53, no post, or motherboard components damage,” said ASUS in an announcement.

The Taiwanese computer manufacturer said the issue only affects some 2021 units with part number 90MB18E0-MVAAY0 and serial numbers starting with MA, MB, or MC.

Owners of the motherboard can examine the product packaging to see if their hardware is affected. Asus also popped up a webpage where their customers can type in their serial number and find out.

Or, one can always look at the motherboard and just tell for themselves. If the positive end of the capacitor points at the MOSFETs, there’s danger. Youtuber Buildzoid, who is credited with diagnosing the problem, shows how to spot the problem in the video below.

Youtube Video

“I’m guessing they just put the cap backwards,” says Buildzoid around eleven minutes in.

Not everyone has had the issue, so it appears someone’s just messed up a batch of the boards. The Register reached out to ASUS to inquire if the issue was caused by a contractor (perhaps a reel of capacitors from a supplier was randomly reversed?) or if ASUS itself is to blame.

We're yet to hear from the company, but it is clear someone in quality control didn't do their job very well.

While some customers have been pleased with what they feel is adequate accountability from ASUS, others are miffed by spending $600 on boards that are not working and may take weeks to replace.

Others feel ASUS has done well. YouTuber JayzTwoCents also tracked the incident, calling it the “fastest we’ve seen a brand go from there’s a problem to we’re handling it, that we’ve ever seen.” He caveated “it’s kind of sad because that should always be the case.”

ASUS technical product marketing manager Juan Jose Guerrero III reassured members of an unofficial ASUS PC DIY support channel on Facebook that no other ASUS Z690 boards appear likely to burst into flames. ®

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