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Old 10-02-2018, 01:28 PM   #1
ChaosLegionnaire
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Default can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

i have two retro video cards. first one is a sapphire ati radeon 8500le 64mb. please refer to the attached pics. i have close up photos of the coils showing the number of turns on them as well as a shot of the whole card so u can see the vrm design.

thing is, im not sure how many turns are on the coil? is the vrm for the gpu and video ram using high or low switching frequency? i intend to use panasonic oscon sepc 470F 16v that i have on hand to replace the licon junk caps. one of the licon junk caps is even dented on the side!

next, is an ati radeon 9000 64mb pci. im not sure about the vrm design on this card. is that a linear regulator or a switching regulator? if its a linear, it wont like being polymodded. need to know so i can pick caps with the right esr to replace the kingcon junk caps. i already replaced the red sacon fz junk caps that originally came with the card to suncon/sanyo wg.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 8500le front.jpg (445.9 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg sapphire radeon 8500le gpu coil 1.jpg (1.91 MB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg sapphire radeon 8500le gpu coil 2.jpg (2.16 MB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg sapphire radeon 8500le vram coil 1.jpg (2.14 MB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg sapphire radeon 8500le vram coil 2.jpg (2.15 MB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg sapphire radeon 8500le vram coil 3.jpg (2.14 MB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg ati radeon 9000 pci front.jpg (2.50 MB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg ati radeon 9000 pci gpu vrm 2.jpg (2.31 MB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg ati radeon 9000 pci gpu vrm 3.jpg (2.11 MB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg ati radeon 9000 pci gpu vrm 4.jpg (2.11 MB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg ati radeon 9000 pci vram vrm.jpg (2.06 MB, 12 views)
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Old 10-02-2018, 02:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

The second one, looks like it came from DealExtreme, L O L.
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Old 10-02-2018, 04:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Yes, you can polymod them but there's little point/sense ... these are low power consumption cards, good electrolytics would last decades.
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Old 10-03-2018, 07:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

I don't think this is a good idea unless, your power supply is using great quality electrolytics, and your motherboard has already been polymodded. Seems to me you would stress basic electrolytics tied to the incoming voltage rails of the AGP slot if you stack polymers in front of them on the card itself because it's my understanding that they charge and discharge faster than basic electrolytics. But I've seen great results polymodding an AGP equipped board. But IIRC the board was equipped with a much higher performance AGP card than the ones you listed. I would do it, anyway just to maximize stability.

But again, power supply, first, motherboard second, then video card.
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Old 10-05-2018, 08:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
first one is a sapphire ati radeon 8500le 64mb. please refer to the attached pics. i have close up photos of the coils showing the number of turns on them as well as a shot of the whole card so u can see the vrm design.

thing is, im not sure how many turns are on the coil? is the vrm for the gpu and video ram using high or low switching frequency? i intend to use panasonic oscon sepc 470F 16v that i have on hand to replace the licon junk caps. one of the licon junk caps is even dented on the side!
Considering the reference Radeon video cards of that era typically used Nichicon HC (which has lower impedance than HD series, which is about equivalent to Rubycon ZL and Chemicon KZE), I would say poly caps probably would work fine. Just keep capacitance the same.

As for the coils themselves - their inductance is specified by the color dots above. I have a specs sheet somewhere on one of my PCs on how to do that... but since I'm not in front of it, I can just tell you from memory (from similarly-aged Radeon cards) that most of these coils are probably in the 1 to 4.7 uH range... so not too low and not too high frequency probably. Thus, I don't think polymers would cause any issues.

While I haven't poly-modded any video card this old, I have seen other folks do it here with old motherboards and it hasn't been an issue. Generally, it's possible, in theory, for very low ESR to cause issues in some circuits. But in practice, I've only seen that happen in PSUs, and never on motherboards or other PC gear with buck power rails.

So overall, I'd say it's fairly safe to polymod this one.

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next, is an ati radeon 9000 64mb pci. im not sure about the vrm design on this card. is that a linear regulator or a switching regulator? if its a linear, it wont like being polymodded. need to know so i can pick caps with the right esr to replace the kingcon junk caps. i already replaced the red sacon fz junk caps that originally came with the card to suncon/sanyo wg.
Believe it or not, Sacon FZ "junk" caps actually have very low ESR specs - on paper anyways . When new, they might be close to that. And if they are, you are looking at almost Panasonic FM/FR equivalents. While FM/FR series are not exactly ultra-low ESR caps like Nichicon HM, Rubycon MBZ, and Chemicon KZG... they are the next level below those, so to speak. So if the card came with those, chances are it will take polymer caps just fine. Besides, this Radeon 9000 card is one of the newer Chinese-built ones (probably with recycled chips??). So the board design may have been updated too to take lower ESR caps, despite all the rails being regulated with linear regs. The only thing to do when recapping rails with linear regulators: always keep capacitance the same as the original.

That said, I do agree with the others regarding these cards being low-power and not needing polymer caps. Standard low-ESR good quality Japanese caps (like Chemicon KZE, Nichicon HE, Rubycon ZL/ZLH/ZLQ, and Panasonic FR/FM) can last just as long as the polymers. So you don't have to polymod these if you don't want to or have other cheap cap options available to you.
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Old 10-06-2018, 03:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

i just want to use whatever i have available on hand instead of waiting for more caps to get shipped over to me. also, the required lytics are being sold in multiples of 25 here. the oscon sepc caps are being sold in multiples of 5. i dont need so many like 25 as there are only a handful of caps or less on a video card.
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Old 10-06-2018, 08:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Then use what you god.
Should be okay. Better have ultra-low polymer than a failed open-circuit Sacon FZ... or whatever other crap-caps are in there. The Licon like to gradually go high-ESR when they fail, at least.... unlike FZ, which tend to just go randomly.

From the circuit point-of-view, Sacon FZ caps are like, No you see me... *poof*... now you don't

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Old 10-10-2018, 09:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Don't want to hijack the thread, but would polymodding a i430TX board be worth it? It's full of Jackcon caps that god knows how much they last (they're just old, none went bad.)
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

I don't see how. In a system that old, just worry about reinforcing the power supply and motherboard with fresh, young capacitors. Even if it had Rubycon's, they would be ancient.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Quote:
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I don't see how. In a system that old, just worry about reinforcing the power supply and motherboard with fresh, young capacitors. Even if it had Rubycon's, they would be ancient.
It's running off a ATX PSU (a Frontier LC-B400ATX I purposedly recapped and added all missing parts, enough for 250W, and also has the -5v rail) so the PSU wouldn't be a problem.
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Old 11-04-2018, 11:38 AM   #11
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

ok so i recapped these two video cards last week and this is how they look now. please refer to the attached images.

the 8500le looks really nice and stylish with those purple oscon sepc caps! god i luv those caps!

the radeon 9000 pci has been re-capped with panny fr caps instead.

stress tested both cards in games and in 3dmark03 for a week and they both work fine.

interestingly, the vram overclocking of the 8500le improved from 189 mhz to 193.5 mhz after the recap. i guess the licon junk was on its way out. the overclocking of the radeon 9000 pci remained the same.

only thing left are the kingcon 100F 16v caps on the radeon 9000 pci. not sure what they are used for filtering. i cant replace them because i can only buy 6.3mm 100F 16v caps in multiples of 25. not gonna pay for 25 caps to replace 3.
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Old 11-08-2018, 12:15 AM   #12
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
the 8500le looks really nice and stylish with those purple oscon sepc caps!
YESSIR, it does!

I like those purple Sanyo SEPC caps quite a bit myself - especially on green-colored boards. Besides the good looks, they are some tough workers too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
the radeon 9000 pci has been re-capped with panny fr caps instead.
...
only thing left are the kingcon 100F 16v caps on the radeon 9000 pci. not sure what they are used for filtering. i cant replace them because i can only buy 6.3mm 100F 16v caps in multiples of 25. not gonna pay for 25 caps to replace 3.
The Panny FR are a good choice there. As for the small Kingcon caps - they likely aren't that important anyways (3.3V, 5V, and 12V rail filters, typically... somethings the fan too). You can leave them. If you eventually get more caps down the road for something else or you end up scrapping something with small caps, then you could recap it. But it's really no big deal. The GPU core rail and RAM Vdd supply are really the two important ones. Everything else can take a backseat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
interestingly, the vram overclocking of the 8500le improved from 189 mhz to 193.5 mhz after the recap. i guess the licon junk was on its way out.
I wouldn't say they were going out. Probably just higher ESR by nature. The new SEPCs just "catch" more ripple due to their lower ESR.

Anyways, good work!
These cars aren't very powerful, but they are pretty damn reliable. Totally worth saving one!

Last edited by momaka; 11-08-2018 at 12:16 AM..
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:38 PM   #13
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

well the licons are indeed on their way out. tested them on the china 12864 esr meter that i have a few days ago and they tested high capacitance with a reading of 570-580F when they are supposed to be 470F rated.

so the licons are failing by virtue of going high on leakage current. looks like the dielectric layer is degrading on those, so they are indeed going bad.
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Old 11-23-2018, 09:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: can these retro video cards be polymodded safely?

Yup, looks like they are getting over 20% high on capacitance (i.e. above their +/-20% specs.) What's worse is they probably won't bulge or show any signs of failure. At least when I see United Chemicon KZG and Nichicon HN/HZ caps from the affected period do that, they always eventually bulge after sitting in storage for a while.
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