Personal computing discussed

Moderators: renee, Flying Fox, Thresher

 
diasflacog
Gerbil Team Leader
Topic Author
Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:58 am

Something greasy on my mobo?

Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:22 pm

Had my PC for over a year (feb2015) and the last hardware update was in June 2015 (980ti). Finally decided to stop being lazy and cleaned out all the dust that it had inside. I took the whole thing apart to really give it a good cleaning.

When I was visually inspecting my mobo (asus maximus vii hero) I noticed that it had a weird light "oil" stain. The oil stain seemed to be coming from the very first PCI-e x1 connector but on further inspection I traced it back to the VRM's (I believe that what they are called) it's the area outside the CPU that has two large heatsinks that create a "fence" around the cpu and cpu cooler.

The stain looks like a typical oil stain would like if you grab a piece of black paper then drop some cooking oil on it that areas becomes darker and more black/shiny.

My mobo has a black matte color to it so you can notice the oil stain. It's not huge and when I touch it, it was very hard to get any of the greasy stuff on my finger but I did feel it. I smelled it but it didn't have a scent to it.

I'm a bit concerned to be honest. ^^; The PC has been working great and I do tons of gaming on it and haven't noticed any weird things like low fps/crashes etc etc.

As of right now I don't know what to think. What is this greasy stuff? Could it be thermal grease that has melted onto the mobo? Or a capacitor leaking?

Helpful comments and tips will be appreciated : )
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1998
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: AK, USA

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:33 pm

Leakage from the thermal pads under the heatsinks on the VRMs?
It would take you 2,363 continuous hours or 98 days,11 hours, and 35 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could travel to Venus one time.
 
Rageypoo
Gerbil
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:26 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:48 pm

biffzinker wrote:
Leakage from the thermal pads under the heatsinks on the VRMs?


Ugh, I hate it when pads leak.
 
just brew it!
Administrator
Posts: 54499
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:40 am

I would guess thermal compound from the VRMs, as it would be a lot more likely to be "greasy". Leaked capacitor electrolyte tends to be dry and crusty, and modern motherboards use capacitors with solid electrolyte anyway.

Probably harmless, but impossible to say for sure?
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
yogibbear
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 920
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:43 am

If it's just some discolouration, and it's not a significant amount of anything, then it's harmless.

Stupid question, but you don't smoke or have this PC near a kitchen? :roll:
Core i7 4770K | eVGA GTX1080 FTW ACX 3.0 | 16GB DDR3 2133mhz | Asus Z87-PLUS | Corsair HX650 | Fractal Define R4 | Samsung 840 Pro 256GB | Windows 10 x64
 
sluggo
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:44 pm
Location: under the table and dreaming

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:55 am

If it looks kind of shiny but is not oily to the touch, it's probably flux residue from the original trip through the IR oven. Board manufacturers use a "no-wash" flux that remains on the board - no more water rinsing, so no more nasty water.

If that's what it is (and I suspect that's the case), It's harmless and it's meant to be there. Hold a small section of damp paper towel on an area and see if it softens up. If it does, it's water soluble flux and not an oil. So no worries.

If it's "oilier" rather than tacky/firm, then you've got a different material. That motherboard's caps use (solid) polymer electrolyte, so it's not that. Anything get dripped into the case from a vent? Sugary soda, maybe?
There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action - Goethe
 
Chrispy_
Maximum Gerbil
Posts: 4670
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 3:49 pm
Location: Europe, most frequently London.

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:03 am

I've never seen a thermal pad melt and ooze oil. Chances are that if it gets hot enough to do that, the board is already cooked enough to be dead.

If it's oil, it could be from a fan. They actually have oil in them and a lot of the time the oil is held in with only an adhesive sticker, and that adhesive usually fails after being heated and cooled by years of on/off cycles.
Congratulations, you've noticed that this year's signature is based on outdated internet memes; CLICK HERE NOW to experience this unforgettable phenomenon. This sentence is just filler and as irrelevant as my signature.
 
just brew it!
Administrator
Posts: 54499
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:00 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
I've never seen a thermal pad melt and ooze oil. Chances are that if it gets hot enough to do that, the board is already cooked enough to be dead.

I don't think I've ever seen a stock thermal pad do that either, but I've seen some aftermarket thermal compounds separate slightly, with a little bit of oil oozing out over time. So I'd still say it's a possibility.

It is probably leftover soldering flux, like sluggo suggested. The VRM section has many components with thick leads to handle the high current, which in turn means lots of solder and lots of flux.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
diasflacog
Gerbil Team Leader
Topic Author
Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:58 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:03 pm

Thanks for the replies. Nothing was dropped into the case my room is very neat and clean. It's not your typical "gamer room" with food and clutter everywhere. I also don't smoke nor do I have pets in here and it's not in the kitchen XD

Well I still don't know exactly what this "greasy" oily stuff is but i'm glad it's not a blown capacitor since that would mean that my mobo is getting messed up so that's good to know.

The fans aren't leaking oil they are corsair af/sp (the ones with the cool colored rings and grey rubber pads thingies on each corner) I don't think these use oil in them but I could be wrong. If it was the fans though, the oil would have landed on my 980ti's backplate and not on the actual mobo.

If you look closely you can clearly trace it to the VRM's. It's not paste like and it's really hard to get into my finger or paper towel but when I do it's basically like an oil however there's not enough of it for me to actually "scoop" up if that makes any sense. It's very subtle but noticeable (if you really look) and you can feel the oil on your finger if you really press on it.

Some extra info. My room does get ultra hot and the cpu is OC and for about half the summer I didn't have an ac either (lol) so i'm sure those VRM's were getting HOT =P regardless no stability issues or throttling etc etc. I also ran asus realbench (stress test) for 8 hours over night yesterday and ran perfectly. So no issues there either. Well lets just hope it stays that way ^_^
 
FranzVonPapen
Gerbil
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:26 pm

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:11 pm

It's possible the VRM heatsinks are using zinc-oxide heatsink grease, rather than a waxy thermal pad. In that case, I'd put money on your oil stain is simply a bit of separation of the oil carrier from the grease. Nothing to worry about right now, though it suggests the grease is gradually drying out/losing effectiveness. Might check on it next time you remove the motherboard, by popping off the heatsinks.
 
diasflacog
Gerbil Team Leader
Topic Author
Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:58 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:49 pm

Is it possible to remove the heatsinks off this mobo? I heard that in some mobo's you can't remove them. Also, lets say that you can, can I apply some thermal paste on the VRM's like I would on a cpu? lol
 
biffzinker
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1998
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: AK, USA

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:13 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
I've never seen a thermal pad melt and ooze oil. Chances are that if it gets hot enough to do that, the board is already cooked enough to be dead.

If it's oil, it could be from a fan. They actually have oil in them and a lot of the time the oil is held in with only an adhesive sticker, and that adhesive usually fails after being heated and cooled by years of on/off cycles.

I didn't mean the thermal pad itself would melt BUT the oily substance that tends to coat the tops of DDR5G chips, and I've seen oily outlines (VRM area) spread on the bottom of heatsinks used on GPUs.
It would take you 2,363 continuous hours or 98 days,11 hours, and 35 minutes of gameplay to complete your Steam library.
In this time you could travel to Venus one time.
 
just brew it!
Administrator
Posts: 54499
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:30 pm

diasflacog wrote:
Is it possible to remove the heatsinks off this mobo? I heard that in some mobo's you can't remove them. Also, lets say that you can, can I apply some thermal paste on the VRM's like I would on a cpu? lol

You could, but unless they're particularly easy to remove, or the mobo is having issues that are attributable to overheating VRMs, I'd leave it alone.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
diasflacog
Gerbil Team Leader
Topic Author
Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:58 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:22 pm

Alright :) Leaving it alone seems to be the best option for now. Aside from that greasy stuff on the mobo everything else seems perfectly fine. I will keep an eye on it to see if it gets worse and stuff just to be safe.

I also have a wall AC unit in my room now so the PC wont suffer much this summer =P
 
TwistedKestrel
Gerbil Elite
Posts: 686
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 4:29 pm

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:42 pm

Rageypoo wrote:
Ugh, I hate it when pads leak.


Image
 
avTronic
Gerbil In Training
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 1:39 am

Re: Something greasy on my mobo?

Tue Mar 16, 2021 4:00 am

Old post but thought I would be provide my experience. I just received a used MSI MEG z390 Godlike motherboard (I would have never purchase this new for its insane retail price). I visually inspected the board and found the following.

1) Same oily residue in key points;
a. under thermal pads where m.2 ssd drives were. You could still see the impression the SSD’s made in the thermal pads that run the length of the SSD, on top and bottom of the drive. There was also black what I would almost say was soot (although not powered you could blow off) framing the impressions of the chips. The oily residue was mostly in little droplet forms. It all wiped away with a paper towel and light amount of windex.
b. I removed the very large heatsink and heat pipe system from the MOSFETs. Major oil residue around these thin MOSFET chips that also have thermal pads (black in color as opposed to the grey on the m.2). This is the same little droplets, as well as dark shiny smooth around the chips on the actual motherboard. The top of these chips do have the oil with only the lowest 3 MOSFETs having excessive oil on the chip. Possible the heatsink and thermal pads do not sit tight on these chips and the oil was able to get between the mating surfaces. No oil on the larger silver VRM’s. No thermal pads touch these, even though the heat sink sits partially above them (although not touching them which seems like a poor design). At this point I did not clean this up as I decided to send a message to the seller for him to explain all this. I took more apart but refrained from attempting to clean the oily residue around any chips, here and else where. The thought ran across my mind that maybe this board was submerged in one of those oil tanks for super cooling a PC. I didn’t see signs of oil in every nook and cranny so highly doubtful unless someone hosed it down with cleaning solution and dried thoroughly.
c. Removed the decorative cover (with actual heat sink that seems pointless, since it’s covered) for the south bridge chip haha (I’m old), I mean PCH chip. This is under the large LED dragon logo. The same black thermal pad there with oil residue all around (same droplets and smooth darker shiny motherboard surface). I notice this is not were the chips make contact with the pad but only around the perimeter of the chip. This is definitely not some type of thermal compound. The thermal pads all seem to have a solid layer of plastic (that makes contact with the the chip) and a spongy foam core, designed to not use thermal paste. If it is coming from the foam core it would have to permeate the plastic, which is possible if it’s that type of plastic that can allow liquids under high temps and/or heat to leach through. Maybe that is how thermal pads work, not the leaching out part put the foam core having an oil to transfer heat.

2) other oddities;
a. The metal shields around the RAM slots were discolored and had an almost iridescent sheen. Almost like the heat/chemical treatment on metals to give them that iridescent look. It rubbed off easy to show the shiny chrome like original metal underneath. I was almost thinking this residue was all over, at one point, and the seller cleaned off every where he could, except for under thermal pads and such. And somehow this residue discolored this metal. The same metal shield around the PCIe slots was not discolored but they seem to be a stronger metal that maybe have a different finish/coating?
b. The long narrow OLED on this board has a plastic cover/window to frame the OLED thin board underneath. This little window had some residue in the corners and again looked like the residue was all over the window at one point. Looked like the window was wiped clean except tight into the corners. This residue was not in little tiny droplets, like the other areas, and was not oily. It cleaned up easy with windex, a paper towel and a small plastic tool to get into the corners.
c. Dark/shinier areas on backside of MB around chips that seem to line up with the VRM’s and MOSFETs. There were no droplets and no thermal pads here.

If it wasn’t for the rest I would have thought this last point was residual flux from manufacturing that was hiding under chips, with this being such a thin coating on the MB. When the chips got super hot the flux ran out. Maybe it is and the other areas are this plus oil from the thermal pads as well. It could not be only flux, at these other areas, with the amount there was in full-on droplets and such. Then there is the grey thermal pad for the m.2 drives that have no....well I was going to type “no chips” but yea, there are open chips on all these SSD’s and of course I don’t have the SSD board sitting there to make a better determination. I know this board was meant for severe overclocking and probably seen some extreme heat and torture. It was probably a mistake to purchase such a board used, especially in a system I use to render 3D models and not normally for just gaming.

Update:
I just got back to finishing this long post and the seller got back to me, in the meantime. He said he unfortunately does not know the background on this board. Only gets in items, verifies they work and resells. He said I am welcome to return it. I will wait till I have a chance to test it this weekend (after I clean things up) and see how it performs. Major work to swap MB’s. I already have an i9-9900k in a open liquid cooling loop, with an MSI z370 Gaming M5 MB, that cannot handle this CPU (thus the MB upgrade). With this new MB, I also have a new CPU block being delivered Wednesday. This is a nice EK CPU block that actually covers the VRMs as well as the MOSFETS, so the stock heatsink will be left off.

If anyone is interested, I’ll report back with more view points on the oily residue, once I clean it all off and see if the board performs as it should. Then pull it apart and look for more oily residue.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests
GZIP: On