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Random freezes with no error messages

Posted on 2002-06-11
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Mobo:     Epox EP-8KTA3PRO
Processor:AMD Athlon 1.4Ghz
Memory:   1 GB
OS:       Windows XP

My PC randomly freezes without any error messages or entries to the event log.  I can have an uptime of 5 days or only 2 hours.  It typically occurs while playing games (but not always) and has happened while surfing the net with nothing else open.

I have reinstalled the OS twice, I have upgraded the hard drive, I have tested the memory.  The system temps are all decent (low-mid 30s).  

Two things lead me to believe that the motherboard is at fault
1. Is this error message from the event log when I boot up:
     AMLI: ACPI BIOS is attempting to write to an illegal IO port address (0xcf8), which lies in the 0xcf8 - 0xcff protected address range. This could lead to system instability. Please contact your system vendor for technical assistance.

2.  Is the fact that my ethernet cards keep becoming unrecognizable.  After I reboot from the freezes sometimes my 1st linksys ethernet card disappears, if I reboot, most times it will come back.  However, yesterday when I booted, the OS recognized it as an AMDTEK card, when I tried to change the drivers Windows told me it could not start the card.  I pulled the card (slot 2) and inserted another and got the same message, so I left that PCI slot empty and moved to the next one available (slot 4)and it worked just fine.  Today the ethernet card in slot 3 is not working properly.

I know this is rather long but I am trying to be thorough in order to identify the problem.
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Question by:u8semaj
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 7069824
These problems are often difficult to diagnose.  In my experience the following are common causes:

1) Bad (or overclocked) RAM.  Try swapping out the RAM for known good ones.  Check the ones you have for proper speed.

2) Bad (or overclocked) CPU.  Try swapping out the CPU for another one.  Check to be sure it's running at the right speed.  Make sure the voltage is set properly.

3) Bad cooling.  Check your CPU fan and case fan to make sure they are operating properly.

4) Bad card (especially video).  Check the card's drivers, try another card, see if the problem goes away.

5) Bad power.  Do you have a stable line power?  Get an UPS and/or power stabilizer.  Is your system power supply AMD approved?  AMD is very picky about power.

6) Is this system on a network connected to the public internet?  Perhaps there is a hacker messing with you...  Try blocking at your firewall or get a tool like ZoneAlarm.
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Accepted Solution

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SysExpert earned 500 total points
ID: 7069865
Besides Jhances excellent suggestions, I would look into a good diagnostic program for checking the above hardware.

Norton Utilities, Ontrack Utils, SANDRA,
You might want to check out
http://hardwarehell.com/
and http://www.tomshardware.com
Here is a link to reviews of 11 motherboards by AnandTech.
               http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.html?i=1489
also.
 http://www.simmtester.com/PAGE/products/doc/docinfo.asp
http://www.simmtester.com/page/products/doc/download.asp
  CPU speed test CPU type   Side bus speed  FSB front side bus                                                                             http://www.tweakfiles.com/processor/wcpuid.html

RAM test RAM diagnostics for testing RAM using a boot disk.
               goto this page:
               http://www.heise.de/ct/ftp/
               and download the file on the link:
               ctRAMtst - Hauptspeichertest, Version 5.1

               or download directly:
               ftp://ftp.heise.de/pub/ct/ctsi/ctramtst.zip

I would recommend that you download a diagnostic disk from your harddrive manufacturer's url. This will tell you right off where you are at and if
   you can recover from it. It may be under warranty, the hard drives are usually covered for three years and you can make out the RMA on their site
                     also. Depending on the manufacturer of the hard drive, you can download diagnostic utilities from their sites to check the drives.
 www.seagate.com
  www.maxtor.com

http://www.wdc.com/service/ftp/drives.html
    www.ibm.com  
http://www.storage.ibm.com/techsup/hddtech/welcome.htm
    www.fujitsu.com


In addition,I would get the latest drivers for all of your hardware.

It might not be a bad idea to see if there is a newer BIOS you can download and flash.

I would also look into swapping out the NIC with a different one ( Netgear/3com/Intel) since there could be a problem with the card in your machine.

I hope this helps !
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Expert Comment

by:1175089
ID: 7073581
Athlon 1.4GHz is power hungry /it dissipates 73.5 Wats, for example Athlon XP 2100+ (Palomino)-72.90W / so look carefully, may be it is temp related problem
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 7073588
>>>so look carefully, may be it is temp related problem

already noted:

"3) Bad cooling.  Check your CPU fan and case fan to make sure they are operating properly."

Why are you being redundant?
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Expert Comment

by:Vic54
ID: 7151790
I have the same problem, and i found an answer although its not one that i like and i doubt you will either.

basically, if you have the latest bios update to your motherboard, the you either have to live with this error, change the motherboard, or change operating systems.

This is a problem with your boards bios and windows xp's design. The entire explanation for this answer can be found here.
http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/tech/onnow/BIOSAML.asp

and the microsoft faq for this is here.
http://support.microsoft.com/search/preview.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q283649

thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Vic54
ID: 7151793
completely forgot about yoru second issue, and i dont have a definite answer for that but i think its safe to assume this could be related.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 7160666
u8semaj:
Enter the BIOS configuration (DEL at POST or F1 maybe) and choose "Load Setup Defaults".  Then go back and customize the other various settings you may have modified.  This is especially important to do after flashing the BIOS.

-dog*

Vic54:

Welcome to Experts Exchange!  The method generally used in this EE Topic Area is to make comments in a question, and not propose answers, even if you are 100% sure that your solution is the only workable answer.  By posting your solution as an "Answer", it moves the question into the "Locked Questions" listing on the page, which fewer Experts look at, which therefore reduces the chance that the Questioner will get a fast solution to their problem.

For more information on Questions & Answer guidelines, please see the following link:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/cmtyQuestAnswer.jsp

Glad to have you here to share your knowledge!

Thanks,

-dog*
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Expert Comment

by:Vic54
ID: 7160805
sorry dogzter, i shouldnt have done it but now i know even a better reason why not to. totally my fault and wont happen again.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Kyle Schroeder
ID: 7162198
No problem, pretty much everyone does it when they first join.  There has been *A LOT* of discussion about removing the "Answer" option completely when commenting in a question, but nothing is finalized yet.

Again, welcome to EE!

-dog*
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Author Comment

by:u8semaj
ID: 7169359
Vic54, your answer is correct but SysExpert presented the correct solution first so I will be awarding the points to
him.  I apologize for the late resolution to this question, I have been out of the office for the last month.

 
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Author Comment

by:u8semaj
ID: 7169362
I ran through everything you suggested.  In the end it was the BIOS that was out of date.
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