Computer locks up, speakers go crazy, no input possible, only output is static noise.

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 well here's the situation, i've been dealing with since the summer. First i'll post my specs.

(specs when problem first occured):
AMD Athlon XP 1700 (1.46 ghz)
asus k7 motherboard
Voodoo 5500 pci (changed to geforce3)
256 megs sdram
creative labs soundblaster live 5.1 soundcard w/ 4 speakers/subwoofer.
was originally running win98se but recently changed to WinXP Pro, problem remains.
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I got a Geforce 3 ti 500 vid card and put a slot fan by it to help cooling.
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Mostly it happens while i'm playing a game, the screen will freeze and i'll hear this terribly loud and harsh static noise from my speakers. I'm forced to restart my computer with the button on the box.

I originally thought it was an overheating problem (it only started happening on a really hot summer day). So as a quck fix i opened my box and put a table fan blowing onto it to cool it down. It seemed to work, but then i noticed i was getting a lot of dust (which further increased heating) so i turned the fan around and stuck it close to act as an exhaust. Well it seemed to fix the problem.

However after a brief respite the problem returned... my system continued to lock up randomly while playing games, with the same loud static noise.

Now i have a few specific questions:

Has anyone experienced this and figured out what causes it?

Does blowing the fan into my computer better/worse/same as sticking it close and blowing it out as an exhaust?

Should my processor fan blow air onto my processor or blow air off of it? (originally it was blowing air onto it, but i just switched it around today b/c everyone tells me it should blow air off of the chip)

I've tried many things so far and it hasn't fixed much. Your help is appreciated. :)

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Commented:
It could be overheating. It could also be an inadequate power supply. What wattage is your power supply? Is you case mini- or mid-tower, or something else?

Consider installing a case fan if the power supply is adequate. It should cost less than $10, will suck air into the case while the power supply fan blows it out. It will do a lot more for you than the external fan, which might actually create radio frequency/electric motor interference that causes problems.

Author

Commented:
Ok i'm in a mid tower, on a 300 watt supply.

Next stop at the store is getting me a case fan and a new power supply. Physically i feel the processor's heat sink, as well as my video and sound cards and none of them are exceedingly hot.

A friend told me to get a 450 watt supply, but i'm unsure on the workings of power supplies and don't know which one to get. Does using a higher wattage supply then recommended adversely affect anything?

I hate using the table fan but sometimes i just have to.
Did you upgrade to WinXP or did you do a clean install?
What other software are you loading. Many games will freeze if you running Virus scan

Go to www.pcpitstop.com and run a full test. pay attention to the software running,  and disk stats. you may have something like an ATA-100 drive without an 80 pin cable.

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Commented:
Another thing. many games are not yet compatible with XP. When you upgraded, did you do a "full" install so you could boot to either XP or 98? 98 is more compatible with games. If you can dual-boot, try the game in 98. Most new games are XP compatible, but not all and most older games are not compatible.

Commented:
Is the fan on the videocard spinning? If not, this could cause your card to overheat. Also, make sure you have the latest dirvers for your videocard as well as your soundcard. See if this resolves anything. As far as how you should position your CPU fan, I would put it back the way it was originally. I found no major difference in having it blow in either direction. Some say to blow air onto the chip to further cool the chip and push the dust and heat out of the heatsink. Others say to blow heat away from the chip. Whichever way it blows, your overall system temp will depend on whether you have a good air flow scheme setup. usually one or two fans situated at the front of the case to blow air in from the outside and two exhaust fans in the back of the case to pull hot air out. This seems to work for most systems.

Author

Commented:
Well i did a full clean install onto a new HDD... the problem occurred on Win98se all the time too so it's not the operating system. My system isn't overheated, and all of the drivers are new.

Everything that would normally cause that problem doesn't seem to now.

could it be bad ram?

Commented:
Try some hardware diagnostics in thorough mode, especially on the graphics card & RAM. If you don't have any,
http://www.asus.com/support/download/download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us   
http://www.asus.com/support/download/download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us
http://www.asus.com/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=Utility
are from Asus, or try the shareware sites. Were you having this problem before you upgraded the video card? It could be registry or software, but it sounds like hardware problems.

Commented:
Are you running any temperature monitoring software? There is a freeware util you can download from tucows.com. Works well with some motherboards, not at all with others, but its worth a try.

Author

Commented:
well i replaced my sound card to a Philips sonic edge, mostly b/c i was unhappy with my soundblaster. Problem's still happening.

Also, i was running 3d benchmark tests and experienced many lockups... hmm...

Commented:
maybe your videocard is fried. Can you try the card in another machine? Or better yet, get a card that you know works and install that one. If you have no problems, then you know the card is bad. You can do the same thing with the memory if the videocard does work. You are right to assume that memory  could be the problem.

Author

Commented:
There's no use in changing video cards since the same problem occured when i had my Voodoo Card in. The only elements that have not changed since i FIRST experienced the problem are my Ram, motherboard, processor, and power supply.  (i have new harddrives, sound card, video card, operating system, and added cooling)

I'm running a 300w supply, is that enough? Someone suggested getting a 450. But i'm running out of money and can't just keep replacing parts (well the ones i replaced were b/c i wanted to, not to try to fix a problem, altho was hoping it would)...

I really appreciate everyone's help.



Author

Commented:
Posted from my guild boards:

"I promise you 99% its your mother board. You blew your Video Caps I bet. Wild guess your Power Supply is a 250 or a 300 Watt??? The lowest you should ever run a G3 on is a 350 Power Supply and 400 for G4 is ideal. I know I blew a board running a g3 ti 4600(on my 3rd box) with a 250 watt power supply(dumb me). Check your caps and see if any of them are balloon'd on top(rounded) instead of flat. "

Any input on that?

Author

Commented:
I found someone on other forums that had the exact same problem as me (same chipset and everything too), and he said he replaced the mobo and everything worked perfect... So thanks for all your help.

IF YOU HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM GO HERE:

http://forum.pcmech.com/showthread.php?threadid=37899 
http://forum.pcmech.com/showthread.php?threadid=42058 
Glen A.IT Project Manager

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