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Computer freezes; rebooting gets it further along the POST; then when system finally comes up, freezes again.

Posted on 2004-07-30
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
This is a weird one. Here is the software/hardware config:
- Win 98 SE (build 4.10.2222)
- 1.10 GHz AMD Athlon CPU
- MicroStar MS-6330 2.1 Main Circuit Board
- Gateway 4000711 System Model
- AMI BIOS 09/12/2000
- 128 MB RAM
- Master HDD Drive 0): Western Digital WD84AA 120 GB (only first 8.4 used)
  C: Drive 5.98 GB (4.60 GB free)
  E: Drive 2.41 GN (2.41 GB free)
- Slave HDD (Drive 1): ST320413A 20 GB
  D: Drive 20.01 GB (18.60 GB free)

The reason for the 2 hard drives is that I thought it might be the HDD, but it happens no matter which HDD I use.

The system will go along sometimes for a few minutes, or maybe even hours, and then it freezes. I might be doing something, or even if I don't, it will freeze all by itself. No keyboard or mouse response, video is still showing. Alt-Ctrl-Del does not cause a reboot, only a hard boot will free up the system.

Just after the system freezes, I hear a high-pitched whining from inside the computer. I've got the case off, and I use a plastic
tube to try to determine where the noise is coming from. I thought it was the PSU, but after I changed it, it still whines. The whine goes away, but the system is still frozen and needs to be rebooted to do anything.

I don't think the problem is overheating of the CPU. I can put my hand on the cooling blades, and they feel very warm, but not hot. The CPU fan is always on, and there is a healthy amount of air coming out of the bottom of the cooling blades.

Let me know what I should check. I don't have a spare MOBO or CPU, or I would have swapped them already. Is there some way I can test the MOBO or CPU with software? Thanks for any suggestions. I really need help here...
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Question by:coderlen
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Callandor earned 500 total points
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A high-pitch whine could be a fan, or a capacitor charging.  System freeze ups are either too much heat, excessive power draw, or a bad PCI card (typically a network card).  Check your temperatures with Everest (http://www.lavalys.com/index.php?page=product&view=1&subpage=5), swap the power supply out if you can (or buy this http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=561263), and remove all PCI cards.
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by:coderlen
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Thanks, Callandor, for your timely answer. You were right, it was one of the PCI cards. In fact, it was the sound card. I have it out now, and the computer is working perfectly.

I appreciate your other comments, and the links, they were also helpful.

I remember now that at least one of the times the computer froze up was when I was playing some MP3 files. I should have known, but it just didn't click.

I did put the bad sound card in just for fun, to see what would happen, and sure enough, it froze on the first boot.

You may think I was sleeping on this question, since I didn't answer until today. Actually, I got your answer just a few hours after you posted, but I wanted to make sure that your answer really did work (sorry for the lack of faith).

Curious how you were the only one that replied. Well, that's all it took. Thanks so much, you really helped me out of a jam!

I have another computer that needs help, also an AMD, but it blue screens. Maybe it's a PCI card. I'll try it on that computer. If it doesn't work, I'll post a question and try that route. Thanks again!
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by:Callandor
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I can't answer as to why I was the only one who responded, but it may be that Desktops doesn't have a lot of expert traffic.  Glad I could help you out!
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