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Is it the Power Supply Unit?

Posted on 2004-09-28
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I'm having a problem with my PC.  I can do most things with no problem - however - about 5 or so minutes into any game, (Tiger Woods 2004, MS Flight Sim 9, etc etc etc.....) I'll generally get a BSOD with a STOP error and then some file which could be USB.SYS or NTFS.SYS or just about anything...

After perusing many forums - I'm still no smarter then I was before I started my research.  :-)

Here is my machine setup:

P4 3.4GHz 800 FSB
PSU - DeVanni 560W
Gigabyte 8IPE1000-L Rev 2(865P chipset)
1GB Elixir RAM (two 512MB chips) PC3200
Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600 w/ 256MB DDR
OnBoard NIC
1 IDE / 2 SATA HDDs all 7200RPM ranging from 80GB to 160GB
1 CDRW
1 DVD+/- RW
1 Epson Photoprinter (USB)
1 LiDE scanner (USB)

(At various times I can have up to 3 other USB devices plugged in - the two I listed are always there)

The problem, again, only occurs when I play games - and I can play them for about 5-10 minutes tops...

Running various memory testers provides me no memory errors...

Could it be that this cheap PSU isn't providing enough amperage on the 12V rail for my power-hungry CPU along with everything else.

If this is the case - which PSU would solve my problem?

Or - is it a damaged CPU (AMIDIAG test in DOS mode failed the MMX test for the CPU - is this related to the power consumption though?)
Or - is the mobo crap (should I get an 875 Chipset instead?)
Or - is it the video card.

All mfgs suggest putting in another chip/card/mobo to test to see if the problem still occurs.  Ummmmmm.. How many of us have an extra P4 3.4 or another 8IPE1000-L or another Radeon 9600 just sitting around?  :-)

Any help would be most greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Rich



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Question by:richswyatt
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by:Callandor
ID: 12174146
It could be an inadequate power supply.

Not likely a damaged cpu.

Intel865 chipset is pretty robust, so it's not that.

It could be the video card, since it only happens during games.  It might be hardware or software, so eliminate the software by trying a different video driver.  Uninstall what you have and install Catalyst 4.7.  If that doesn't do it, try a different video card.  You might also try a different power supply, too, to rule that out.
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by:ankur313
ID: 12176678
I had a similar problem.

I found two solutions.

1) Restart Comp before playing any game. (This solution always worked.)

2) 4 months ago upgraded from Win2000 to WinXP and reinstalled the video card. Bingo, the problem was gone.

This is definetly a Video card - OS issue.
 Pretty sure your power supply is good enough.

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by:richswyatt
ID: 12179594
Same thing happens regardless of the video card I'm using (should have stated that in the first place, sorry)...

I don't believe that it is the video card.  
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by:eatmeimadanish
ID: 12179759
You need to do some tests.  Stop error is almost always related to hardware, either through a driver or something is bad.  These are the tests I would use.

1.  Run Memtest86 to test memory http://www.memtest86.com/#download1
2.  Run Prime95 for at least 24 hours ftp://mersenne.org/gimps/winnt235.zip
3.  Run 3dmark (any version) from www.futuremark.com 

This should stress test your hardware.  Memtest is for memory, prime is for cpu and mobo, and 3dmark for video and subsystem.  My call is that either you have a heat problem, or a memory problem.  Check the temps just after a crash and see if they are over 58c  if so you may have a prob with your heat.  The best way to test that is leave the case open and play.  

Still I am putting money on the memory, which could just be timing issues.    
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Callandor earned 500 total points
ID: 12180508
Ok, if you've tried more than one video card, try a different power supply - I recommend Enermax, Antec Truepower, Zalman, PC Power & Cooling, or Thermaltake.  You could also try stripping out components, to reduce the power draw.
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by:richswyatt
ID: 12180921
I will check things with the tests recommended by Mr. Danish.  :-)~

Secondly - I've heard great things and it seems that the PC Power & Cooling PSU provides a GREAT deal of power to the 12V rail - also I've heard great things about OCZ Technologies' 520W PowerStream PSU.  

At $185 for the PC Power & Cooling and ~ $129 or so for the OCZ - I want to be able to return it if it isn't the problem.  :-)

I'll provide an update tomorrow on the tests... (memtest provided me with no errors - so I'm still ruling out memory)...
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by:richswyatt
ID: 12180981
And another thing... I've got an LED temp monitor lead attached to the heatsink fins... at worst it is getting up to about 109 F
which is...  ~42.78 C... Not bad for a P4 3.4GHz ??  So - I was thinking it was heat too - but I'm not so sure that is the case.  I've got a temp monitor proggie - I'll get it going during a game and see what we get to on the CPU.  :-)
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by:eatmeimadanish
ID: 12181604
42 is normal sitting temp for P4.  Since they pull like 100 watts.  The temperature they start to crash at is above 60 - 70.  The reason I said 58 is that by the time you reboot computer and get into the bios the temp starts dropping again.  If its not memory and its not temp its more then likely the mobo.  Mobo's are the hardest things to test since they can work normally under certain conditions and test fine, and still be horribly bad.  
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by:Callandor
ID: 12182275
Enermax also has great 12v rails - 26a on this 365W unit: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=17-103-439&depa=0

You might be overheating as a result of bad contact between the heatsink and cpu.  It won't cost you anything to reseat it, to make sure it's flush.
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by:richswyatt
ID: 12186247
3DMark gave me some 2550 points or so - not too bad... CPU was right at 48C when I closed the app... So I don't think it is overheating?  I don't think it is the memory - I can't get Memtest or any other memory testers to give me an error.  I'm down to the PSU or the Mobo...  Help!  :-)
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by:Callandor
ID: 12186684
Borrow a quality PSU if you have to, and see if it will keep the system running.
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by:richswyatt
ID: 12202012
I've re-seated the Heatsink and applied some Arctic Silver 3 paste... Yummy.

Secondly - I found the sticker on the PSU - and it is only supplying me 17A and the +12V rail!  I would say that this is most likely my issue.

Now - all you experts - tell me:  has my underpowering the CPU damaged it do you think?  Or should I be ok once I get a higher quality PSU?

(also - any body like/dislike the ABIT IC7-G and/or MAX3 mobo?)
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by:Callandor
ID: 12202072
You should be ok with a good PSU, and running the system underpowered would not have damaged it.  I have the Abit IC7-G and like it a lot!  Abit makes pretty good motherboards that are flexible.
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