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Erratic behavior caused by power supply or RAM?

Posted on 2004-10-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
This is my first computer I've built and it's proving to be as nerve-racking as my friends said it would be.  First off, here are the specs:

P4 3.2 GHz Prescott 800 FSB
Soyo MoBo - P4VTE Prescott-Ready
2 x 512mb Ultra PC3200 DDR 400MHz
XFX GeForce FX 5700 LE 256MB DDR 8X AGP W/TV & DVI
WD Caviar 120GB EIDE HD 7200/8MB/ATA
Mad Dog Dominator 6 in 1 12X DVD+/-RW Drive-100
Diablo ATX Case with 450 watt PSU (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=720575&Sku=D15-1010)

Now, here are the problems and my futile attempts to diagnose them:

1.  XP Pro installation fails to copy files correctly.  During installation I constantly get messages saying "filename.ext failed to copy correctly."  Sometimes I can make it through these by retrying them, sometimes they won't copy at all.  One way I got around this was to copy the files over using another computer and swapping out the HD, then finishing the installation on the new computer.  Other times I disable the L2 cache and that works to some extent.

2.  Once I get an installation of XP Pro to work, I then begin downloading the latest drivers and programs that I need to get the system updated.  I'd say about 90% of the time, however, these downloads result in installations that tell me "corrupt cabinet file" or something to that effect.  After deleting the file and deleting Temp Internet Files, I can get the downloads to work after awhile.

3.  I installed both Doom 3 and Rome: Total War and updated them to the current versions.  Doom 3, however, crashes to the desktop after a time period of 5-10 minutes, or it will fail when the levels are loading.  RTW will freeze during the beginning prologue and will often CTD, as well.  I've tried the current nVidia driver, 61.77, as well as 65.76 (or close to that).

4.  I've ran Simmtester with both of my RAM modules in a total of 3 complete times (not sure what a good number is).  It never reported any memory errors.  I've ran chkdsk /p and chkdsk /r several times, always without any errors.  I ran Western Digital's diagnostics and they also say my HD is good.

5.  I removed my Ultra RAM modules and tried to run my computer with a buddy's stick of 512mb Samsung (same specs).  When I do this, all of the above errors show up even more often.  (Maybe Samsung is less tolerant of power inconsistencies?)

I'm sure I've seen more problems and tried other diagnostic tools, but these are what stick out in my head the best as I've tried them all numerous times.  My gut instinct is to blame the RAM, but after having ran SimmTester and tried a buddy's stick just to see MORE problems, I've started to suspect the power.  The case was a whopping $50 and included the 450 watt PSU.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
Question by:jamfan16
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LVL 28

Accepted Solution

burrcm earned 2000 total points
ID: 12432432
Messy. Power is possible. Easiest way around this would be to borrow a ps and give it a go. RAM is more likely. Now I am not familiar with SOYO mobos, But it is common for good RAM to fail in one board but be fine in the next. Which is why memory testing programs don't always find a problem. In this instance I note on the SOYO site - Soyo Recommended Kingston Memory. There may be a good reason for this! The choice of video card can make a difference. For example. I built a number of pcs using a Shuttle mobo. If the onboard video was used, the board would only run with DDR333 RAM, but if an AGP GeForce 4 was added they would happily run DDR400. Why? No idea, but you get the drift. Compatibility is everything. So, try some Kingston RAM, try a different video card, try a different ps (but I doubt this is the problem). Also XP quite often will refuse to talk to a particular CD drive. This too could be an issue.

Hope I have given you some things to consider, but not a headache.

Good luck

Chris B
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Accept: burrcm

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