sudden shutdown and restart

Im running windows XP pro, but i dont know if this is an OS issue or not. for the last few weeks ive been getting occasional sudden shutdowns (screen goes black and restart initiates).   there is no warning whatsoever.  the first few times it happened was during 3D renderings (3ds max), the larger they were the more likely a shutoff would occur at some point.   lately ive also had a couple of occurences during antivirus scans.  because it was happening during renders, which are extremely processor intensive, i thought maybe my processor was gettting too hot and the machine shuts off maybe to protect itself?

the machine is an Acer travelmate 4150 laptop.  not sure how many fans its supposed to have there seems to be one going.  it clearly spins but i cant tell how well its working.  im keeping the computer on a hard wooden surface since this started happening.  but the bottom does get pretty hot when the computer is working hard.  anyway i could be totally barking up the wrong tree.

this problem has persisted through a fresh install of windows last week.

thanks for reading...
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
Hello  theotrain

First to make sure it's processor issue, goto Safe mode and try to run as much of programs as you can and then run the antivirus scan so this would make your laptop work as hard as it was in the normal mode, If the system reboots then it might be one of two, 1- Bad Memory, or 2- Processor heat.

As venom has commented above, you should try to do a test by memtest, Goto the following website to find the diagnostic tool for the mem test...

If you have not had any troubles in testing the ram modules, then probably it's the processor..

I have had this kind of problem with my office Desktop, when one of my colleagues was working on Adobe premier on a vedio with a very big quality, he had alot of restarts but this turned to be a motherboard issue, first i thought it's a VGA when I took the cover off and touched the VGA chip, it was so hot and the fan was working but it was spining so slow...

The following link includes alot of testing tools for your hardware, this is a very useful tools that will help you to find out what is causing these restarts..

Good Luck.
could be heat or it could be ram run a memtest see if you come accross anything also try taking the side panel off and see if the fans are running.  if you have a motherboard that supports heat monitoring you might want to get some software to monitor the temp.
When sudden shutdowns seem to occur during specific video activities, I would look first at the video card or video graphics card software.

Check the Acer website to ensure you have the latest graphics updates, and install newer ones if possible.  

Intense scans etc that are cpu intensive on the other hand can be heat related.  Are you getting good air cooling under the laptop?  Are the (usually two) small fans underneat working?  There are several "laptop coolers" which you put underneath the laptop for problems of cooling.  It's a known issue with people putting laptops on surfaces that don't allow cooling.
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If you wish to confirm overheating or not, you could measure  CPU temperature, fan speed and many other parameters by downloading and running Lavalys "EVEREST Free Edition 2.20":
theotrainAuthor Commented:
thanks everyone.

i ran a memtest with no apparent errors, then installed everest to monitor CPU temp.  i tried rendering an image that was causing consistent shotdowns the other day (while checking temp) and it is working fine!  the cpu fluctuates between 42-43 degrees C (109F) and i hardly hear my fan at all, it used to sound quite loud.

amazingly the only thing i can think of that i did was blow some compressed air into the vents where the fan and heatsink are!  i read somewhere that the first thing to do for something like this is make sure the heatsink isnt clogged with lint and the fan is working properly.  i wanted to open the laptop and really clean it but couldnt figure out how, so just blew some air in.  it must have dislodged something because my fan is much quieter and the thing seems to be more stable.

im not sure how this points stuff is supposed to work, i hope im doing it right.  feel free to tell me if not.

Congratulations on resolving your problem.  

Look at Staples and other places for laptop coolers, which are sold to prevent and solve just this type of problem.  Here's one example.
theotrain   ..   that's good!   Maybe you *have* dislodged fluff or something, but it would be prudent to monitor the situation for a while.   You at least have information and tools to do that now.   Post back if you ever have further problems.  Thanks.
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