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Computer restarts or freezes/locks up at random

Posted on 2006-07-05
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Hi all. At home I have a nearly brand-new DFI Lanparty Ultra-Dr Expert Nf4 board, with a 7600 GT, and 1 gig of OCZ memory. Earlier with this config I had memory issues as this board is VERY particular about what components you mix and match with it. And of course all of the recommended parts (PSU's, memory, graphics, etc.) are all very expensive. So I figured I'd ask the experts before I go buying anything rediculous to cease this VERY VERY annoying issue with my comp.

So here's the low down:
Computer will freeze/lock up at random, requiring a cold boot or it restarted on its own and usually comes back with a windows error report.

I have left the computer on for days at a time, with no restart, yet playing CS:S seems to make it freeze/lock up without a hitch

Once I was forced to restart and completed an error report with Microsoft which returned the error saying a device driver was screwing stuff up. I looked at the files and it seemed to be pointing at my audio drivers. So as an experiment, I turned the volume all the way down on CS:S (Counter-Strike), and was able to play uninhibited for over half an hour! In fact, it never froze or restarted, when I was never able to play for more than seemingly 5 mins at a time, I even stopped playing on my own volition, not my PC's. Now I'm not sure this is directly related to my issue, but it may have some relevance?

I tried downloading a new audio driver and testing it out with the volume, but no luck there. Same issue.

I have run memtest86 on my PC several times and it is fine. Haven't run 3dmark or prime95 yet, but I can play Everquest 2 for a number of hours, with very little lag if any, WITH volume. Although I have noticed everytime I freeze it repeats the last second of audio data, resulting in a very irritating noise when the last thing you heard was a grenade in CSS.


Basically my point is, is that I can play games online and everything, with high graphic detail at that, so why does it restart at random? is it my audio driver? I've had people suggest that it could be my PSU because my board is so demanding, but I don't even have it on SLI, and only 2 HDD's (one SATA, one IDE) with A cd drive. There is an additional 8-pin power connection on this board in conjuction with the normal 24-pin connector, but my PSU only had an available 4-pin connector, so I plugged it in as the best I could muster, yet in the Manual for this board, it says you only need a 4-pin connector if you dont have 2 video cards on it. Maybe they are filthy liars? Any ideas for this would be EXTREMELY valuable, I can't seem to get to the bottom of it, have built many computers, never had a board this picky and I don't want to rush to buy a new PSU if I dont have to. Thanks all!
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Question by:coilbraze
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 17044683
If the problem only happens when the volume is high, it would point to a faulty sound card or a power problem.  Try a different sound card, or connect the sound output to an external amplifier and let it set the volume, using its own power.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17050036
nope, last night I tried playin CSS with my system volume all the way down, and the game volume all the way down. It still locks up. Any ideas? It looks like I'm buying a PSU *sigh*...
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Accepted Solution

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maramom earned 250 total points
ID: 17052396
If drivers are the possible issue, try installing NVIDIA's chipset and video drivers. (as well as the most updated audio). They can sometimes be more stable than the mobo or video card manufacturer drivers. The stability of the chipset drivers can effect all of the other components on the system.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/nforce_nf4_winxp32_amd_6.70.html

http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_91.31.html

It's a good idea to monitor your video card and cpu temps while playing to see if any overheating is occurring.
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by:coilbraze
ID: 17058233
whats a good utility to monitor temps while I'm playing?
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Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 17058746
RivaTuner should be able to monitor temperatures of nVidia cards.  I'm not sure if it will display it onscreen, like ATITool does for Radeons.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17067087
used everest to check cpu and gpu temps.

cpu never went above 48, but I noticed the voltage was only 1.24?

gpu never went above 57 or so, can't see that being out of range. I'm guessing it's a power issue, but would much appreciate a second opinion. thanks again.
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Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 250 total points
ID: 17070335
This is an Athlon64, right?  If Cool'N'Quiet is enabled, voltage and speed will be reduced when idle.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17073208
its an Athlon X2, manchester dual-core 3800 I think, it's about 2.08Ghz. That's fine if Cool'n'quiet is enabled, I just want a second opinion if I should try to buy another PSU. I would test the PSU but sadly I have none that meet the req's of this board that I can use to experiment with. I doubt Cool'n'quiet is forcing my comp to restart from low voltage, and it's obviously not overheating, so any other ideas, or an authoritative "PSU is your only option" is all I'm looking for, just trying not to buy one without eliminating every other option. Thanks for the help.
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Expert Comment

by:maramom
ID: 17073704
I have read on other forums, people who had similar problems with CS:S (some with the same DFI Lanparty Ultra board). If the problem is only occurring with that game, it may be a glitch in the software.

One suggestion that seemed to work was to disable onboard sound and install a pci sound card. If you have a spare sound card, it's worth a try.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17076307
ok, I dont have another sound card to try, and it restarts FAR more often than just on CS:S. Ill be watching a movie on my PC and I have to cold reboot about 6 times in the 2 hour movie. NO REASON. I will try disabling onboard sound as opposed to just putting sytem volume on mute.

The only reason I mention CS:S at all is because it ALWAYS crashes my comp, no if ands or buts, it has only ran successfully once and I have not been able to recreate that instance yet. I HAVE played EQ 2 w/ no probs, but I have also ran EQ 2 w/ problems much like the ones CS:S has given me. It seems totally unrelated to anything you are doing on the computer, except when you play CS:S, then you have a 100% chance of it crashing. Everything else either screws up occaisionally, or often. The only thing that is mostly stable is IDLE. Even then I have come home to a frozen comp. As I am writing this I keep thinking "sounds like a power issue" since it seems it is software unrelated.
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Expert Comment

by:maramom
ID: 17077403
How long did you run memtest? You should run it for a few hours.

Was the movie a DVD reading from the DVD drive when it crashed? This DOES indicate a power issue.

What are the specs on your current PSU?

If your PSU is low for your system, just replace it. (try this online calculator for a guide: http://journeysystems.com/power_supply_calculator.php )

It could be a power issue, but the problem may not be HARDWARE, but actually drivers which make the problem look like hardware.

Which drivers are loaded for your chipset?
Which drivers are loaded for your video?
(From mobo manufacturer, or NVidia?) If DFI's...try NVidia and vice/versa

You could also try testing your PSU on another system to see if you get irratic results, before you fork out the bucks.
You can also buy the PSU from a retailer that will take it back as a return if it doesn't solve your problem. No loss.

I would not rule out video card, either...even if it's not overheating, it could be faulty. Testing it in another machine should rule it in or out.

These types of crashes don't necessarilly point to ONE component ... memory/bios/video/drivers/psu/cpu/mainboard/sound/etc. could all be a possible culprit.
If the crashes seem to occur when the MOST power is being used, or if it's clear that the PSU's not powerful enough, that's the first place to start. The PSU could also be faulty, even if it's rated high enough. This can create erratic, intermittent reboots.

If it's not clear, I'd test all components to establish they are "known-good" (testing in another system), as well as substitute the drivers.

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Expert Comment

by:maramom
ID: 17077509
I missed hard drive diagnostics for troubleshooting your problem. It wouldn't be my first guess to pinpoint the problem, but shouldn't be ruled out. The ultimate Boot CD is a full of great diagnostic tools: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17080772
thanks, I'll try those out. When I get home I'll post my driver specs and other info. The thing that bothers me though is that you could be right, hence my posting this question. It's not crashing at what I would consider "high power consumption". In fact it seems to do it pretty much at random. Although now that I think about it, it's never done it when I'm just running an app or borwsing the net or something. Usually, there is some video output involved during the moment of crash, or as it is entering a video mode. I wouldn't say it's a video issue either though, as I tried as many video drivers as I possibly could to try to get CS:S to work, and none of them did. But I will repost with more info later today, thanks for the input.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17110527
well this might be of interest, I had an NTLDR problem with my windows installation, tried to fix it today and now it's tellin me my BOOT.INI file is invalid. Yet it still boots from Windows, think this has anything to do with my restarting? if so, how do I fix it?!
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Expert Comment

by:maramom
ID: 17111830
When the system is shut down improperly, (numerous times) it's often the case that your file systems can become corrupt, which may be what you are now experiencing.

Run chkdsk to try to fix any problems.

You can repair your BOOT.INI file:
     Boot with XP CD
     Press R to load the Recovery Console.  
     Type bootcfg
     This should fix your boot.ini

You may have to do an install repair on your OS (back up your data files first, for safety) if the above doesn't solve your system errors: http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm

The errors may also be caused by:

--a faulty hard drive,
--a corrupt OS,
--faulty memory (can cause file corruption),
--or virus/malware

Start by doing hard drive diagnostics.

Check your event log for errors. Post them, if any.

Test your memory again for a few hours.

Run a thorough virus scan, as well as several malware scans. Some free programs:
AVG antivirus http://free.grisoft.com/doc/1
Ewido anti-spyware http://www.ewido.net/en/
Spybot Search & Destroy http://www.safer-networking.org/

I still wouldn't rule out the video card as being faulty for your crashing problems...were you able to test it on another system?

I do believe that your system problems are probably due to the crashes.
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Author Comment

by:coilbraze
ID: 17121331
well no I was not able to test out the video card on another system. However, I ignored this as a potential cause of the problem because I had gotten so used to it. When my comp booted, it would always say NTLDR is missing and it would have to search for the CD. I fixed that, but now it says my BOOT.INI file is invalid, but it loads windows anyways?! I'm pretty sure I know how to fix it, if not, it's right above this post and will do so later today. But could the BOOT.INI file error cause these crashes? I thought it was just a windows loading error.
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