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System Crash Hardware failure - trying to track down the problem

Posted on 2006-11-29
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Hey guys,

I have a computer that I mostly use for 2 things, surfing the web, and playing World of Warcraft (game).  Over the past few weeks I've been having issues where my computer freezes and I get a blue screen denoting a hardware failure and memory dump.  This crash happens most often when I am playing world of warcraft, sometimes I will load up the game, wait 5 minutes, get the blue screen, restart, and load it up again for the same thing to happen frustrating me severely.  Othertimes I will be able to run the game fine for hours and it won't happen at all.  The blue screen is the main thing I see when my computer crashes although rarely once every week or two, my mouse just stops moving and my screen freezes like that, needing a restart.  That crashing is less often and it is mainly the blue screen when I crash, it will happen randomly when I'm just using my computer but as I said, 80 percent of the time it is when I'm running the game.

As far as specifics about my computer, a few months ago I replaced the power supply with a new strong antec 550w one that has been running excellently since, so I don't think it is related to that.  The harddrive had issues in the past so I replaced it and what I'm using now should be fine.  I try to defrag when I can.  I also downloaded a memory diagnostic tool that boots up in dos, and ran a 2-3 hour thorough memory test, it seems the 500MB of ram I'm using is fine.  I'm inclined to believe I've narrowed down the problem to either the motherboard, video card, or sound card.

The motherboard I'm using is:
Albatron KX18D ProII
Soundcard:
Creative sondblaster Audigy 2 ZS
Video card:
ATI All In Wonder Radeon 9600

since the problem happens more in world of warcraft than anything else I am inclined to believe it is a video card problem.  But in attempting to help narrow it down, this morning I removed my sound card from the computer, and so far, I have not seemed to crash at all yet.  So I am even wondering if there is some type of conflict in the motherboard, if it could be the sound card, or if its simply easier for my computer to handle all this when the sound card is unplugged, or maybe even I may still crash but have not tried this long enough with the sound card out.  Regardless I would like to narrow down and isolate the problem, as I am fine replacing the video card or sound card if I have to.  I'd prefer not to replace the motherboard unless I truely knew it was the problem.. because then I may as well get a new computer.  And the CPU is an athlon 2.09ghz.  The computer itself is a few years old, but since it had issues, parts like the hard drive, case, power supply, have been replaced as I've gone along.  I'd say the sound card, motherboard, cpu, and video card, are the most used parts of the computer.

Any help is appreciated,  I have scheduled raids in a guild that I participate in for the game I play, so I will try to keep my sound card disconnected and main tain my schedule until I narrow down the problem and replace the part in the weekend.

Thanks for your time
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Question by:sci33
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18038266
well my computer just crashed again except this time the mouse just stopped moving so, I'm also going to try connecting the sound card again and reinstalling its drivers and video card drivers..
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Expert Comment

by:jasonpaine
ID: 18038344
run this to test memory  www.memtest86.org,
my computer just crashed again except this time the mouse just stopped moving  most likely the hard drive is bad... had this same problem, go to the hard drive makers website they have diagonistic test you can run on the hard drives to see if they are bad  
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18038458
that is the memory test I used and it didnt find any errors.  The mouse not moving error never happened before but I will run another hard drive diagnostic.

although at the blue screen I did manage to get the technical information:

"
*** STOP: 0x0000007F (0x0000000F, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)
"
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18038680
well to add more frustration, when I was installing the sound card drivers again my computer crashed and now when I try to install them I get an error saying I had already attempted to install drivers and I must reboot, and each time I reboot I still get this error message and am unable to install them.

also, I installed the western digital diagnostic software for windows but when I try to run it I get a blue screen, this time it references "si3112r.sys - addresss (etc..)",  That was the error I used to get about 3-4 months ago when I first replaced my sata raptor drive, and even though my normal blue screen doesnt say anything about this, I cant get into the diagnostics because of this error..  this hard drive is pretty new and I'd think it would be some other issue if I'm getting the same error I had months ago with a newer drive.  
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Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 500 total points
ID: 18043916
Look here :   http://support.microsoft.com/kb/137539/nl
btw - you can have the BSOD screen displayed when in device manager>advanced tab>restart settings section>settings>  clik do not restart on system errors

is the cpu overclocked? try downclocking
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Expert Comment

by:fallenknight308
ID: 18052642
Hey.
Nice to see someone using a good PSU! good.
I need a little more info, when this started, what programs cause the event?
Is it WOW only? or other games too? or programs other than games as well?
Example: you play WOW and it crashes, but using WinAmp or WMP and its fine.
You removed soundcard and it stopped? THEN did you fire up WOW to see crash/no-crash, or just waited?
What I'm saying is this, if its software only certain progs will cause it, and it will be predictable.
If its hardware it will happen randomly/all the time. (Mostly)
If its drivers, it gets tricky.
I know some would argue with me, I'm just being general with this approach.
A more detailed example would be: I installed AVG on a friends comp, and she then had constant reboots at welcome/login before desktop (It never got to desktop each and every time. note the "predictability" of the event)
Turns out a F-SECURE software suite was running, and its anti-virus did not like AVG. An un-installation of avg in
"safe mode" brought the comp back to normal.

Then there's the step-by-step process of removing hardware one item at a time.
Or removing device drivers, and re-installing them.
Its long, and time consuming and it helps to have spare hardware so you can diagnose.
But as a rule of thumb, don't reinstall XP untill you have tried everything you can, thats a "last resort"
IMHO...............
Good luck!


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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18064633
nobus: thanks for the link, the resolutions were as I expected to hear.
Fallen: here is more information,

as of my last comment I successfully reinstalled the sound card and video card drivers.  As I said before, when I removed the sound card the error stopped happening. and when it did happen it was 90% of the time happening with WOW open, only rarely did it happen while surfing the web.

But here is my latest update

I switched the sound card into another slot instead of the one it was originally in.  and once again the tables have turned with a new problem.  My wow runs fine now and I've never gotten a blue screen since my last post a few days ago, which is great, but the new problem is that randomly, sometimes after a few minutes, sometimes after a few hours, my sound will start screeching and sound will not work anymore.  The game continues to run fine without sound, and I turn down my volume on speakers to prevent myself from getting annoyed from the screeching sound.  After a system restart everything is back to normal, for some amount of time before it happens again.  This time it is not only triggered by wow, but also if I listen to music in winamp for a while, it will eventually happen, etc..  I'm beginning to think it's either a motherboard issue or IRQ conflict?  I'm really hesitant to get a new motherboard on this old pc otherwise I'd like a new computer.

any feedback is appreciated.. maybe I should try another slot for the soundcard, i dont know.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 18066859
i would try another sound card
and  what do you mean with " the resolutions were as I expected to hear." ?
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18078620
nobus,

from your link:
"
To resolve this issue, use the appropriate method:
•      If either software or hardware can cause a particular trap, a debug is required to determine which is the cause. If you suspect a hardware problem, try the following hardware troubleshooting steps:
1.      Test the RAM in the computer by running the diagnostic software that is provided by the computer manufacturer. Replace any RAM that is reported as bad. Also, make sure that all the RAM in the computer is the same speed.
2.      Try removing or swapping out controllers, cards, or other peripherals.
3.      Try a different motherboard on the computer.
"

and you say try another sound card? I will buy another sound card but not unless I am sure it will change things as I don't want to waste money.. theres no chance this could be the motherboard? or the sound card could be the root of the problems?
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Expert Comment

by:cpc2004
ID: 18081832
Refer the following problem and the culprit is PSU
http://www.techspot.com/vb/showthread.php?p=218811#post218811
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 18083207
>>  and you say try another sound card?  <<    Yes, since you posted :" this morning I removed my sound card from the computer, and so far, I have not seemed to crash at all yet. " you can try a cheap soundcard, or one lying around for testing
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18108724
cpc2004,  I already replaced my PSU a few months ago to a newer one 550watt antec and I really don't think it's the cause of the problem as I'm not sure my issue is similar to the link you provided.

nobus,

I will try to purchase a new sound card and video card and see if it helps
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18108727
also my all in wonder ATI radeon 9600 has a tv card on it , so maybe that was related to the error like you linked cpc?
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18108810
I guess while I'm giving this a shot, I could use some recommendations as to what to buy for replacements..

currently using:
ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 9600  - originally got this just for internet and to be able to watch tv on computer.  Now I just need something that will continue to run WoW smoothly, no need for TV card anymore.  Looking for another card, which must be AGP 4x/8x (my mobo slot), in the 100-150 dollar range
Creative Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS -  I have a 5 speaker system w/sub woofer so any card that was atleast as good as the audigy 2 ZS will do, 50-75 dollar range.
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Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18162089
well I'm going to go ahead and order a audigy 4 and geforce 7600GT replacement and let you guys know if it fixed anything.
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Expert Comment

by:drypz
ID: 18171219
Try to repair your OS installation if the above doesn't work.
0
 

Author Comment

by:sci33
ID: 18218384
here I am with the new graphics card and sound card arrived.. and still having the same issues!

im going to try to reinstall the OS but im really running out of ideas :(
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