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wasabikev

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How to troubleshoot system freeze without BSOD or any logs

I've got a Gigabyte MB that's just killing me. I've been working on this for a couple of weeks...  and I'm officially out of ideas.

The system:
Gigabyte GA-K8NS-989 MB
http://tw.giga-byte.com/Products/Motherboard/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=1858
AMD socket 939 Athlon 64 CPU   (Cooled with Zalman CNPS8700 Quiet HTPC PCU Cooler)
Nvidia nForce3 Ultra chipset (Cooled with Zalman ZM-NB47J)
2.5 GB RAM
Nvidia 7600GS Video Card
Windows Media Center (XP)
BIOS and all drivers 100% current

Behavior:
It keeps freezing up.  And when I say it freezes...  there's no BSOD, no minidump, no logs whatsoever.  If there's audio playing when the freeze occurs, it will cycle on the last second of audio until its rebooted- which can only be done via button. It does respond to a warm boot... so at least I don't have to entirely cut power.  
First I rebuilt the system. Still kept freezing.  Then I made sure the BIOS and every driver was current.  Still kept freezing.
Then I started running it through a full battery of diagnostics.  Via the Ultimate Boot CD, I ran CPU Burn-in, MemTest, and the appropriate HD diagnostic utilities.  Everything came back clean.    (Grrr...)  I turned on the CPU temp alarm in the BIOS thinking it might be a heat issue. The alarm has not gone off.
Then... I started yanking components.  First the optical, then the each pair of RAM.  Still froze.
Finally, I went into the BIOS and started disabling integrated peripherals.  Took USB down to 1.0. No change. Disabled built-in RAID (wasn't using it). No change. Then finally... I disabled the integrated NIC....  Stable!  Well... usable at least.  It ran for a couple of days without issue, during which time I really put it through its paces and I thought I was home free; then when it wasn't doing much of anything (playing TV) it seized up in the same fashion. Rebooted it... and now it's operational, but clearly it isn't 100% stable.

What is the root issue?!   Disabling the integrated NIC helped...   but it's not the root.

Any idea is appreciated... because I've run out.
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nobus
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this kind of problems is best tackled by swapping parts or components
i would start with the power supply, then video card (even an old pci one will do for tetsing the issue)
it can be a case of bad caps in the mobo, or ps :  www.badcaps.net
if it freezes frequently (in a couple of minutes) you can also try another OS, like running from a live cd :

ftp://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V5.1.0CD-2006-12-30-EN.iso      Knoppix      
www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/                                     BartPe
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wasabikev

ASKER

Good idea on trying to run the other OS... I'll see if I can get it to hard freeze with Konppix.  I actually already did swap out the video card and power supply- I used the issue as an excuse to upgrade both.  :)  Having the new components is nice, but unfortunately it didn't address the issue.

I'll take a close look at the caps.  I forgot about that one.  I'll report the results of the caps check and Knoppix test tonight. (This is my home HTPC.  Normally I only turn to EE for work....)

Seems you're going the same route as I am....    it seems like the mobo is going flaky on me, I just can't figure out how to confirm it with certainty.

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nobus
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Sigh.  It's the MOBO.  
EE is the best place for answers.. and reality checks that shake a man loose from deep seated denial.
well - the good part about this, is you'll be able to get a new mobo with faster devices...