Vista freezes, clock stops, mouse & keyboard unresponsive

I have Vista SP1 running on a custom built machine only a few months old.  From the day I set it up Vista has on the odd occasion just frozen up on me.  Everything stops - the clock, mouse, keyboard.  Only a hard reboot fixes it.  Sometimes I would go weeks at a time without it freezing, but over the past 5 days it's been happening more and more to the point where I can't actually use the machine.

Here's some information about my machine.

32 bit
Intel Core Quad CPU Q9300 2.50GHz
4gb RAM
3 monitors running on two ATI Radeon graphics cards
Logitech wireless mouse and keyboard

Can someone please help before I go crazy!
hc1619Asked:
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joinaunionConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would install the catalyst if it creates the problem again then you can uninstall it from add/remove programs.The link I provided is the latest one so maybe give it a try see what happens.I,m glad there has been progress in your issue though I know I would be going nuts lol.I had a fealing there was a driver issue that is why I would give it a try it is designed for your cards so no harm will come and like I say you can uninstall it.
One of the reasons I suggest installing it is because you can modify and control settings better from it easier to use etc...
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Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerCommented:
Several possibilities.
AV programs, crapware and spyware have been known to cause this.

Some ideas here:
http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=1930518&SiteID=17
http://www.winvistaclub.com/t9.html

I'd run a memory test too. Type memory into the start menu search box and you should see the option: Memory Diagnostics Tool.

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PUNKYCommented:
Also, try standard keyboard and mouse, and remove 1 or 2 Memory sticks see if system working properly.
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joinaunionCommented:
It sounds like a video problem try removing one card at a time use one monitor let it run for a bit then switch the the card and try again.
What are the exact model# of the cards?
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hc1619Author Commented:
I think ATI RADEON HD 3870?  I have two of them - and three monitors.  The monitors work kind of weird.. when I boot up I see the startup stuff on outer monitors only, then they all go back to sleep, then they turn on again when vista boots up.  
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hc1619Author Commented:
I also have two HDD's.  If i copy and paste some files to the second drive, the speed is REALLY slow.. it'll start off at 2mbs or something and then slowly decrease down to 500kbs.. that doesn't seem right either.
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SheddingCommented:
Something like this sounds like the computer is overheating.  Did you apply thermal paste to the CPU heatsink?  Is the CPU fan spinning fast enough?  Is the case inside very warm?   Also, it could be the power supply.  If you don't have clean power (and if your power supply cannot meet the computer's watt requirement - You might need a better power supply).  Please try this - I work with this stuff day in and day out.
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hc1619Author Commented:
I am pretty certain that that it is no overheating. The fans are going fine, I've got 7 of them.  PSU is 750w.. inside the case it's not that warm at all.  It'll freeze sometimes after booting up and being idle.. its completely random. I did take out two of my monitors and worked with just one for a while and it didn't freeze for a long time.. however it did freeze just before.


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SheddingCommented:
Do you have a volt meter by any chance?  I would check the 12V and 5V rail and check to see how much it fluctuates.  You might also want to check to see if you are getting 12V and 5V (and 3.3V is you need it).  This problem could also be the power supply.  I kid you not.  The best way to tell is to go to start-Run and type MSCONFIG  press enter.  Under the startup tab.. remove most of what you don't need (or everything) and restart the machine.  See if it keeps freezing.  If it does, it might be the power supply.. if it doesn't freeze, it could be a program in the background causing you the problem.  Enable item by item until problem comes back.  Then you know what it was that is causing you the problem.

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Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerCommented:
Shedding's onto it.
Set up your Startup like this:
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Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerCommented:
Sorry, clicked the wrong button!
File attached.

msconfig.png
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SheddingCommented:
That is fine.. see the startup tab.  Disable most of the items in there.  You can always re-enable them.  You will however notice that certain things don't work (HP scanners, itunes doesn't start automatically, etc).  This is fine for now.  If you notice that your machine is running flawless then the culprit is a piece of software that is loading when your machine starts.
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hc1619Author Commented:
I did that but it's hard to tell. I booted up with nothing and system ran fine.  I then went to the list of services and there's heaps of them!! It would take me all day to go one by one rebooting and checking.. plus the freezes happen at weird times. I might get a freeze 5 mins after booting, other times it might be 48 hours. There seems to be no correlation with how many apps I'm running or what I'm doing with the machine.  The event logs show absolutely nothing.   It seems it would be quicker reinstalling rather than doing this?

I've disconnected two of my monitors and am working off one at the moment.  Seems to be going ok for now. I had a freeze this morning within 5 mins of booting up on all 3 monitors.  Would a graphic card problem be able to cause a freeze like this... with EVERYTHING being unresponsive.. clock stopping, mouse keyboard gone etc?   Hard drive doesn't speed up.. my machine is very quiet. It's only 6 months old and when it runs it runs very well - nice and quick. It's not as if they're crap specs either - everything was top of the line when I bought.

When I copy and paste between my partitions - it's deathly slow. 1mbs - slows down even less as it goes and it ends up hanging.  Might this be somehow related? I dont know - but that seems like a serious problem no?  I also have the same problem when I try and copy files off to my external MyBook drive.
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hc1619Author Commented:
OK I've been going for a couple of hours now without a freeze.  This happened yesterday too - I took out two monitors and I went noticeably longer without a freeze.  I know it's not conclusive.

I have two ATI Radeon 3870 cards with 2 slots each.  I plug my main monitor into one slot on one card, and the other two into the other card.  I have upgraded the latest drivers.  If it is just not possible for this to be related could someone tell me.. otherwise - what might be the best course of action?

joinaunion: are you still there?  You said you thought this was the problem?
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Alan HendersonRetired marine engineerCommented:
If it comes down to re-activating services your best bet it to restart about half of them in one hit. If that's OK, start half the rest and so on.

If it's NOT OK kill the first lot and activate the other half.
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SheddingCommented:
With that amount of video cards.. you need to have enough power to power them.. What amount of watts is your power supply?
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hc1619Author Commented:
750w
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SheddingCommented:
Mmm that should be good enough.  At this point.. remove one half of the stuff in msconfig and see if the machine works better.  If it doesn't, remove the half and add the other half and see if it works better.  This way you can figure out if there is a program that is loading which is causing the issue.
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joinaunionCommented:
Now in the video card properties increase the refresh rate to almost the highest it will go.
You need to go here http://game.amd.com/us-en/drivers_catalyst.aspx?p=vista32/common-vista32 
download and install catalyst software suite.
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hc1619Author Commented:
I just noticed that there was an automatic update in Windows Updates updating the ATI display drivers.. version 8.53 I think.  The update has failed a few times though when installing.  When this started happening I don't know.  I had Catalyst installed prior to all this.  But what I did now was completely remove all my drivers and then let windows install its standard vga drivers on to the cards.  I uninstalled catalyst and got rid of the whole lot.  Once windows had installed its basic drivers I let it search for updated drivers and it installed ones from June (8.50) and not ones it is trying to get in the automatic update.  I did that about 6 hours ago and since then I haven't had a freeze.  I just have the ATI drivers.. not Catalyst. I'm a bit reluctant to get catalyst.. it might push me over the edge :).  

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