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Computer Windows XP freezes possible CPU damage

Posted on 2009-07-07
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-27
System HP Compaq DX2200
Windows XP Pro SP3
Intel P4 3.2 GHz Dual Core
2GB - 2 x 1GB
Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200
150 GB HDD

I have been diagnosing an HP dekstop for about a week now trying to understand why it freezes

I can make it freeze by running 20-30 tabs in firefox and playing with each page
The mouse stays moving but windows becomes completely inactive
ctrl alt del does nothing

Orignally the system was running hot with the CPU fan speeding up to full speed when a bit of stress was given to windows. I cleaned a large clog of dust from the heatsink and replaced the thermal compound.
It now runs quietly and speedfan shows no overheating
But still it freezes on firefox

I removed a 1GB module ran the firefox test and it froze, sooner and with continous beeb
I moved the same 1GB module to the other memory slot and firefox froze inc mouse no beep
I replaced with the other memory into slot 0 and could not make the system crash until I really strained it
40 tabs + youtube, finally froze with constant beep
I moved the memory to slot 1 and ran firefox and found it took ages to make it freeze opening 50 odd tabs and 2 u-tubes sites and constantly flicking between like the above test

Finally I left the memory as of last test and plugged in a spare PCIe graphics card, looking at the BIOS it seems to ignore the internal when plugged in so I did not try to disable internal in anyway
Ran XP and installed the drivers for it and gave further stress testing as above
It eventually froze with 3rd you tube video and constant beep from desktop

So do you think the CPU is permanently damaged from the constant overheating in the past or the motherboard is faulty

In my test the CPU got to a max of 58 C
Question by:Damester
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LVL 88

Assisted Solution

rindi earned 1050 total points
ID: 24796012
You should test your RAM using memtest86+. Give it at least 3 passes, or until it finds errors. Also test your HD using it's manufacturer's diagnostic tool. You'll find both on the UBCD:


Author Comment

ID: 24796047
I have just continued testing, I removed the additional grahpics card and found when I booted xp the screen was flickering the grpahics around. I ran firefox and found flickering got worse until system froze again.
I'm thinkin faulty motherboard
Anyone got any ideas BTW the system froze using other programs but i found firefox was a consitant way of stressing the issue
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 24796058
Speedfan may not be reporting the actual temperature and you may be still experiencing overheating, because what you describe sounds like a heat lockup to me.  You can try removing the cpu, cleaning off the old thermal paste, reapplying a tiny drop of new thermal paste, and reseating the heatsink.  Perhaps your cpu fan is not spinning at full speed, or your case has poor circulation and is not getting rid of the heat.  Try to have a fan draw in air from the front and exhaust it out the back.
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Assisted Solution

by:Kyle Lambert
Kyle Lambert earned 300 total points
ID: 24797668
The first thing I would do is exactly what rindi said. Run memtest86+. From this, you can make certain whether or not there are any problems with the RAM in question. I suggest having a copy of UBCD like rindi linked, but I use UBCD4Win because of the shell features:


If it turns out that the RAM is not the cause of the problem, I would look into what is actually on the computer. It may be bogged down with an unclean registry, numerous misc apps installed, or corrupt files. UBCD4Win is able to run windows from the CD like a Linux LiveCD and offers all the tools needed to defrag the HDD and clean the registry. Also it is a good environment to test whether this is actually a hardware issue since it can run firefox and other programs. If you can't recreate the problem in the shell environment, then I would suggest reinstalling Windows.

If it is a hardware issue, the next thing I would look into is the motherboard and processor. If you have a spare lying around, it is worth trying. If not, then you can try putting just the HDD into another machine to see if that solves the problem. If it does, then either the motherboard, processor, or combination of both are at fault and will have to be replaced.

The system you are dealing with does seem to be a bit old though. I'll bet that it is using DDR ram. And even 2GB of dual channel DDR ram can only last so long in today's computing environment. There is always the small possibility that it is a victim of time.

Hope this helps a bit.
LVL 26

Expert Comment

ID: 24799763
The latest version of Firefox has issues with some systems.

If you did the upgrade to v3.5 then back up one version.

LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 24802000
can you test with a fresh install (on another disk if possible) if it freezes?
it can be the OS has problems.

Author Comment

ID: 24804686
Thanks all for your feedback,
I will have to set this issue to pending as I can only spend time on the machine every few days.

1. As running MEMTEST from the UBCD only needs starting and then leaving I will do this first.
I find this can take days to run from using just the MEMTEST ISO on previous PC's,
is there a way to make this faster or is this normal?

I would'nt say the machine is that old, it uses DDR2 ram

2. I doubt firefox is the issue I bet I can make it freeze with IE and will try

3. I think running UBCD is a good idea and trying firefox from here will help confirm it's not a HDD or Window issue

Callandor: If speedfan is not reporting the right tempreatures than what is it reporting? the tempreature moves up and down within the second so it seems correct. I agree it does seem to be heat lockup as I had this issue when the CPU was overheating.
However if you see in my original post I have already cleaned it and the fan is now working normally but system still freezing, I wondering if permanent damage

No one has confirmed wheather a CPU can have permanent damage from a history of overheating, does anyone have expereince of this whereby the system works OK but the CPU can now be unstable, although it's now kept cool
LVL 26

Expert Comment

ID: 24804821
What is the Virtual Memory set at?
FF is a Virtual Memory hog. If it's set too low that could do this.
LVL 88

Accepted Solution

rindi earned 1050 total points
ID: 24804884
How long memtest runs depends on the system speed and the amount of RAM. On old PC's it can really take long, but on newer PC's like yours it should be quick enough.

A CPU is hard to break, even with overheating, as there are builtin mechanisms which throttle it or shut it down if it gets too hot, at least modern CPU's work that way. Old P1's or K6's, and also some K7's before the XP version came out didn't yet have that feature yet. What can happen though is if the System constantly runs hotter than normal, the general life expectation will be reduced.

Normally the mainboard will break sooner than the CPU though.
LVL 93

Expert Comment

ID: 24804910
>>>  No one has confirmed wheather a CPU can have permanent damage from a history of overheating,   <<   we can only say it's possible; but that won't help you much.
there's only one reliable test : test with an,other cpu on this board, or test this CPU on another board !
LVL 26

Assisted Solution

PCBONEZ earned 150 total points
ID: 24805001
>> No one has confirmed wheather a CPU can have permanent damage from a history of overheating. <<
It can but your CPU isn't 'over' heating so why do you ask?
Assuming** it's a P4 3.2GHz the Thermal Specification for your CPU is 67.7°C.
It's uncomfortably warm [close] but it hasn't actually exceeded anything.
Your system was available with 3.2 GHz P4 and with Dual Core but no option gave a 3.2 Ghz Dual Core.

Author Comment

ID: 24805529
ID:24804884Author:rindi - I think this deserves a part solution thanks.
All comments are very helpful and will have a hard job splitting points once problem is resolved

As mentioned I will have to come back to this when I'm back in front of the PC, very grateful so far
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 24807195
>If speedfan is not reporting the right tempreatures than what is it reporting? the tempreature moves up and down within the second so it seems correct

It depends on how far the temperature measuring diode is away from the cpu and whether it was calibrated to show the right temperature.  It can move up and down, but if it's off by a lot, it could be getting close to shutdown range.  Try keeping the case open and blowing air into cpu area as a test.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 24812629
it probably problem in graphics,

due to over heating capacitor from graphics card is bulky and gives flicker display / stuck pc randomely symptoms.

try another external display card if possible would solve problem.

Expert Comment

ID: 24864996
It might not be an hardware issue.  My Firefox had a similar problem until I uninstalled a anti-spyware software.  The program was too active scanning everthing.  

Author Comment

ID: 24868414
I replaced the motherboard with built in graphics and the problem was still occuring
I installed a fresh copy of windows and although I could not get the problem to re-create I suddenly realised what about the PSU

Reading up on PSU issues someone had exactly the same problem which convinced me this is the issue
I know have one on next day delivery and bet it resovles the problem

No one had suggested this and many people were suggesting to do things I'd already done or contradicted other posts.
So to all Experts READ ENTIRE POST CARFEULLY BEFORE POSTING, saying that I appreciate all feed back and thanks to all for your help.
I will award part points for people who got me closer to my result

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