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sudden crashes last two days - Win7 x64 eval system

This is my daily system, used for running all software.  I'm used to wiping it and reinstalling every 6 months or so, as I'm always testing beta, RTM, or eval. software.

But, this is a series of crashes I've not experienced before in a new(ish) computer:

2x sudden reboot, no blue screen.  Just goes to black and POSTs.  Boots clean.

3x blue screen.  Didn't see the first two screens fast enough.  Third time (this morning) it listed JME.  Rebooted fine.

Basic info:
Sager notebook with all drivers installed from OEM.  8GB RAM, 500GB HDD
NVIDIA GeForce GT 300M + Inel HD Graphics on-board
NVIDIA control panel software (3.4.772.04)
NVIDIA Graphics driver & PhysX software 260.99
Win7 x64 with SP1 included (not un-installable).
Office 2010 32-bit
Adobe CS4 suite
IE 8.0.7601.17514, FF 3.6.15, Chrome 10.0.648.127
LastPass & Xmarks installed in all browsers

All of the crashes so far have been while I'm working in the browfsers.  I suspected Java, as one of the crashes was just loading Amazon site.  But the last reboot I was downloading files from Kaspersky and reading a Wikipedia article...neither of which had big Java requirements.

I'm also crunching numbers with BOINC both CPU and GPU, but this rig has been doing it for months now with Win7 (before SP1) with no issues, no overheating.

Where do I start to trace the problem?

My first inclination is to uninstall Java and resume working without it for now.  I'm sure there are some web sites that will break, but it's the best I can think of immediately.

Any pointers are appreciated.

NOTE 1:  NVIDIA control panel now launches, but is not fully loading.  Shows "(Not Responding)".  Will try to uninstall and re-install.
4 Solutions
With a sudden shutdown that sometimes mean a hardware issue. I would test the hardware. Could be memory. Or cpu or even though it has been working maybe it is overheating and a fan has gone bad ?
aleghartAuthor Commented:
I was thinking the same thing at first...heck I'm even propped up on a couple of metal "L" brackets for good voodoo luck.

But, the fans are always running (see BOINC reference), so I'd notice if anything _wasn't_ running.  The onset has been only today and yesterday, so BOINC itself wouldn't be making any difference (load is the same)...and I'm curiously _not_ using Photoshop or Premiere when the crashes occur.

Normally, the GPU stays pegged, and CPU wanders between 50-90% all the time.  It's like a long stress test that runs 20/7 (doesn't run during the commute)...so possible a defect has been exposed with RAM??

Any recommendations on RAM test and GPU test?   I do have Passmark, so will try that after re-installing the NVIDIA drivers & software.
You say that it started after Win7 was updated to SP1?

Did you have your paging file set manually before the update to SP1? If so, check to see if SP1 has reset it to auto management by Windows.

You may want to run a diagnostic tool on the Hard Drive. You mentioned that you often wipe the system regularly (every 6 months). You may be experiencing the early stages of hard drive failure.

Not sure if these issues are your problem... but sudden shutdowns and BSODs are most often indicative of hardware failures or serious memory issues.

Good luck to you.
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aleghartAuthor Commented:
It's not an upgrade to SP1.  It's Win7 _with_ SP1.  It's already installed, so you can't un-install it.

This drive is less than 6 months old.  It's a new system.  I'm saying that I'm constantly re-installing on my personal desktops and notebooks, as well as the computers and servers I maintain.

Uninstalled Java (since it was during web browsing that I crashed.
Uninstalled NVIDIA software, since the NVIDIA control panel kept locking up.
Then, re-installed NVIDIA software from their web site, not the OEM CD, which had a different version.
Reinstalled Java.

For that past day, working without problems.

But I'll run the mem test anyway.  Can't hurt (in theory).  I'm going to use a bootable CD from here: http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

Also considering memtest86+, but if all is running OK for the rest of today, I'll chalk it up to corrupted NVIDIA driver.

aleghartAuthor Commented:
OK, after wasting over an hour, I RTfM.  The Microsoft tool doesn't work over 4GB.  Useless.

I'm running memtest86+ v4.20 right now.  It goes up to 64GB.
can be be overheating?   run speedfan to monitor : http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php      
check also for minidumps, or in event log for problems
aleghartAuthor Commented:
Haven't put speedfan on this installation yet.  But anecdotal evidence indicates _not_ overheating.  I will install anyway...just because.  This laptop exhaust port has become my bagel warmer.  I just have to remember to put my Diet Coke on the other side.

- Ran with full load including BOINC and Photoshop at 100% CPU for 20hrs/day.
- Sudden crashes for 2 days.
- NVIDIA control panel freezes during launch
- BSOD after Java launch
- Ran Microsoft memory diagnostic for ~1hr (7 passes).  Ran memtest86+ for ~3hrs (1+ passes).  No errors reported.
- Reinstalled NVIDIA control panel
- Reinstalled Java
- now, it ran fine for ~8hrs @100% CPU and GPU load.

I think I'm chalking this up to corrupted NVIDIA driver.

Thanks everyone for your efforts.
aleghartAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all for the help.  Sorry I left this open so long.

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