Trouble with O/C BIOS settings

I got this new computer about six months ago:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0GHz (Quad Core) 45nm, AM3 6MB Cache
RAM: 8GB (4x2GB) PC10600 DDR3 1333 Dual Channel
Logisys 600W ATX Power Supply.
I'm running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

Almost immediately I started getting the BSOD about once a day. It would also occasionally fail to post, when I turned on the power, sometimes the fans and lights would come on but there was no beep and the screen stayed black (no signal to the monitors).  Only after I pressed the reset button would it boot up. It would ALWAYS boot up after I pressed the reset button.

Finally, the solution I found to keep everything stable was to choose in the BIOS settings "Unleashed Mode" to disabled.  Which also meant that it would not unlock the CPU's 4 cores (another option that I had to leave off)

Now I'm the first to admit I don't know much about overclocking (I do have a relatively firm grasp on computer operations in general though).  But since these days overclocking is made pretty simple, to where the manufacturers offer preset configurations, I thought that I should be taking advantage of this.

Whenever I did have the "Unleashed Mode" on, I would choose all of the various options as "Auto" and if asked for a choice in speeds I would choose a medium speed.  But even that caused BSOD and the problem of booting up. I used a utility called "Blue Screen View" and I adjusted the settings in the BIOS to save the minidump file in the correct location.  But for some reason the minidump file never gets written/saved so that utility is useless to me.

A couple of the BSOD messages would sometimes read:
"Driver IRQL Not less or equal"
But most of the time there would be no specific message besides the generic one.

I was willing to leave it alone, but now a new problem came along and my indicators are showing that only 3 of the 4 cores are operating.  I am using a Windows widget "CPU Usage" and also a program called SIW, both telling me that the 4th core is not working. (As I said this is a brand new problem, all 4 cores were working before today)  

I know this is going to be a tough one to figure out and I probably need to give some more specific information, but I'd really like to be using my computer to it's fullest (but still safe) potential.

Thanks for any help or suggestions, and please let me know if you need further info.

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Reece DoddsConnect With a Mentor Commented:
First point of call would be a BIOS update to the newest available BIOS.  Most updates include CPU stepping/code updates for better usage/support of CPU's as well as fixes to bugs in previous BIOS versions.
Reece DoddsCommented:
What brand and model RAM do you have?  It sounds like it could be a memory timing / voltages issue.
I had similar problems on my old Gigabyte EP45 mainboard when used with a Core2Quad CPU.
Reece DoddsCommented:
Other fault finding procedures would be to strip the system down to bare minimum.
So... take out (or just disconnect):
3 of the 4 RAM modules.
the GTX 460 (use the onboard)
the Audio card
Card Reader (if you have one) and Optical drive
USB devices except keyboard

So you will be booting the system with DEFAULT BIOS settings and just the mainboard, CPU, 1 RAM module, Power Supply and Hard Drive.

Does the system still BSOD now?

If so, it will be mainboard (includes BIOS), RAM or Hard Drive.  Could be the CPU but it''s unlikely.

If it boots and benchmarks OK, then it will be one of the expansions you took out.  Add them back in one at a time till you find out which one is causing the BSOD.

Let me know whats going on once you've tried these things.
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Reece DoddsCommented:
BIOS and BIOS utilities here if your M/B is the standard EVO version:
Leee211Author Commented:
Thanks reecem27, I'll try those things and let you know!
Leee211Author Commented:
Oh and to answer your first question, I have STT - Supertalent RAM, 4x 2048MB

And I also forgot to mention that one of the reasons I really want to use my machine to it's full potential is because I do a lot of 3D graphics and music production work.
Reece DoddsCommented:
You're only taking out the expansion components to find out if the issue still exists without them (it could be any one of the parts causing the BSOD or none at all).
Leee211Author Commented:
Okay here's what I've done so far (I'm probably doing this in a different order than you suggested, but if I get any crashes I'll move on to the next suggestions).  I have downloaded and installed all of the updates associated with this board. Including the BIOS update, the Turbo/Overdrive utility (which I'm not using yet) and the "Cool and Quiet" utility.

Since updating the BIOS, I've had the computer running in the "Unleashed Mode" with the CPU cores unlocked and the O.C. setting on auto.  And so far I've had no crashes or BSOD.  

I did use the AMD Overdrive utility but only to run a Stability Test for 1 hour.  It passed.  I also ran the benchmark test.  I've run some 3D graphics software and did some rendering, and I've also ran my music software (Cakewalk's Sonar) and really pushed it.  And I also just let the computer sit for a couple of hours.  And again, so far no crashes.

I'm hoping that the BIOS update did the trick, but I know from experience, the solution is not always that simple.

My plan is if I get a crash/BSOD any time tomorrow or the next day, I'll do as you suggested and take out the components, reinstall one at a time and see if there are any crashes.  I'm sure you know this will be time consuming so I may not find anything wrong for awhile. If there are no crashes by end of tomorrow, I think I might try the OverDrive Utility and using the "Novice Mode" bump up the performance a couple of notches and see how that responds.

I'll let you know what happens.  Thanks again reecem27 for responding so quickly and giving me plenty of options and suggestions.
Reece DoddsCommented:
no probs mate.  happy to help in any way i can.
Leee211Author Commented:
UPDATE: I hit one small bump in an otherwise smooth road so far.  Ever since I updated my BIOS two days ago, my computer has been running perfectly, except for...

I decided to push my luck a little bit and go into the BIOS settings at boot up to take a look and see if I could tweak anything. I think I made just one minor change.  I changed the ECC Configuration...slightly. And BAM! I got three BSOD's within a few minutes time, twice right after rebooting.   So I changed the setting back to the way it was, it didn't help.  I even disabled the ECC Mode (as is the default) and still got the BSOD.

It wasn't until I used the BIOS update utility and reloaded the SAME BIOS version update (that I used two days ago) that my system became stable again.  It's been about 8 hours and it's been rock solid, including putting it through a stress test.

I'm guessing that by using the BIOS update utility, it somehow resets something to make the machine stable, even though I'm still in "Unleashed Mode" and the CPU is still on AUTO overclocking.

So, lesson learned....I'm not going to screw with the BIOS settings again!

reecem27:  I will award you the points and use accept your solution of updating the BIOS if everything continues to run well by the end of tomorrow.  At that time, I also close out this question. Thanks again.
Reece DoddsCommented:
"Unleashed mode" is not really a good idea.  If you do a CMOS reset (using a jumper on the mainboard or taking the CMOS battery out and shorting the battery socket's two terminals to drain residual current), this will effectively put the mainboard into out-of-box state.
Meaning the BIOS update you did (which i saw supports more CPU's and has numerous bug fixes) SHOULD be at default settings and hence run your system.
Unleashed mode will essentially give you abilities to adjust clock timings, voltages, ecc settings and all the rest... it may even do something like a 2.5% OC by itself... i really don't know.  But, with factory defaults, your system should be the most stable it can be... if it isn't you've got an incompatible or failing component.

That said...  reset CMOS to go to factory BIOS settings, run the system for a while (do some benchies to give it a load), IF and WHEN it BSOD's take note of exactly what you were doing.  Was it CPU intense, RAM intense, HDD intense or unknown?

I would also try using completely different DDR2 ram in it for a while to rule out whether one or all of the supertalent ram is incompatable (i'm talking latency and timings) or faulty.  The issue with the ECC settings you mentioned earlier make this more likely than not.  Remember in my first post i said i had a similar issue that turned out to be timing issues.... my resolution was to replace the RAM.  My RAM wasn't faulty, it was just not suitable for my mainboard.

I've given you a bit to digest... See how you go.  

PS - don't forget about the expansion hardware and peripherals... you haven't yet ruled any of them in or out!
Leee211Author Commented:
Now that you mentioned it, I remember seeing a message whenever I got a BSOD (not on the Blue Screen, but in a BIOS message) it said that the "Unleashed Mode had failed".  So I'm pretty sure that that is the problem.

So again I'll tell you that I don't know much about overclocking.  But from what I understand the Unleashing Mode is unlocking the 4 cores of the CPU.  If I don't use the Unleashing Mode is there still a way to OC my machine or are you saying I should just run it using all the default settings?
Reece DoddsCommented:
Default settings man.
It should use all four cores or the CPU.  It may not have before because the BIOS version may not have fully supported your PC.  It probably does now though.  (see CPU Support here Your CPU was supported at a later release BIOS and PCB)

Reece DoddsCommented:
"may not have fully supported your PC" - i meant CPU
Leee211Author Commented:
Thank you again reecem27, it seems that updating the BIOS basically stopped my machine from crashing.  I didn't think the MB and CPU would be incompatible since I bought the package deal from  Anyway I'm grateful there wasn't anything faulty with the hardware.

Thanks for sticking with me and for all your helpful suggestions.  It's greatly appreciated!
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