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Old 09-20-2011, 09:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Crash to black screen and/or random system powering down/restart

Asus Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard (Firmware version 1304)
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Processor
16GB DDR3 1333Mhz Corsair RAM
nVidia GeForce GTX 580
Corsair TX 650W Power supply.
2TB Western Digital HD 7200rpm

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (6.1, build 7601)
DirectX 11

Crash to black screen and/or random system powering down/restart

In recent weeks, I've noticed that my PC is randomly shutting down and/or rebooting. Here's the scenario: from what I've noticed, it mainly occurs during gaming (Mainly Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dragon Age) but it has occurred outside of gaming as well. I built the PC in April of this year, primarily as a platform for developing RAW photos. Over the course of the year, I installed several games and played them to their conclusions many times over (Crysis, Crysis 2, Portal 2, Rift) and had no issues to speak of. Also, I've developed hundreds of RAW photos in the past year, again with no issues.

During this time, the BIOS splash screen would always indicate that the 'cpu unlocker' was activated, with all six cores running. (I know this feature is redundant as the chip has six active cores, but nonetheless, this screen would always appear and the PC would work.) I noticed that when I began having issues with system stability, this screen would no longer appear. Instead, it would give me the option to activate the core unlocker,or the system indicates that the CPU is not compatible, and that I have to run setup to reconfigure the motherboard or load default values. ('Overclocking failed! Please enter setup to reconfigure your system. Press F1 to run setup or F2 to load default values and continue.')

As a photographer and simple gaming enthusiast I'm entirely at a loss here. I know now that my motherboard is one of those fancy ones that overclockers use to push certain technical boundaries, and that I should have opted for something simpler. And I'm entirely assuming it's the motherboard that's causing the issue, when it could well be something else. (The above-mentioned visual cues that my CPU is not compatible are the only discernible differences in my computer's behavior.) I've checked all my connections inside the case, updated firmware for the motherboard, and updated my video card drivers, and Windows, too, all to no effect. Also, I have not made any changes to the motherboard's default values. No overclocking here--I just don't know enough about it to take any chances.

Is it a power issue, or am I safe to assume it's the motherboard? Could the RAM have gone bad, or perhaps the video card? Is there any diagnostic tool that can isolate the issue? I don't have any spare components to swap out. In twenty years of computer use, I've never seen this kind of crash to back screen issue (not even on PCs I've built myself :P) I'm just confused as to why the PC is suddenly having these problems. As I said, the only suspicious indicators I've had that something is awry is the change in the BIOS text info about the CPU not being compatible. It's the only inconsistency that I've noticed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



*edit* reset CMOS, no change. System alternates between using or not using core unlocker; system unstable
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