Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity - Techist - Tech Forum

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Old 03-29-2011, 08:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

Hi all,

I've been running into a lot of minor issues with my desktop lately (happens a lot with my builds at this point, the 1.5 year-or-so mark). I'm getting close to due for a wipe-and-restore so if people are of the opinion that these could well be software related then I'll bump that up my priority queue.

First and most major is intermittent crashes. They're not regular enough to blame on specific programs, but one coincidence does have me wondering if they're memory-related: I've had multiple crashes at about the 80% loading point on Starcraft 2 campaign maps. Aside from that, they've occurred randomly, more commonly after a while running but occasionally just at startup, and after a quick restart the computer almost always runs fine. Heat doesn't seem to be the issue, I'd blame dust but after the first couple I did a thorough cleaning to no avail so that doesn't seem to be it. There's no blue screens (ever) and no crash logs of any sort so it's tricky to diagnose. Is there a feature on Hardware Monitor (or a similar program) that allows it to run in the background and make a log of the stats, so that on a crash I'll be able to provide mostly up-to-date information?

The other issues are, as I said, probably unrelated, but worth mentioning both for diagnostics and on the off-chance that they are linked. First is probably a driver issue: I have my TV set up as a monitor through a DVI-HDMI adapter plug, which works perfectly fine, sound and all, but when the TV is turned off and back on while the computer is running, the video card disables the sound output while claiming that it's not supported. If I unplug the HDMI cable and plug it back in again, it works fine.

I'm not sure where to place blame for my last two problems, though I'm leaning towards software lately and will be running (better) virus scans shortly to see if I picked up something naughty. The first is that, on startup, occasionally I get a blank screen instead of a login screen, all black except for a mouse cursor. No amount of waiting/clicking/button pressing fixes it, but if I press the sleep button on my keyboard and then wake it back up again, it fixes. In fact, as soon as I press the sleep button the computer seems to snap out of it, flashing the login screen for an instant before going to sleep.

And finally, my login is remarkably slower than usual, but not in the usual malware way. It's just that after login I get a black screen (the same as above, with a mouse cursor, but I think it's black just because my background color is black) which just stays like that for a bit, with no loading sounds (no hard-drive spinning or access, for example) for 5-10 seconds before it loads up as normal.

Help/opinions on any and all of these would be greatly appreciated! I spend most of my time in the UK but I'll be back stateside shortly so if I need some new hardware I'd like to diagnose it in time to buy the parts at a decent price.

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Old 03-29-2011, 09:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

If I were you I would go ahead and backup your game saves directory , files and other important stuff.
If you said it's been a year since you last reinstalled and just had problems uptill now, your doing alot better than me.

I reinstall my os every 6 months, only time I'll format is if something goes wrong with coflicting software and hardware glitch ups.

None the less though, just do a full clean install with a full format, not quick, it will help give windows a good start with your new installation.

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Old 03-30-2011, 07:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

Periodic reinstalling of the OS has not been necessary since the release of XP. It is MUCH better to resolve the problem than wipe out all your data, downloaded programs (especially security) and to set your OS months, or even years behind in critical updates. You learn nothing of your problem, and more importantly, how to prevent recurrence, when you reinstall the OS. And also, since many problems are driver or hardware related, reinstalling does nothing to identify or fix that.

Heat doesn't seem to be the issue,
Oh? What are your temps?

will be running (better) virus scans shortly
Please provide details.

If me, I would ensure my temps are good and that I am provide good, clean solid power - preferably by swapping in a known good PSU.
Bill (AFE7Ret)
Freedom is NOT Free!
MS MVP Windows Expert-IT Pro, Engineering 2007 - 2014

Heat is the bane of all electronics!

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Old 04-01-2011, 05:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

I'll record my temps with Hardware Monitor during some SC2 today and let you know what it gets up to, but two reasons I don't believe it's heat are that 1) after it freezes I can hard-reboot it and go right back into any application I want without any issues, even gaming or engineering stuff, and 2) it doesn't suddenly power off, it just freezes. My experience with heat issues is that, to protect hardware, the computer shuts down as soon as it hits that threshold... maybe with age it starts acting up before the threshold though so I'll get my temps up in a few hours.

I ran a full scan with MalwareBytes and got a single hit, a minor trojan from something I downloaded months before any of this started. I could run it again in safe mode if you believe there's something particularly nasty hiding away?

Edit: Got results.
I was playing SC2 for about 45 minutes and curious where I stood, so I alt-tabbed to check my temps. I didn't take a picture but as soon as I got back in the computer froze for me, so here's the max temps as they were:
Internal 1/2: 43/44C respectively
CPU 0/1/2/3: 63C across the board
GPU: 76C

If you let me know what to look for to diagnose the power supply, I'll keep close eye on it from this point too. I'd love to swap it out for testing but I don't have a spare where I am. The soonest I could test it would be the beginning of May.
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

What are your system specifications? Your CPU Temps are OK for a newer Intel System but they are High for an older Intel or an AMD system.
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Old 04-01-2011, 08:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intermittent Crashing/Freezing and (probably unrelated) Video Card / General Stupidity

Let's see, we've got:
XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5
Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGIBOX
MSI 785GM-E65 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
And a 780W PSU
It's got a 1TB data HDD and a 74GB 10k RPM boot HDD (both disks not SSD)

So yeah it's an AMD. I didn't realize 63C was hot for an AMD especially when we're talking quad-cores running recent games on max settings, but hey, I'll defer to the expert opinions.

I'm also not sure what the problem is that's leading to this. It's a new issue, yet everything's recently been cleared of dust. There's two intake fans, front and bottom, and two outlet fans (both 120mm), directly across from the CPU and directly behind the CPU, plus the (stock) cooler. Nothing's overclocked. So... if the heat's the issue, what caused it to come up so suddenly and how do I go about fixing it?

Edit 2: New Symptom:
Seems the computer doesn't like doing batch copying. Copying over large amounts of data invariably results in freezing, though in differing lengths of time.

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