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Old 07-23-2009, 12:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Manchester, UK
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Default Sony VAIO W1 irregular rebooting.

Hi all,

I would greatly appreciate any help you guys (or gals ) could give me regarding this. I've pretty much reached my wits' end with this VAIO W1 (Specs can be found here ), but if I can pull it back from the precipice (with your help), I'd love to :nerd: . I'll start from the beginning so I hopefully don't miss anything out.

Basically, one evening a few months back I was browsing the Internet as per usual when the PC just rebooted - no blue screen, no nothing, just a black screen and the familiar roar of the fans as it restarted. After it POSTed, I was presented with the "ntoskrnl.exe missing or corrupt" message. At which point I switched the unit off, telling myself I'd fix it the next day.

The following day it booted fine and for a while afterward (about a fortnight) there was no problem, so I just thought it was a one-off event.

Unfortunately it was not. I use VLC Media Player and while I was watching a film (as I say, about a fortnight after the initial incident), I began to hear loud cracks and hisses coming through the speakers for about three seconds before the screen suddenly went black and I heard the roar of the fans. The computer had again restarted.

This continued to be the case every time I played a video, although for a while there was no way of telling when it would happen (sometimes you could be watching for 3 minutes before a reboot, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes a whole 90-minute film or two). Then it got to the point where the cracks and hisses would start as soon as any video played and the black screen + fan roar would follow very shortly afterward.

I Googled in vain for a solution, hoping that this was an issue someone had come across before, but alas, no. I decided to experiment by playing my vids through Media Player Classic and - hey presto! - no cracks, no hiss, no nothing! Hurrah! Problem solved; it must have been a VLC bug/an issue with VLC architecture.

Or so I thought.

Sure enough (about 3 weeks, actually), the problems began to manifest themselves within Media Player Classic. Again with the cracks and the hisses, again with the black screen and the fan roar. To make it worse, the problem now occurred with music playback, too, although restarts were much rarer. Again I Googled for a solution (this time searching for sound problems forcing restarts, rather than video problems), but to little avail. I nevertheless decided that it could very well be a faulty sound card causing the problem, despite the fact that Device Manager said it was working correctly. I disabled the sound card (SoundMax Integrated Digital Audio or some such name) and found that things ran fine without it. In that knowledge, I re-enabled it and decided to use the machine solely for web browsing and downloads, which was fine.

That is, until I turned the machine on and loaded XP, only to have it restart as soon as I clicked the 'Start' button. I disabled the sound card again immediately, but it made no difference. It was made even more infuriating simply by the fact that it was so irregular. There was no discernable pattern (e.g. clicking X, then Y and selecting Z will result in reboot) - you could be browsing the Internet for 10 minutes, or simply using Windows Explorer for 2 minutes, heck, it eventually transpired that you didn't even have to do anything and it would reboot.

So I drew up a list of solutions, in order of a cost:likelihood ratio.

Firstly, I did a fresh install of XP for free using the supplied recovery disc. As soon as the introductory music began to play, though, the hiss and the crackling appeared, so that was a giant waste of time.

Secondly, I downloaded 'updated' drivers from the VAIOLink website. The short of it is: na-uh (the long is that it seemed to cure it, for all of two hours).

Thirdly, I downloaded and ran MemTest. The first couple of times the screen froze after 5 minutes or so, but I eventually got it to go for 5 hours (IIRC it made 19 complete passes in that time) and found nothing. I tried again in the morning, however, and after just 19 minutes (IIRC) it had found numerous errors. So I replaced the stock 512MB DDR Infineon with a same-spec 256MB Infineon stick. No luck there.

Fourthly, I bought a replacement sound card from another W1, but again, it turned out not to be the solution and a waste of time and money.

At that point I had more pressing matters in my life and left the W1 for a couple of weeks, managing to get along just fine with my 2006 Acer laptop (albeit not for music/films). When I returned to it, eventually, it seemed as though there had never been a problem in the first place. Music played fine and I happily watched my films and videos through Media Player Classic without a hitch.

Unfortunately, when something seems to good to be true, it usually is. After about 3 days, the auto reboots began again. In some rare instances, the screen would freeze and flicker with a jaundiced colour to it (until I forced a shutdown via the power button). On the advice of some overclockers, I downloaded and ran Orthos, which produced an error report when I inadvertently ran a RAM+CPU test and again when I ran a CPU stress test alone (which is what I'd wanted to do initially).

Therefore, the only options left to me now are a replacement P4 Northwood CPU (unlikely, as I've underclocked the one installed and still got the same problems) or a replacement mobo. I spoke to my local computer shop dude who suggested it could be an overheating problem (which I thought unlikely). I followed his idea up and cleaned the CPU fan up, as well as the heatsink and CPU itself. All to no avail.

I've sourced a replacement Komugi mobo, but at £40, I could begin an entirely new build with a newer, more up-to-date motherboard capable of taking DDR3, a faster processor, dedicated video/graphics card etc. OTOH, it could be quite an expensive build once you factor everything in, whereas I (theoretically) already have the parts for the W1, it's just about taking the gamble that it's the mobo that's the culprit.

Sorry for the essay, but I didn't want to miss anything out. If anyone out there can help me with this, it'd be greatly, greatly appreciated. Perhaps there's something I've overlooked or more tests that can be done to isolate the problem. Alternatively, 'help' could be confirmation (from what I've described) that the mobo is bad, or an opinion on whether I should just forget it and build from scratch - literally, any response is welcome .


An Aphex Twin

P.S. A small tidbit I've just remembered - recently, if a restart occurs/is forced/initiated, the PC won't POST, the screen stays black and the fans build up to a deafening roar (until you force a shutdown via the power button). It doesn't usually happen from a cold boot (only a couple of times), just generally from a reboot/restart.

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Old 07-30-2009, 08:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sony VAIO W1 irregular rebooting.

Have I posted this in the wrong forum? Apologies if so (and could a mod please move it if it is?).
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