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Old 01-29-2004, 11:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Athlon XP system freezes

I posted this on a newsgroup last night, but I'm really trying to get some advise quicker, so I'm hoping somebody has an idea of what's going on. Here's the story...

I'm pretty close to having bought 2 computer systems slowly, trying to get my 1 to work. About a year ago, I put together a system from parts (new parts). Here's the original config...

Athlon XP 1900+ (I think, might be low 2000's)
2 crucial 256mb ddr 2700's
2 WD 80g SE w/8mb buffers (raid, the redundant backup type)
Enermax case w/300w ps
Ati radeon 8x00 SE w/64mb
MSI motherboard kt4 ultra aru

The exact specs elude me now, but those are pretty close. Anyway, I wanted something that was pretty fast and stable, and wouldn't be lost due to a hard drive crash. Were I to build it now, I would've spent a little extra and got something more like a workstation, with an MP proc and ecc ram, but I wasn't as compulsive about possible data loss at that point.

The machine seemed to work fine, but on occasion it would just lock up. No warning, just stop. The screen would still show the last thing, but the mouse didn't move, and no key input (Ctl+Alt+Del did nothing). A restart would get it back up. I couldn't get it to repeat by doing anything specific, and sometimes it wouldn't happen for days or weeks, and sometimes a couple times a night.

I really had no idea about how to diagnose the problem. Over time I replaced some parts in the hope that it would smooth things out.

I replaced the 2 ram sticks with 1 512mb ddr 2100 stick. Seemed to help for a day or 2, then the same thing.

After that, I gave up for a while and dealt with it. Recently, tired of it, I went crazy and picked up several new things. The following...

MSI motherboard KT6V-LSR - For some reason I was secretly convinced that the motherboard was the problem. This was the only complete waste purchase. Everything else I'm at least recycling into my old machine for a poor man's server.

Antec True Power 380 PS
Antec 120mm fan (front input)
Collermaster 80mm thermally controlled fan (back out, right behind cpu)
CoolerMaster DP5-7JD1B-0L heatsink and fan
Mitsumi 80g sata drive (putting the raid in the "server" previously mentioned)

The fans, heatsink, and powersupply also serve to reduce the noise volume. That, at least, has worked out pretty well.

I got it up and running, and its very quiet, and it was looking good. Surprise, it just locked up (typing this from my laptop). The only 2 things left in the case that I could replace would be the graphics card and cpu.

Now before I go crazy and pull those too, I'd like to ask for some advice. At this point, I think its the heat. Before replacing the heatsink and fans, I had the stock retail heatsink and the fans that came with the case. I didn't know too much about how to set that up before. The case came with a fan on the side door and one on the top. Bad (I think) air flow. The cpu temp used to get pretty high. Into the 60's at least after use. I didn't focus on this before as a problem because of what I've read, the XP shouldn't have a problem with this.

I put the new heatsink on, with the stock pad on the bottom. It looked better at first, but also hit 60C. I don't know if it got higher. I wasn't checking for a while before it crashed, but it had been stable at 60C for a while.

Anybody think this could be part of the problem? The next step in the plan is to use some thermal compound instead of the stock pad to see if that keeps the temp down. The problem is that I can't regularly repeat the crash, so I won't know if something I've done had really fixed anything.

The other possibilty is the video card. The only strange thing I've seen with it was while playing tron 2.0. Occasionally it would just drop out, but the desktop would come up with an error message, and then would bring the game back up (usually after the light cycle crashed).

Ok, that's enough info for now. I already feel pretty stupid for replacing almost everything in the case. I'd like to avoid replacing everything if possible.

Thanks in advance

PS. Not overclocking or anything like that.

kpgalligan is offline  
Old 02-14-2004, 06:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Posts: 240

That's what you get for buying a Athlon

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The51 is offline  
Old 02-14-2004, 06:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,937

[sarcastic]. great advice The51[/sarcastic]. kpgalligan i think it is either your hard disk or processor. i was not sure if you had tested another hard disk, have you had any read/ write errors?

what does the BIOS report your cpu temps at? definately scrape off the thermal pad and use paste. overheat can be intermittent which is why you can't repeat the error consistantly.
ekÆsine is offline  
Old 02-14-2004, 08:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 788

yes the cpu or hard disk are the prime suspects. If you can swop them and see which one it is that would tell u right then and there. nothing more than that u can do im afraid. or just swop one and its the other. However, we might be wrong and there could be something else casuing this so if u only swop one ur taking a chance
XT is offline  
Old 02-14-2004, 11:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 287

You posted a lot about hardware but have you done the drivers right.Motherbroad First.Video and sound.Up dated all the XP stuff.

Id think if your puter stays running for long stretches and also will freeze up on you multiple times in a day.Some kind of conflict between drivers or irq's.

Id think if it was heat it would be a more constant thing and would happen more often.Specialy since your not OCed at all and you got oddel's of fan's.
Deadguy is offline  
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