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Old 09-07-2003, 09:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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OK, I admit it. I enjoy video games, and EverQuest is my chosen addiction. It’s a 3D intensive game, so when I saw an Emachine T2625 system at a good price, I jumped.

The system performed great on everything I ran on it. Except, that is, for the most important applications:


My 3D games.

Everquest freezes solid every time within a minute or so, requiring a hard boot to recover.

Here are the system particulars:

FIC AM-37 Motherboard with Athlon XP 2600+ running at 2100mhz. (266 Front Side Bus) (onboard S3 Savage Video, Realtek Ethernet adapter and AC97 Audio)

Athlon approved cooling fan shipped with CPU and installed by EMachines.

512megs of PC 2100 DDR memory (Emachines Generic), upgraded to 1 gig (512 stick of Corsair 2700 DDR added after the freezing problem discovered.)

120 Gig Western Digital Hard Drive

NEC DVD Burner


PCI 56K Modem

Standard Floppy Drive

250 Watt Power Supply

Windows XP home addition

It didn’t take me long to see that the on board Savage video card was freezing during EQ and wasn‘t up to the task. I replaced onboard video with an Nvidia Geforce4 MX 440 128K video card in the AGP slot provided on the motherboard. I went into safe mode and disabled the S3 before installing the Geforce4 and then installed the Nvidia 44.03 detonator driver.

While inside, I noticed that there were no fans except for the power supply, so I added a PCI Slot fan under the Nvidia Card, and a case exhaust fan as well. Presently, the CPU gets to about 51degrees when Everquest is doing its’ thing.

Realizing the 250 watt power supply was marginal at best, I replaced it with a 350 watt supply.

Still, the freezing in Everquest persisted. Sometimes the system would freeze at the character selection screen BEFORE the full program launched.

In over a month of troubleshooting this exasperating problem, I performed the following at the direction of the technical minds at Emachines and Sony (the parent behind Everquest…)

1) Disabled the onboard sound card and ran the game without sound.

2) Installed every Detonator drive in the Nvidia library released in the last 18 months.

3) Installed the latest Via 4 in 1 (Hyperion 4.49) drivers.

4) Attempted to update the Motherboard Bios, but realized that Emachines had installed a proprietary bios to remove the possibility of regulating CPU voltages. Went to the FIC web site, prepared to install the recommended bios for my motherboard, but was intimidated away before flashing when I received “The Program file’s bios-lock string does not match your system” message. Motherboard Bios thus remains stock.

5) Removed the side of the computer, and directed the full force of a Lockheed C-130 Turbo prop into the case (OK, maybe I’m overstating the box fan a bit. But it SURE was windy in there and it kept a 6 pack of soda quite frosty too…)

6) Turned the bios AGP down to 2X, back to 4X, disabled and enabled fast write. Adjusted the AGP aperture setting from 128 to 256 K and back.

7) Installed Direct X9b and tested it flawlessly each time with DXDiag.

8) Swapped the Corsair Memory for the Generic, changed slots, tried every permutation of 512 and 1 gig memory installations allowable with two sticks and two slots.

9) Restored Windows XP and the entire system back to stock with the provided Emachines system restoration disks (Symantec Ghost.)

I’m sure I tried several other things, as I was scouring the Internet for ideas, and saw that this freezing problem seems to plague many others besides myself.

NOTHING helped.


I don’t particularly like this fix, but it SOLVED the freezing problem.

I moved the Front Side Bus jumper on the motherboard from the 133 setting (266 actual with the doubling) and downgraded it to the 100 setting (200 actual.) The system memory is still running at 133 (266.)

Son of a gun - EverQuest is running rock solid now.

Someone please tell me, if you could, what in the HELL did removing 25% of the bandwidth in my Front Side Bus do to solve the problem? And what are the ramifications?

Bad motherboard? Bad bios? Bad processor? WRONG processor?

I know, I know, the application is running fine, and I am grateful. But I would sure like to see this system perform according to specifications, and the FSB pipeline IS designed to run at 266 after all.

Anyone got any ideas?

(Thanking you all in advance.)

Chilao is offline  
Old 09-07-2003, 11:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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im going to tell you my opinion since i dont think too many poeple here will outright say it. emachines, dell, compaq, sony, i have fixed several computers from all these brands and from experience they do not always use the highest quality components inside. i personally don't recommend buying from any of them because i have seen many problems from each one. emachines in particular isn't all that great and the deal you got is what you paid for i would think. the simple answer to your question is low quality components. the motherboard probably has a lot of incompatibilty. Chilao you sound like a very intelligent person, the next time you want to purchase a new computer why not build your own?, that way you know what you are paying for. building a computer can be easier (case proven in your case) and cheaper than prebuilt made by emachines, and other vendors. reducing Front Side Bus will probably slow down the computer by about 25% less than the speed you were getting before, i am pretty sure. check dxdiag and see what direct X reports your processor as after the change. ramifications? your everquest game works (whoohoo) and your overall processor speed is a bit slower. if the difference is helping you more than hurting you, there isnt much to worry about.

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Old 09-08-2003, 09:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Dude you went through some serious troubleshooting, Great effort!!! But I gotta go with Ek in regards to Emachines. Great for word processing and internet surfing but not Gaming. Sounds like ya got more than enough going on upstairs to build yer own Box.Good Luck
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Old 09-08-2003, 09:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Seems to me that the reason changing your FSB helped is that now you're actually underclocking the processor. This leads me to believe you have a heat problem. Maybe go out and pick up some Artic Silver 3 and/or a new HSF and see if that allows you to run at full speed.
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Old 09-08-2003, 10:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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What did you pay for your rig? Sounds like you might have got a deal on it originaly, but you put money into

Power supply
Video card

Take that cost and add it to your original cost. What did you pay then?

I too prefer to avoid the pre-manufactured computer route. Companies want to save money, so they cut corners in various places and you don't know where till you have the system.

As far as your freezing problem, have you checked for a bios update? Might be a cooling issue. Have you tried any other 3d intence games to see if it does the dame thing?

What are you using for cooling on your cpu?
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Old 09-08-2003, 10:51 AM   #6 (permalink)
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you could try using a bigger PSU, 250watts blows majorb butthole, im running 550 watts (i do have 4 CD roms and 2 HDDs after all, lol) neways, i would upgrade your PSU and see if you can overclock it again, and then again it could be the motherboard as eMachines use refurbished parts, i would never, ever, ever even consider an emachine, especially with the smart you sound like you got, you seem to know quite a bit, why not just build your own? (and i would have gone witha P4)
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Old 09-08-2003, 04:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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he did. He said he replaced it with a 350 watt p/s
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Old 09-10-2003, 08:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Disabled write combining in the Detonator driver, and installed the Cooler Master HHC-001 CPU cooling unit (they are right, it's a LOUD son of a gun, but the CPU is like a refrigerator now, hehe) just to remove all doubt about temperature being an issue.

Still freezes up at 266 FSB setting in EverQuest.

EQ runs like a champ at 200 FSB setting, even though Windows detects the CPU as an Athlon XP 1900+ running at 1.59 gigs instead of the XP 2600+ that SHOULD be running at 2.1 gigs.

I'm glad it's stable, frustrated that I'm sacraficing performance to attain that stability, and raising an eyebrow in the direction of First International Computer (FIC) as it's begining to look more an more like a motherboard deficiancy to me, or maybe a result of the watered-down bios EMachines installed that keeps me from adding a little voltage to see if THAT would stablize the CPU.

*scratches his head*

I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to end up replacing the Motherboard at some point, and yes, it would probably have been better to build this puppy from scratch to begin with. By going with an "out of the box" system, I was hoping to avoid the time consuming tinkering that always accompanies a system build, but it appears there's no avoiding that in this case, regardless.
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Old 09-12-2003, 06:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i would have gone with building a computer, you choose the parts that way. You gotta be careful about picking parts that are compatible with each other though!
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Old 10-10-2003, 01:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My suspision is the most likely cause of your problem is driver and/or BIOS related. I would:
1. Verify you have anti-virus software installed and have performed a full system virus scan to be sure *thats* not an underlying issue (I recommend Norton Systemworks).
2. Go to your motherboard's manufacturer's web site and download and install the latest BIOS.
3. Verify you have downloaded & installed the latest driver you can find for every device you have.
4. Go to Adaptec's web site and download their ASPI driver -- WinXP ships with a very out-of-date one which fails under heavy DVD / CD-ROM use on fast machines. (Yes ASPI is used for IDE devices).
5. Speed your memory back up. Test.
6. If you still have problems, consider removing/reinstalling your anti-virus software and multimedia software now. These two seem to me to be particularily sensitive to underlying driver files and don't always correctly "get the message" and appropiately reconfigure themselves when changes have occured.
Good luck.

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