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XP locks up on high end games


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#1
kevinsky

kevinsky

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I have failed to find the source of this problem for over 6 months now. It's driving me crazy!

The Computer

Intel 3.0 ghz processor on the Intel 915 GAV mobo, 1 Gb Ram, 2 X 160 GB SATA drives
Radeon X600 GPU, 1 R/W DVD drive, 1 R/W CD drive

Windows XP sp2 with all the patches/Zone Alarm suite/Windows Defender on a network with a router/DSL modem, latest drivers installed

Symptoms: System runs fine with web browsing, document processing, programming apps and low end (ie 5-6 year old games)
Stress tests with Everest show stable 60 Deg C chip temp, the multiple fans are all working, read write tests to the discs show no problems
Voltages appear nominal: under use the 12V dips to 11.81 just before the system locks up

The Problem
Run any newer high end game like Rise of Legends, Brothers in Arms or an online MMO
Anywhere from a few seconds to a half hour after starting it the PC locks up. Mouse does not move,
does not respond to CTRL-ALT-DEL, numlock does not work. Can only be restarted by a power off from the power supply.

Solutions which did not work
New operating system-this is the fourth copy of XP in 6 months
Mouse - replaced Aopen with stock microsoft mouse- initially appeared to work but problem returned within a week
Turned down acceleration on DX sound-helped a bit-instead of locking up games will freeze/unfreeze a few times then lock up
Powerstrip-underclocked the Radeon just a bit-helped a bit
Memtest and drivetests- these do not reveal any problems with the hardware

Thoughts
The more you use the PC the worse the problem gets ie: time before lockup gets shorter with every hard reboot
The longer the PC has been running the worse it gets
It does not lockup under normal usage or when idling overnight

Anyone have any ideas?

Thank you
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#2
kidnova

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All of the symptoms you are describing point to overheating, but you stated that everest shows constant temperatures. Try downloading speedfan and see if you get the same readings. If you know generally how long it takes before the system locks up then check the temps immediately before you expect it to happen.

What size and brand PSU do you have? Have you made any recent upgrades? You could be overtaxing the PSU and it may need to be replaced.
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#3
kevinsky

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The PSU is the suspect at the moment as it is a no name.
There has been no hardware added since the last trip to the shop
where I put the second SATA drive in to test the theory that it was a drive problem.
(It wasnt, new install of XP on the new drive and with only that one drive experienced the same problems)

I will give Speedfan a go.

Does anyone have any comments on what voltage and amperage
would be appropriate?

and whether Radeons are power hogs or unduly sensitive.
As I recall the Radeon only has a heat sink as it is not really a high end card.

Thanks
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#4
kevinsky

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I installed Speedfan and got similar readings as Everest
-hard drives are fine
-fans on CPU and case fans are fine
-temperatures never go higher than 60 deg C on the chip
-voltages seem to waver more than I would like eg 12 v rail goes between 11.8 to 12.2

I was able to get the online game that has lower resolution graphics working fine for hours
by using Powerstrip to underclock the graphics card even more (a total of 15 points lower)

the fan on the Radeon appears to be working fine so I am still left with the question of:

is this a power supply that cannot supply reliable power at peak loads or
is the Radeon the problem?

Comments?
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#5
bmwboy

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I installed Speedfan and got similar readings as Everest
-hard drives are fine
-fans on CPU and case fans are fine
-temperatures never go higher than 60 deg C on the chip
-voltages seem to waver more than I would like eg 12 v rail goes between 11.8 to 12.2

I was able to get the online game that has lower resolution graphics working fine for hours
by using Powerstrip to underclock the graphics card even more (a total of 15 points lower)

the fan on the Radeon appears to be working fine so I am still left with the question of:

is this a power supply that cannot supply reliable power at peak loads or
is the Radeon the problem?

Comments?

Can't be sure, can we get the model and maker of your power supply?
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#6
kevinsky

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Hi oh
The powersupply is a

Turbolink switching powersupply model LC-A420 ATX

A quick search reveals a number of unhappy users of this item.

And if you want to ask "Didn't I know better?"

Sigh, I trusted the store.

Im thinking an Antec power supply should do the job, or thermaltake

Comments?

Thanks
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#7
racinmason001

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your power supply is the problem! The current is supposed to be constant not fluxuating thats why people use battery powered ups's because it gives a constant voltage with no fluxuations. You need a psu, I would go with 400watts or even 500watts its overkill but my motto is i would rather have too much than not enough!
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#8
kevinsky

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Right then, it's a new power supply for me and I will report back on the results

Thank you everyone for your help.
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#9
kevinsky

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Problem solved, I purchased a 500 watt S3 power supply and installed it.
NO lockups.

used powerstrip to return the graphics card to its default clock settings: no problems

used dxdiag to return the Dx sound settings to full acceleration: no problems

monitored temperatures and voltage with Speedfan under load. Variations in voltage were minor.

So, I assume that the power supply I had (Turbolink switching powersupply model LC-A420 ATX) was not really capable of supplying even 400 watts of clean power.

For me, this is case closed and a reminder not to trust chain stores to pick your equipment.

Thanks all for your help
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#10
racinmason001

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right on man thanks for letting me know!
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#11
kevinsky

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I am adding this more for historical purposes than anything

I did replace the powersupply and it seemed to help but after a month or so the same problem returned.
I repeated the diagnostic checks on drives and the ram and updated the drivers, no problems there.

I would make a new user on the computer and things would be fine. I could for example play Company of Heros but then the 5th or 6th time I started the game the sound would start to stutter. It would get worse each time from there until the game would freeze totally once the cut scenes had stopped.

This time I think I fixed the problem by getting an Asus motherboard with new DDR2 ram, same chip, same graphics card, same hard drives. Runs smooth as silk.

So now I have an Intel D915GAV board that I dont know whether it's bad but that is a better problem than a PC that freezes.
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