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System Hard Locking (No BSOD)


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#1
ben.watson

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I have a system that is consistently locking up (not blue screening) and requires me to perform a hard reboot. This is a built by hand machine which I build about 1.5 months ago or so. I firmly believe the problem to be hardware related, but I'm unsure exactly what it could be. Here are the specs and then afterwards what I've experienced and what I have done...

Motherbord - EVGA nForce 680i SLI - Flashed with latest BIOS
Processor - Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
Video Card - EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX Superclocked - Using latest drivers from Nvidia
Memory - Corsair 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 1066Mhz (PC2 8500)
Power Supply - OCZ GameXStream 700W
Sound Card - Using onboard
NIC - Using onboard
Hard Drive - SATA 300GB
Operating System - Windows XP Professional x86 with SP2 and fully patched

When I first built my system, I tested it, benchmarked it, made sure it was stable and temperatures were acceptable. I did some minor over clocking over the processor from it's default 2.4Ghz to 3.0Ghz by increasing the FSB from 1066Mhz to 1334Mhz using a 5:4 ratio which left the memory at a standard 1066Mhz. Again, I tested, logged temperatures under load and found the temperatures to be excellent and the system was stable with no lock ups, no hands, no crashes, no artifacting, ran beautifully.

Two weekends ago I began to have problems. I was playing a game and the system hung. Tried to do a CTRL-ALT-DEL and after hitting those keys a few times to see if I could kill the process, the system simply emitted a single loud beep out of the speakers. Sounded like a standard system beep, but instead of coming out of the back speaker in the tower, it came out of the actual speakers. I thought it was just a simple game crash. Had to do a hard reboot. Didn't have any other issues that day.

Next day, I experienced the same problem in other games. I actually began to experience hard lockups the moment a game would launch. System would emit a single loud beep if I clicked the mouse a few times, or hit a few keys on the keyboard. Would have to perform a hard reboot.

Throughout the course of the week, lockups began to happen more frequently, and I began to experience the same immediate lockups even when simply viewing a video in Windows Media Player.

Finally, this last weekend, I had a buddy of mine over, he brought his system and we were looking forward to having a fun time doing some Company of Heroes multiplayer. Every single time I would try to launch the game, it would immediately lock my system up. Same system beep when hitting some keys or clicking the mouse, and would have to hard reboot.

I decided that it was time to determine whether this was a software or hardware problem. There is no easier way to do that than by simply reformatting the machine.

So Friday night, I reformat my machine completely. Reinstalling Windows XP with SP2, reinstalling my mainboard drivers, sound drivers, and the latest NVidia video card drivers.

THE PROBLEMS PERSISTED. Hard lockups when launching any games or watching any videos.

Now the problem has escalated to other symptoms. Occasionally my system will not make it through POST. I'll see a portion of the POST data and then the reboot process will stop. The worst symptom actually occurred when I got home from work (I leave my system on 24/7). When I got home, I got on my laptop, decided I wanted to look at something on my (problem) machine and tried to remote desktop into it. Strange, I couldn't connect. Tried to manage it, couldn't manage it. But I could ping it. Odd. So I get up, go into my room where the computer is located, the monitor is powered off as it should be after being inactive. Moved the mouse around, monitor didn't wake up. Strange. Picked up the mouse, and the laser was not on. Wow, really weird. Hit CTRL-ALT-DEL. Monitor lit up. Logged in. I now notice a small (1 inch by 1 inch) block on the screen in which the graphics were washed out. Not a monitor issue, it's too perfectly square, must be a video output issue. Everything else looked normal. So I decide to try and reboot my system in Windows. The machine gets to the point where it says, "Logging Off...", and it just stops. I eventually decide to do a hard reboot, and now the system will not get past POST at all.

All I see when I try to boot my system is the basic BIOS version, CPU, memory, and then it just stops.

WHAT I'VE DONE...

* Completely reformatted system using up to date drivers for everything.
* Tested memory two different times over the past week using MEMTEST86+, ran the test for 6+ hours both times. Not a single error.
* Reduced the clock speed of my CPU back to defaults from my minor overclocked settings.

The most I've ever gotten out of the event log was an NV error in which the display driver was caught in an infinite loop. This event was only written once in awhile when my system would lock up. I originally thought this was a video card issue, but am beginning to think it may be something else since I am now being prevented from even getting past POST.

SUMMARY...

Completely reformatted system with up to date drivers to ensure it's not a software issue.
Problems have escalated over the course of the last week and a half from occassional hard lockups when playing games, to always hard lockups when playing games and watching videos, to now not even being able to make it past POST. Memory tests out ok after two 6+ hour tests.

Any thoughts on what could be the issue? I wish I just had motherboards, CPUs and power supplies laying around so I could swap stuff out, but sadly that's not the case.

Edited by ben.watson, 07 June 2007 - 08:13 AM.

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#2
wannabe1

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Hi ben.watson...

Sounds like the video card has headed south on you. Can you get your hands on another card to test the theory?

wannabe1
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#3
ben.watson

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Hi ben.watson...

Sounds like the video card has headed south on you. Can you get your hands on another card to test the theory?

wannabe1

Yeah, I've already initiated the RMA process for my video card. I should have a replacement to test against by Friday. Although I did that before I began to have the consistent problems even making it past POST. I wouldn't have thought that a bad video card would prevent a machine from POSTing properly, any thoughts on that?

Thanks!
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#4
wannabe1

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It's probably halting where the boot hands off the the GUI...that's where it starts loading hardware and usually the display adapter is the first to load.

Do you get any video at all...like the first post screens? Or just a black screen from the git-go.
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#5
ben.watson

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It's probably halting where the boot hands off the the GUI...that's where it starts loading hardware and usually the display adapter is the first to load.

Do you get any video at all...like the first post screens? Or just a black screen from the git-go.

Yeah, I certainly get video. I simply get the beginning portions of the POST screen, such as displaying the make/manufacturer of the motherboard, BIOS revision, CPU speeds, memory and then it stops. However it halts before I can get to the portion of POST that would let me into my BIOS. At least for my EVGA motherboard, it still has yet to display what components are installed on the various IDE or SATA ports, and then after that it moves into the part of the POST where it displays all the various hardware level device IDs and such. And then finally it's off to determine what device to boot from and then starts up the operating system. So it's well before it actually begins to start the operating system, but I obsolutely get POST information. It just halts about 25% of the way through the POST process.

I was able to fight my way through the POST process just now and am looking at the event logs. The only thing that I can see here that seems somewhat related is an extrmely cryptic entry in the system log.

Event ID: 14
Source: nv
Type: Error
Description: Unknown error on CMDre 00000000 00000880 69000000 00000004 00000084

It's definitely one of the more cryptic errors I've ever seen.

In some respects, I'm starting to wonder if it may actually be my motherboard. Ugh, I'm really hoping I don't have to dig in and replace that thing.

Edited by ben.watson, 06 June 2007 - 10:49 PM.

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#6
Stelth2k1

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hey ben watson, it is kind of funny because i dont no if u read my post which is a little lower then yours, but before that happened to my pc something exactly similar was happening to my pc when i was playing a game. When i was playing cs source after about 45 minutes of play, it would freeze and i would hear a beep and i woult have to hard restart. I have been seeing a lot of similar issues to other people, maybe there is a Virus or Trojan going around that has not been noticed or detected yet.

Good luck fixing your problem.

~Pete
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#7
ben.watson

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hey ben watson, it is kind of funny because i dont no if u read my post which is a little lower then yours, but before that happened to my pc something exactly similar was happening to my pc when i was playing a game. When i was playing cs source after about 45 minutes of play, it would freeze and i would hear a beep and i woult have to hard restart. I have been seeing a lot of similar issues to other people, maybe there is a Virus or Trojan going around that has not been noticed or detected yet.

Good luck fixing your problem.

~Pete

Yeah, I didn't check out your post, but the one thing I can attest to is that I did a complete reformat of my system to ensure it wasn't a nasty virus or trojan or any other corruption of my system. Being that the problem persisted even after a reformat, and even more so, I am now having problems usually even making it past POST strongly suggests I am having hardware problems.

Hopefully you will be able to fix your issues with a simple reformat if it comes down to it. Good luck with your issues as well. :whistling:
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#8
Stelth2k1

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thanks ben, did you try using a different hard drive when booting up, maybe it is defective. it doesnt look like its anything else. youve mainly tested everything else aswell. try checking your hdd.
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#9
wannabe1

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Everything I find on that error indicates a bad video card. Some say it points to RAM, but you've already verified that yours is good. I still believe it's the card, not the mobo.
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#10
wannabe1

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When you installed the latest video drivers, did you replace a previous version of the drivers? If there is an earlier version on the machine, try rolling back the driver.

If not, try this: Click Start, then Run, type prefetch and click "Ok". In the Prefetch folder, click "Edit" on the toolbar and choose "Select All"...right click on any selected file and choose "Delete"...accept the deletion.

Open Device Manager and expand (click +) Display Adapters. Right click on your video card and choose "Uninstall"...accept the operation.

Reboot and see if it boots right up or if you have to fight with it again.
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#11
ben.watson

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When you installed the latest video drivers, did you replace a previous version of the drivers? If there is an earlier version on the machine, try rolling back the driver.

If not, try this: Click Start, then Run, type prefetch and click "Ok". In the Prefetch folder, click "Edit" on the toolbar and choose "Select All"...right click on any selected file and choose "Delete"...accept the deletion.

Open Device Manager and expand (click +) Display Adapters. Right click on your video card and choose "Uninstall"...accept the operation.

Reboot and see if it boots right up or if you have to fight with it again.

That would've been the case prior to doing a complete reformat of my machine, but after the reformat, I've only had one version of NVidia drivers on the machine, and that is the current latest version. There is currently nothing to roll back to.

I'll be able to give a definitive answer on the video card issue probably on Friday when I get my replacement. I may be able to borrow a PCIE video card from my work to test with tonight.
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