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ARGH! System will not stop locking up!


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#1
ben.watson

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I built a system for myself and here are my specs.

Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz CPU
EVGA nForce 680i SLI Motherboard
EVGA GeForce 8800GTX Superclocked Video Card
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 SDRAM 1066 (PC2 8500) Memory
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W Quad PSU
Seagate 320GB SATA Hard Drive
X-Fi Sound Card

Here is the problem. When I leave my system on for an extended period of time, like greater than 24 hours, the system will get increasingly unstable and lock up and/or blue screen (with various error codes, never the same). Eventually, the system will be unable to get past POST. The POST process will begin, but will hang about 25% of the way through. If I then turn off my system for awhile, like several hours, the problems go away for a day or so and then start back up again.

I have completely reformatted my system with a fresh install of Windows XP Pro SP2, and the problem continued. This says to me that this is absolutely not a software issue.

I have tested the memory for 24+ hours and have ZERO errors.

I have replaced the motherboard, the video card, the power supply unit and the memory. I have removed the X-Fi sound card.

I have monitored my temperatures and they are normal.

I am completely bewildered. I simply don't understand what could be causing this system instability that ONLY occurs after the system has been on for awhile.

The only thing that I have to possibly go on is my voltages. In the BIOS, they appear perfect. I'm talking within .04V of the actual rails. However in Windows, the voltages appear much worse. Here are the voltages I see when looking at them through SciSoft Sandra...

CPU DC Line - 2.45V
Aux DC Line - 3.54V
+3.3V DC Line - 3.23V
+5V DC Line - 5.43V
+12V DC Line - 9.06V
-12V DC Line - -10.74V

-5V DC Line - -5.66V

Those 12 volt rails seem very off, but like I said, in the BIOS they appear perfect. Also, this is actually the reason I replaced my PSU in the first place. I saw these very bizarre power readings, and so I thought the PSU was the issue. Replaced it. And at first, the readings were better, but then as I began to experience instability, they went back to these really strange readings again.

Anyone out there care to take a stab at this?
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#2
ClickRight

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Alright, sounds like you've done all the usual stuff (Awesome troubleshooting!)

First thing I will mention is I always ignore voltage reading from the BIOS and especially from any software. The only way to know if the voltage is correct is by using a multimeter. Now, assuming that the power supply, RAM, motherboard, and Video card are all working (since they were replaced) that leaves the the hard drive (or system thereof) as the most likely culprit.

One thing I do want to make sure is you tested your RAM with Memtest or something similar?

I see it's a Seagate 320GB, awesome drive, I have 3 myself :whistling:

One thing I would see is if you can use a different SATA cable *and* a different SATA port attached to a different SATA chip if your motherboard has one.

Another thing to check is that there is nothing shorting out and that your temperatures are fine.

Have you run any stress tests (Prime 95, Super PI, etc.) yet?
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#3
The Skeptic

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One thing that was not tested or replaced, by your account, is the cpu. ClickRight's advise about running a stress test is a good one. Before running the test I would disconnect everything which is not essential and try to run the computer. Leave only one memory module. Remove the video and sound cards and use the integrated devices. Disconnect DVD drives, USB devices, the lot. Now run the computer and see if it is stable or not.
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#4
ben.watson

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Hey guys! Thanks for responding! Thanks for the compliment on the troubleshooting. I feel a bit embarrassed having to ask for help. Having multiple certifications (A+, Net+, MCSE) as well as being a senior systems administrator by profession I don't normally run into computer problems that stump me. It's even more embarrassing that I can't figure out my own personal system! :whistling: Ah well, swallow the pride, and hopefully a few more sets of eyes and brains can come up with some solutions I haven't thought of yet.

I'll try and answer both of your questions.

First off, yes, I have tested the CPU by running two instances of Prime95 (so I could peg both cores) and let it run for 24 hours straight. Ran just fine with no issues.

I should also mention that when I first built my system, it ran flawlessly for a straight month overclocked from it's stock 2.4Ghz to 3.0Ghz while being on 24/7. Since I began experiencing these issues, I dropped my CPU back to stock speeds and have nothing overclocked currently.

Yep, I did test my RAM also for 24+ hours with Memtest86+ and came back with zero errors. A memory problem was my own initial thought but didn't appear to be the case.

Finally, my system actually runs very lean as far as devices go. I've already removed the X-Fi sound card, and the only other components I have left that I could possibly disconnect would be the single internal DVD burner. Video card I cannot remove as there is no integrated video, and obviously I cannot remove the hard drive. Everything else is integrated devices (network and sound). No USB devices connected.

It's one of the strangest issues I've ever seen. It literally seems to matter not whether the system is under load or idle. It seems to be purely based on how long it's been running. After running for what seems to be around 36 - 48 hours straight, it just begins to get highly unstable.

I should also add that I felt that the DVD drive or hard drive are probably not the issue. The reason being that when my system gets extremely unstable, I cannot even make it past the initial POST screens, and the point at which it freezes in the POST screens are well before it gets to the point of detecting or accessing the hard drive or optical storage. But if you have any other thoughts on that, I'll be more than happy to look at anything.

What I will do though is kick off Spinrite 6 and I'll let you know the results of a full hard drive scan. Anything else you guys think I should look into after my response here?

I can't tell you how glad I am to see some responses. I was beginning to feel that I had pretty much exhausted all my options.

Edited by ben.watson, 02 July 2007 - 08:05 PM.

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#5
ClickRight

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Alright, so Prime and Memtest both run fine for 24+ hours, so we should be good with the CPU and RAM. I'm also assuming this means that all power connections have been made to the motherboard is it would have likely flaked out if they weren't (same with temperatures and PSU.)

I have to tell you that I have seem onboard HDD controller do some strange things, that's why I was asking if you could try a different cable/connection and/or different controller; If it's possible to do so, do it.

As for the CD-ROM, I would disconnect it for the time being.

Video card... happen to have an older PCI card that you can use?

Other than that, I'm out of ideas for the moment as well.

Edited by ClickRight, 02 July 2007 - 08:07 PM.

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#6
ben.watson

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I kicked off the most in depth Spinrite diagnostic against my hard drive, so once that is done, I'll try a different cable. I would venture to guess that the controller is probably not an issue since I've replaced the motherboard, but when I try a different cable I will also try a different SATA port on my motherboard.

I'll also disconnect the DVD burner and give that a whirl.

As for a video card, I may be able to grab a PCI-E video card from work. Although same deal kinda goes here where I've already replaced the video card so it's hard to imagine it being the problem. But at this point, it's worth trying since I'm practically out of options.
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#7
The Skeptic

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The fact that the computer crashes during post indicate to a problem at the very fundementals of the computer. There are some things that I could suggest:


1: Reset the BIOS by disconnecting the power cable and pulling the CMOs battery for about 15 minutes. Please do the procudure like I suggested. Do not use the jumper that enables the discharge. Leave the BIOS on fail safe values. If you do change values please leave everything that is related to the cpu, memory and clock as they are.

2: I suggested to try to run the computer on a single memory module. Have you tried that?


3: It would be very interesting to try another video card, not of the same model.

4: When the computer starts crashing, have you tried pulling out the power cable from the psu? Please do so for about a minute and restart the computer. You won't believe how many problems I solve by this. As a matter of fact that is the first thing that I do with computers that do not start. If this will help then it indicates to unstable power supply in your house and that thakes me to point 5.

5: If you can get a ups system try it. Where I live we have lots of power interruptions and unstable voltage. This ruin computers or cause problems like you wouldn't believe. An Uninterrupted Power Supply unit solves many of these problems while offering a good protection.
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#8
ClickRight

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4: When the computer starts crashing, have you tried pulling out the power cable from the psu? Please do so for about a minute and restart the computer. You won't believe how many problems I solve by this. As a matter of fact that is the first thing that I do with computers that do not start. If this will help then it indicates to unstable power supply in your house and that thakes me to point 5.


Awesome point! What I usually do in this case is unplug the power cable, press the power button for a good 30 seconds, then plug it back in; has helped out on many occasions.
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