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Computer keeps freezing - hardware problem


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#1
Jack W-H

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OK. So initially I was having this problem where my task manager never appeared. I got that problem sorted, but also had the problem of this:

My computer keeps crashing. At least once or twice every hour, at least. It just stops suddenly at random intervals. The computer stays frozen like this for up to 20 minutes. After whenever it starts again, it just does everything I did to it whilst it had been frozen (for example, if using Word, if when it crashed I typed in "Blah blah blah" then after it uncrashed that would appear on the screen).

The initial thread I started was this: http://www.geekstogo...ng-t184693.html

As you can see from looking through that thread, myself and Essexboy have done just about every scan under the sun, and I'm 99.99999% sure there's no malware causing this. We're both quite sure it's a hardware problem.

Now I'm not really very good with all this hardware stuff, so I'm gonna need clear instructions here. I've already taken apart the PC case and used some compressed air to clean out the main grills in order to try and stop a suspected overheating problem. However, my computer still freezes. I also tried running the computer with the sides off in order to let maximum air in and out. but it still fails. So I doubt it's overheating then, unless there's dust where I can't see.

When it crashes, the blinking red light on the PC tower stops blinking. i'm not sure if this is a CPU light or a Hard Disk light, but it's got a little icon above it which looks like a cylinder.

Whilst typing out this topic, in fact my computer has crashed twice.

I'm getting really desperate. I really need this fixed because I have to use my computer for exam coursework! And the deadline is approaching fast. It's almost no use if I can't really do it at all without crashing so often.

Inside the case it appears there are three fans. A bright blue one, attached to the motherboard, which is spinning just fine. A second, smaller black one attached to the back of the case, which is also spinning correctly. And a third fan, which is inside a big box attached to the top of the tower. I can't really see whether or not this fan is spinning because there's a box in the way :-) The box has "Switching Power Supply" printed on it.

If you have any ideas on how to fix it they would be much appreciated. I am happy to do any scans/maintenance, etc. Essexboy at the malware forum thinks I need a program that can monitor my cpu temperature, voltage, etc. in order to see which components might not be functioning properly. But you're the experts, so I'll trust in you then if you can help me.

Many thanks,

~ Jack
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#2
gumby701

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While I can't supply you with that sort of a program right now, I can give a little bit of advice:

There is sometimes a temp sensor in the BIOS and if you have a SERIOUS overheating problem (like I once did\may have again) you can monitor the temp from there...but this sounds like it only happens when you use the CPU a lot...
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#3
Jack W-H

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@Gumby, I think you're right. I looked in the BIOS just after the system had been off overnight, after about five minutes the CPU temp rose to 40C, but didn't really get any higher - I suppose because I wasn't running Windows so there was little CPU usage.

I now know exactly what program I'm looking for.

What i'm looking for is some software, by "Foxconn". My motherboard is made by Foxconn and they produce some software called SuperStep that monitors your motherboard, tells you which fans are running, etc. I need to know whether all three fans are running on my system - I would just take the case off my PC but unfortunately all the fans are inside a box. I can feel air current, but they're all in relatively the same place so I can't tell whether it's just coming from one, two, or all three of them.

What I need is a download of this SuperStep software. I'd get it from FoxConn's website, but I can't find it.

A link to some info about the software: What i'm looking for is some software, by "Foxconn". My motherboard is made by Foxconn and they produce some software called SuperStep that monitors your motherboard, tells you which fans are running, etc. I need to know whether all three fans are running on my system - I would just take the case off my PC but unfortunately all the fans are inside a box. I can feel air current, but they're all in relatively the same place so I can't tell whether it's just coming from one, two, or all three of them.

What I need is a download of this SuperStep software. I'd get it from FoxConn's website, but I can't find it.

A link to some info about the software: What i'm looking for is some software, by "Foxconn". My motherboard is made by Foxconn and they produce some software called SuperStep that monitors your motherboard, tells you which fans are running, etc. I need to know whether all three fans are running on my system - I would just take the case off my PC but unfortunately all the fans are inside a box. I can feel air current, but they're all in relatively the same place so I can't tell whether it's just coming from one, two, or all three of them.

What I need is a download of this SuperStep software. I'd get it from FoxConn's website, but I can't find it.

A link to some info about the software:

http://www.devhardwa...board-Review/6/

My computer's already crashed 3 times whilst writing this, it's taken me 40 minutes to type it out. I'm getting desperate.

I'd use this software called MotherBoard Monitor, but unfortunately it doesn't support my brand of motherboard, which is a FoxConn RC4107MA-RS2H. I'm getting really, really desperate now. I have coursework in really soon after half term, and I can't work on it with a broken computer.

Please, if ANYBODY could find this software I'd be really appreciative. That way I can find out which of my fans are working, CPU temperature, etc....

Or if you could find any alternatives I'd also be greatful.

Thankyou.
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#4
Troy

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Hi there, interesting thread... Essexboy is a master with malware, so I would believe the problem to be hardware.

The fan in the box (switching power supply - this is called a Power Supply Unit or PSU) is important, if your PSU is overheating it can cause all sorts of errors. Unfortunately, sensors aren't common inside PSU's, so you'll need to double-check that this one is spinning when the computer is on. Grab a torch or something... While we're at it, what PSU do you have? Please give the full information written on the sticker, especially noting a) make/model, b) total watts, and c) number of amps (A) on the +12V rail(s). A poor-quality PSU could well and truly be causing these problems, even if the system temperatures are not overheating.

The small black fan attached to the back of the motherboard, this is most likely the CPU (processor) fan. Please confirm it looks similar to the one in this link. With the computer turned off, just double check that it is not loose. Give it a gentle rock back/forth and make sure it's firm. You will need to take anti-static precautions before touching any internal components of your computer. If it is loose, it will need to be reseated with some new thermal paste.

The third fan, the colourful swirly one, this sounds like a case fan, more like an exhaust fan to help keep air moving properly throughout the case. In-case airflow is extremely important, I often find one fan is not enough, but two - one on the front sucking cold air in, and one on the back blowing hot air out. (These fans are in addition to the CPU fan and the PSU fan.)

For some software, there are other programs out there that monitor temperatures for you. You can try a few, as there are different sensors and a variety of programs will pick up on different sensors. Program titles are clickable links to help you find the right program. These ones are free :)

I recommend Everest Free Edition, this is a comprehensive hardware analysis tool. It will tell you pretty much everything about your computer. Obviously, we're looking for temperatures :) Also look for voltages and report these too.

Core Temp monitors your CPU temperature, simple as that.

Speedfan is able to change fan speeds, so make sure you don't change any settings, just open it to get the temperatures. It also reports voltages, so post these as well.

Try these programs to start, there are more but I can't remember them all right now. Post back with the temperatures (and voltages) reported with each program. Keep the results neatly sorted under the heading of each program so we know what program is reporting what result.

And for your fans, if you can't see it spinning, it's not working... So have a look when the system is running, make sure that every fan you can find is spinning.

Please report back with some answers so we can see where to go from here.

Troy

EDIT: Perhaps also report the voltages and temperatures from within the BIOS, this is another way of accessing the information we're after.

Edited by troy, 10 February 2008 - 07:16 AM.

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#5
Jack W-H

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OK Troy. Thanks for the advice.

It appears that yes, I think the PSU is definitely spinning.

PSU Model: ISO-400PP 4. It's got ISO written in a blue logo printed on top.

Max. watts = 300 watts

Amps on 12 volt rail - Well, I think it's 15 amps. It says all this sort of stuff:

DC Output: +3.3V --- 20.0A (ORG), +5.0V --- 30.0A (RED), +12.0V ---- 15.0A (YEL)
+5Vsb ---- 2.0A (PURP), -5.0V ---- 0.5A (WHITE), -12.0V ---- 0.5A (BLUE)


So I think it is 15 amps.

Um,, you got the fans the wrong way around - it's the shiny blue fan that's attached to the motherboard, and is larger than the smaller black fan which is attached to the case.

I've checked the fans and they seem pretty well secured, so I doubt they're loose.

Core Temp wouldn't let me run it, as I don't have "An Intel Based Core". Or perhaps because I had one and it wasn't supported, something like that anyway.

SpeedFan Results

Said two of the fans were spinning, both at around 2700 RPM. If you say PSUs don't usually come with sensors, then I guess that's why it only displays two.

As for temperature, that's a different matter. It was, erm, confusing to say the least. There's Temp1, Temp2, Temp3, HDO, and Temp1 again.

Temp1: 29C
Temp2: 35C
Temp3: 35C
HDO: 35C
Temp1: 40C

However, that's not really it I suppose, because about every 3 seconds it kept changing, one moment it would say it was 10C, the next it would say it was 80C! So I suppose SpeedFan isn't very reliable. The only temperature which acctualy stayed the same throughout was Temp1 (the second one), all the others kept changing all the time.

Everest Results

Temperatures:

Motherboard: 35C
CPU: Kept changing, one moment at 35 C, next moment at 5C, next at 25C... maybe SpeedFan wasn't so unreliable after all...
Aux: 29C
WDC WD800BB-00JHC0 (whatever that is): 35C

Cooling fans:

CPU: 2812 RPM
Chassis: 2722 RPM

Voltage Values:

CPU Core: 1.38V
+2.5V - 1.89V
+3.3V - 3.34V
+12V - 11.97V
+5V Standby - 4.95V
VBAT Battery - 3.26 V (but this is a desktop, not a laptop battery, so I guess it means the CMOS battery???)
Debug info F - 3C 3D FF (????)
Debug Info T - 29 34 24 (")
Debug Info V - 56 76 D1 FF BB BC 6F (77) ?!?!

So what's all that about then? Any further ideas about whats going on?

Thanks,

~ Jack

Edited by Jack W-H, 10 February 2008 - 01:43 PM.

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#6
Doby

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Jack,

To give Troy a helping hand I had a read and it appears to me that your temps and voltages are normal but could you go into bios and confirm these, mainly interested in the cpu temp and the +3.3,+5 and +12V.

At this point I think it would be a good idea to list your full system specs, you can get these from everest, mainly interested in the cpu,ram,motherboard,video card and psu although the psu won't be listed in everest just tell us the brand and model that is printed on it.

Then run memtest, you download memtest and follow the instructions in the read me file and create a bootable floppy or cd. Then run memtest and see if it shows any errors if it does you will then have to run it on 1 stick of ram at a time to try and isolate the bad stick, report back the results
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#7
Troy

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Hi there,

We're all helping here! Anyone that reads this thread is allowed to contribute, so I was just trying to get the ball rolling. That being said, Doby's points are what could be helpful next. The BIOS temperatures and voltages, please. Also, list your full system specs so we know what we're working with.

For memtest, let it run overnight. It's a very comprehensive test that needs to keep going to get a better overall view of your RAM.

At this stage I'm a bit unsure of what's happening, I'm thinking it could be your PSU is faulty. Even though it's reporting fairly stable output results, (I'd like to confirm that with the BIOS), it may actually be fluctuating which could cause the CPU temperature to be all over the place.

Cheers

Troy
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#8
Jack W-H

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OK, I will do that.

Do I need Memtest 86 or Memtest 86+?

My system specs:

Cpu: Intel Pentium 4 640, 32 000 mHz (16x200)
Ram: 1GB DDR
Motherboard:
Motherboard Name:Unknown (But I know it's a FoxConn RC4107MA-RS2H)
Motherboard Chipset: ATI Radeon XPress 200
Motherboard Manufacturer: DIXONSXP

Video Card: ATI Radeon Xpress 200 - it's a GPU, so there's no card, just a microchip.

PSU: "ISO" - ISO400PP

Other: PC is an "Ei System 314". Bought it just over a year ago. Has worked perfectly up until now, I guess the motherboard might be called DIXONSXP because I bought the Pc from Dixons electronics shop.

I don't have time now (sorry) to get the BIOS results but I promise I'll do that in the morning.

I'm downloading and burning memtest now.

Thanks.

Edited by Jack W-H, 11 February 2008 - 04:08 PM.

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#9
Doby

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To be honest thats a horrible psu, personelly I would replace it, lets see what bios tells us about the voltages its producing, monitor these voltages for a good 15 minutes and tell us how bad they fluctuate.

memtest 86+ is the latest version but with your machine you should be ok with either version
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#10
Jack W-H

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Alright, I did the memtest scan overnight. It said quite simply that it didn't find any errors whatsoever.

BIOS readings

CPU VCORE: 1.36v
VDDR: 1.88v
+3.3V: 3.34V
+12V: 11.96v
+5V: 5.02v
Voltage Battery: 3.26v
System Temperature: 27c
CPU Temperature: 41c
CPU Fanspeed: 2909 RPM
System Fanspeed: 2766 RPM

Hope that can help you.
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#11
Doby

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It appears as if the problem is not the ram. The voltages and temps are all normal, when you were watching the voltages did they fluctuate badly? Say the +12V for instance did it drop to 11.6 or anything of that nature?

Lets stress the system a bit,if it will let you, run defrag, a virus scan and play a music cd all at the same time, during this time monitor the voltages using Everest since that seems to be the most accurate compared with bios.

List the voltages again for evaluation.

What we are attempting to do is load the system somewhat and see if the psu drop voltages on one of its voltage rails. This may seem redundant but freeze problems when everthing appears normal are very difficult to track down
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#12
Troy

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Also to run some loading (this is a good idea, Doby :)), you could try running Orthos, this will pretty much run your CPU at 100% until you tell it to stop. This should not in any way damage anything, a system running well can do this with no problems.

Also another thing we could be looking for on the motherboard is bad capacitors, the could be leaking or bulging which would indicate a faulty motherboard and would need replacing. Here is a link to a picture of leaking capacitors out the top, to give you an idea of what you should be looking for.

Troy
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#13
Jack W-H

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Hello Troy & Doby,

Looking through all my computer manuals and stuff I came across the fact that I still am apparently registered with PC Performance, some service which gives me free computer repairs for a monthly fee.

I was sure I'd unsubscribed from it but apparently not.

On monday or tuesday a technician will come round to collect the PC and either repair it or offer me a replacement. Which is good news!

I'd like to thank everybody for all the help they've given me.

THANKS!

~ Jack

P.S. This topic can probably be closed now. I'm sorry I sort of wasted your time when I could have just had a technician do it for me all along. I kind of feel a bit of a cheat, sorry! But I didn't realise, so I hope thats sort of acceptable... :)

Thank you!
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#14
Doby

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Jack,

Thats no problem but please let us know what was wrong when you can
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#15
Essexboy

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Jack,

Thats no problem but please let us know what was wrong when you can

Me too please :)
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