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Random Crashes on desktop


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#1
mcbrite

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Hey and thanks for the help in advance:

I have random freezes in windows... Sometimes to black screen,
sometimes just freeze... Sometimes with audio screeching, sometimes not...

Now the weirdest thing: As I reboot, I sometimes got the "Boot Block trying to
read bios from harddisk", suggesting a bad bios to me. Around 1 in 3 times.

It happened first time over-night, when I checked it this morning screens were
black and pc running but crashed... Now it crashes between 5-25 Minutes after
I boot, eventhough it's been real hot the last few days and is cooler today for
the first time...

Whats going on? How can I pinpoint my mainboard as the culprit? Is that a
common problem on the Gigabyte p35 ds3r? If it went tits-up, how do I fix it?


Rundown:
2x1gb ocz ram
p35-ds3r gigabyte mainboard
intel quad
8800gt


PS: I had bad RAM TWICE over the past 4 months, with new modules used all 3 times... Always the same OCZ model on warranty.

Edited by mcbrite, 07 June 2008 - 11:41 AM.

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#2
The Skeptic

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1: Try to clear the BIOS by doing this:Disconnect the power cable from the back of the computer. Open the side cover and carefully take out the cmos battery (looks like a silvery button). Keep it out for about 15 minutes. Reinstall and reboot. You will probably get a checksome error or some other message. If you do, enter BIOS and set time and date, save the new values and let the computer boot. There are computers in which other keys have to be used to enter BIOS. You can find the correct key when looking at the screen right after pressing the start button. Look for what key you have to press to enter setup.

2: Download Memtest86 or Microsoft Diagnostic tool from of the links below. Burn and create a bootable CD, set CD drive to be first priority boot device (in the BIOS). Boot and run a test at least for an hour (or less, if errors are shown before). Please report if there are any errors.

3: Download Everest from the link below. Install and run it on Computer > Sensor. Please write down the temperatures and voltages shown.
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#3
mcbrite

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1: Try to clear the BIOS by doing this:Disconnect the power cable from the back of the computer. Open the side cover and carefully take out the cmos battery (looks like a silvery button). Keep it out for about 15 minutes. Reinstall and reboot. You will probably get a checksome error or some other message. If you do, enter BIOS and set time and date, save the new values and let the computer boot. There are computers in which other keys have to be used to enter BIOS. You can find the correct key when looking at the screen right after pressing the start button. Look for what key you have to press to enter setup.

2: Download Memtest86 or Microsoft Diagnostic tool from of the links below. Burn and create a bootable CD, set CD drive to be first priority boot device (in the BIOS). Boot and run a test at least for an hour (or less, if errors are shown before). Please report if there are any errors.

3: Download Everest from the link below. Install and run it on Computer > Sensor. Please write down the temperatures and voltages shown.


1: Done. No difference, on the first boot it froze before finishing the boot, on the second I was able to get everest installed and the voltages taken...
2: I've done a memtest of my own already... Let me know if you need me to do the specific ones you mentioned also. My tests were negative (RAM ok)...
3: Done:

Is the 2 Volts for the 12 volts normal? Maybe it cuts the first number? Also the 2.5 seems a bit low at 2.21 right?

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#4
happyrock

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looks like the power supply is bad....certainly would account for the problems your having
the values should be within +/- 5%

Edited by happyrck, 07 June 2008 - 09:17 PM.

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#5
mcbrite

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looks like the power supply is bad....certainly would account for the problems your having
the values should be within +/- 5%


Would it even get to Windows, if the 12V is actually 2V?

Hmmm, strange... I bought that not even 6 months ago, because the one prior had problems... And the one before...

At the shop they told me power supplies should last ages if it's not the cheapest one.

Edited by mcbrite, 07 June 2008 - 09:26 PM.

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#6
The Skeptic

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Power supply units can last if the conditions are right. At the same time they can be damaged if grid voltage is unstable (can be the result of bad ground connection etc). The values gotten on Everest are not good (as noted by happyrck) and show that the psu unit must be replaced. just before you do that:

1: Double check all internal cable connections.

2: Check voltages in the BIOS (health monitor or whatever it's called in the BIOS). and compare to those gotten by everest.

3: If you can, take the psu of another computer, just for test purposes, that will give us final answer. That's what we do at lab: always having PSU's at hand, linking it temporarily and getting instant diagnosis.
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#7
happyrock

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and when you buy a power supply get a good one...don't skimp..
I am always amazed by people spending 3 or 4 hundred dollars on a video card...big bucks for mobo and cpu then stick a cheepo no name 30 dollar PSU in and then after a few months start having all kinds of problems..
the cheap psus sometimes go postal when they give up the ghost taking other components with it..
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#8
mcbrite

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Power supply units can last if the conditions are right. At the same time they can be damaged if grid voltage is unstable (can be the result of bad ground connection etc). The values gotten on Everest are not good (as noted by happyrck) and show that the psu unit must be replaced. just before you do that:

1: Double check all internal cable connections.

2: Check voltages in the BIOS (health monitor or whatever it's called in the BIOS). and compare to those gotten by everest.

3: If you can, take the psu of another computer, just for test purposes, that will give us final answer. That's what we do at lab: always having PSU's at hand, linking it temporarily and getting instant diagnosis.


1. done... I swapped a few of the cables around, have a look at how the 12V changed... It went up over 1 V.... System's been up 15 Minutes now, already longer than many of the times before. Of course that doesn't fix it, but if the 12V power is a bit higher now, and my problems a bit less, it might well be the power supply...
2. It doesn't give me the exact voltages, it merely states "OK" for all volatages...
3. I do have another power supply, but I'm pretty sure it's broken too, so that won't do us much good...

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#9
mcbrite

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and when you buy a power supply get a good one...don't skimp..
I am always amazed by people spending 3 or 4 hundred dollars on a video card...big bucks for mobo and cpu then stick a cheepo no name 30 dollar PSU in and then after a few months start having all kinds of problems..
the cheap psus sometimes go postal when they give up the ghost taking other components with it..


Yeah, I think I learned that lesson by now... Idiot that I am...

I'll buy either:

Enermax
or even better:
Zalmann (I don't know if you have them in the US, they are here from Germany, very high quality...)
You can see pictures and data here: German engineering for your Powersupply... Screw China! :)
Click on "mehr Details" to see the technical specs...

I don't like that it's Sunday today, no shops are open... :)


PS: Let's assume my current power-supply works better now that I have 1 more V on the 12V channel: Is it ok for me to use it like this till I can get a new PSU tomorrow? Or am I putting my hardware at risk?
EDIT: Scratch that.... It might run longer now, but it's far from stable... Just started 1 program and it crashed as I double clicked and the hdds started going...



So, I gather that the power supply is at fault after all? I'll definately buy a new one first thing tomorrow...


One BONUS question:

Could a sub-prime power supply account for my hdd "sounding" a bit louder and my RAID-sytem to be a bit slower? I remember being surpised when I changed the pdu last time at how different the hdd sounded and thought I felt my sytem being as fast as I remember from it's "golden days"... However the sound of the hdd and the RAID speed diminished after only a few weeks...
I didn't really think anything by it, since I trusted the pdu to be perfect since new...

Edited by mcbrite, 08 June 2008 - 10:43 AM.

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#10
The Skeptic

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Good that you mentioned RAID. Looks like you load your PSU heavily. You should consider a higher rated (and more expensive) psu, in the range of 600-700W, depending on the number of disks and other equipment that draw current from the PSU. Maybe that was your problem all along: you loaded the psu too heavily, shortening it's life.

I wouldn't run the computer with this instability. It can damage your hardware, particularly the hard disks.
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#11
mcbrite

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Good that you mentioned RAID. Looks like you load your PSU heavily. You should consider a higher rated (and more expensive) psu, in the range of 600-700W, depending on the number of disks and other equipment that draw current from the PSU. Maybe that was your problem all along: you loaded the psu too heavily, shortening it's life.

I wouldn't run the computer with this instability. It can damage your hardware, particularly the hard disks.


Thank you so much for all the help! I'll get that tomorrow and sound off on how it goes...

PS: Seems I was under the wrong impression... I thought Zalman was German (because of the name and many Germans holding Zalman in high regard), turns out they are south Korean... :) :)
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#12
mcbrite

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Ok, I'm back and installed the Zalman 600W...

But the Voltages worry me... Seems like it was the motherboard, like I thought all along...

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#13
The Skeptic

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Is the computer running well? If yes, ignore the voltages. It's possible that you get a false reading. If it's not stable please disconnect all non-essential disk drives and repeat the reading.
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#14
mcbrite

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Is the computer running well? If yes, ignore the voltages. It's possible that you get a false reading. If it's not stable please disconnect all non-essential disk drives and repeat the reading.



It ran for about 30 Minutes with the different/new Power Supply, but crashed un-cerimoniously a short while after... :)

There is no more hdd to disconnect, the 2 remaining ones are striped RAID(0)...

Only thing left besides all the other stuff we did already is a Soundblaster PCI-Card, but that couldn't cause the problems I'm experiencing, right?
Also worth mentioning: The only reason the old-[bleep] SB is in there in the first place, is that I never got the Gigabyte-onboard-sound to work AT ALL with all kinds of drivers I tried...

Bonus-Info: I ran my PC with open cover and the 2 RAID hdd lying on a shoe-box (yes, you read right...) outside the case. Sufficive to say that the airflow in my case is pretty much nonexistent with only the cpu, gpu and pdu fans working against heat, but nothing for RAM and/or Airflow over the mainboard chipset... Computer ran pretty much 24/7 over 3 years...
So yesterday, I descided to get of my lazy behind and shop for a case... You be the judge wether my case temperatures will "mildly" improve:

CLICK ME!!! - YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!!! Come on, I'm a sexy pc-case, what are you waiting for? AHHHH, that's better!

Yeah, I know I'm crazy... I quite like to think of it as a "good crazy" though... :)

I might have to tape of those Mickey-Mouse LED's if they are to bright, but otherwise one fine case! I'm actually LOOKING FORWARD to this rebuild, I don't think I ever had that feeling before... :) First Super-Tower since my 286/20mhz over 15 years ago, I was like 8 years old... ;-D

Edited by mcbrite, 09 June 2008 - 08:06 AM.

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#15
The Skeptic

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I am not sure I understood: do you plan to build a new computer, motherboard and all?

I must admit that I have never seen a case in which voltage got so low and the source of the problem was other then the PSU. I still wonder what it is. Had it been with me I would have taken out the sound card and the hard disks, install an old disk, run memtest in DOS and install XP at it's barest, without activating, to see if the computer stabilize. But then it's me. I hate to replace parts unless I am double sure that they are defective. I am somewhat old fashioned, having fun fixing things and not replacing components.
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