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Alienware Desktop Crashes


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#1
MrMystery

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Okay, bare with me for a long story:

I bought this computer a little over a year ago, since I bought it, it had randomly crashed during movies, or games maybe once every 2-3 weeks. Now the computer does so on a much more frequent basis, as in like 2-3 times a day. The computer ONLY crashes when a demanding program is running, such as any number of video games, or playing music/movies in WMP.

By crashes I mean freeze/reboots/or BSOD (rarely bsod) : most frequent is auto reboot, then freezing

I have downloaded: 3dMark, HWMonitor, SpeedFan and a few other computer monitoring programs in the past few days trying to solve this issue.

Now for the good stuff:

STEPS TAKEN TO CORRECT PROBLEM:

Step 1:
Several hours on the phone with Alienware tech support from ... I was able to spike my graphics cards temperature to 90 C, and at that temperature Alienware automatically assumes it is the source of problems, and they quickly replaced it with a brand new geforce 8800 GT, installed no more than 6 days ago. After the installation of the new card, the computer continued to crash in the above mentioned ways.

So, it is NOT the graphics card?

Step 2:
Several more phone calls, and visits to irc, led me to try the RAM. I took out one stick and ran the computer with only 1 GB RAM (1 GB removed) and it ran sluggishly, but after 17 hours of no crashes, i figured it was fine (since the computer normally crashes after 2-3 hours of pushing it). Swapped sticks, and the other stick performed equally well, allowing me to use the comptuer crash free, with only 1 stick of RAM in it. Tried both sticks in different slots, etc.. etc...

Also ran MemTest: 5 Passes, 0 Errors

So, it is NOT the RAM?

Step 3:
Using SpeedFan we discovered my voltage reading for the 12V was only 8.40V! Problem? Suggestion, replace the Power Supply? Did that today, replaced PSU from a 700Watt, to a new Antec 850Watt.... SpeedFan results??? Still 12V = 8.40V??

So, it is NOT the PSU?

Now here I sit, stumped, and wondering what do I replace next or what is wrong with it =/

For the BSOD, this is one that popped up most recently:
STOP: 0x0000008E (0xC0000005, 0x82854F88, 0xA293EB80, 0x00000000)

Other info:

Comptuer was formatted on both Vista Home Premium and Windows XP Professional (crashes occur in BOTH)
Currently installed: Vista Home Premium
RAM = 2GB
Gfx = 8800 GT
HD = 3 HDs internal, 80 GB, 160 GB, 500 GB
1 external: 320 GB
2 DVDs
nvidia 590 SLi motherboard


Any help would be great, thanks

~Mystery
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#2
Samm

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Welcome to G2G

Here are a few things you may wish to try:

1) I assume that your PC is not overclocked but if it is, try setting it back to the default clock settings

2) You said that each memory stick runs fine on it's own & you've tried different slots. Are you running dual channel mode? If so, you could try forcing single channel mode to see if that helps.

3) PSU is clearly not the problem. Don't worry about getting an 8V reading on the 12V rail - this is quite common with some monitoring utilities & doesn't mean that it is actually 8v.

4) You could try looking for a chipset driver update and/or a bios update.

5) I noticed you're running 3 hard drives & 2 optical. Have you tried disconnecting all of these, (including the external drive) except for the primary hard disk (ie the one running windows)? If you do try this, make sure you disconnect the drive cabling at the motherboard, instead of from the drives.

6) What sort of temperatures are the cpu and other devices running at? If the temps seem wrong in Speedfan etc, then see if the bios will give you a reading instead. Remember to run the system for a while under load before checking the temps.

7) Do you have any other devices connected? e.g PCI cards, USB devices etc. Have you tried unplugging/removing these so see if that makes any difference?

8) Does the computer still crash if you use it in safe mode?

9) The problem is unlikely to be the video card itself, although if it was replaced with an identical card then you may want to try updating the video card drivers if you haven't already done so. Try decreasing the hardware acceleration for the video card. In XP, this is in Display properties->settings->advanced->troubleshoot but it may be different in Vista
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#3
MrMystery

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2) You said that each memory stick runs fine on it's own & you've tried different slots. Are you running dual channel mode? If so, you could try forcing single channel mode to see if that helps.

I was under the impression that once I removed a chip (ie the computer is running dual channel mode, with 2 sticks in) that once it read one chip it automatically was in single channel mode (or at least thats what I remember reading on the boot up screen when I turned it on during those tests)

4) You could try looking for a chipset driver update and/or a bios update.


I avoided this one, as fear of completely messing it up with a failed bios update, will try as a last resort, or when I hit a road block.

5) I noticed you're running 3 hard drives & 2 optical. Have you tried disconnecting all of these, (including the external drive) except for the primary hard disk (ie the one running windows)? If you do try this, make sure you disconnect the drive cabling at the motherboard, instead of from the drives.


I can try this, however as my computer is installed with Vista and a few other "core" porgrams on it's own primary drive, the other two drives have all my installed games, applications, and other such files, that would be quite inoperable without them on. So I will remove them, and see if I can crash the computer with a movie, just for testing sake.

6) What sort of temperatures are the cpu and other devices running at? If the temps seem wrong in Speedfan etc, then see if the bios will give you a reading instead. Remember to run the system for a while under load before checking the temps.


Temperatures were all operating at normal, or very cool temperatures. I have 4 fans blowing air outside the case, 2 on the motherboard, and one for the gfx card.

7) Do you have any other devices connected? e.g PCI cards, USB devices etc. Have you tried unplugging/removing these so see if that makes any difference?


No additional PCI cards, all I have USB is wireless logitech mouse/keyboard, the USB to the monitor (which opens up the flashcard and usbs located on the exterior of the monitor), a USB printer and the external driver.

8) Does the computer still crash if you use it in safe mode?

I can try to crash it in safe mode, however the computer only crashes during movies/games .. and sometimes music.. wasn't aware safemode had the capabilities to play video games/ movies.

I will be testing the removal of harddrives and DVD drives, and the safe mode theory, this may take until friday, as getting it to crash can sometimes take 2 hours, or 6 hours.

Thanks for the replay,

Mystery

Edited by MrMystery, 18 June 2008 - 07:00 PM.

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