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Random freezes with Vista machine


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#1
BillTanner

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Hi, I built my own computer one year ago. It has worked perfectly fine all this time, until about two weeks ago when it started to freeze intermittently. The frequency has increased, to where it now freezes at least every couple hours, though now it occasionally freezes up in the middle of the POST when I reboot.

My computer:
CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model BX80562Q6600
MB - EVGA 122-CK-NF67-T1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
RAM - Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model NE2KIT12864AL804
HD - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
GPU - EVGA 640-P2-N821-AR GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
PS - Rosewill RX750-D-B 750W 80Plus Certified, ATX12V v2.2 & EPS12V v2.91 SLI 8800GTX SLI CrossFire Ready Active PFC PFC Power Supply
Case - Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

At first I thought it was a Vista problem, and I pored over the Event Viewer logs. All it would ever tell me after I rebooted was that there was an unexpected closing of Windows. I rolled back updates, I got the latest video and sound drivers, and that didn't fix the problem. I tried loading the OS in Safe Mode and that didn't fix it. Then I got a couple freezes while rebooting.

The case has 3 big intake fans and two exhaust fans, I got a great big fan and cooler for the CPU, the video card has a large fan, and so on. It never feels very hot, and temps seem normal.

The reason I mention the fans is because of the unpredictable nature of the freezes. Since no one thing causes them, and they vary wildly in frequency, temps was one of the first things I thought of. The computer can boot normally to Windows Vista, and I can browse the Internet, play games, etc. Sometimes it will go hours without a freeze, or it might happen right away. I have to reboot via the reboot button on the case. Once in a while the freeze will occur during the POST startup, before the OS is even loaded.

I got the UltimateBootCD, latest version, plus the even more recent version of Memtewst86+, v2.10. I pulled one stick of RAM and tested it, eight passes, before finally stopping it. No errors. I put the other stick in, and ran Memtest. It went 5 passes with no errors reported, then somewhere in the sixth pass the computer froze up again.

I tried doing CPU stress tests, but those seemed to go fine and I quit after a half hour.

The only thing I can think of is that my wife reported to me a month ago that my APC UPS suddenly started with a loud, high-pitched beeping noise (but steady, not intermittent) and showed red lights on the front. The computer shut off. She is not very specific or helpful about details, but I think there must have been a power fluctuation and it went to battery or overloaded. This UPS is from my older computer which had a 450W power supply. This new one is 750W....with just that and a 21" Samsung LCD monitor hooked up, would that badly overload the UPS? Anyways, the buzzing stopped and the lights went green on the UPS, and she restarted and things worked fine. But since that time, these freezes have become more frequent.

Is it possible that this power surge/drop affected the motherboard somehow? Could the UPS be damaged, delivering inconstant voltage to the power supply and thence the mobo? Is there any way for me to test this without specialized equipment? Is it worthwhile to take it in to Best Buy and pay the Geek Squad guys $70 to check it out, or is that a waste of money? I don't have any spares that I can swap things out with.

I've run out of ideas! Please help! :)
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#2
PedroDaGR8

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Hi, I built my own computer one year ago. It has worked perfectly fine all this time, until about two weeks ago when it started to freeze intermittently. The frequency has increased, to where it now freezes at least every couple hours, though now it occasionally freezes up in the middle of the POST when I reboot.

My computer:
CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model BX80562Q6600
MB - EVGA 122-CK-NF67-T1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
RAM - Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model NE2KIT12864AL804
HD - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
GPU - EVGA 640-P2-N821-AR GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
PS - Rosewill RX750-D-B 750W 80Plus Certified, ATX12V v2.2 & EPS12V v2.91 SLI 8800GTX SLI CrossFire Ready Active PFC PFC Power Supply
Case - Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

At first I thought it was a Vista problem, and I pored over the Event Viewer logs. All it would ever tell me after I rebooted was that there was an unexpected closing of Windows. I rolled back updates, I got the latest video and sound drivers, and that didn't fix the problem. I tried loading the OS in Safe Mode and that didn't fix it. Then I got a couple freezes while rebooting.

The case has 3 big intake fans and two exhaust fans, I got a great big fan and cooler for the CPU, the video card has a large fan, and so on. It never feels very hot, and temps seem normal.

The reason I mention the fans is because of the unpredictable nature of the freezes. Since no one thing causes them, and they vary wildly in frequency, temps was one of the first things I thought of. The computer can boot normally to Windows Vista, and I can browse the Internet, play games, etc. Sometimes it will go hours without a freeze, or it might happen right away. I have to reboot via the reboot button on the case. Once in a while the freeze will occur during the POST startup, before the OS is even loaded.

I got the UltimateBootCD, latest version, plus the even more recent version of Memtewst86+, v2.10. I pulled one stick of RAM and tested it, eight passes, before finally stopping it. No errors. I put the other stick in, and ran Memtest. It went 5 passes with no errors reported, then somewhere in the sixth pass the computer froze up again.

I tried doing CPU stress tests, but those seemed to go fine and I quit after a half hour.

The only thing I can think of is that my wife reported to me a month ago that my APC UPS suddenly started with a loud, high-pitched beeping noise (but steady, not intermittent) and showed red lights on the front. The computer shut off. She is not very specific or helpful about details, but I think there must have been a power fluctuation and it went to battery or overloaded. This UPS is from my older computer which had a 450W power supply. This new one is 750W....with just that and a 21" Samsung LCD monitor hooked up, would that badly overload the UPS? Anyways, the buzzing stopped and the lights went green on the UPS, and she restarted and things worked fine. But since that time, these freezes have become more frequent.

Is it possible that this power surge/drop affected the motherboard somehow? Could the UPS be damaged, delivering inconstant voltage to the power supply and thence the mobo? Is there any way for me to test this without specialized equipment? Is it worthwhile to take it in to Best Buy and pay the Geek Squad guys $70 to check it out, or is that a waste of money? I don't have any spares that I can swap things out with.

I've run out of ideas! Please help! :)


THis is something I RARELY recommend. Have you tried running the computer off of a surge protector to the wall, bypassing the UPS. This sounds like a power system problem, dirty power can cause mysterious crashes like this. If the frequency of crashes changes (either up or down) then we can start eyeing the UPS as the problem. If it goes up, you may have TOO dirty of power and need a heaftier UPS with Line-Interactive Voltage regulation, if it goes down, your UPS may be going kaput. If it doesn't change, next we look at the power supply, it may have been damaged when the weird thing happened with the UPS. You can test it to some degree using a DMM, it would help if you had one you could just switch it out with. This would diagnose it for sure. The last thing I would look at is the motherboard, there are some rare reports of random crashes with your board but most are out of the box not just spontaneously appearing. Also, as for the PSU, rosewills are very hit or miss. I looked it up and yours (like another rosewill I investigated tonight is made by ATNG Power Co. a mediocre maker). I would look at the PSU after the UPS.

As for geek squad, I doubt there is much they can do. Especially at that price ($70) is 2/3 the cost of a good PSU (I just recommended a great one in another thread for $120 shipped).

Also, newegg has three reviews on the page for your PSU that all mention it dying in about 1yr. Whether this is indicative of future death or completely unrelated I can't tell you in all honesty.

Edited by PedroDaGR8, 01 December 2008 - 08:24 PM.

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#3
BillTanner

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Okay thanks, I will look at that tonight. After I got home from work, I disconnected the sound card, hard drive and both CD drives. Just the video card still connected, and then I booted it up and left it in the BIOS setup. Within an hour, it had frozen up.

I will take the UPS out of the chain, and see what happens. If it continues, does this sort of intermittent crashing sound like an irregular voltage situation? Is there any way to hook something up to a power supply, or is it pretty much a black box? I know very little about electrical engineering.
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#4
PedroDaGR8

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Okay thanks, I will look at that tonight. After I got home from work, I disconnected the sound card, hard drive and both CD drives. Just the video card still connected, and then I booted it up and left it in the BIOS setup. Within an hour, it had frozen up.

I will take the UPS out of the chain, and see what happens. If it continues, does this sort of intermittent crashing sound like an irregular voltage situation? Is there any way to hook something up to a power supply, or is it pretty much a black box? I know very little about electrical engineering.


If it is a gradual voltage change then yeah you can catch it, using a cheap DMM (I use a $4 one from Harbor Freight). The voltages should be within 5% of their value (yellow wire is 12V, red is 5V, orange is 3.3V and black is ground). To test it, while your computer is running you can easily check the 12 and 5V lines. Just take a molex plug, the red lead goes to the yellow/red/orange wire the black lead goes to the black wire. Check these and make sure they are within spec. The problem is voltage transients are just as likely to crash your computer and normal consumer hardware cannot catch it, instead an oscilloscope is needed and is just is not worth it. So instead we have to diagnose problems, one part at a time. Personally, to me, this sounds like either power related or ram related. To me power just sounds more likely (no specific reason why just does).
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#5
BillTanner

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Okay, thanks again!

I plugged the machine in directly to the wall, with nothing hooked up except the graphics card and one stick of RAM on the mobo. It froze up during the POST, and then again when I rebooted it froze up in the BIOS setup. So that eliminates the UPS.

I looked at those reviews in newegg. When I bought it, back in October 2007, there was nothing but positive reviews and 5 eggs. But it seems like all the reviews from the past several months have been negative. And I figure that for every person that goes back and writes a review months after they bought it, there must be dozens who don't. So it seems like that PSU has a lifetime of one year.

Several of the complaints had a manufacturer's response saying to e-mail them, they had a warranty of 3 years on that PSU and would RMA it for free and pay for shipping. I e-mailed the address but haven't heard back. From what you tell me, my testing, and the reviews, I think it's pretty certain that the PSU is failing, right? If so, is it worth getting another one from Rosewill for free, knowing it may fail in a year? Or is there a risk to that, and I should just scrounge up another $100 bucks to get a Corsair PSU (which seems to be the top-ranked one on newegg right now)?

Thanks again for the help!
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#6
PedroDaGR8

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Okay, thanks again!

I plugged the machine in directly to the wall, with nothing hooked up except the graphics card and one stick of RAM on the mobo. It froze up during the POST, and then again when I rebooted it froze up in the BIOS setup. So that eliminates the UPS.

I looked at those reviews in newegg. When I bought it, back in October 2007, there was nothing but positive reviews and 5 eggs. But it seems like all the reviews from the past several months have been negative. And I figure that for every person that goes back and writes a review months after they bought it, there must be dozens who don't. So it seems like that PSU has a lifetime of one year.

Several of the complaints had a manufacturer's response saying to e-mail them, they had a warranty of 3 years on that PSU and would RMA it for free and pay for shipping. I e-mailed the address but haven't heard back. From what you tell me, my testing, and the reviews, I think it's pretty certain that the PSU is failing, right? If so, is it worth getting another one from Rosewill for free, knowing it may fail in a year? Or is there a risk to that, and I should just scrounge up another $100 bucks to get a Corsair PSU (which seems to be the top-ranked one on newegg right now)?

Thanks again for the help!


It sounds to me as if it is the PSU on its way out. Now I can't gaurantee this, but that is what it sounds like to me.

As for RMAing the PSU, if it was me personally, I would get a new PSU. If the PSU was badly designed to start with (which it is judging by the failures), I bet they scrimped elsewhere in the PSU as well. I just would not trust it with my hardware, better to replace a $100 PSU than to replace a PSU+motherboard+ram+... Corsairs are great and you can't really go wrong with them. Don't forget to check out other sites like ChiefValue (newegg's sister site), Zipzoomfly, etc. to make sure you are getting the best price.

Edited by PedroDaGR8, 02 December 2008 - 10:14 AM.

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#7
BillTanner

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Alrighty then, a new PSU it is.

I looked at those websites, but they all had the Corsair TX750 at the same price, except TigerDirect who was $10 more. Great reviews, and $99.99. Apparently it's a big deal that it has a single 12V rail, with 60 amps. That stuff confuses me, but I know that if I ever get another card to do SLI I need to have 30+ amps. :)

I contacted Rosewill, but haven't heard back. I guess if they send me a new one, I can just sell it on eBay or keep it as an emergency spare.

Thank you very much for all your help, it is greatly appreciated!
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