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random hard-locking - trying to pinpoint the source

Discussion in 'General Software' started by hhiker, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. hhiker New Member

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    Hi. New user, new system, new problem.

    Ok, here goes... at random times, at random activities my machine freezes/ locks up:
    - no keyboard response (incl. NumLock)
    - no mouse response
    - looping audio
    - manual reset works
    - no trace of foul play in the Event viewer.

    It's a new system (just 2 months); did a clean Wininstall about a month ago, all drivers are up-to-date.
    <---- specs.

    I'm posting this to "Software" section because i just had the hardware checked out about the same problem (they replaced CPU, but i don't know if they did it just in case or found some flaw there). The threads with similar issues i have found all described the lockups at heavy-duty activities but mine happen at "slow" or idle moments too (such as in the middle of typing a message).

    My question is:
    What should i check / where should i look?
  2. AthlonX2

    AthlonX2 HyperVtX™

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    is there any overclocking associated with this system?
  3. hhiker New Member

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    Nope, everything is running on default settings.
  4. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It could be the PSU failing. Codegen PSU's are not very good. It could also be something like your RAM not being configured properly. What speed, timings and voltage is your RAM set at?
  5. Morrison5891

    Morrison5891 New Member

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    Its a driver issue ...

    vista or xp?
  6. hhiker New Member

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    ummm... i'm kinda noob in, well everything really :p ... where do i look up the RAM settings?

    As for PSU, when i had the comp checked i asked them to look for ANYTHING hardware-related that could cause such a thing, i can only assume they would've exchanged the PSU too if they've found something there.

    @Morrison5891
    it's XP home, sp3.
  7. Morrison5891

    Morrison5891 New Member

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    list your hardware specs
  8. hhiker New Member

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    you mean like,




    <----------------- there?

    (do i have something essential missing from the list?)
  9. Morrison5891

    Morrison5891 New Member

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    Trouble shooting is a very boring task. When did you notice this happening? what was the last thing you inastalled on the PC before this started to happen? I'm sure its been working fine at some point.
  10. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    What brand/model# is the RAM? Post screenshots of CPU-Z with the CPU info, memory info and SPD info.

    Not likely since the problem happens when the system is under load.
  11. Morrison5891

    Morrison5891 New Member

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    Wouldn't matter under load or not...
  12. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    What?! :confused: Stop confusing me, you aren't making sense.
  13. Kursah

    Kursah

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    I agree Ram should be looked at, I had a set of 1x2GB Buffalo Firestix cause an issue back in early 2007 that was very similar to this, eventually it got bad enough to produce BSOD's too. Get some CPU-z screens of the RAM/Memory tabs as erocker requested so we can get an idea of what you have.

    :toast:
  14. Polarman

    Polarman New Member

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    You could try turning down the "Hardware acceleration" slider one notch.

    To find the hardware acceleration slider in Windows XP, open the Display Properties dialog box and click the Settings tab. Click the Advanced button, and then click the Troubleshoot tab.
  15. hhiker New Member

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    OK...
    RAM - that's what they say on the retailer receipt: 6400-800 PQI/AM1/VRAM.

    CPU-z info: see the thumbnails.

    Tuned the HW acc. down too.

    When/ how it started ... I'm not 100% sure But it COULD be the first lockups happened after i had tried out S.T.A.L.K.E.R. pre-alpha build (not sure, but i don't remember the lockups from before that).

    P.S:
    left the machine idle about half an hour ago ... now found it locked/ frozen again --> guess the HW acceleration setting didn't do the trick :(

    EDIT2:
    just a thought, don't know if its relevant - the lockups are not frequent, maybe once or twice within 24 hours. (At the moment the machine has been running for about 20 hrs and had one locking during that time, around 3-4 hrs after switching on; once it locked up within 10 minutes after starting and ran smoothly for several hours after that.)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  16. imperialreign

    imperialreign New Member

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    if you're still having problems;

    going by your attachments, it appears that everything is running close to stock - although, it looks like the CPU has been slightly downclocked. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe that CPU is supposed to be running a x7 multiplier, which would place it's clock speed at 2.3GHz instead of 2.0GHz . . . although, a downclocked (or overclocked) CPU would typically result in a BSoD before a system lockup. Most Intel CPUs won't cause a system lockup unless they're going fully Chernobyl and overheating . . .

    can't really dismiss the DRAM modules - it's not always a good sign when a manufacturer's name isn't included with the SPD, typically a sign of economy sticks. Still, that doesn't mean they're bad - have you tried running memtest to verify the consistency of the system memory? Ideally, memtest should return no errors after hours of running - for economy sticks, a couple of errors here and there is generally acceptable (although not ideal).

    My first reaction to a freezing system, though, is typically the PSU - which is normally the culprit. I'd think a 450W unit should be able to juice your system without any problems . . . but, actual output of many economy brands can be questionable - they might be able to produce that output, but have a hard time maintaining output over long periods of time . . . as well, power input to the PSU can drastically affect how it'll operate.

    I'd recommend, if you can do it yourself - or take it back to the shop where you last had it - and swap the PSU with a quality, known-good unit, and see if the problems continue to occur or not.
  17. hhiker New Member

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    Well, no - the problems stopped like a day or two after i decided to check out the advice i got here in detail :laugh:

    Looks like it was some software controversy after all; maybe some automatic updates did the trick... i don't know because i didn't get to do anything about it.
    (Memtest results were fine btw.)

    It's a retailer-compiled set, so yeah, the economy parts could become a problem. I'll keep my eyes open about possible warning signs in that departement :)
  18. hhiker New Member

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    Bump.

    The freezing/locking has returned :(
    Been struggling with it for about a month now. I still realize the not-so-top-notch hardware components could be part of the problem and i am planning some upgrades soonish (RAM and PSU, thinking of sound card... i'll be asking advice when that time comes).

    BUT.
    I think i see a pattern here: both times the freezing/ locking started after i had installed old and/or unstable games (Stalker 1935 build the first time, second time Deus Ex and Nox). Both times the freezing first occured while installing and then continued during play... it's like the system learned from these programs how to lock up :p
    Trouble is, the freezing remained even after i had uninstalled the suspicious stuff.

    Is there anything else i could do to find what triggers it? Or find a fix?
  19. IINexusII

    IINexusII

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    the cpu clock is probably with c1e enabled, so it would down-clock itself if not used much.

    P31 chipset? is that matx?
  20. hhiker New Member

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    umm.. ummm... noob-english please?
    (i'm not very competent in navigating the BIOS ... or other specs - i recognize the stuff when i see it but i don't know the vocabulary very well).
    Anyway, will restart and check the cpu clock... brb.

    Edit:
    Yes, c1e enabled.
    How do i look up the other ... thingie? (*embarrassed*)
  21. Cja123

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    I know G31 is micro-atx.. I dunno about p31.

    -BTW hhiker, p31 would be your North Bridge Chipset on your motherboard ;)
  22. CyberDruid

    CyberDruid New Member

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    There is nothing I find more frustrating than random lock ups that seem to have no real cause. First thing I do is the usual Spybot and AVG scans then I look at the updat history from MS. Sometimes it's one of those CONSTANT updates that created the issue. If I suspect that MS has inadvertantly hosed my rig I roll back using Restore to an earlier point.

    However you say it's a fresh install...but that might not matter since Windows just loves to update itself until it breaks :D

    And yes I agree a cheap PSU can cause all sorts of issues. It's also an easy place to start upgrading as a good PSU will last for many many builds.

    I wish there was a definitive way to sort HW issues from SW issues...but short of throwing a ton of money at your rig and replacing it bit by bit you can't really tell if it's the HW short of it not booting at all one day.

    Since I have had similar hard locks with state of the art brand new EXPENSIVE components I am inclined to believe you have some sort of Software based malady.

    Best bet is to wipe, format, reninstall and keep auto updates turned off. If it still locks then you probably have a hardware malfunction.

    The stuff that fails the most (in my experience) is cheap PSUs followed by generic RAM.

    And finally I have to ask is the heatsink clean? Is the CPU overheating because dust bunnies are taking up residence? That will nearly always cause random lock ups when the heat overwhelms the system.
  23. hhiker New Member

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    Well the install is not SO fresh anymore (but the problem is identical to when it first appeared). Yes, i do scans systematically; however automatic updates are on --> will be disabling those right now.
    If all else fails (including my computer-zen skills) then i'll do the clean wininstall anyway.


    Hmm... peeking into the case it looks quite fine (had my graphic card replaced some weeks ago... looks like they have cleaned the insides).
    I've got this front-panel display with some info; don't know how accurate it could be but the temps it shows right now are: CPU 32, SYS 43, VGA 24 (these are somewhat higher when gaming but not extremely so, maybe within 10 degrees or even less).
  24. sneekypeet

    sneekypeet Unpaid Babysitter Staff Member

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    wait what????

    You got a new GPU installed since the build????

    I say do a driver sweep and pull all your VGA drivers, run driver sweeper or similar program, and try a fresh round of VGA drivers.
  25. hhiker New Member

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    Uh-huh, just finished it. Thanks.
    Guess it'll take some time to see if that did the trick.

    Btw, the driver sweep displayed (among other things) a long list of Ati drivers while i have NV support - i mean, is this normal?

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