Alright, so I'm going to cover as much of this as I can, but I'm sure there will be more questions, so I'll update this as I get them.
First, the problem: My computer crashes when it 'goes to sleep', though it never enters sleep mode, I just have it set to turn the monitor off after 2 hours. It has been happening for months, but it used to be I could go a few weeks without it happening. Now, it is every single time it turns the monitor off. The most recent change, which I believe accelerated the issue is a driver update to my ATI Radeon Sapphire 4850 HD video card. The card itself already runs hot (I have to keep the fan at 80% most of the time to keep it under 80c idle) but in vista it never really had any issue.
Now, when I say it crashes, I know that's not very specific. So I'll give you the more common scenario that I saw, and then I'll talk about what's changed. When I get back to my computer, and move the mouse or hit a button, my monitor comes back to life, and I see my wallpaper. I can move my mouse around and all of that, but when I move my mouse to get to the start menu (which I have hidden), it does not appear. After a few seconds, my mouse freezes, and my computer becomes inoperable. Either I hold the power button to turn it off, or I wait, the screen turns black, and then it shuts down all on its own (my guess is overheating or something, because my cpu fan starts going full blast).
Recently, my screen just displays vertical gray bars and then my computer restarts. Just used the tool found here to find that my recent crashes are blue screens that are due to windows 7. An unrelated issue.
What I've tried: I've rolled back my drivers, and tried newer and older ones. I've checked my BIOS and power saving settings, and I've download a lot of software to try and monitor my cpu usage (which, no, I don't run all the time, and in fact most of it isn't installed anymore).
I've changed my settings at this point so that my computer basically never does anything to limit its power. My next step is just to upgrade my video card, but in the interim, I'd like to be able to leave my computer for more than an hour at a time. I also don't know when I'll be getting a video card, and I would like to figure out why this is happening, so any help at figure out the real root cause and a solution would be greatly appreciated.
Here's all the specs I could think of including for my rig. If I leave anything out that you feel might be relevant, just let me know.
- Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
- Sapphire ATI Radeon 4850 HD - Driver version 8.762.0.0 8/3/2010
- Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.00GHz
- ASUS P5QC LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
- 8.00 GB RAM (OCZ Reapers, 4x2GB DDR2)
- Microsoft MN-730 Wireless Adapter
- 4TB Seagate Barracuda (2x1TB and 1x2TB)
- No Sound Card
- Corsair vx 450w Power Supply