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For about a year now, I've been trying to diagnose occasional system freezes/lockups--no BSOD, no warning or messages after reboot--the system simply freezes. I reboot/reset and everything works fine.

I've done lots of things: memory (RAM) check, hdd scan, installed a new network driver, and even exchanged a SATA cable to the hdd. I've had it cleaned of dust with compressed air twice this past year. The computer is in an open area and near a window in fact.

I've ran out of ideas on how to proceed; but recently, this came to mind: that perhaps the case is too small. The case right now has two 18 cm fans but no fan on top or in front (because there's no openings in the front or on top).

My question to you: How do you go about diagosing overheating? What component is overheating and locking up windows? I've been using Everest to monitor the temperatures. After a lockup and upon rebooting, Everest usually gives me these temps: 52 C mobo, 50 C cpu and 31 C on the Seagate. What I'm after, I suppose, is a diagnostic tool that can tell a novice like me whether these temps are too high for the parts I have. Then, I'm guessing the case should probably be replaced.

By the way, are there tools that can check my voltage readings to the cpu/mobo? Attaching output here.

alt text

specs: AMD Phenom II (quad), chieftec ps (500W), gigabyte mobo, radeon hd 4600 series, windows XP.

Thanks a million for any advice.

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why not to set a kind of powersaving policy in power preferences?. I don't know if your system can hang at CPU being 120C' hot, but sure that you don't like the noise of coolers trying to cool down 50'C normal CPU (Phenom II X6 stable running at 40' here). –  kagali-san Oct 29 '10 at 17:01
Yes, the fans are rather loud, now that you mention it. Louder than similar builds at work & friends' I recall. By "hang" do you mean "freeze" or "stay"? –  andrz_001 Oct 29 '10 at 17:44
When you say you did a memory check, did you run a continuous test over an extended period like a weekend or at least overnight? Have you tried a mains filter? –  Tog Oct 29 '10 at 18:48
Yes, memtest at least 24 hours; and no. –  andrz_001 Oct 29 '10 at 19:05

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

50' is nowhere near hot enough to cause a Phenom CPU to become unstable. However, if the temperature is normally 50' or higher in your system, it would seem to indicate that your case is not cooled as well as it could be. It shouldn't be enough heat to lock up your listed components, but you may get less of a lifespan out of them. You definitely wouldn't go wrong with a case and fan upgrade. If you do, be sure to check your PSU to make sure that it will provide sufficient power if you upgrade the case and fans.

I would also walk through all of your system components' drivers and make sure you have the latest updates for all of them. I know you mentioned the network driver, but any installed component can potentially cause a system freeze.

You might also get someone who's had some experience with it to dig through the system log and see if there's anything being caught just before each freeze that could point to a culprit.

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Thanks for your answer. –  andrz_001 Nov 3 '10 at 17:46

Lockups and freezes can be a pain to diagnose. If you want to definitely rule out overheating, just take the side off the case and put a box fan/large desktop fan blowing right into it onto the components (don't put the fan itself too close to the case or hard drives though, as they do have a bit of a magnetic field with the bigger motors running).

Also make sure you have updated drivers for everything you can find for major system components, especially video, sound, storage, etc., as well as the most recent BIOS from the motherboard/system manufacturer. Many times these can help with hardware related lockups.

As for software related lockups, maybe a reboot into safemode with networking may help. If it doesn't lock up then, possibly some software running on the system is giving you problems or conflicting with something else.

Do make sure you aren't running multiple security products with active scanning at the same time, like 2 or 3 antivirus that are all scanning the same files that are opened simultaneously.

A chkdsk on the hard drive wouldn't be a bad idea either to check for bad sectors and corrupt filestores.

Even SFC /SCANNOW could help if there is a corrupted Windows file.

Did you clean the dust out yourself, or have some one else do it? Maybe they missed something. With the system turned off, grab a can of compressed air, hold it upright so it doesn't spray liquid out, and blow out every fan, crevice, vent and hold you can find. Make sure to especially be vigilant to get every fan and vent you have on your video card so nothing is missed.

Does it lock up randomly, no matter what you are doing.. checking email, in a Word Document, playing a video game, browsing the internet, watching videos on the internet?

Does it lock up when the system is idle and you're not around actively doing anything?

Does it only happen, or happen more when you do specific things, working with specific programs, play specific games, etc.?

Is this a new computer? Did it start doing it right when you got it/built it? Or is it an older computer that worked perfectly fine for a while, but then just recently in the last year started this?

Have you looked in Windows Even Viewer > Windows Logs > Application / System for any warnings or errors that may be recorded before the system freezes. Best time to look is right after reboot.

You can even clear and save the existing log files and start fresh so you can see what is now happening and sort them after you are forced to reboot.

I would also use a program to check the voltage output of the PSU, if voltages fluctuate greatly from a bad or cheap power supply, system freezes and lockups are a typical sign.

Sorry for posting to such an old thing, but these standard troubleshooting steps might be able to help someone else who experiences similar issues and doesn't know where to start.

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