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Recently I've found that my computer is crashing several times a day (it would crash before, but very rarely), and I've spent hours trying to figure out why. The problem seems to occur only when playing games, and even then, only a few.

The games affected are (in no specific order): Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, Vindictus, Guild Wars, Archlord, League of Legends, Runes of Magic, Perfect World, Open Arena, AlephOne, AssaultCube, and Cube 2: Saurbraten, with exceptions being FarmVille (my mother plays: It's a shared computer.), RuneScape, and games played via OnLive. All games are played on minimum possible settings.

  • Processor: AMD Athlon 64 (1.79GHz.)
  • RAM: 1GB DDR2 (300.0MHz, 2x 512MB.)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT (128MB @ 300MHz core & 900MHz
    memory.)
  • Motherboard (if relevant in any way): MSI (Micro-star
    International) MS-7312 (BIOS version: 1.2, AGP 8x).

All drivers are updated to the latest versions, I've run a virus scan (came back negative), and dxdiag reports no errors (though it does report the file 'd3d9d.dll' being 'a debug version, which will run slower than the retail version.').

The only changes in the hardware were a Wifi card I put in, but this problem started before that.

Is there any sort of hardware incompatibility causing this, are the parts just old, or what?
I can get more detailed information if needed, I just need to know how to get it.

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By "crash," do you mean that it hangs (freezes)? Do you get BSODs? (If so, what's the error number?) Or does it restart itself? What operating system is it? Have you checked your logs? –  goblinbox Dec 5 '10 at 8:23
    
It hangs. Sorry, I probably should have clarified that before. –  Alexander Dec 5 '10 at 18:08

2 Answers 2

My first thought is a heat problem, since the games you referred to as not causing the problem are all lightweight. Try using a utility like HWMonitor (free) to keep an eye on the system temperature when you're playing such games. An overheat could cause a lockup or an unexpected reboot.

Another (less likely) possibility, particularly considering that it sounds like the machine is fairly old, is that the power supply is going out. Your power consumption could be going high and resulting in voltage sags, which could cause freezeup or reboots.

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Alright, I'll test the temperature, but how would I test the power supply? –  Alexander Dec 5 '10 at 18:09
    
Well I've tested the temperature, and there doesn't seem to be any significant increase from sitting idle (which I think is good?). It's currently sitting between 62-67C (143, 152F.), but I don't know if these values are normal. –  Alexander Dec 5 '10 at 19:44
    
Those values are kind of high. Definitely try Sean's memtest suggestion, and do you know the wattage rating of your power supply? –  jcrawfordor Dec 5 '10 at 20:15
    
Well I've confirmed that the graphics card is overheating (hit 152C at one point), and am investigating how to reduce the temperature. –  Alexander Dec 5 '10 at 20:24
    
The easiest way to test a power supply is to swap it with another one. Not exactly easy, but it doesn't require any special testing gear. Maybe you have a computer junkie friend that has a spare one you can borrow for a few days? :-) –  Sean Reifschneider Dec 5 '10 at 20:25

One simple thing to try would be to boot up and run memtest86+ on the system, say overnight, and see if it starts reporting problems. It mostly tests the RAM, as the name implies, but if the computer has other issues it may also show them in memtest, and memtest is very easy to run.

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Alright, I'll start that before bed. Thanks. –  Alexander Dec 5 '10 at 19:52

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