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My computer started to freeze at irregular times for 3 weeks now.

Please note that this question change with each things that i try. (For additional details)

What happens

  • My computer freezes, the video stops. (No graphic glitches, it just stops)
  • Sounds stops too.
  • Sometimes, randomly, the screen on my G-15 keyboard flickers and I see characters not at the right places. Usually happens for about 1-2 seconds and a bit before my computer freezes.
  • I have to keep the power button pressed for 4 seconds to shut my computer down.
  • I still hear my hard drives and fans working.
  • Sometimes it works with no problems for a full day, some other times it just keeps freezing each time I restart my computer and I have to leave it for the rest of the day.
  • Sometimes my mouse freezes for a fraction of a second (Like 0.01 to 0.2 seconds) quite randomly, usually before it freezes.
  • No errors spotted by the "Action center" unlike when I had problems with my last video card on this system (Driver errors).
  • My G-15 LCD screen also freezes.
  • Sometimes my G-15 LCD screen flickers and characters gets carried around temporary under heavy load.
  • Now, most of the times, the BIOS hard disks boot order gets reversed for some reason and I have to put it to the right one and save each times I boot. (Might be unrelated, not sure, but it first started yesterday)

What I did so far

  • I have had similar problems in the past and I had changed my hard drive (It was faulty), so I tested my software RAID-0 array and it was faulty so I changed it. (I reinstalled Windows 7 with this part). I also tested with unplugging my secondary hard drive.
  • My CPU was running at about 100 degree Celsius, I removed the dust between the fans and the heat sink and it's now between 45-55.
  • I ran a CPU stress-test and it didn't froze during the tests (using Prime95 on all cores)
  • Ran a memory test (using memtest86+) for a single pass and there were no errors.
  • Ran a GPU stress test with ati-tools and furmark and it didn't froze during the tests. (No artefacts either)
  • I had troubles with my graphic card when I got it, but I think that it got fixed with a driver update.
  • I checked the voltages in my BIOS setup and they all seemed ok (±0.2 I think).
  • I have run on the computer without problems with Fedora 15 on an external hard drive (apart that it couldn't load Gnome 3 and was reverting to Gnome 2, didn't want to install drivers since I use it on multiple computers) I used it to back up my files from the raid array to my 1TB hard drive for the reinstallation of Windows. (So the crashes only happened on Windows) [The external hard drive is plugged directly on a SATA port]
  • I contacted EVGA (My graphic card vendor) and pointed them on this question, I'm looking for an answer.
  • Ran sensors on Fedora 15 and got this output: http://pastebin.com/0BHJnAvu
  • Ran 6 short different CPU stress test on Fedora 15 (Haven't found any complete stress testers for Linux) and it didn't crash.
  • Changed the thermal paste to some Artic Silver 5 for my CPU and stress tested the CPU, temperature was at 50 idle, then 64 highest and slowly went down to 62 during the test.
  • Ran some stress testing with a temporary graphic card and it went ok.
  • Ran furmark stress test with my original graphic card and it froze again. GPU had a temp of 74C, a CPU temp of 58C and a mobo temp of 40C or 45C (Dunno which one it is from SpeedFan).
  • Ran a furmark stress test and a CPU stress test at the same time, results: http://pastebin.com/2t6PLpdJ
  • I have been using my computer without stressing it for about 2 hours now and no crashes yet. I also have disabled the AMD Cool'n'quiet function on the BIOS for a more regular power to the CPU. When I ran Furmark without C'n'q my computer didn't freeze but I had a "Driver Kernel Error" that have recovered (And Furmark crashed) all that while running a CPU stress test. The computer eventually froze without me being at it, but this time my screen just went on sleep and I couldn't wake it.
  • Using the stability tester in nTune my computer froze again (In the same manner as before). I noticed that Speedfan gives me a -12V of -16.97V and a -5V of -8.78V.
  • I have swapped my G-15 with another basic USB keyboard (HP) and I have run furmark for about 10 minutes with a CPU stability test running each 60 seconds for 30 seconds and my computer haven't crashed yet.
  • Ran some more extended tests without my G-15 and it freeze like it usually do.
  • Removed the nForce Hard disk controller.
  • Disabled command queuing in the NVIDIA nForce SATA Controller for both port 0 and port 1 (Errors from the logs)
  • Used CPUID HwMonitor, here are the voltages: http://pastebin.com/dfM7p4jV
  • Changed some configurations in the motherboard BIOS: Disabled PEG Link Mode, Changed AI Tuning to Standard, Disabled the 1394 Controller, Disabled HD Audio, Disabled JMicron RAID controller and Disabled SATA Raid.
  • "A little hope", my computer frozen while watching a youtube video, but not from GPU and CPU 10 hours straight test.
  • I have put my BIOS back to defaults and: Disabled PEG Link Mode, Disabled HD Audio, Disabled JMicron RAID Controler, Disabled Serial Port Address, Disabled Parallel Port Address and Disabled Onboard 1394 Controller.
  • I changed the SATA cable for the 750GB hard drive and I also changed the slots at which they were plugged (1->2, 2->3, 3->4).
  • Changed the power saving feature of my graphic card from "Adaptive" to "Maximum performance".
  • Ran ECGA OC Scanner and got no freeze and no artifacts
  • I installed the Logitech drivers for my G-15 keyboard and my G-500 mouse and it restarted to freeze.
  • I removed the Logitech drivers for my G-15 keyboard and my G-500 mouse and it still freeze.
  • After changing everything except the hard drives, graphic card and power supply my computer is running very fine and I haven't run into any problems (This is with the exact same install of Windows that I had problems with my old motherboard). After removing my motherboard I have found some cambered capacitors (2) which might be the source of the problems. Since it almost clearly was a motherboard problem caused by these capacitors I am going to accept the answer that is the most related to this solution.

When it happens

  • When I play video games (Mostly)
  • When I play flash games (Second most)
  • When I'm looking at my desktop background (It rarely happens when I have a window open, but it does, sometimes)
  • When my Graphic card and my CPU are stressed.
  • Sometimes when my Graphic card is stressed.
  • Sometimes when my CPU is stressed.

Specs

  • Windows Seven x64 Home Premium
  • Motherboard: M2N-SLI Deluxe
  • Graphic card: EVGA GTX 570 (The non-oc one) [nVidia driver version 275.33 from EVGA's website]
  • CPU: AMD Phenom 9950 x2 @ 2.6GHz
  • Memory: Kingston 4x2GB Dual Channel (Pretty basic memory sticks)
  • Hard drives: Was 2x250GB (Western digital caviar) in raid-0 + 1TB (WD caviar black), I replaced the raid array with a 750GB (WD caviar black) [Yes I removed the array from the raid configurations]
  • 750W Power supply
  • No overclocking. Ever.
  • There have been some power-downs like 4-5 weeks ago, but the problem didn't start immediately after. (I wasn't home, so my computer got shut-down)
  • Event logs (Warnings, errors and critical errors) for the last 24 hours: http://pastebin.com/Bvvk31T7

I would like to thank everyone who have been participating, it's really nice to see that much people ready to help others. There was many great answers that might help other people with similar problems in the future (at least I hope so).

In this situation, how can I successfully pin-point the current hardware problem? (If it's a hardware problem)

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31  
On a side note: This must have been one of the best documented "I have a computer problem" questions I've seen in a long time here. –  slhck Jun 26 '11 at 14:30
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@slhck When I propose my problems to users who give me help for free I always try to give them all the information they will need before they ask for them. –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 14:40
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@Manhim: That's an awesome way of thinking about it. And more people should think that way, IMO. –  Wuffers Jun 26 '11 at 14:59
    
@Manhim - I experienced something extremely similiar - sporadic crashes; tested all my hardware; new hard disk + mobo. I'm sure it's not relevant, but on the off chance: have you checked the event logs for an event ID 11 error. In my case, I kept getting tens of thousands of these (The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort2.. Turns out I had a faulty CDROM that was causing some kind of ridiculous conflict. Changing the CDROM drive and the SATA port it was on remedied the problems instantly. You mentioned the action centre, but not the logs. If it helps, it helps! –  Ross Jun 26 '11 at 21:17
1  
Spend some bucks and send the computer to shop for a checking~ –  lamwaiman1988 Jul 6 '11 at 1:39
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11 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Jesus Christ! 100 deg C is WAY too hot! It's possible that your processor has already incurred some damage. But in the interest of being optimistic, I'd say to run memtest86 for another 2 passes to be sure it's not the memory. Are you sure the timings and speeds are being detected correctly?

Did you check your motherboard for bad/puffy capacitors? If it's not your mobo, then your PSU is either crapping out on you, or is insufficient to power your hardware. That sounds like the most likely cause to me.

Use CoreTemp to measure CPU temps, since it's one of the most accurate programs around. Don't use ATI Tool, as it's incompatible with Windows 7. Try RivaTuner instead.

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With CoreTemp I get an average of 50 degree celsius in idle for the CPU #0 (Only CPU shown). –  Manhim Jul 5 '11 at 18:42
    
It was the motherboard. Thanks for pointing it out. I found out about it when I removed my graphic card, they were hidden underneath it. –  Manhim Jul 17 '11 at 2:39
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The first thought I have is that your power supply may be going bad. Playing games or watching youtube may kick your grfx card into hi gear and increase power draw. Also watch those cpu temps 100 degrees ...yikes

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The thing is that it never happen instantly after I start a game or flash, it's usually after 2 to 5 minutes. –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 14:01
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@Manhim: THIS! After barely reading your question, I'm very certain that this is the problem. I've had this exact same situation where I swapped everything around in the computer only to see that it was the power supply. It even started to affect my room lightning and was going into black screen or reboot shorter and shorter over a long time. Your version seems a light case of this, but I would suggest to get another power supply before replacing other more costly hardware. Also, the power-drones might have started this... –  Tom Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 18:31
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This doesn't necessarily have to start in the beginning of a game (which is less demanding in terms of the CPU/GPU combination), but might kick in later when something scheduled starts to run in Windows in the mean time. That tiny peak in CPU/GPU usage will be enough to demand too much power of the supply, where it will simply cut down the higher voltage outputs... –  Tom Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 18:35
    
@Tim Wijsman I'm currently running Furmark and a CPU stability test and it seems stable. I never tested with both together, I'm going to try that with my other graphic card after a couple tests (Just in case) [This temporary one is just a Quadro 1500 VS a GTX 570, power consumption should be different. –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 19:00
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@Tom Wijsman Sorry, I'm dyslectic. I have ordered another power supply and I will be able to test with it. I should receive it next week. –  Manhim Jul 6 '11 at 23:41
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First off, +1 for a perfectly documented question. This makes things AMAZINGLY easier for us to help.

You've done a lot of hardware testing to date and most come up with no problems. However, this may still be a CPU overheating problem (been there and it sucks). When you cleaned the dust, did you see any thermal paste between the CPU and the heatsink? If so, was it dried up or old? I recommend buying a small tube of Arctic Silver thermal paste (7$) and applying some to the CPU.

If that's not the issue, then I strongly suggest you start looking at your operating system and if it has any issues. You said you've run Fedora on it? I would recommend burning a Linux LiveCD and booting from it. Try using that as your OS for a bit, browsing and playing music/videos and stuff. If you don't get a crash there, that means that its either a Windows issue or a HDD issue (seeing as you aren't using it in a live environment). I would (from the LiveCD) run a disk check just to make sure. If everything comes up clean, we can safely say its Windows.

In that case, you need to determine if its your OS which is corrupted or you've installed something that is running some kind of service which locks your computer up. Give Windows safe mode a try and use that for a bit (I know, horrible resolution...I'm so sorry). If you don't get a freeze for a couple days then we can narrow it down to a Windows OS issue, in which case you need to look at backups or re-installation.

If you're re-installing your OS, make sure you back all your stuff up...

enter image description here

http://xkcd.com/612/

EDIT: While running in your LiveCD session, open up a terminal and type sensors. If that program is installed (Linux only), it will give you details about your power supply voltages, CPU temp, mobo temp, and everything else you need to know. Monitoring that while in your LiveCD session should give you strong indicators to whether this is hardware or software.

EDIT 2: Based on what you've said about running Fedora on another HDD via eSATA and not experiencing any crashes I would have to say that this is a software issue, maybe drivers. If you can run Fedora for, let's say a whole week without a crash, it's for sure an issue with Windows or deprecated/wrong drivers. How long did you run Fedora for? Did you try watching movies, playing games etc on it?

share|improve this answer
    
I'm going to run to the store and buy some thermal paste. I think that it's been a year that I haven't changed it, might give this a try. For the OS, I already have reinstalled it when I changed my raid array to a single hard drive (My important stuff is on a network-hard-drive on one of my servers). –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 14:07
    
I'm going to check with sensors right now. I will put the results on my main post. –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 14:08
    
Did you reinstall Windows from the same image/install the same kind of software once it was reinstalled? If you didn't then yeah we definitely have a hardware problem. –  MaxMackie Jun 26 '11 at 14:10
    
I installed it from the original Windows DVD. Also, I have no package named sensors on Fedora 15. Also, I'm quite sure that it's a hardware problem too, but I,d need to know how to pin-point what to replace so I don't start to replace everything :| –  Manhim Jun 26 '11 at 14:37
    
I didn't think it would ship with fedora. Try installing it via the package manager in Fedora or grab the source and build it. –  MaxMackie Jun 26 '11 at 14:57
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I have a laptop with windows 7 x64 ultimate that suffers of the same random crashes. I have noticed they happen mostly at home, when my G15 keyboard is plugged in. I do not remember to encounter those crashes when I use the laptop keyboard.

The G15 draws a lot of power on the USB plug. Maybe it has something to do with it ?

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I dunno if it would make a difference big enough to freeze my computer and I think that if it would be that problem then the motherboard's MESFETs are probably going wrong. I've started looking at this. –  Manhim Jun 27 '11 at 15:24
    
Well, it seems to be working so far o.O. I still need to do some more testing but it would be a kind-of-amazing solution to this problem. On the other hand, I like my G-15 very much and the problems started at a random time, I've been having this setup for like 6 months with 5 of them without problems (Graphic card swap). –  Manhim Jun 27 '11 at 17:29
    
I like my G15 too. I don't want to scrap it either; so one other solution would be to plug the keyboard on a powered USB hub –  Johan Buret Jun 27 '11 at 17:35
    
Mm, seems to have crashed with another USB keyboard :| So it at least isolate the problem to power-based stuff like Power supply and motherboard. –  Manhim Jun 27 '11 at 17:41
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Using the stability tester in nTune my computer freezed again (In the same manner as before). I notived that Speedfan gives me a -12V of -16.97V and a -5V of -8.78V.

Replace the power supply. These voltages are far out of spec and could be the cause of your problem.

Edit: The negative rails are rarely used today; however, the HWMonitor temperature is too high for temperature sensor 2 if the system is not under load. This could be a problem with the cooling system, motherboard, or power supply.

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Is there an alternate software that I could use to check these values? –  Manhim Jun 28 '11 at 4:01
    
I personally use CPUID HWMonitor. –  DragonLord Jun 28 '11 at 9:01
    
@DragonLord Here are the results: pastebin.com/dfM7p4jV –  Manhim Jun 28 '11 at 9:29
    
Unfortunately, there aren't any data for the negative voltage rails. All of the positive voltage rails are within ATX specification (±5% for positive rails, ±10% for negative rails, see page 22 of the ATX specification). However, the negative rails are seldom used today, and temperature sensor 2 appears to be too high unless the system is under load. –  DragonLord Jun 28 '11 at 10:04
    
@DragonLorg The system was idling at this time and comming from a cold-boot. –  Manhim Jun 28 '11 at 15:49
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Try using the Windows 7 Startup Repair on the DVD.

Just boot from your Windows 7 DVD and then there should be an option to repair.

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Please note that it's the 3rd time that I reinstall Windows in an attempt to fix this issue. –  Manhim Jun 28 '11 at 18:53
    
Right, this is probably not the way to go then –  JoshB Jun 28 '11 at 18:53
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What video card chipset (brand name doesn't matter)? I've seen these problems with Radeon HD 4xxx and 5xxx series, when they bounce in and out of powersaving mode (that is, the GPU clock speed changes). Youtube in full-screen was the surest way to trigger the problem.

There are some hacks to disable PowerPlay (the clockspeed changing), involving creating an overclocking profile using Catalyst Control Center and then editing all the clock settings to be the same (no actual overclocking is necessary, but the "overclocking" mode has to be enabled for you to override the default power profiles).

One consequence of the involvement of power saving, is that GPU stress tests won't trigger the problem, since they keep the GPU busy and running at its fastest clock rate.

You mentioned ati-tools, so I think this is the most likely culprit.

I don't notice any mention of updating your video card drivers. The newest ones seem to be quite a bit better in this regard (or maybe they continue using the powerplay-neutering profile configured with the earlier version). In any case, upgrading to the latest Catalyst drivers is worth a try.

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My graphic card is a GTX 570. I'm gonna try the equivalent for this card and I'll see. –  Manhim Jul 4 '11 at 12:32
    
@Manhim: You should add that to the Specs section of the question, since it's potentially important. –  Ben Voigt Jul 4 '11 at 13:35
    
I was sure I had added it :| It's in now, sorry. –  Manhim Jul 4 '11 at 13:37
    
I tried without power savings and it seems to be a lot more stable. Do you know what would cause this? The graphic card itself? The power supply? The motherboard? Or is it just driver problems? –  Manhim Jul 4 '11 at 15:00
    
@Manhim: Changing voltages and clock frequencies always creates an interval in transition, where the logic isn't working right. The card should be forced idle during that interval, it's a design error in the GPU if it tries to resume computing before the transition is complete. Also, any number of things can affect the exact duration of that transition (temperature, variation in capacitor values), in which case sometimes the transition occurs safely and sometimes you get errors. –  Ben Voigt Jul 4 '11 at 15:14
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Make sure you were using latest memtest86+ vesrion. I had memory problems with my PC and dig out some old recovery CD with memtest. It runned fine, kinda slow but found no errors. After some more research I was almost sure it was memmory so I downloaded newest version and burned it on my working laptop. It runned much faster and this time found memmory errors.

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I had downloaded the latest version the same day I ran the tests. –  Manhim Jul 5 '11 at 20:32
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i'll stop on this

I have to keep the power button pressed for 4 seconds to shut my computer down.

and I can tell it's a power supply issue. To avoid having to leave it for rest to get up again, turn it off, unplug the screen and the power cord and hold the power button for ~15 seconds.

this will discharge any component holding some electric charge.

see if you can get a replacement and you may also check for faulty capacitors as here Motherboard problem and replace them.

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Why? 4 seconds is the standard time to turn off the power, and this option is set in BIOS. Are you telling me that your computer never freezed and you never had to push the power button for 4 seconds to toggle the power? Or are you doing the same by plugging the power cord back and forth? –  Andrejs Cainikovs Jul 6 '11 at 9:59
    
sorry i wasn't very clear, what Im trying to say is : when the computer is already off, unplug it then hold the power button. I know this may don't have sens, but indeed, I'm just sharing my experience. –  Revolter Jul 6 '11 at 10:20
    
Now I got your idea. –  Andrejs Cainikovs Jul 6 '11 at 13:57
    
So basically it would end up freezing because there is some electric charge holded somewhere and I would need to discharge the components each times before boots for my computer to work? (I mean, that would pin-point a motherboard or a power supply problem depending on the capacitors on the motherboard) –  Manhim Jul 6 '11 at 14:33
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I had the same issue. Prepared for the worst I plugged a USB HDD into one of the USB ports at the back of the unit to perform a system image and since doing that I haven't had any more freeze crashes.

I have other USB devices but they are attached to hubs. I think there is a problem with hubs being attached when no USB device is attached directly to a USB port. This is the second issue of this type I have had since running Win 7 64. The other time I had these obnoxious random freezes occurred only when I had a firewire compact flash card reader attached to the firewire port on the front of the unit. Random freezes sometimes within 2-5 minutes or sometimes after two days. Both down to external devices being attached to the computer. No errors in device manager - no errors in event logs.

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My computer is also having freezing problems and I'm so glad I came across this website. This is by far the most detailed post I've ever seen! I have gone through quite a few similar steps such as physically clean the fans & case, and also downloading softwares such as OCCT, Memtest and HW monitor.

What fixed the problem on my computer was: Updating bios to the latest version.

After that the computer ran smooth as a tiger. I hope this advice may be useful to some. Take care when updating bios though, because I don't think it's recommended unless if your computer is having problems and not being able to be fixed.

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