I built this computer back in June and this has been an issue ever since I first built it. What happens is that my computer will POST just fine and then go to the black screen where it states "Loading Windows". Usually it sits there for a second and then it the pulsing Windows logo will appear, and after a few seconds, it brings me to the Windows login screen. However, about once a week at least, it will just sit there with a black screen and the "Loading Windows" text, but the logo will never appear. The hard drive indicator remains off and I don't hear any hard drive activity, which tells me that it's stuck. There's no error messages, but it never loads Windows. What I do here is just push the reset button and it will reboot. The "repair Windows" option never helps and is useless, so I just say "Load Windows normally", and it will load Windows fine 100% of the time, without fail. However, something must be wrong.
The computer started out with one 500GB hybrid SSD, and exhibited this behavior. I put in another and put it on RAID0 and it hasn't changed. It has 4 x 4GB of RAM, and a friend told me that perhaps the RAM is underpowered. So, every time this happens, I go into the BIOS and up the DRAM voltage one tick. I've been doing this for weeks and it hasn't done anything (first time I did it, I didn't see the issue for over a week, then it started happening again). I'm over 1.55V (I think 1.553V, if memory serves) but it's not even overclocked (they're 1333MHz) so I'm getting anxious that this won't solve the issue. I did both a full run of Memtest86+ and chkdsk and they both reported no errors. I've run several benchmarking suites (such as Heaven DX11 Benchmark, Crystal DiskMark, Furmark, 3DMark 11, and others, as well as playing games on high end settings and it never has given me any issues there, so it's not a hardware instability once Windows loads. I've even on one occasion had the computer up for a total of about 2 weeks straight and it didn't show any sign of glitching or malfunction.
This is the first computer I've built, and I am inexperienced with overclocking and dealing with power issues or other corner cases. Is my friend right that it's underpowered RAM? Or is there something else that could be afoot?
I have my computer specs below:
Computer: MSI MS-7640 CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (Deneb, RB-C3) @ 3200 MHz (16.00x200.0) Motherboard: MSI 890FXA-GD65 (MS-7640) Chipset: ATI RD890 + SB810/SB850 Memory: 16384 MBytes @ 666 MHz, 9.0-9-9-24 - 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332 - 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332 - 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332 - 4096 MB PC10600 DDR3 SDRAM - Patriot Memory (PDP Systems) PSD34G13332 Graphics: MSI R6970 (MS-V237) ATI RADEON HD 6970 (CAYMAN XT), 2048 MB GDDR5 SDRAM Graphics: MSI R6970 (MS-V237) ATI RADEON HD 6970 (CAYMAN XT), 0 MB Drive: AMD 2+0 Stripe/RAID0, Disk drive Drive: ATAPI iHBS212 2, BD-RE Drive: ATAPI iHBS212 2, BD-RE Drive: AMD RAID Console, Processor Sound: ATI SB800/Hudson-1 - High Definition Audio Controller Sound: ATI Cayman/Antilles - High Definition Audio Controller Sound: ATI Cayman/Antilles - High Definition Audio Controller Network: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC Network: Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (x64) Build 7601
As a note, I've been recommended in chat to enable boot logging and see if anything shows up. I've done that just now, and will post the results whenever this occurs again, if there's anything of interest.
I've enabled verbose booting and boot logging, but so far have not seen the issue reappear within the past week or so. I will update when I do see it happen.
EDIT #2 (11/25/2011)
Since I've enabled the boot logging (and reverted back to stock DRAM voltages), I haven't seen the issue reappear. I feel it's worth noting that I also, during this time, installed Windows 8 Developer Preview as a second OS, and have it dual-boot using the Windows 7 boot loader. Would this extra delay (10 seconds, currently) before it attempts to load Windows 7 have any effect on its success in booting Windows? Does it make sense that it might have been getting to the "Loading Windows" step too quickly? Could this be an instability in the power supply?
By the way, the power supply is a Thermaltake TPX-775M Toughpower XT 775W.
EDIT #3 (9/30/2011)
I removed the Windows 8 Dev Preview partition so that it went back to the normal boot process. This morning, it hung at boot again. Since I was using verbose boot, it hung at the black screen before it started loading drivers. After I reset the computer and got into Windows, checking ntbtlog.txt didn't show anything logged for the failed boot session. So it apparently just sits there before it even starts loading drivers.
I think after work today I'm going to start the process of checking each stick of RAM. I've put that off long enough.
EDIT #4 (10/21/2011)
A little while ago, I found that one of my external USB hard drives had several bad sectors. Eventually it was unreadable. Since Windows likes to scan USB drives on startup, could this have caused the issue? I haven't seen the hang for quite some time now, after I ran
chkdsk on the drive (currently it remains powered off, as I was able to recover the data on it). This drive has been hooked up since I built the computer. Perhaps Windows was finding bad sectors and didn't know how to proceed, even though it's an external HDD?