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I am having fairly regular freezes on my Windows 7 box. Generally it freezes running a game (I've frozen on SW:TOR, DotA2, etc.) However, it has locked up at the login screen before (once that I can remember, when it had been on for a while.)

The Freeze

The freeze happens and the screen stays frozen (no black/blue screen.) I will usually hear the last half second audio fragment on loop. Sometimes as it's freezing, I will be able to send out 1 second of audio if I'm in Skype or Google+ hangout.

When I shut it down and restart, it asks me how I want to boot and I tell it to boot normally. Sometimes this works. Sometimes, however, it will go to the black Windows screen with the logo... and then die.

If it dies on the black logo, a restart will tell me to run repair. Running repair then works 50% of the time. The other 50%, it will load up windows... allow me to log in... and then none of explorer will work. (I won't be able to do anything on the desktop.)

However, if I reboot a final time, it will work.

The Original Hardware

  1. Memory: GSKILL Ripjaw 4GB
  2. Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz
  3. Motherboard: ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ATX
  4. Video Card: GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support
  5. Hard drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
  6. Power Supply: Dynapower 500W

Heat doesn't seem to be a problem. The fans all work, now (one of the fans on the old power supply was broken), and I have several extra fans in the case. The video card gets warm, but not hot. The temperature on the CPU seems reasonable according to the "CoreTemp" program I have running on my desktop.

What I've done

So far, what I've tried is:

  1. I have updated the graphics driver and updated the motherboard's driver which involved flashing the bios. No dice.
  2. I replaced the RAM with new GSKILL RAM. No dice.
  3. I replaced the power supply with a bigger one. I was sure it was this. No dice.
  4. I have replaced the UPS that it was running on. No dice.

Next Steps...

That's what I'm here for. Initial thoughts after talking to people is that perhaps the boot sector is corrupt. This means, as far as I know, probably a new hard drive and a reload?

The other thought is maybe nix the UPS altogether and just use a power strip. Or move to a different outlet.

I need advice what to check next. I'm really getting tired of this freeze happening and I'm afraid at some point the computer will just stop booting properly.

Thanks!

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Your steps look pretty solid but one thing I would do is bump that whimpy little power supply up. I just don't use anything less than a 600W even when I KNOW I don't need anywhere near that much. Power problems are a BEAST cuz they are quirky. Another thing I'd do is see if you can get hold of a hardward diagnostic like Dell uses. I have run into situations before where the Video Card GPU was ok but the RAM on it was pitching errors. The adapter worked fine until you ran a game or occasionally a movie then when it used it's RAM... boom. If you have one, try a different Video Card. –  OG Chuck Low Dec 13 '11 at 22:57
    
FYI per New Eggs Power Supply calculator you are short by 7 watts. It says you need 507 minimum. I tend to look at Power Supplies like Speakers. If you need 500 watts, don't go with less than 750w basically, etc... –  OG Chuck Low Dec 13 '11 at 23:00
    
Hey, sorry this was a long post so you probably missed it, but I upgraded to a new 650W power supply as part of troubleshooting. As for the diagnostic program, I will Google around and see what I can find, thanks. –  Dan O Dec 13 '11 at 23:01
    
Ahh sorry... Bigger one... missed that. I saw you replaced it but I didn't see an actual size so 500W was still Occupying My Skull. –  OG Chuck Low Dec 13 '11 at 23:11
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Usually when you get a solid freeze, with no mouse cursor movement, it's either RAM or Video, sometimes video RAM. :)

If you've tried new drivers, and new RAM, and a phat power supply (all as you say you did), then my next (and most likely) suspect is the video adapter.

I further think this because you say even when the screen freezes the rest of the system keeps going for a second (ie: the audio in Skype). This tells me the mainboard is still functional at that point, so it's probably not frozen.

Just after the Windows splash logo is when the 3rd party video drivers kick in, so it doesn't surprise me if the system stalls here sometimes (if there's bad video).

The reason it's probably asking you to run the repair is because it freezes, and you have to hard reset or reboot to get video working again, so Windows thinks (knows) it wasn't shut down properly, and thinks that there may be file corruption.

So I'd suggest that the only way you'll know for sure is to try a different, known-good video adapter for a while.

If when video freezes, you still get mouse cursor movement, then I'd suspect a hard drive (controller) problem.

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Hmm... well, not what I wanted to hear, but makes sense. I'm first attempting to re-install Windows, then trying a different outlet. Maybe I can buy a video card that I can return to test it or something. sigh When this is all said and done I'll have a new computer! –  Dan O Dec 14 '11 at 6:25
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Yeah, it was the video card. I reloaded windows and the problem was still happening. –  Dan O Dec 30 '11 at 2:34
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I had a similar problem. Try booting with only one stick of RAM in, I found G.Skill RAM was incompatible or broken upon purchase.

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As noted in the original, all my RAM is G.SKill, but I tried with an entirely new set of it. As noted above, as well, the problem ended up being the video card. Thanks anyhow. :) –  Dan O Jan 3 '12 at 18:30
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