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My computer just randomly freezes when playing certain games. It has happened to me in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Call of Duty 4, and Blacklight: Retribution. It has not happened to me with other games like Tribes: Ascend yet, which leads me to believe it is a software-side issue related to maybe DirectX or PhysX?

Also, temperatures seem stable. I used RivaTuner combined with MSI Afterburner, and at the time of freezing with BF: BC2, it gives: 62C, 67% GPU usage and 78. 8FPS. During the session the max I have seen was 65C and 97% GPU usage.

On Blacklight: Retribution, I've heard other people complain about the problem too. This is why it is such a mystery to me, is this actually a driver problem, or more a game problem? I've been able to play these games for long until I re-installed Windows 7 (because it was growing too full and slow). Before I had a 32bit Ultimate version, and now 64bit.

Specs:

O/S: Windows 7 64bit Ultimate
CPU: Intel i5-750 @ Default 2.66 GHz
GPU: ASUS EAH5770 1GB
PSU: CoolerMaster Real Power M520 (520W)
MB: Gigabyte P55M-UD2
Catalyst Control Center version (in "About"): 2012.0214.2218.39913
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No-one who knows what is going on? –  Deniz Zoeteman Mar 31 '12 at 9:50
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DirectX 11 & Catalyst up-to-date, tried to repair .NET & PhysX, don't know if it did anything. Will report on reboot and trying to play. –  Deniz Zoeteman Mar 31 '12 at 19:27
    
After trying to play again, it happened again 2 times, both with Vsync off and on. With Vsync on, the GPU was +- 5-10C cooler, but apparentely, it didn't make much difference. –  Deniz Zoeteman Mar 31 '12 at 21:46
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Well, since I had 32bit Win7 before this, and I could game on 32bit fine, but as soon as I turned to 64bit, this happened. Since I completely reformatted the partition, none of the software was actually installed, though all games I have are on a seperate partition so those did survive :) Which also makes me believe it is not a hardware problem. –  Deniz Zoeteman Apr 1 '12 at 17:26
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What kind of freezes by the way; just up-to-a-second stuttering or hard freezes? –  Kovensky Apr 4 '12 at 18:42

6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted
+150

Intermittent freezes can be very frustrating and difficult to pin down. Heat problems are a common cause, so you're on the right track by checking temperatures. Here are some other things that I generally check:

  • GPU Stability: Try a benchmarking/stress tool like FurMark.

  • Hard Drive: A flaky drive can certainly cause crashing. You'll sometimes see signs of storage problems in Event Viewer, but it's not a bad idea to run a scan or two. While the basic Windows scan is worth running, a tool like SpinRite does a more thorough job.

  • Memory/CPU: Give your machine a good long taste of a memory tester like MemTest86, or a torture test tool like Prime95. Prime95 can be tweaked to focus on CPU, memory or a blend. The SystemRescueCD includes MemTest as a bootup option, and includes a number of other handy tools as part of its stock ISO image.

  • Power: This was never one of the top items I'd consider for a freezing PC, until it caused a frustrating bout of intermittent freezes for me. Check your BIOS hardware monitor or use a standalone tool to make sure the voltage levels reaching your motherboard/processor/etc are reasonable. In my case, I had a loose connection between the power supply and motherboard. I was pulling my hair out until I noticed that one of the rails was reporting suspiciously low voltage in the BIOS hardware monitor. It wasn't enough to prevent booting or basic usage, but the machine regularly froze in games. Re-seating the power cable took care of the problem completely.

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Thank you for your answer. I've done a SpinRite test and Memory test, neither had any problems, but I also made sure all power cables were tight. I didn't find any trouble with it, but maybe just one pin wasn't good in it, I don't know. These steps have given me the ability to play longer; I don't know yet if it fixed the entire problem, I will do more testing tomorrow. –  Deniz Zoeteman Apr 5 '12 at 22:47
    
You should run SMART diagnostics as I mentioned in my answer below. SpinRite (or any other read/write test) may have triggered the drive's firmware to automatically remap bad sectors on the disk--if so, the SMART data will confirm that, and you should replace the disk before it degrades further. –  rob Apr 6 '12 at 5:02
    
I've still not figured out what the actual problem was, but it seems I am not getting any more freezes. Thanks! –  Deniz Zoeteman Apr 6 '12 at 9:54
  • overheating (most commonly from overclocking, try set it back to original/default values)
  • dusty environment (try opening your case up and make clean it from dust that collected there over the years)
  • air-flow (make sure that your cables are not on the way of fan blowing air in and/or out)
  • faulty hardware (the only way to find which peace is to replace one by one (most likely cpu/memory))
  • power (psu) - 520w may not be enough to power up all your hardware (video card usually eat a lot of power especially while you're gaming and very little while you're doing basic windows stuff)
  • software (windows "features" aka bugs (try re-installing windows) or if you have extra hdd, install windows there and your game and try it out (to rule it out))
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If you've ruled out a thermal issue, it could be your RAM or one of your hard drives.

You can test the RAM by using MemTest86+ or Windows 7's included memory diagnostic.

To test the hard drive, download a SMART diagnostic tool and check each hard drive's SMART diagnostics for reallocated or pending sectors (ideally, the raw value for each should be 0). Run an extended SMART diagnostic, then check for bad sectors using chkdsk and check the SMART data again.

If none of this helps, try uninstalling and installing different video card drivers, even if you already have the latest ones. At the very least, try the drivers from Windows Update and the drivers from AMD's site--they may not be the same.

Update 4/6/12: Try uninstalling and reinstalling the affected games. Or, if they were installed via Steam, you can do the following:

  1. right-click on the installed game in your library (on the left side) and click on properties
  2. click the LOCAL FILES tab
  3. click the VERIFY INTEGRITY OF GAME CACHE... button
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are these good results? imgur.com/a/Rr9K1 chkdsk gave no bad sectors. –  Deniz Zoeteman Apr 6 '12 at 9:00
    
Yes, those SMART results look good, so you can probably rule out the hard drives for now. Have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling the games? –  rob Apr 6 '12 at 17:37
    
Please check the accepted answer - the problem is solved. –  Deniz Zoeteman Apr 6 '12 at 20:35
    
Glad you got it working. Too bad you weren't able to figure out exactly what did it. –  rob Apr 6 '12 at 22:16

Ensure first that your video driver is the latest version as downloaded from the manufacturer's site. I also hope that you don't overclock. The ASUS EAH5770 GPU seems to be actually the Radeon HD 5770, whose driver can be downloaded from here.

I have had similar problems with a game that was calibrated for too-high rate of fps and could use the GPU to do multiple calculations in parallel and so use all the cores of the GPU at the same time. My computer's display could sometimes freeze and had to be restarted. The temperature could go up really very quickly, so that the screen froze with wrong temperatures displayed (although still high).

I would guess that for some reason the 64-bit games manage to make better use of the GPU than the 32-bit ones, therefore driving up the temperature is some cases.

The only solution I have found was to google for unpublished settings in the problematic game and reduce drastically the fps, which solved the problem. These settings are of course not known for all games.

Although you have checked for that, here are the tools I have used to check on the temperature:

SpeedFan : temperatures of motherboard and hard disk, voltages and fan speeds, status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes.
GPU-Z : all information about video card and GPU.

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These kinds of problem are normally sorted by process of isolation. Since you most of what you describe sounds normal, I would start by putting in a new video card. That will isolate both the video card and the driver. The problem is solved, viola, move on and enjoy the game.

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I guess you're using an onboard Realtek Audio Device, and that you have removed WAT in windows 7.

I had the same problem with many Unreal-powered games, and after a lot a of searching the net, I figured that out. I simply restored Windows WAT, and I'm now able to play without problems.

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