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I have a problem with my computer, would appreciate any hints/ideas. It usually begins not immediately after booting Windows, but at some unpredictable point in time, which doesn't seem to correlate with any specific actions of mine. First sign of a problem is process System starting to consume 25% CPU time steadily. I have a quad-core CPU, so it might be one thread working non-stop. At this point micro-freezes start to occur - screen stops refreshing, but if I have, say, music player running - it continues playing. If I try to do something between the freezes, like open Start menu, it will freeze completely and forever. If I press reset button the PC will shut down and then start cold, as opposed to usual reset behavior (which doesn't include PC shutting down).

I have noticed that full restart upon reset is usual for hardware problems, but I think this problem isn't related to at least motherboard-CPU-RAM-videoadapter. It certainly isn't caused by overheating.

One very important not is that it seems to be related to Windows hosted WLAN network: I have USB Wi-Fi dongle and have configured a hosted network to share cable Internet connection with Wi-Fi devices. I am not 100% certain there's a strong connection, but in 9 or 10 cases when I enabled the network (by executing netsh wlan start hostednetwork), it did freeze eventually (sometimes within minutes of starting the network, sometimes within hours), and on at least 10 days when I didn't start the network it never froze, no matter how I used the computer).

There are no critical/error entries in the events log that I can suspect as being related, only regular stuff like "driver not loaded". I have found no critical/error events that are being logged around the time of freeze occurring and are not logged during normal boot without starting the WLAN.

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Everything you describe points to a hardware problem. What have you done to verify its not a hardware problem? You need to describe the problem better, and eliminate possible causes, and tell us what you did eliminate. –  Ramhound Oct 10 '12 at 11:35
    
@Ramhound: I didn't really verify it, I only said "I think it's not a hardware problem". The reason I think so is the fact that no matter what I do it never happens unless I enable the WLAN, so I thought it's either a software problem in OS/drivers, or a hardware problem with the Wi-Fi dongle, which seems improbable to me (but not impossible, of course). –  Violet Giraffe Oct 10 '12 at 11:50
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2 Answers 2

I had almost the same exact problem running quad core, (two dual-core) processors and had freezes almost as if it were on a specific core (music continues playing, etc or some mundane action freezing up my computer). The problem ended up being overheating on one of the CPUs. It wasnt dust or anything like that, the amount of heatsink compound was so small (they skimp alot these days) that a small clip imbalance caused a very small gap between the heatsink and the processor. I didnt even know this was happening until I ran bios's hardware monitor and pushed down on the fan assy. myself with the case on it's side, every time i pushed it down, the temp would drop about 10-15 degrees... I would definitely suggest checking that out first, then check memory seating (take out, clean, reseat, and check proper ventilation)... also the power supply connections can cause problems sometimes esp. if you have cards that use extra power connections or in my case onboard requires an extra reqular power connection to the 5v/12v line (on top of the dedicated 4-wire cpu power cable). Anyways hope this helps or at least points you in the right direction -- as a fellow quad core user I know how frustrating it can be when something "kinda" works... and the randomness of a problem is worse than a constant one.

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It seems that my particular problem was caused by a malfunctioning driver or some OS component. I have deleted wi-fi adapter drivers, reinstalled the drivers (later version this time) and the problem vanished.

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