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My desktop pc keeps shutting down/freezing/rebooting itself (even in BIOS) in the first 10-20 minutes of activity, after that time it works properly.

I looked into the windows event register but there's nothing except "abnormal shutdown", and that doesn't help. I did a scandisk and a RAM check but everything was okay (the RAM check was canceled the first two times because the pc freezed, then at the third attempt it completed successfully)

What could it be? Can you suggest some tests to diagnose the problem?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is your PC a desktop PC or a laptop? In the first case I guess that the most likely cause is a faulty power supply unit. Unfortunately, the only effective test is replacing the PSU with a known good PSU. If the problem isn't solved, then the flaw is probably on the motherboard.

If your PC is a laptop, then it gets difficult to diagnose hardware. Since the symptoms point to a power issue, you might try different setups: with battery, with battery and plugged, plugged without the battery, a different charger.

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added "desktop pc" to question – John Smith Feb 28 '13 at 10:15
Just wanted to let you know that the problem was the RAM contacts: they were dirty and oxided, cleaning them solved everything – John Smith Mar 1 '13 at 22:12
I'm glad the problem is solved! You should add an answer yourself so that the solution is in evidence for future reference. – Pincopallino Mar 2 '13 at 8:38
I'll do it, but I'm still awarding the points to you, you helped me greatly! – John Smith Mar 2 '13 at 9:16

Seems like your PSU or MB is degrading some of it's components.

Look carefully at capacitors around your CPU socket, for a leaking capacitors or just somewhat blown from the inside (their top is not flat), which can look something like this. If you found such ones then most probably this is causing the problem. If not, try to switch to another PSU to see if that helps.

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Could it be the dust? The main fan is extremely dusty – John Smith Feb 28 '13 at 10:18
No, this is unlikely this can be caused by a dust. However you can check that CPU fan is working properly in those 10-20 minutes just to be sure this is not an overheat problem. – Petr Abdulin Feb 28 '13 at 10:19
@JohnSmith - You should clean the dust out and apply new thermal paste to your CPU. – Ramhound Feb 28 '13 at 13:06

Thanks to everyone for helping me out in this, it seesms that the problem was the RAM contacts: they were dirty and oxided, cleaning them solved everything

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