Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've been having this terrible problem for a little while and just managed to get a picture of 'dead screen' for the first time and I am posting it to seek help.

Randomly, at irregular intervals (typically once a week), while working on something (it's been different things every time) my computer will just suddenly go dead - the screen turns to exactly the picture below (the lines flicker a little bit), it hangs there for a few seconds and then restarts.

Obviously this is extremely frustrating and I want to try to stop it.

I've searched numerous postings with similar keywords but nothing exactly the same as mine.

Does anyone have any idea what might be the cause of this?

I would post all my system settings and installed programs but the list is long and I don't know how much relevance each item would be. If you'd like to know something specific, please comment and I'll let you know whatever you need.

SPECS

C:\Users\Imray>systeminfo

    Host Name:                 Imray
    OS Name:                   Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
    OS Version:                6.1.7600 N/A Build 7600
    OS Manufacturer:           Microsoft Corporation
    OS Configuration:          Standalone Workstation
    OS Build Type:             Multiprocessor Free
    Registered Owner:          Imray - Owner
    Registered Organization:
    Product ID:                00371-152-9333854-85895
    Original Install Date:     06/09/1999, 5:45:21 PM
    System Boot Time:          22/03/2013, 8:58:18 AM
    System Manufacturer:       Gateway
    System Model:              DX4840
    System Type:               x64-based PC
    Processor(s):              1 Processor(s) Installed.
                               [01]: Intel64 Family 6 Model 37 Stepping 2 GenuineIntel ~3201 Mhz
    BIOS Version:              American Megatrends Inc. P01-A3        , 17/05/2010
    Windows Directory:         C:\Windows
    System Directory:          C:\Windows\system32
    Boot Device:               \Device\HarddiskVolume2
    System Locale:             en-us;English (United States)
    Input Locale:              en-us;English (United States)
    Time Zone:                 (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
    Total Physical Memory:     6,135 MB
    Available Physical Memory: 3,632 MB
    Virtual Memory: Max Size:  12,268 MB
    Virtual Memory: Available: 8,114 MB
    Virtual Memory: In Use:    4,154 MB
    Page File Location(s):     C:\pagefile.sys
    Domain:                    WORKGROUP
    Logon Server:              \\Imray-OWNER
    Hotfix(s):                 4 Hotfix(s) Installed.
                               [01]: KB971033
                               [02]: KB958559
                               [03]: KB977206
                               [04]: KB981889
    Network Card(s):           2 NIC(s) Installed.
                               [01]: 802.11n Wireless PCI Express Card LAN Adapter
                                     Connection Name: Wireless Network Connection
                                     DHCP Enabled:    Yes
                                     DHCP Server:     192.168.2.1
                                     IP address(es)
                                     [01]: 192.168.2.13
                                     [02]: fe80::1df1:5399:6890:91f6
                               [02]: Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter
                                     Connection Name: Wireless Network Connection 2
                                     DHCP Enabled:    Yes
                                     DHCP Server:     N/A
                                     IP address(es)

Graphics Card Specs

Name    ATI Radeon HD 5570
PNP Device ID   PCI\VEN_1002&DEV_68D9&SUBSYS_E142174B&REV_00\4&18A4B35E&0&0008
Adapter Type    ATI display adapter (0x68D9), ATI Technologies Inc. compatible
Adapter Description ATI Radeon HD 5570
Adapter RAM 1.00 GB (1,073,741,824 bytes)
Installed Drivers   atiu9p64 aticfx64 aticfx64 atiu9pag aticfx32 aticfx32 atiumd64 atidxx64 atidxx64 atiumdag atidxx32 atidxx32 atiumdva atiumd6a atitmm64
Driver Version  8.700.0.0
INF File    oem1.inf (ati2mtag_Evergreen section)
Color Planes    Not Available
Color Table Entries 4294967296
Resolution  1920 x 1080 x 59 hertz
Bits/Pixel  32
Memory Address  0xD0000000-0xDFFFFFFF
Memory Address  0xFBDE0000-0xFBDFFFFF
I/O Port    0x0000D000-0x0000DFFF
IRQ Channel IRQ 4294967293
I/O Port    0x000003B0-0x000003BB
I/O Port    0x000003C0-0x000003DF
Memory Address  0xA0000-0xBFFFF
Driver  c:\windows\system32\drivers\atikmpag.sys (8.14.1.6095, 181.00 KB (185,344 bytes), 06/09/1999 5:59 PM)

Computer Dead

share|improve this question
    
Posting a picture? Where? –  Eugene S Mar 22 '13 at 5:07
2  
what computer? What specs? We seriously need to, at the very least know what OS and hardware you have, otherwise its pretty much impossible to work out what's wrong. I'd also look at event logs to see if there's anything interesting. The information we have, at the moment is you have a gateway monitor, very red lighting, and something is borked, and its insufficient to give a useful answer –  Journeyman Geek Mar 22 '13 at 5:26
    
zip and upload the .dmp files from C:\Windows\Minidump –  magicandre1981 Mar 22 '13 at 5:45
1  
Have you updated any drivers recently? That could be a cause, otherwise that looks hardware related such as your physical gfx card kicking the bucket. Resembles my experience with a bad card on arrival. –  nerdwaller Mar 22 '13 at 6:22
    
@JourneymanGeek I've added all my specs from systeminfo –  Imray Mar 22 '13 at 15:38

6 Answers 6

Most likely your graphics card has died. Typical cause for this is blown capacitors. Open up your computer case, take graphics card out and take a closer look at capacitors. If they look like these:

blown capactiors

then it will be pretty obvious - just throw it away immediately and go to store to buy a replacement card.

share|improve this answer
1  
To my mind, graphics card/GPU cooling would also be a clear suspect in cases like these. That's a little less impossible to fix yourself, but it'd still be easier to just buy a new graphics card if it isn't something trivial like dust buildup on the cooling fan. –  Michael Kjörling Mar 22 '13 at 12:54
    
But I can turn my computer back on a minute later, so how could my graphics card have died? –  Imray Mar 22 '13 at 15:31
1  
I had exact same thing happen to me: similar behavior with erratic picture and total freeze, but computer would come back to life after reboot. Yet, it was blown capacitor - apparently, after it is blown, card is still kind of working, but not quite and is causing you all kinds of trouble –  mvp Mar 22 '13 at 16:14

I know you said random but, is there any link at all? Is it after a certain period of time, when a type of process is being run (videos/music), types of application (games) to see if something is triggering it.

Assuming it is random, I suggest:

Updating all your drivers including the chipset, graphic and audio drivers!

Checking your RAM chips. If you have more than 1, take them all out but 1, and ensure it's seated properly. Try the different slots.

Make sure it's not overheating and well ventilated!

Borrow or buy another graphic card (if you don't have one inbuilt)

On reboot, see if Event Log shows any details

Use a program like Who's Crashed to see if it logs the crash

Make sure the hard drive is ok with a SMART tool (Acronis Disk Monitor is free)

share|improve this answer
    
I've been taking notes of when the freezes happen but there is no pattern I can discern. I have one lead though, and that is that I have been running ZoneAlarm which with some research apparently has been causing problems for lots of people. I have disabled it and will see if there is any difference. –  Imray Mar 22 '13 at 15:45
    
If safe, uninstall totally and then see if any luck. –  Dave Rook Mar 23 '13 at 10:12

Possible causes in order of probability:

  • Graphics card failure as @mvp mentions. It could be bad capacitors, it overheating (check for a dead or dust clogged fan), it not connected securely, or has sustained other damage somehow. This is assuming you have a discrete graphics card.

  • Try updating graphics card drivers.

  • If you do have a discrete graphics card, run the system and see if the problem comes back just running off the integrated graphics. If it doesn't you know it's a problem with the card (or possibly PCI-E slot).

  • While your motherboard is open check for bad (bulging) capacitors - any present could cause this issue, particularly if you've noticed other weird things like your system being inexplicably slow or not powering on reliably. If your system is dusty, clean it and see if that makes a difference.

  • I'd check for bad RAM next. If you have 2 or more modules, put 1 in at a time and see if the issue recurs. Furmark3d is a good free utility (I'm sure there are others) to stress your graphics hardware.

  • Your power supply may not be providing reliable power to your system. Try swapping it with another and see if the issue persists.

  • You may have another piece of failing hardware that's causing an issue. Remove any other expansion cards in your system and see if the issue persists. You could also try disabling any onboard hardware in the BIOS (Ethernet ports, etc.) and see if that helps, but that's unlikely to make a difference (if it does, replace the motherboard).

  • Update the BIOS.

  • Unlikely, but the CPU could be an issue. Try swapping it if you have a spare part around.

  • Replace the motherboard.

share|improve this answer
    
How do I check for bulging capacitors? Does that mean opening up the computer looking physically at motherboard or is it a software thing? –  Imray Mar 22 '13 at 15:57
1  
Yes, you'll need to open the motherboard. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague - has a picture. –  ultrasawblade Mar 22 '13 at 20:19
    
I mean open the case and look at the motherboard, haha. –  ultrasawblade Mar 22 '13 at 20:26

It is surely a problem with your graphics card. My 9400 GT does this when overclocked beyond capacity. Your system is fine. My question is that does it run at all? Meaning, the welcome screen and desktop is displayed? If so, then there is a problem with the three clocks ( GPU , Memory and Shader ). It is possible that the GPU is frayed. Use ATI Catalyst Control Center or an overclock program to downclock the three clocks. If not... then your capacitors are blown. I would consider replacement. I hope that's it.

share|improve this answer
    
Was your 9400 GT blown or did it just get stuck? –  Imray Oct 17 '13 at 17:54

Check your RAM, insert it properly or swap with another RAM.

share|improve this answer
4  
Could you please elaborate on what "properly" means in the context of inserting RAM and why this would fix the issue? –  oKtosiTe Mar 22 '13 at 9:33
    
How can we check RAM? Do you mean visually? The answer could be very good and useful, please expand on it all to make it clear! :) –  Dave Rook Mar 22 '13 at 11:55
2  
@oKtosiTe sometimes a surprising amount of force is needed before the RAM stick clicks into place. I guess "properly" means make sure it is all the way in, it is an easy mistake to make. As to how that could cause the OP's problem, no idea. –  terdon Mar 22 '13 at 12:13
    
After checking physically as terdon explained, you can also check it electrical with memtest.org -- this tool comes as a bootable ISO file and write different patterns into the RAM, reads it back and displays how many mismatches are encountered (stress-test). Depending on the size of your RAM, calculate a few hours for one cycle to complete. –  mpy Mar 22 '13 at 12:29
    
@terdon: I wasn't asking because I need to know, I was asking the OP to expand their answer so that others who might not have the knowledge could learn more from it. –  oKtosiTe Mar 23 '13 at 18:44

Sounds like your computer graphics/monitor driver is corrupted. I think if you recover your windows or fresh install, I hope your problem will solved.

share|improve this answer
1  
This answer looks incomplete. How would restoring/reinstalling Windows resolve a corrupted "graphics/monitor" exactly? –  oKtosiTe Mar 22 '13 at 9:38
    
@oKtosiTe, I forgot word "driver" in my answare; sorry for that. I also faced this problem in my personal computer, after reinstalling this windows this problem was fixed. –  Muhammad Umair Mar 25 '13 at 4:05

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.