The issue:

When using the computer for a little while, it just freezes. The time that it takes varies from 10 minutes to an hour and half, but never longer than 2 hours. When it freezes I have to force a shutdown by pressing the power button for 3 seconds. If I reboot the computer immediately after this, it won't even boot properly, and stops during the boot process. The fan is always working hard just before a freeze; I know this because my fan is very loud. I have tried different operating systems, but the problem persists. If there is music playing at the time of the freeze, the last second is played in an infinite loop. The last couple of days it freezes during boot as described. When I start the machine from a liveCD it seems to run fine (that's what I am doing right now).

What I did so far:

  • I checked the hard disk with SMART Data in the Disk Utility menu – no errors
  • I cleaned the interior of the PC, so that there is no more dust
  • I have constantly checked the temperature of the CPU just before a freeze and it goes up to about 63 degrees Celsius (145° Fahrenheit), but sometimes I have these temperatures without a freeze
  • I ran the CPU burnP5 stress-test and the machine froze maybe three minutes in (the computer is not overclocked and never has been)
  • I ran a Memtest86+ – no errors


  • OS: Ubuntu 11.10
  • CPU: Pentium 4, 3.4GHz
  • Graphic Device: Nvidia GeForce 6610 XL
  • Memory: 3Gb
  • Motherboard: MS-7091 Micro-Star

Does the stress-test failure suggest that the CPU is damaged? How should I proceed?

PS: I don't know how to get memory and motherboard info with the live CD. The 'lshw' command didn't produce anything useful and 'dmidecode' gave me 'Permission denied'.

  • Side note. Do not vacuum clean a computer. – Griffin Mar 8 '13 at 21:57
  • @rex123 Clone image your OS at another HDD, test it. – STTR Mar 8 '13 at 21:59
  • How long did you run Memtest86+ for? If it was less than a day (I try to aim fro 72 hours if possible), you didn't run it long enough. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 8 '13 at 22:00
  • "dmidecode" needs to be run with privileges. Try "sudo dmidecode". Sometimes having the password for liveCDs is problem. "lshw -html > report.html" will give you a report you can read in a web browser. It too should be run with privileges. – washbow Mar 8 '13 at 22:03
  • @techie007 I just did a default Memtest86+ and it took a couple of hours – rex123 Mar 8 '13 at 22:06

I agree with the comments about overheating. 63° Celsius does seem high, although that's not unusual for an old Pentium 4 computer. About the live CD not freezing: the live CD you are using probably uses the default system graphics instead of the Nvidia graphics driver that you are normally using. So if your graphics card is beginning to fail you would see the signs of it first on your normal OS and not on a live CD. The music infinite loop, for example, could be due to a failing graphics card as well as the freezing during boot.

My suggestion is to test your computer with a different graphics card, and see if that solves the problem.

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