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Need help diagnosing a hard system crash

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March 11, 2013 9:47:02 AM

I need some help diagnosing a problem with my system that I built just shy of a year ago. I'll start with the specs and then detail what's been happening.

CPU: i7 2600k -- Stock speeds
Mobo: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3
GPU: 2x GeForce GTX 560 Ti (ASUS) -- Factory speeds
PSU: 850W OCZ ZX Series
HDD: 3x7200 RPM platter drives of various sizes, 1x SSD (system running off of a 128GB Samsung 830 Series SSD)
Other stuff: AverMedia TV Tuner card
System is air cooled. Temps have always looked fine in HWMonitor. (~60C under stress test load)

It started around Octobe of last year -- I started getting seemingly random hard crashes. Since there was no BSOD and no event logs (just a power off for a couple of seconds, then an automatic power back on) I thought it was a power issue and bought a new PSU of the same make and model. Nope, didn't fix it. I eventually could reproduce it by watching Flash video (Twitch.tv, Youtube, etc) for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour and then it would always happen. I rolled back flash and everything was a-ok.

A week ago I decided "maybe this latest flash update fixed that!" Nope, turns out it didn't. Rolled flash back and the problem was solved again. Only this time it wasn't.

Two days ago I was playing a game (League of Legends) and the problem resurfaced. Twice in one game, much to the chagrin of my team. The first time my computer was under normal use, so I had plenty of programs open. The second time only LoL was open. Then again a few hours later when the system was idling and I was watching TV.

Yesterday I decided to run a gamut of tests. I ran Prime95 all night -- No crashes. I ran Uningine Heaven all day -- No crashes. I ran memtest86+ all night (today) -- One crash. RAM might be the issue, but only one over the course of the night when running memtest makes me think that could be a red herring as well.

What could be the most likely culprit? I can't really tell if it's a heat issue because I can't capture any readings before it happens (due to it being unpredictable). Could the motherboard be dying? Could the CPU be on its way out? (though I think that'd cause a BSOD or something). Could it actually be the PSU again? Is OCZ a make to avoid? Could I fit any more question marks into a single paragraph? Is this PSU powerful enough to begin with?

The tl;dr version
* My PC is hard crashing seemly at random.
* Crash is a hard power-off, then 2 seconds later it powers back on. This delay is consistent each time it occurs.
* No event logs other than the unexpected power off log.
* Replaced my PSU once, went away for awhile, but came back.
* System load seems to not be a determining factor.

I'm at wit's end here and would greatly appreciate any insight.

Best solution

March 11, 2013 9:53:54 AM

If available test your psu and other parts in a spare/friends system.
Personally... This normally screams PSU for me; however, at work we ran across the same situation with a specific model of HP workstations. They would crash no reason at all just as if someone pulled the power cord and come right back up. Then work sometimes for days even weeks before it would do it again. Turns out it was the MOBO in those models.

If your psu works fine in another system, I'd look into the motherboard.
Assuming the event logs just say unexpected system restart?
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March 11, 2013 10:01:13 AM

unoriginal1 said:
Assuming the event logs just say unexpected system restart?

Exactly.

Unfortunately I don't have any other systems for convenient part testing (kicking myself for not keeping my old system, passed it down to my younger brother who's a state away), else that would have been my next step.
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March 11, 2013 10:19:51 AM

doubletaco said:
unoriginal1 said:
Assuming the event logs just say unexpected system restart?

Exactly.

Unfortunately I don't have any other systems for convenient part testing (kicking myself for not keeping my old system, passed it down to my younger brother who's a state away), else that would have been my next step.


That stinks. It's a hard issue to pin point unless you can test parts. Try to find a local shop who won't charge you or at least a very minimal fee for testing parts (only issue here is if it's anything like mine it'll work perfectly while testing and crash once you get it back home :/ ). Since you've replaced the psu, I'm leaning towards a faulty mobo. If it's under warranty you can always do a quick rma :) . Good luck!

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March 11, 2013 10:26:10 AM

I agree with unoriginal1. I'd start with swapping the PSU first. Lets say it is the PSU for a moment. The PSU hasn't completely failed so there isn't a great way to test it yourself. You may have to purchase a replacement and run that for a week or so to figure out if that is the problem or not. If that solves the issue then you know your current PSU is bad. If you can check to see if there is a warranty you can collect. If that doesn't fix the problem then the motherboard is the likely culprit. Those two components tend to be the ones that cause "sudden" crashes or power offs. I agree with you about the RAM being a red herring, because even if it was the RAM you should still get an error logged in event viewer and a BSOD message.

I hope that helps, good luck!
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March 11, 2013 11:06:14 AM

Have you ran a scan on your hard drive? And also have you checked for any rom updates for the SSD, I have done 2 rom updates on my SSD. Even graphics drivers can cause this especially with 2 in SLi you may try removing one of them and doing further testing. To test the hard drive you could install the OS on another drive and boot off it.

The powering back on after 2 seconds is a bios setting as I bet you have it set to power back on after a power failure, if this is not the case it may be a motherboard issue, if the power supply was just shutting off and you do not have it set to power back on after a power failure the system would stay off. If this is the case check for a BIOS update for the motherboard first.

I hope some of this will help you to get your system back up and running.
Keep us updated.
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March 14, 2013 8:08:51 PM

Yesterday I replaced the PSU with a Corsair AX850, and so far I've had a better uptime than I had over the past week, over a day.

If I can last a week I'll call this problem fixed and write off OCZ as the problem.
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March 25, 2013 11:35:35 AM

After a week and a half of constant uptime and not so much as a stutter it seems the PSU was indeed the issue.
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