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How do I figure out what's causing my computer to crash?

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April 27, 2013 8:16:32 AM

I have been having an issue for a while where my computer would completely freeze up and the monitor would go black, but the computer would still be running, leaving me with no option but to hold in the power button. Back in august I bought a graphics card and started having a similar issue except the screen wouldn't go black it would just remain on whatever screen I was on, completely unresponsive. Yesterday I took the graphics card out and went back to on-board graphics and low and behold, screen blacks-out again. I have run memtest and hdtest in the past and both have passed. Is this a motherboard issue?

OS - Windows 7 x64
CPU - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor
Video Card - MSI R7770-PMD1GD5 Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready
MotherBoard - GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-USB3 AM3+ AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD
Power Supply - CORSAIR Enthusiast Series 550W
RAM - 8 gb G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM

Does anyone have any experience with this motherboard? I see it is now discontinued on newegg and only has 86 reviews.

Edit: I just found out I don't have the latest BIOS installed, could that cause issues such as this or is that irrelevant?
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 435 V Motherboard
a b U Graphics card
April 27, 2013 11:20:50 AM

Updating the bios can't hurt. You may also have a part that's overheating, such as your video card.
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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 129 V Motherboard
a c 101 U Graphics card
April 27, 2013 11:22:13 AM

What are your CPU temps?
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April 27, 2013 11:34:36 AM

I have since updated bios and have been experiencing bsods like crazy since. as of right now the cpu temps is normal, but the computer was shut down for a while. I'm pretty sure i have checked the temps in the past though (i had core temp installed already) and they were normal.
And the video card can't be overheating since it is sitting next to me on my desk ;) . I wish I had a known working mobo sitting around I could throw in there to see if that helps before shelling out the money for a new one..
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a b B Homebuilt system
April 27, 2013 6:03:52 PM

What about prime95 or heavyload? If it passes everything right up until it freezes I would guess mobo. When I had a bad stick of ram that fails memtest, it also failed prime95 but didn't crash immediately.
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April 28, 2013 10:38:52 AM

It turns out the issues I have been having were from defective RAM I had installed right before I started having issues. Since removing the additional sticks everything has been running normal. I'm going to RMA the RAM to G. Skill this week if now further issues arise.
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September 22, 2013 1:20:53 PM

I was wrong about my problem being resolved and am still experiencing random total freeze-ups. Anyone have any idea what could be causing this? Bad mobo? Incompatible RAM? HD? PSU? I'm getting desperate and am willing to buy any new parts I need, I'm just worried that I'll buy a new mobo and it'll turn out the psu was the issue, or I'll buy new RAM and it'll be the mobo, etc.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:03:44 PM

imail724 said:
I was wrong about my problem being resolved and am still experiencing random total freeze-ups. Anyone have any idea what could be causing this? Bad mobo? Incompatible RAM? HD? PSU? I'm getting desperate and am willing to buy any new parts I need, I'm just worried that I'll buy a new mobo and it'll turn out the psu was the issue, or I'll buy new RAM and it'll be the mobo, etc.


Run memtest, 8 to 10 hours to test 8GB fully. Any errors at all mean something is wrong.

http://www.memtest.org/
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September 22, 2013 4:09:53 PM

anort3 said:
imail724 said:
I was wrong about my problem being resolved and am still experiencing random total freeze-ups. Anyone have any idea what could be causing this? Bad mobo? Incompatible RAM? HD? PSU? I'm getting desperate and am willing to buy any new parts I need, I'm just worried that I'll buy a new mobo and it'll turn out the psu was the issue, or I'll buy new RAM and it'll be the mobo, etc.


Run memtest, 8 to 10 hours to test 8GB fully. Any errors at all mean something is wrong.

http://www.memtest.org/


I tested it over night once and it returned no errors. I recently discovered that the RAM I have installed isn't listed in the mobo's memory support list: http://download.gigabyte.us/FileList/Memory/mb_memory_g...

but a similar one is. Could that cause freeze ups?
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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 129 V Motherboard
a c 101 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:11:32 PM

I would doubt it. That RAM should be 100% compatible.

What are your CPU and GPU temps?
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:13:42 PM

Very doubtful if it passed an overnight memtest. I see now in your first post you ran it. But then you confirmed you had memory issues later? How did you decide you had bad RAM if memtest had no errors?

Are the errors completely random?

Are you overclocking anything?
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September 22, 2013 4:14:35 PM

CPU temps are fine too, I set Core Temp to alert me when the cores get too hot and it never has prior to a freeze up. GPU isn't a factor because I've experienced freeze ups with the gpu installed as well as uninstalled using only the onboard graphics
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:17:05 PM

Do you have access to another power supply to test with? The 550TX was discontinued some time ago.
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September 22, 2013 4:17:06 PM

anort3 said:
Very doubtful if it passed an overnight memtest. I see now in your first post you ran it. But then you confirmed you had memory issues later? How did you decide you had bad RAM if memtest had no errors?

Are the errors completely random?

Are you overclocking anything?

That was the strange part. At one point I started getting BSODs every time i would turn the computer on. I then removed 2 sticks of RAM (4 gigs), and haven't had any more BSODs. I've been running 4 gigs since then. The RAM I removed was brand new too.
Yes, the errors are always random, therefore, difficult to troubleshoot.
I am running the listed timings on the memory. I believe I tried lowering the voltage at one point but it didn't fix anything.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:19:03 PM

Raising the voltage would help more than lowering it generally. Have you tried to clear CMOS? Either use the jumper on the board or take the battery out for 10 minutes or so.
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September 22, 2013 4:21:01 PM

anort3 said:
Do you have access to another power supply to test with? The 550TX was discontinued some time ago.


I don't. I had someone who said he was gonna let me use his but he never came through. Do you know if it was discontinued because of issues or just because its outdated/obsolete?
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September 22, 2013 4:26:06 PM

anort3 said:
Raising the voltage would help more than lowering it generally. Have you tried to clear CMOS? Either use the jumper on the board or take the battery out for 10 minutes or so.


I may have raised it, I'm not sure, I've been dealing with this problem for so long now (almost 2 years), that it's hard to remember all the things I've tried thus far. The only thing I know for sure I haven't tried is replacing parts (outside of swapping the RAM with 2 more sticks of the same RAM).
I don't know if I cleared CMOS, what is that exactly? I updated the BIOS at one point, would that automatically clear it, or is it something I have to do physically inside the case? I assume by battery you mean psu?
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:29:44 PM

I'm not sure why they dropped it. Maybe just marketing and the introduction of the cheaper CX line. I never heard bad things about it or anything. Generally you should replace a power supply after 5-7 years though. I have an old 750TX myself. One of the first gen ones from 2007 I think. I am doing some upgrades soon and that is on the list. I'm not really worried about it having some capacitor aging though as I bought a 750w unit to Sli with and never did so I'm way overpowered.

It would be worth trying to borrow one if you can. A random error thing can be PSU related.

Try clearing CMOS. It might help.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 22, 2013 4:35:31 PM

imail724 said:
anort3 said:
Raising the voltage would help more than lowering it generally. Have you tried to clear CMOS? Either use the jumper on the board or take the battery out for 10 minutes or so.


I may have raised it, I'm not sure, I've been dealing with this problem for so long now (almost 2 years), that it's hard to remember all the things I've tried thus far. The only thing I know for sure I haven't tried is replacing parts (outside of swapping the RAM with 2 more sticks of the same RAM).
I don't know if I cleared CMOS, what is that exactly? I updated the BIOS at one point, would that automatically clear it, or is it something I have to do physically inside the case? I assume by battery you mean psu?


Clearing CMOS will revert your BIOS to factory default settings but will not change your BIOS version. This will make sure it's not any settings made by you causing the errors.

There is a jumper on your motherboard or take the small battery out of the motherboard for 10 minutes or so.

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproblem/tp/clearcmo...

http://www.howtogeek.com/131623/how-to-clear-your-compu...
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September 23, 2013 10:46:26 AM

anort3 said:
imail724 said:
anort3 said:
Raising the voltage would help more than lowering it generally. Have you tried to clear CMOS? Either use the jumper on the board or take the battery out for 10 minutes or so.


I may have raised it, I'm not sure, I've been dealing with this problem for so long now (almost 2 years), that it's hard to remember all the things I've tried thus far. The only thing I know for sure I haven't tried is replacing parts (outside of swapping the RAM with 2 more sticks of the same RAM).
I don't know if I cleared CMOS, what is that exactly? I updated the BIOS at one point, would that automatically clear it, or is it something I have to do physically inside the case? I assume by battery you mean psu?


Clearing CMOS will revert your BIOS to factory default settings but will not change your BIOS version. This will make sure it's not any settings made by you causing the errors.

There is a jumper on your motherboard or take the small battery out of the motherboard for 10 minutes or so.

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/fixtheproblem/tp/clearcmo...

http://www.howtogeek.com/131623/how-to-clear-your-compu...


Ok, I'm going to clear the CMOS later today to see if that helps and I'm still going to try to get that psu from my friend at some point.

You don't think the board itself could simply be defective? Or perhaps the processor or hd?
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
September 23, 2013 11:06:09 AM

You can test your hard drive. A program called Speedfan will monitor SMART values and can test your drive. SMART is basically just a way for your drive to self report errors to any program that can read it.

http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php

A bad motherboard is possible. A bad CPU is extremely unlikely.
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October 6, 2013 4:30:35 PM

Okay, so I cleared the CMOS and ran the SMART extended test which returned no errors. But something that has been occurring since the freeze ups started happening happened, so I'm assuming they're related and therefore my issue is not resolved. If I leave my computer idle with a window open, after the screen saver runs, rather than the monitor going completely to sleep, the screen just turns black but with a cursor on top of it. I have no idea what this means, but if I let the computer idle while on the desktop it does not do it. No idea what to make of that but I always assumed whatever is causing my system to freeze every now and again is the cause of that as well.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
October 6, 2013 4:52:58 PM

I'm assuming you are still having random crashes?

Unfortunately this is turning into one of those problems I'm not sure can be fixed without starting to replace components. I'm really out of ideas. You could always take it to a computer repair shop and see if they can fix it but that could end up costing more than replacing parts.

As I see it the power supply or the motherboard are the two most likely culprits. I would start with the power supply as it will be cheaper and easier to replace.
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October 6, 2013 5:04:21 PM

That's what I was afraid of. I just cleared the CMOS today AFTER a freeze up, so we'll see, but I'm not holding out much hope.
So aside from the PSU and motherboard, I can pretty much safely rule out the other components?
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
October 6, 2013 5:10:12 PM

A bad CPU would be causing errors all the time if working at all and the odds of getting one are way less than 1%.

You said it crashes both with and without the graphics card.

RAM has passed memtest twice.

Hard drive passed extended testing and all the SMART values are good.

A short somewhere would probably not be causing issues like this.

Pretty much has to be a bad PSU or board.

You get no bluescreens right? Just freeze ups?
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October 6, 2013 5:16:08 PM

Very rarely do I get bluescreens. I think the last time I got one I took 2 2gb sticks of ram out and the problem went away.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
October 6, 2013 5:51:34 PM

At least you get error codes with bluescreens. So that doesn't help.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
October 20, 2013 9:39:08 AM

The VP 450 is sufficient for your system.
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October 20, 2013 9:42:16 AM

Cool, gonna hook it up now. Will report back if issues continue. Thank you for all your help!
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 2, 2013 3:27:40 PM

No reason not to test the power supply, but I still guess mobo. Could always test with heavyload like I suggested before. But yeah, problems like that always kinda suck because it can be difficult to track down intermittent or flaky problems rather than just non-working parts.
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January 2, 2014 11:05:28 AM

Guess its worth popping back in here to say I've had the new PSU installed for probably close to 3 months now and have not had any issues since. So it seems the PSU was the issue (although with my luck it will freeze right after posting this). Thanks to everyone in this thread for their help in figuring this issue out.
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a c 82 B Homebuilt system
a c 195 V Motherboard
a c 255 U Graphics card
January 2, 2014 11:18:41 AM

Great man! Glad it's working for you. Once we ruled out everything else it pretty much had to be the PSU. Glad we could help :) 
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