Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Is My Computer Dying?

Last response: in Systems
Share
November 4, 2013 9:05:21 AM

Hi guys. I'm sorry if this is the wrong forum section but I'm not really sure where else to post this.

Lately my computer has been having several problems. I'm not really sure what could be causing them, which is why I need help!

First problem I encountered was that, upon turning on my computer, it froze on the Windows logo screen while loading up. Thinking it was just a general freeze, I turned my PC off and on. It happened again... And again and again. Next I decided to just leave it to see what happened, and after about 5 minutes, the login screen appeared.

So I logged in and began using my PC as I would normally. Until I went to listen to music on iTunes. The songs would play for a while, then there would be a pause (as if it were buffering), then carry on, until the song stopped completely and iTunes froze. This has happened several times to the point where I don't bother trying to listen to music any more.

Next, my favourite game (L4D2) started playing up too! It'd load as normal, but then freeze suddenly and I'd get a horrible sound loop.

So far these are the only 3 things that I've noticed going wrong, but I don't want to wait around for it to "fix it's self" as the problems will likely get worse.

Any ideas what the problem could be?


P.S.

I'd better give some info on my PC:

120gb SSD (with OS and a few games saved)
2TB HDD (with music, films, games and photos)
3.2GHz 6 core AMD processor
AMD 6770 1GB Graphics Card
12GB RAM
650 Watt Power Supply

More about : computer dying

November 4, 2013 9:38:49 AM

One thing I notice right off the bat is your specs list out 12 GB of RAM. You might check to see if you're running in dual-channel mode for the RAM, and if not, that may improve performance to the point that dropping to 8 could be worth your while.

I would start my diagnosis of a problem such as you describe by downloading a piece of software called Hardware Monitor, and just getting an overview of the temperatures in your system:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

The download link is on the right side of the page there, as either an installer, or a simple .zip file you just unzip and run.

Running HWMonitor while you do some tasks on your machine may reveal that a component in your system is overheating, which will give you a direction to head.

On the other hand, to reach 12 GB of RAM, you are likely running differently sized pairs of modules. Timings on modules, even among the same manufacturer can vary slightly and be incompatible. If you have never set timing of your modules yourself, you could have a bad timing value in the RAM that you're just now noticing. There could be slight component drift from a capacitor feeding the modules, causing the differences in timing to now become problematic, for example, but I'm kinda reaching here. Anyway, to find what timings your RAM modules are supposed to support, you could use another handy, free utility called CPU-Z:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html

In CPU-Z you will find an SPD tab. Click on that and look for the Memory Slot Selection. You can choose each of your RAM slots, and find out what the timings should be for the currently installed module in that slot, under the column matching the speed you are running the memory at. The problem with memory timings is that, you don't get to run all four sticks or even two different pairs at different speeds, which means, you have to have compatible timing on all of your modules, or you can run into problems.

On the Memory tab, you can see the timings you are actually running all of your memory at, and compare it to what your modules are designed for.

Changing those timings is something you will need to do in your computer's BIOS.
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 3:33:42 AM

bigpinkdragon286 said:
One thing I notice right off the bat is your specs list out 12 GB of RAM. You might check to see if you're running in dual-channel mode for the RAM, and if not, that may improve performance to the point that dropping to 8 could be worth your while.

I would start my diagnosis of a problem such as you describe by downloading a piece of software called Hardware Monitor, and just getting an overview of the temperatures in your system:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

The download link is on the right side of the page there, as either an installer, or a simple .zip file you just unzip and run.

Running HWMonitor while you do some tasks on your machine may reveal that a component in your system is overheating, which will give you a direction to head.

On the other hand, to reach 12 GB of RAM, you are likely running differently sized pairs of modules. Timings on modules, even among the same manufacturer can vary slightly and be incompatible. If you have never set timing of your modules yourself, you could have a bad timing value in the RAM that you're just now noticing. There could be slight component drift from a capacitor feeding the modules, causing the differences in timing to now become problematic, for example, but I'm kinda reaching here. Anyway, to find what timings your RAM modules are supposed to support, you could use another handy, free utility called CPU-Z:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html

In CPU-Z you will find an SPD tab. Click on that and look for the Memory Slot Selection. You can choose each of your RAM slots, and find out what the timings should be for the currently installed module in that slot, under the column matching the speed you are running the memory at. The problem with memory timings is that, you don't get to run all four sticks or even two different pairs at different speeds, which means, you have to have compatible timing on all of your modules, or you can run into problems.

On the Memory tab, you can see the timings you are actually running all of your memory at, and compare it to what your modules are designed for.

Changing those timings is something you will need to do in your computer's BIOS.


Hi, thanks for commenting!

I've tried all of your suggestions and everything seems to be fine. RAM is all the same speed and temps are good.

I really don't know what else to do D:

I may try uninstalling and reinstalling Windows 7. Do you think that might work?
m
0
l
Related resources
November 8, 2013 5:13:49 AM

don't yet reinstall os. you can do that if all else fails. i suspect disk health/virtual memory related issue

a) How much of your boot drive (I suppose the SSD) and the other drive full
b) Have you tried disk cleanup and other easy stuff
c) have you checked the health of the ssd with the software provided (like samsung magician, etc)

also, just open your box once, push your RAM and other connections a little and dust it if required

reboot and report
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 10:39:08 AM

For our own edification, can you list out the temps your processor is running at, both when idling and when loaded? It's not that I don't believe you, but we've seen plenty of occasions where the posters didn't realize the temperatures were not fine, and said they were fine anyway. It's easier for us to troubleshoot when we have more data to look at.

By the RAM being all the same speed, do you mean, the SPD readouts match what the Memory tab page lists you to be running it at, or that all of the different modules on the SPD page are rated for the same speed? :-)

I agree with Half Life, I wouldn't do an OS reinstall just yet.

You might try downloading and running a memory diagnostic test overnight, to see if it can pick up any errors. Here are a few common ones:

http://www.memtest86.com/

http://www.memtest.org/

And also the instructions from Microsoft to use their utility built into Windows, if you prefer:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/diagnosing-...

If you decide to open your computer case to make sure things are plugged in, you may want to verify the plug ends on your SATA cables going to your SSD and HDD. Those can fatigue and fail over time and could be causing intermittent contact. I would pull each end and visually inspect it for bowing or expansion in the center. Too much and you'll lose the connection from time to time, which will either disconnect the device from the bus, or could lock up the machine.
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 11:47:43 AM

Half Life said:
don't yet reinstall os. you can do that if all else fails. i suspect disk health/virtual memory related issue

a) How much of your boot drive (I suppose the SSD) and the other drive full
b) Have you tried disk cleanup and other easy stuff
c) have you checked the health of the ssd with the software provided (like samsung magician, etc)

also, just open your box once, push your RAM and other connections a little and dust it if required

reboot and report


Thanks for replying, the people on here are all so helpful.

a) my SSD has about 8GB of room left on it (out of 120), my HDD has over 1TB of space.
b) I've defragged my SSD but that's all I've tried
c) I'll run an error check right away and report back!

I've tried pushing in connections/RAM but I'll have another go anyway, just to be sure.


Thanks once again!
.


m
0
l
November 8, 2013 11:56:15 AM

Don't defragment an SSD, ever. It runs unnecessary write cycles (which SSD cells have a limited amount of) on the drive for zero benefit. SSDs can access every storage location at the same speed, so defragmenting can yield them zero benefits.
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 12:08:09 PM

bigpinkdragon286 said:
For our own edification, can you list out the temps your processor is running at, both when idling and when loaded? It's not that I don't believe you, but we've seen plenty of occasions where the posters didn't realize the temperatures were not fine, and said they were fine anyway. It's easier for us to troubleshoot when we have more data to look at.

By the RAM being all the same speed, do you mean, the SPD readouts match what the Memory tab page lists you to be running it at, or that all of the different modules on the SPD page are rated for the same speed? :-)

I agree with Half Life, I wouldn't do an OS reinstall just yet.

You might try downloading and running a memory diagnostic test overnight, to see if it can pick up any errors. Here are a few common ones:

http://www.memtest86.com/

http://www.memtest.org/

And also the instructions from Microsoft to use their utility built into Windows, if you prefer:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/diagnosing-...

If you decide to open your computer case to make sure things are plugged in, you may want to verify the plug ends on your SATA cables going to your SSD and HDD. Those can fatigue and fail over time and could be causing intermittent contact. I would pull each end and visually inspect it for bowing or expansion in the center. Too much and you'll lose the connection from time to time, which will either disconnect the device from the bus, or could lock up the machine.


Hi, thanks for being so helpful.

I ran a stress test for 5 minutes and my CPU reached 61 degrees-C and seemed not to be increasing.

When my PC is idling, the CPU temp is usually around low 40's.

one thing I did notice which is quite worrying is that something called TMPIN2 is at 128 degrees-C! I did a google search for what TMPIN2 was and others have said that they got a reading of 128 degrees using the same program (CPUID HWMonitor), and said it was just a glitch. (If something in my PC was 128 degrees, I think I'd know it). What do you think about it?



As for my RAM; by speed I was talking about the frequency, all of which state 518MHz on JEDEC#2, 592MHz on JEDEC#3 and 666MHz on JEDEC#4. I think I'm looking at the right thing there? Not sure... Anyway, all of the other numbers (don't have a clue what they mean) match up between each slot, too.


And as I said to Half Life, I'm going to have another look inside my case later on. But first I'm running an Error-Check on my Solid State. I'll get back to you!


Thanks once again for all of your help!
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 12:11:10 PM

bigpinkdragon286 said:
Don't defragment an SSD, ever. It runs unnecessary write cycles (which SSD cells have a limited amount of) on the drive for zero benefit. SSDs can access every storage location at the same speed, so defragmenting can yield them zero benefits.


Ah right then, I didn't know that. Thanks.
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 12:30:59 PM

Short term, your defragmenting probably did not adversely affect the SSD to a significant degree, but if you hammered on it with write cycles on a regular basis, you could see it fail in short order. Performance or benchmarking tests that write copious amounts of data to an SSD to determine write speed are not good for them either, but it also boils down to keeping a good balance. You only get so many write cycles per storage cel. As a consumer, you really don't want to use up most of your write cycles before you plan to phase out the device. :-)
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 12:44:19 PM

As a happy 6 core AMD user myself, I suspect right away from your numbers, you're processor is on the verge of too hot.

The maximum rated temps for these chips is between 55°C - 62°C, at least according to CPU-World:

http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/K10/AMD-Phenom%20II%20X6%...(HDT90ZFBGRBOX).html

I know from my own experience, when I start to run in the 60°C+ range with my 1090t, it no longer likes to complete such things as Prime95 runs with accuracy, usually throwing an error on one or more cores until the temps drop, due to lower loading.

Your high load temps look reasonably consistent with your high idle temperature, however. Is the ambient temperature (the temperature of the room your computer is operating in) very high, such as in the mid 80's°F (27°C)and above? Are you using the stock cooler? Is the cooler running at 100% fan speed, or being run based on an acoustic target instead? With aftermarket air cooling, my 1090t generally idles in between 10°C - 20°C, and the variance is directly related to the room temperature that the machine operates in. I can only hit the 60°C mark when stressing every core such as with Prime95. Right away I suspect your cooling is insufficient for the processor.

On another note, I would not fret about the 128°C temperature that you were reported by HWMonitor. It's common for the program to list out whatever available monitoring lines it finds in the system, only for those inputs to be unused by the manufacturer of your motherboard or other device. At that temp you'd likely be smelling something. :-)

One thing you might consider would be to increase the processor's heat sink fan speed, and perhaps even leave your computer's side panel off, to see if you can reduce your idle and load temperatures for your processor. If that alleviates your troubles for the most part, I think you're on track to getting things back to normal.

It's not unusual for the processor's heat sink to be clogged with dust after some time of usage. You should carefully inspect to see if perhaps you have an accumulation of dust on the fan blades and in the heat sink fins. This will drastically reduce the efficiency of your cooling, and often leads to lock-ups when you exceed your processor's thermal tolerance. It's not as readily apparent on some Intel chips, as that brand usually down-clocks to alleviate the problem, but that can be just as confusing to the end user. Either way, it's good to keep an eye on the processor cooling.

If you find the heat sink to be clogged, and decide to clean it, or remove and clean it, it would be good to know a few tips, and have a few things handy. If you remove the heat sink, you should find what is known as a TIM or "thermal interface material" between the heat sink base and the top of the processor. This should be cleaned from both surfaces and replaced. If you don't have replacement on hand, you may want to hold off on removing your heat sink. To clean the material off, isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and q-tips or coffee filters works well. Let the alcohol air dry, which only takes a moment, and then use about a chick-pea sized drop of thermal compound in the very center of the processor's heat spreader, when remounting the cooler.

When cleaning the fan blades or heat sink fins, if you use any form of compressed air to dislodge the built up accumulation, make sure you do not allow the fan to spin freely. Hold the blades in place with a pencil or q-tip, or even your finger, so they do not spin excessively fast. The bearings for the small fans are not designed to handle the high RPMs that compressed air will drive them at, and can end up ruined or at least, very noisy.
m
0
l
November 8, 2013 7:00:40 PM

here is my suggestion:

your ssd has about 6% free space. that is i think too low

can you move about 60 gb from your ssd to your secondary hard drive? it can be user data or media files

i think this will help you greatly even if it does not solve your problem

m
0
l
November 9, 2013 4:09:14 PM

bigpinkdragon286 said:
As a happy 6 core AMD user myself, I suspect right away from your numbers, you're processor is on the verge of too hot.

The maximum rated temps for these chips is between 55°C - 62°C, at least according to CPU-World:

http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/K10/AMD-Phenom%20II%20X6%...(HDT90ZFBGRBOX).html

I know from my own experience, when I start to run in the 60°C+ range with my 1090t, it no longer likes to complete such things as Prime95 runs with accuracy, usually throwing an error on one or more cores until the temps drop, due to lower loading.

Your high load temps look reasonably consistent with your high idle temperature, however. Is the ambient temperature (the temperature of the room your computer is operating in) very high, such as in the mid 80's°F (27°C)and above? Are you using the stock cooler? Is the cooler running at 100% fan speed, or being run based on an acoustic target instead? With aftermarket air cooling, my 1090t generally idles in between 10°C - 20°C, and the variance is directly related to the room temperature that the machine operates in. I can only hit the 60°C mark when stressing every core such as with Prime95. Right away I suspect your cooling is insufficient for the processor.

On another note, I would not fret about the 128°C temperature that you were reported by HWMonitor. It's common for the program to list out whatever available monitoring lines it finds in the system, only for those inputs to be unused by the manufacturer of your motherboard or other device. At that temp you'd likely be smelling something. :-)

One thing you might consider would be to increase the processor's heat sink fan speed, and perhaps even leave your computer's side panel off, to see if you can reduce your idle and load temperatures for your processor. If that alleviates your troubles for the most part, I think you're on track to getting things back to normal.

It's not unusual for the processor's heat sink to be clogged with dust after some time of usage. You should carefully inspect to see if perhaps you have an accumulation of dust on the fan blades and in the heat sink fins. This will drastically reduce the efficiency of your cooling, and often leads to lock-ups when you exceed your processor's thermal tolerance. It's not as readily apparent on some Intel chips, as that brand usually down-clocks to alleviate the problem, but that can be just as confusing to the end user. Either way, it's good to keep an eye on the processor cooling.

If you find the heat sink to be clogged, and decide to clean it, or remove and clean it, it would be good to know a few tips, and have a few things handy. If you remove the heat sink, you should find what is known as a TIM or "thermal interface material" between the heat sink base and the top of the processor. This should be cleaned from both surfaces and replaced. If you don't have replacement on hand, you may want to hold off on removing your heat sink. To clean the material off, isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and q-tips or coffee filters works well. Let the alcohol air dry, which only takes a moment, and then use about a chick-pea sized drop of thermal compound in the very center of the processor's heat spreader, when remounting the cooler.

When cleaning the fan blades or heat sink fins, if you use any form of compressed air to dislodge the built up accumulation, make sure you do not allow the fan to spin freely. Hold the blades in place with a pencil or q-tip, or even your finger, so they do not spin excessively fast. The bearings for the small fans are not designed to handle the high RPMs that compressed air will drive them at, and can end up ruined or at least, very noisy.



I'm using the stock cooler which came with the Processor, which come to think of it, is over a year old now. I'll give it a good clean I think. I have some of the TIM you spoke about so that should be easy enough.
I would buy an aftermarket cooler but I can't afford one really. Unless you can recommend one which would be of reasonable price?

Also, how do you increase the default speed of the heat sink? I looked in the BIOS and couldn't see anything.



Another concern of mine is that, even if my PC has been off for hours (so the processor will be cool), it still takes a good 2 or 3 minutes for my Windows to start. This is what's making me think that it might be more of an issue with my SSD rather than with my Processor. That's not to say that I won't do something to keep my Processor cooler, of course.

Thanks.
m
0
l
November 9, 2013 4:11:51 PM

Half Life said:
here is my suggestion:

your ssd has about 6% free space. that is i think too low

can you move about 60 gb from your ssd to your secondary hard drive? it can be user data or media files

i think this will help you greatly even if it does not solve your problem



I'll uninstall a couple of games from my SSD to free up space, then I'll reinstall onto my HDD. Hopefully that may help!
m
0
l
November 9, 2013 4:56:28 PM

Well, to address your concern about your SSD, filling it up usually only poses a write penalty. If you're not writing to a mostly full SSD, you have little to worry about. The reason for this is, SSDs do not write one sector at a time as HDD do. They instead write what are called pages. When SSDs become full, due to wear leveling, you end up with a situation where there are no longer any completely free pages to write to, despite having free space. So, before a write can take place, the SSD has to do some house cleaning, so it can write a full page of data, except it doesn't tell you that's what's going on, it just slows down, and in some cases, considerably.

The trick some folks have taken to, to ensure a minimum free space is always maintained on the drive, is called overprovisioning. That of course is something you need do before you install your OS on the SSD, so it's not something for you to do now. In essence, it keeps a certain amount of space free on the SSD at all times, but you can accomplish the same thing if you never fill up say the last 5 - 15 GB, depending on how much space you can spare on it. The purpose is essentially, to allow the SSD to always have some free pages available, thus maintain decent write speeds. Provided you have sufficient free space, your SSD and an SSD aware OS such as 7 or 8 will keep your SSD maintained about the best you can hope for.

Next up, SSDs have programming that determines how they operate. This is called firmware. Just like your computer needs some sort of OS to manage it, your SSD needs firmware to perform all of it's management of things internal and it's communication with your OS. There have been a lot of updates to firmware on SSDs throughout their history. Some more important than others. In some cases it was to improve performance, but usually it's to address some pretty glaring issues. Some are as severe as causing a computer to freeze / lock up, or even reboot, or more obnoxious such as the SSD simply disconnecting from the system bus (disappearing) until the next power cycle.

If you know your make / model of SSD, you can go to the manufacturer's website, where they will list any firmware updates available. Be cautious if you do decide to perform a firmware update. Some updates are considered to be destructive meaning, all the data on the updated drive will be gone after the update. Some firmware updates are not destructive, and once installed, you just reboot and all is essentially as you would expect it. The website you download the firmware from should tell you whether or not the process will be destructive. Either way, if your firmware update fails, it can render the drive inaccessible, short of sending it to the manufacturer for RMA support. I would advise doing any firmware updates when you can stand to be out a little time with the computer, should it not go according to plan, and also backing up any data you consider important before hand. If you have trouble finding your firmware, you can always post your make / model here and I'm sure somebody could find the correct firmware update for you. :-)
m
0
l
November 9, 2013 5:11:48 PM

I wouldn't worry that you're still using the stock cooler. It's sufficient for most scenarios, provided you keep it clean when it starts to accumulate build up in the fins, although any heat sink is susceptible to that. Stock coolers usually fare a bit worse due to their lower capacity for heat storage, compared to aftermarket coolers, so a lack of good airflow tends to be more noticeable. If you can't find any replacement TIM, you can always try cleaning the heat sink without removing it. Turning your computer chassis on it's side will usually grant enough access to the fan area to get in there with a can of air or blow gun. Just remember not to spin the fan with the air for the sake of the small bearing.

It might be a good idea to check your temperatures, both before and after cleaning, and see if you have made a noticeable difference, and that any reinstallation of the heat sink / fan unit is done successfully and your temps have not gotten any worse.

As for running your fan at full speed, that is usually accomplished by telling the BIOS not to control the fan at all, at which point the default is just to send full power to the fan, giving you it's full speed.
m
0
l
November 9, 2013 5:16:21 PM

Hard to say what's causing your computer to take so long to boot into Windows. When you installed Windows, did you happen to enable AHCI mode in BIOS for your SSD? That will help a little bit. There are ways of enabling it after, if you need.

Do you have a lot of software that loads with Windows, such as iTunes, WeatherBug, peer-to-peer clients, chat programs, tool bars, Widgets, Gadgets, Google goodies, status monitors, printer utilities, Drop Box, etc? Those can really make for a long boot, if they get out of hand.

You might fire up the CPU-Z utility again, if you've still got it handy, and on the Memory tab page, look where it says Channel # and see if it says Single or Dual. Ideally you want it to say, Dual, as this means your processor has much greater bandwidth when it accesses your RAM. Dual channel allows the processor to access two modules simultaneously. If it lists out, Single, it's likely due to memory modules that do not match up correctly.

You will likely find that you get better performance with less memory in a Dual channel configuration than you will with more memory in Single channel configuration. Going from Single channel to Dual channel would certainly speed up boot times.
m
0
l
!