Hello, first time user here because I found a problem with my Alienware that I cannot diagnose. I am new to posting my system info so I might forget a few things.
The Issue (verbose description because I have no clue what this could be)
A few weeks ago, while playing a moderately graphic intensive video game my game started to lag as if I had connection issues despite playing offline. It started out with a slight stutter, then the next stutter was about half a second longer, then the next even longer until I could had no input control. I tried to alt-tab out and close the game because I had assumed that was the cause but my computer went to the black screen as if it was in the process of switching from full screen back to desktop view but got stuck and after a few minutes I had to turn force a restart. The interesting thing was the podcast I was listening to in the background never stopped playing, it continued to play despite all input locking up and being a black screen.
A few days later while playing a different, lower demand game this same thing happened, stutters that got longer and longer and then black screen, game background music continued to play despite losing all control of input and going to a black screen.
This continues to happen about every 2 or 3 days, it has happened while I was on my desktop and browsing the internet as well. Sometimes the audio does cutout, sometimes my speakers beep in a stuttered/screeching sound but this issue happens so infrequently and so suddenly I can rarely do anything to try and figure out what is happening before my computer completely freezes, it seems to occur randomly every 2-3 days and only when my computer is being used or is not in hibernate, it froze one time while I was in the bathroom but I had only been gone a few minutes.
Things I have done to troubleshoot
After the second crash/freeze I googled around and saw a similar post here that was solved with the issue being a memory problem. I did the test suggested, which was to run memtest. I had never run memtest before and I only let it run one complete pass because it was making my GPU heat up steadily and when one whole pass was done I was worried my GPU could have been the culprit so I canceled the test when my GPU hit 60 degrees. The 1 pass found no memory errors.
Since the memory test didn't show anything, I redownloaded my current up-to-date video card drivers and downloaded the program that came with my GPU called EVGA Precision X, which can overclock as well as monitor temperatures and control fan speed. I made sure my fan was working and set the program to monitor GPU data, hoping that the next crash would show something significant but the two crashes that have been recorded so far have shown nothing out of the ordinary as far as I can see, the temperature doesn't spike and power usage and other numbers remain similar throughout the crashes.
The one thing I noticed about 20 minutes ago that made me decide to ask for help was during the last crash was an error that popped up on the EVGA precision X program during the few minutes I had before my computer completely froze. I was able to minimize the game I was in and while I had full control over the mouse, I couldn't seem to do anything with it, clicking things made my computer react slowly, like hitting the windows icon made the outline of the start menu popup and slowly fill in the icons after like 30 seconds. I tried to open the task manager to check CPU usage and see if any processes were running really hard but I couldn't get it to open in time. A few moments before the screen went black, the EVGA software popped up with a box saying something like performance/log activity stopped "write error", which was an unusual phrase.
Also ran chkdsk which found no errors and Norton AntiVirus hasn't detected any viruses on my system.
PC Specs (respond if I am missing anything vital)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
System Manufacturer: Alienware
System Model: Aurora
Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz (8 CPUs), ~2.7GHz
Memory: 12288MB RAM
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Approx total memory: 4038
Other notes about PC- I bought a new GPU about 2 years ago, upgraded to the 680 from a 295, and have already had to use the warranty once because both the card and my harddrives died at the same time. I have also had to replace the motherboard and I believe one of the 6 sticks of RAM has been replaced because it is a different brand than the other 5, although they are the same capacity and have worked like that for years.
Also I have the log this EVGA program made during one of the crashes, its a huge text file though because I set the size limit to 10MB so I won't post it unless someone thinks it might help.
I really have no clue what this issue is, I believe my computer is still under warranty so I don't want to put this off too long but because the problem occurs so randomly and only every few days I wouldn't feel right trying to call Dell tech support with the amount of information I have now.
One thing that could help me get a better grip on what happens during these events is if there is a program that properly logs the processes and information my computer is doing when it crashes, the weird nature of these crashes makes me think some process is forcing my computer to crash because it slows to a stop instead of simply bluescreening or locking itself up immediately. If there is a program that runs a log of processes and their memory usage that could help if this issue isn't simple.
Thank you for any help you can provide, I really appreciate the amount of times I have been able to solve my own problems using other people's posts here and hope I am just struggling with a run of the mill issue.
Run CCleaner and do the Clean and Registry portions both. If your system is badly corrupted, you may need to run it more than once... until it comes back with no issues. https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
I believe I found the source of the problem and how to fix it.
During a crash I was able to open the Task manager and I found that a process with the description Nvidia Streamer Service was using around 1,700,000K of memory at the time of the crash. After restarting my computer a google search found that this process/service is used for the Nvidia SHIELD handheld and is installed as part of Nvidia GeForce Experience even if you do not have the SHIELD peripheral. Ever since disabling the service I haven't experienced any crashes and when disabling this service I found it was installed automatically a few days before I experienced my first crash.
I feel silly for creating a thread only to find out what caused the issue myself but I felt I should reply with this solution instead of leaving this thread to die since I couldn't find anyone else with this similar issue without knowing the issue was caused by this streaming service. Hopefully Nvidia will fix this bug soon.