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Very long and puzzling problem: HD, Processor, Motherboard, Graphic Card or PSU?

Last response: in Components
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May 2, 2014 2:04:28 AM

Hello everyone.

I'm having some problems since some time, maybe years, and every so often I searched for some help on the net, without any clear thoughts about this problem. Here we go:

I have this equipment:

- ASUS P5QL-SE Motherboard
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 (with factory default settings, as the RAM modules)

- Artic Cooling Alpine 11 GT (recently installed, replacing the old stock one)

- x2 RAM modules, 1GB each (the brand is Geil, but I don't remember what model is now)
- Ati Radeon HD 4650 (HDMI output)
- Samsumg HD502IJ, 500GB Sata II HD
- Tacens Radix IV PSU (700W , two 12V rails, 30A each)
- Behringer U-Control UCA222 interface (USB Sound card)
- Other sporadic USB devices, like usb sticks, HD's, joysticks and so on...)
- Windows XP SP3 and some Linux distros since 2009.
- Cool enough case, NOX Coolbay SX
- x2 120 cm case fan, one intake on the front and one exhaust on the back, 36 CFM each.


This PC whas bought in the end of 2009. Except the sound card, the case and the PSU, the rest of the components are the same since then. If i recall correctly, in the end of 2010 / early 2011 the system began to freeze at random and undefined periods of time; these freezes lasted and still lasting between 2 to 6 seconds. The first thing that I did was to test the sticks of RAM with MEMTEST with a complete process (on early 2011 and recently, 4 or 5 months ago) without errors.

On this period of time, the system halted completly. In the past, when I had a Sound Blaster Live! 24 bit, these freezes were accompanied with an annoying repetitive sound, like a chainsaw one. How can I explain this sound? it is as if the sound card played the last tenths of second of the sound buffer in a loop, or something like that, not very pleasant at any hour of the day since this behaviour appears at a random time. (In the mid of this, I bought a PCI Auzuntech sound card, which I had to return 2 times because made a electrical noise on the right channel intermitently, this is the reason why I switched it with the Behringer UCA222 but this made me suspect of the PSU, but since I found no information about this I bought a USB sound card to avoid possible ground / interferences)


Now, since I have a new sound card, a Behringer UCA222 (USB) this doesn't sound any more through the output, but the problem is the same (anyway, the first was a PCI and this last one is USB, if it counts). One thing I should mention is that the systems only freezes, there's no system lock or BSOD.


Speaking of other possible components at fault, maybe there are two more involved:



(Room temperature: 26º C)


- Hard Disk (Maybe is this one):



After detecting this problem on an early 2011, it is described as a posible SATA cable error, so, I replaced it with another new one. Some time later, after the problem persists (early 2013), I replaced again the cable, with the same results.

Some months ago, I noticed something: some times, when I opened the file browser to do even the most mundane tasks like resize the window, open a directory or do others low-processor tasks, not matter what time is, program opened or processor time, it freezes at a whatever hour or minute it was. The strange thing is that event occurs at random, maybe I can use the system one week flawlessly but maybe the next one I can see this 5 or 6 times on a week.

One curious thing is that when I was creating the snapshots for this post, when I used the vertical scroll on one the system halted about 2 seconds. I tough that maybe the the Catalyst / graphic cards drivers were old and has some critical build problem, but it's impossible since I have the drivers up to date with no critical bugs, so, maybe is the hard drive dying here since the early 2011?. Other "curious" thing is that I use some sound programs, like Goldwave, Awave Studio Audacity and Soundforge. Lately, I have recorded some set of sounds of a Synthesizer, and in some of these there are some sound stuttering, like a jump on a vinyl record. Since I'm away of the computer on these momments and I can't ear monitor the final sound, maybe this is the sign of freezing and data write errors?

Other thing to mention: I have revised the events log, but I don't see nothing related to I/O errors.


Also, here is the HD temps:




- Processor temps:




At the left are the idle temps, and to the right are the temps in a heavy work load (note: the voltages and settings are the default ones). To acchieve this I've opened over 8 or 9 low-demaing processor games, one big x264 MKV file, some DAW programs at once, one 3d modelling program taking over a 50% process time and some other stuff, 20 programs opened at once or so. After 30 minutes, the system seems "stable", no freezes and the system replies to basic input in time. So, if the system can provide all this at once without freezing, the RAM isn't failing, the PSU provides enough power, (30A + 30A, I don't remember the combined wattage since it's only marked on the PSU chasis, but If I recall correctly, 600W or so) the processor temps are right and If I have enough airflow, the only thing left is the HD, right? I don't know what I can do, since I don't have much money and I don't know what is the problem here.

Finally, I apologize for the long post and my bad english grammar. Help?.







a b V Motherboard
May 2, 2014 2:20:52 AM

Hi,
Have you ever updated Motherboard BIOS and Chipset. And have you ever formated the HDD.
Btw what XP SP3 do you have, 32bit or 64bit?
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May 2, 2014 9:10:57 AM

maurelie said:
Hi,
Have you ever updated Motherboard BIOS and Chipset. And have you ever formated the HDD.
Btw what XP SP3 do you have, 32bit or 64bit?


Hello, thanks for your response.

Yes, I remember that I updated the BIOS and the chipset drivers to their respectively last revisions because this same problem, maybe in the late 2011, which is the date that I went back to reinstall everything. Also, I'm checking in the ASUS site for updates and it seems that there aren't newer ones that mine.

To answer your next question, as I said, I formatted the drive in its entirety; I checked for bad sectors after that and ocasionally, finding none in every ocassion.

For the last question, I'm using the 32 bit version.

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a b V Motherboard
May 3, 2014 2:01:15 AM

I've seen cases where the Memtest went ok , but still there were some freezes. Try using only one RAM module at the time, if the freezing continues, try the other RAM module.
If that doesn't work, faulty PSU sometimes can cause freezing, blue screens and random restarts.
But 9/10 here i am sure that the HDD might be the problem. Could be bad SATA controler, or the HDD itself.
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May 3, 2014 11:37:17 AM

maurelie said:
I've seen cases where the Memtest went ok , but still there were some freezes. Try using only one RAM module at the time, if the freezing continues, try the other RAM module.
If that doesn't work, faulty PSU sometimes can cause freezing, blue screens and random restarts.
But 9/10 here i am sure that the HDD might be the problem. Could be bad SATA controler, or the HDD itself.


Yes, given the facts it seems that the HDD is the main problem here, but as you said, there are some chances it isn't. It isn't unreasonable to think that the PSU, the RAM or the onboard controller can be the cause, but given the small budget I have if I invest money on one and in the end turns out that was not the right choice, I think that the best option is, when I can, to buy a new budget computer and hold up until I can buy it.

I created this post thinking that with the given and specific information, thinking that maybe it can be a known and isolated cause, but as you said, with so many possibilities, it can be nearly impossible to gess since you can pass a day or weeks without freezings, thinking that you have found the error but the next day you discover that you're wrong.

One last thing that I want to ask: I remember that when I was downloading a large compressed file, a offline copy of Wikipedia if I recall correctly, one freezing ocurred and decided to wait anyway. When I went to check the CRC of the file, it was correct.
I first suspected of the Antivirus checking the contents, but I usually download relatively large files and the system doesn't make these stops.

This is maybe a clue?

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Best solution

a b V Motherboard
May 4, 2014 2:42:04 AM

Now that you have mentioned after downloading a large file and the HDD froze, i am sure that is HDD problem. I had the same scenario (not quite freezing, but sluggish response and pretty slow performance while i was downloading large files on BitTorrent). The large files would bump the speed of the HDD to 100% and the whole PC was at freezing point. Luckily the problem was with the BitTorrent, after fiddling it with the preferences, the problem stopped.
What i am saying is that all your problems are 99% connected with your HDD.
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May 4, 2014 1:09:05 PM

I see, then now I got something to work with, I think that I will buy a new HDD and if this not solve the problem, I will buy a new computer when I can.

Many thanks, I will pick your response as the solution.

Regards.
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a b V Motherboard
May 4, 2014 1:36:56 PM

MOS_6502 said:
I see, then now I got something to work with, I think that I will buy a new HDD and if this not solve the problem, I will buy a new computer when I can.

Many thanks, I will pick your response as the solution.

Regards.


No problem, i hope that with the new HDD, the freezing will disappear.

Good Luck.
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