PC freezes/locks up when playing 3D games -- Graphics card problem?

I have a custom desktop PC that I put together about five years ago. It's never really given me any problems. Very recently whenever I try to play any 3D game the computer freezes after about 10-15 minutes and has to be restarted. I have tested this with somewhat newer (Tomb Raider) and somewhat older (X-Com) games. The problem does not occur with more modest 2d games like Panzer Corps, nor has it happened in any other situation.

The first thing I thought was maybe my 3D card was overheating, so I took it out and cleaned it as best I could without actually taking the heatsink and fan off. I also confirmed that all case fans, cpu fan, and gpu fan were working normally, cleared out the vents in the case, etc. I did a major cleaning a few months ago so it didn't look that bad to begin with.

I also checked to make sure graphics card drivers were up to date.

I did all this at least a week ago and didn't notice the problem again until today. The problem is I don't play games every day and honestly don't know if this really did temporarily fix the problem or not. My impression is that it helped for at least a few days, though. In any case I doubt that my GPU or other components got so much dirtier in such a short time.

Today I installed RealTemp and set it to create a log file, then I started up the game that a few minutes before had frozen. It took 12 minutes for the PC to freeze again, and here is the first few and last few lines of the log file:

  DATE      TIME      MHz    CPU_0 CPU_1 CPU_2 CPU_3  LOAD%  GPU
07/06/14  18:51:00  2066.46    53    47    46    47    10.2   54
07/06/14  18:51:05  2466.42    53    47    47    48     5.9   54
07/06/14  18:51:10  2033.13    58    51    49    50    29.7   54
07/06/14  18:51:15  2633.07    57    51    51    56    18.4   53
07/06/14  18:51:20  2533.08    59    52    51    52     8.2   54
07/06/14  19:02:00  1999.80    77    71    71    70    81.1   75
07/06/14  19:02:05  1999.80    76    69    70    70    76.2   76
07/06/14  19:02:10  1999.80    75    69    70    70    77.9   76
07/06/14  19:02:15  1999.80    75    69    70    70    75.6   76
07/06/14  19:02:20  1999.80    77    71    71    71    86.9   72
07/06/14  19:02:25  1999.80    73    67    69    69    56.8   71
07/06/14  19:02:30  1999.80    72    65    67    67    54.4   70
07/06/14  19:02:35  1999.80    73    66    67    68    56.5   70
07/06/14  19:02:40  1999.80    75    68    68    68    70.6   73
07/06/14  19:02:45  1999.80    76    69    69    70    79.8   74
07/06/14  19:02:50  1999.80    76    69    69    69    80.4   74
07/06/14  19:02:55  1999.80    76    69    69    70    80.7   74
07/06/14  19:03:00  1999.80    76    69    70    70    80.8   74

I'm not a wizz with this kind of stuff. I just have stock coolers but I did recently replace my case fans. I've noticed that my PC always seems to run hotter than people admit to, but it's not been a real problem. Still, I'm not sure whether these temps are enough to cause this kind of problem. Can someone advise?

Here are specs for the PC:

Running Windows 7 Pro, Service pack 1.

Thank you!
6 answers Last reply
More about freezes locks playing games graphics card problem
  1. Heat can be an issue, but looks like you have covered most of the bases there, and even replaced bad fans.

    How well ventilated is your rig? The case you have doesnt look like it has the best air intake in the front. Air flow might be an issue, though I think it may only be a small factor.

    Do you have your computer plugged into a power strip? Is there a lot of other devices connected to it?

    If your PC is fighting to draw power because its sharing the same pool with other devices could be an issue. Plug the PC directly into a wall socket all by itself, if not done already, and test.
  2. i would get a after market cooler for the cpu with a good thermal paste .
  3. Actually I did recently move and I have had a lot of things plugged into the same old power strip. I just tried unplugging anything else and running the computer and monitor through an extension cord that I used for the same purpose at the old place. Nothing else was plugged into the wall socket. It took a bit longer this time (17 minutes) but eventually the same thing happened.

    I don't know how good the wiring is here. In fact I have reason to believe it's not very good. Hmm... I guess to really test this I should move it all to another room or even another building. I don't suppose there's another option?

    The rig is not well-ventilated, even with an extra fan installed. Part of the problem is I have a lot of power cables in a tangled mess in there. This case has no cable routing system, and unfortunately I got a power supply with way more cables than I really needed. On the other hand, I don't think it is currently running much hotter than before.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that I did put an aftermarket cooler on the CPU a while ago.

  4. what are the fan do you have in that case and how the air flow is set also use this on the sensor page and post the result back this will tell use the lowest and max temp with some more details http://www.hwinfo.com/download.php then this one to see if there is any minidump files in the system http://www.resplendence.com/whocrashed
  5. Cheap way to test out the overheating theory is to just leave the side door off at this point.

    If you have recently moved, I would see about re-seating all of the cables and components like the video card, if you havent already. And even the CPU cooler may need to be taken off, cleaned, and then have a new bit of thermal grease applied. If the CPU doesnt have good coupling to the cooler, you could still have overheating issues no matter how good the cooler is.

    Testing out some of the hardware components is the next step here. Most people dont have spare parts available to swap and test, but that is where we are at. Swapping in a new video card and power supply would be the first I would do. Can be in any order.

    Also, are you overclocking the CPU at all? Looks like you marked down the stock clock in your original post, but you didnt explicitly state that it was stock.
  6. I think that case has the psu at the top,try to put the dvd player a bit lower than the top spot and place the cables you don't use as a bundle on top of that.Just see if it's possible.
Ask a new question

Read More

Games Components 3D