Strange hard freezes

Hey there, first post of hope fully many. And I have a tech problem to start it off with!

OK, I built my own machine about three months ago (system came online 31-July). Complete specs are as follows:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650
Motherboard: Intel DP45SG
Hard Drive: Western Digital WD10EALS (1TB SATA)
RAM: OCZ OCZ3P13331G (DDR3, 1333MHz, 1GB x 4 sticks)
Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic SB0670
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-750TX (750W)
Optical Drive: ASUS BC-08B1ST (BR-ROM, DVD-R/W, CD-R/W)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Got it set up, a lot of nice, solid gear. And it worked fine, until about 3 weeks ago. I started getting horrendous hard freezes. If the computer freezes in the middle of something (game or movie), the speakers make a really horrible noise - some kind of screeching/clicking sound, like a bad vinyl record, that loops forever. The computer never recovers from the crash, so I have to restart the machine when this happens. Happens at full load. Happens at no load. Happens after being on for days and days. Happens after being on for two hours. Happens when I am quickly scrolling through text on a website, happens when I am gaming or rendering video. If it happens when I am processing video overnight, the monitor (Samsung 940BW) is unable to detect a video signal coming from the computer.

Since this problem began, I downloaded a lot of diagnostic software. I ran SpeedFan...
Win9x:NO 64Bit:YES GiveIO:NO SpeedFan:YES
I/O properly initialized
Linked ISA BUS at $0290
Linked Intel 82801JIB ICH10 SMBUS at $F000
Found nVidia GeForce GTX 275
Linked nVidiaI2C0 SMBUS at $3D403E3F
Linked nVidiaI2C1 SMBUS at $3D403637
Linked nVidiaI2C2 SMBUS at $3D405051
Scanning ISA BUS at $0290...
Scanning Intel SMBus at $F000...
aSC7621 (ID=$6D) found on SMBus at $2E
Scanning I2CNVidia SMBus at $3D403E3F...
Scanning I2CNVidia SMBus at $3D403637...
Scanning I2CNVidia SMBus at $3D405051...
Found Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme CPU X9650 @ 3.00GHz
End of detection
SMBus msg : Failed reset at end $2E ($40)
(SMBus failure repeats ad nauseum)

And the following specs while NOT under load:
GPU: 38C
CPU: -68C (?!? -ed.)
Internal Temp: 29C
Core 0: 33-35C
Core 1: 33-34C
Core 2: 19-20C
Core 3: 22-25C

+2.5V: 1.10V
Vcore: ~1.184-1.25V (via the latest CPU-Z)
+3.3V: 3.32V
+5V: 5.01V
+12V: 12.19V

Ran “smartmontools” to check my hard drive's SMART (SpeedFan doesn't detect it, bizarrely). I checked the numbers both manually and automatically. The drive is very nearly factory fresh and no end-of-life flags have been thrown. Also the hard drive hasn't made any strange noises. So its probably not the hard drive.

I checked the video card. I did discover that when it was under full load, it was running hot, around 75-80C (it was fine idle, though). Of course I found out why, the fan wasn't kicking in and it was fixed at 40% (!). Downloaded EVGA Precision v2.0.0 (Rivatuner support for Windows 7 64-bit looks a little wonky presently) and set it to 90% all the time. Hardly notice the additional noise, and it's running 15C cooler under full load and ~2C cooler idle. So that was a nice find, but I am still having these hard crashes. Ran the card through OCCT, and the GPU + GDDR passed. The Forceware drivers (v258 WHQL) were bad, though (wouldn't save profiles, crashed whenever an Adobe CS3 media program was opened), but I replaced them with an updated set (v259 beta, the 260s don't seem like a good bet yet) after uninstalling the old ones, and they seem to be better off now.

I though it was the RAM, but I did a run through with Memtest86+ v4.1, and there were no problems at all. So that would sort of seem to indicate that my RAM, DIMMs and at least a the memory-handling portion of my motherboard is functional, and rules out bad sticks as the problem.

I'm actually running out of viable explanations as to why this is happening, as well. The only things I can think of are along these lines: A) there is some problem with either my sound card or even video card I have not been able to diagnose yet, B) there is a conflict between my video card and sound card that is quite profound, C) some part on my motherboard is dying and I am going to have to replace the board or, D) I somehow managed to foul up an install of Windows 7 in three months when I've taken bigger risks with Windows XP boxes and have remained unscathed.

If anyone has any suggestions to remedy the problem, I would be quite happy to hear them.

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  1. Just a further entry. The freeze I mentioned previously just occurred again. I quickly tapped on the reset when it did. When the reset sequence had completed (just before POST) my GPU was not outputting any signal to my monitor. On top of that, I received three warning beeps from the PC speaker, which the DP45SG manual seems to suggest relate to a memory problem occurring while going through POST.

    This is very peculiar indeed as the most recent release of Memtest86+ detected no memory issues whatsoever during its test. To be honest I don't know if its the GPU, the motherboard, the memory or all three now that are going down the drain.

    Although since Win7 installation keys are, if I remember correctly, tied to the motherboard you have in your machine during OS installation, I rather hope its the other two as then its just a simple (though pricey) case of swapping bad parts out.

  2. I have been fighting the same issue with my build. I have replaced the MB, RAM, Powersupply. I have always suspected it was an issue with the motherboard. Two have failed and been replaced by intel.

    The only two things our system have in commen is the MB. If you figure anything out please post an update
  3. emp8619 said:
    I have been fighting the same issue with my build. I have replaced the MB, RAM, Powersupply. I have always suspected it was an issue with the motherboard. Two have failed and been replaced by intel.

    The only two things our system have in commen is the MB. If you figure anything out please post an update

    Yikes, this seems like a lifetime ago now. I RMA'ed the thing once, with no success in improving stability, myself. The only thing that really worked out was to replace the MB with another make and model. I suspect that getting RAM from the approved list that Intel provided would have solved the issue (I think it is REALLY sensitive on that regard), but it'd really be stupid to pay roughly as much or more for new DDR3 sticks than it would to just replace the thing with a new (better) MoBo altogether.

    In my case that was the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-USB3P. In one or two small ways the DP45SG has more functionality, but it doesn't matter because the Gigabyte board is alot more stable. So much so that it seems pretty safe to push. Apparently the max memory it'll take is 8 to 16GB DDR3 (EDIT: Gigabyte says 16GB, Newegg says 8GB). I'd lean towards 8GB as I put in 16GB, it didn't POST. However, I got 12GB going after some musical chairs with the RAM to make sure all the sticks worked. My system is very stable all told at the moment, no more hardware-based crashing. Either my board is exceptional (if 8GB RAM limit) or it's defective (if 16GB limit), but either way it's a lot better built than the old lump from Intel, and it has USB 3.0 to boot. Of course I was looking at other offerings from Gigabyte, ASUS and others, so do some research to see what you need first.

    What I *would* do is flip your DP45SG off on eBay or elsewhere. It's still fetching good prices resale but it's officially End Of Life now so who knows how long that'll last? If you can get $50-90 out of it like I did it'll be a useful offset to a new MoBo, and hopefully the guy who takes it off your hands will have better luck with it.
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