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Decent Tower PC - all games crashing

Last response: in Video Games
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November 6, 2012 6:39:17 PM

Hey Guys,

I'm having a fairly annoying problem with my Tower PC where no games I try to play work. They all seem to freeze/crash/lag/flicker black/or not load at all.
The catch is that not 12 months ago I was playing these same games on this system just fine. (I stopped for Year 12 studies). Now no games at all will work.

I updated the NVidia drivers, thinking that that was at fault, and that didn't work. I then tried to install the drivers with the clean install method, didn't fix it either.

System Specs are as follows:
Intel Core i7 920 @2.67Ghz.
6GB of Memory (RAM)
DirectX v11
NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 (Total Available Graphics Memory 3835mb, Dedicated Video Memory 1024mb, Shared System Memory 2811mb)
--Let me know if you need to know anything else :) 

The Games I have which all don't work are:
Just Cause 2
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty Black Ops
Driver San Fransisco
Burnout Paradise
Portal 2
Need for Speed Undercover
Sims 3

Crash information: Generally the game will open up, get to the main menu, and I'll press "start game", and it will either freeze on the loading page, become completely unresponsive with a black screen, or it will load into the game and lag till it crashes. Burnout Paradise specifically starts showing game elements and flickering before crashing. I found that I could get Modern Warfare to run once, it lagged quite a bit but was slightly playable. I walked around a bit to see what happened, and the whole game froze every few moments. But then I walked into a room and as soon as I stopped facing the outside area the game worked perfectly. No idea why that happened, but perhaps that helps diagnosis :p 
The settings for each game remained on what they were when they last worked 12 months ago, but I've tried to lower the settings completely and it doesn't work.

When Modern Warfare 3 crashed it complained about a Direct X problem. When Driver Sanfransisco crashed I was presented with a tooltip saying "Display driver NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 306.97 stopped responding and has successfully recovered."

I upgraded to Windows 8 (64x) yesterday, but the problem occurred just the same before and after the upgrade. I was previously on Windows 7 (64x).

If you could help me in any way, that would be so great. I've spent ages trying to fix this to no avail. Next stage is wipe the drive and reinstall everything :( 

Thanks so much in advance,

Gavin
November 6, 2012 6:55:44 PM

run memtest for at least one cycle, or run with 1 stick and see if it crashes, repeat for each stick.
November 6, 2012 6:57:49 PM

13thmonkey said:
run memtest for at least one cycle, or run with 1 stick and see if it crashes, repeat for each stick.

Haven't heard of memtest before, how do I do that?
Related resources
November 6, 2012 7:02:14 PM

Download the autoinstaller from www.memtest.org and install it into the flash drive. Then boot from it when turning on the computer.
November 6, 2012 7:05:36 PM

Sunius said:
Download the autoinstaller from www.memtest.org and install it into the flash drive. Then boot from it when turning on the computer.


Thanks, I'll give that a go and see what it says :) 

To boot from a flash drive do I need to change something in bios or will it automatically boot from the memory stick? Or is there a button I need to hold down?
(Sorry I haven't done any of this before :(  )
November 6, 2012 7:09:14 PM

Change the boot order to boot from USB first in bios :) . There's also a button if you prefer it, but you'll have to look it up on your motherboard manual - it's different on every single one of them.
November 6, 2012 7:27:54 PM

Sunius said:
Change the boot order to boot from USB first in bios :) . There's also a button if you prefer it, but you'll have to look it up on your motherboard manual - it's different on every single one of them.


Great thanks Sunius! Its running now :)  I think I'll take a photograph of the results and post them here or something :p 

Best solution

November 6, 2012 7:30:54 PM
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i'd try just gaming with one stick at a time, if it starts to work better you'll learn which stick is bad. Although it also sounds GPU ish. What temps is your gpu and cpu running at? realtemp should help, or rivatuner for the gpu.
November 6, 2012 7:40:12 PM

13thmonkey said:
i'd try just gaming with one stick at a time, if it starts to work better you'll learn which stick is bad. Although it also sounds GPU ish. What temps is your gpu and cpu running at? realtemp should help, or rivatuner for the gpu.


Sorry to have to ask you guys to slow down on the complicated bits, but I'm not really sure what a "stick" is? Is that referring to RAM? I have no idea :S

But once the Memtest finishes and I post the results, I'll have a look at realtemp and rivatuner. Though I'm worried I won't be able to monitor the temperature at the point the game crashes, cause the computer becomes pretty unresponsive :( 
November 6, 2012 7:57:59 PM

sorry, 1 stick of ram, you'll have 3, the theory is that one has failed.

play in non-full screen mode and have rivatuner open at the same time.
November 6, 2012 8:17:25 PM

13thmonkey said:
sorry, 1 stick of ram, you'll have 3, the theory is that one has failed.

play in non-full screen mode and have rivatuner open at the same time.


I'll try a game that has a non-full screen mode, cause I know most that I mentioned are only full screen. I'm excited that you have a theory! :p  So I'll take out sticks of ram and test the games when each one is out? :) 
November 6, 2012 8:27:28 PM

better to test with only one in, it'll creak but it'll work. remember power down, and turn psu off before removing sticks
most games have a windowed mode
November 6, 2012 9:37:05 PM

13thmonkey said:
better to test with only one in, it'll creak but it'll work. remember power down, and turn psu off before removing sticks
most games have a windowed mode



Sure mate :) 

Btw, there is a lot of red on the memtest saying failing addresses...will that tell me which stick is bad?
November 7, 2012 12:43:03 AM

Here are what I think are the results. This Memtest thing has gone on for well over 5 hours now, and it doesn't seem to say "Complete" or anything. It just starts over and over and over again. I won't cancel it now incase you guys tell me I have to wait till it says its done, but if I don't, please let me know :p 

Thanks, and here is a photo of the screen it shows

November 7, 2012 3:11:48 AM

Yea your memory is faulty. Ouch. The memory test doesn't ever end - it will loop forever. You now have to open up your PC and take memory test with each stick separately to find out which ones are faulty.
November 7, 2012 3:26:05 AM

Sunius said:
Yea your memory is faulty. Ouch. The memory test doesn't ever end - it will loop forever. You now have to open up your PC and take memory test with each stick separately to find out which ones are faulty.


Well, as much as that sucks, I'm glad the issue has now been identified! Thanks man! It is now no longer a phantom problem :p 

Before I embark on the removing RAM process...
1. I take out two of the sticks.
2. I boot into Memtest again and let the test run.
3. As you mentioned it runs forever, at what point do I know it has spotted what I need to know, and how do I pinpoint the dodgy stick from the sticks that function properly? What do I look out for?
4. I obviously repeat till I find that tell-tale sign :p 

November 7, 2012 4:00:40 AM

Quote:
For #3, you probably wont see any physical signs of the fault, just have one stick of RAM in at a time and try to play a game. If it crashes, that's your faulty stick. If they all cause it to crash, you may even have a faulty GPU.

Make sure you have the power to the PC disconnected before you touch the insides of the case. Also press the ON button on the PC to make sure all electricity has been discharged, you'll probably see the lights flash on then off.


Memory test is much better at checking whether RAM is faulty than gaming on it.

GavAsh said:
Well, as much as that sucks, I'm glad the issue has now been identified! Thanks man! It is now no longer a phantom problem :p 

Before I embark on the removing RAM process...
1. I take out two of the sticks.
2. I boot into Memtest again and let the test run.
3. As you mentioned it runs forever, at what point do I know it has spotted what I need to know, and how do I pinpoint the dodgy stick from the sticks that function properly? What do I look out for?
4. I obviously repeat till I find that tell-tale sign :p 


4 passes should be enough.
November 7, 2012 5:14:39 AM

Sunius said:
Memory test is much better at checking whether RAM is faulty than gaming on it.



4 passes should be enough.



So you suggest I do the memtest 3 times on each of the sticks. But what do I see on the memtest that distinguishes it from faulty or fine?
November 7, 2012 5:18:22 AM

Quote:
For #3, you probably wont see any physical signs of the fault, just have one stick of RAM in at a time and try to play a game. If it crashes, that's your faulty stick. If they all cause it to crash, you may even have a faulty GPU.

Make sure you have the power to the PC disconnected before you touch the insides of the case. Also press the ON button on the PC to make sure all electricity has been discharged, you'll probably see the lights flash on then off.



Thanks :)  Fortunately I helped a friend build the computer in the first place so I know my way around taking out the RAM and being safe and all that :) 

Oh I sure hope it isn't a faulty GPU, they are much more expensive.

I originally had a 9500GT in the computer with the GTS 250. I attempted to put an SLI bridge between them. I thought that that was causing the problem, so I took out the 9500GT but it didn't change anything at all.
November 7, 2012 6:04:41 AM

All sticks caused crashes in the games :( 
I even tried in safe mode. (MW2)

Does this mean the GPU is faulty? I'll try each RAM stick with the memtest as soon as I know how to tell which one is faulty.

Do you guys have any other ideas? I'll have to take it to a repair shop....
November 7, 2012 6:38:18 AM

If a memory stick throws an error, it means it is faulty. Even single error is very bad. If a stick is good, it will throw no errors.
November 7, 2012 6:45:15 AM

Sunius said:
If a memory stick throws an error, it means it is faulty. Even single error is very bad. If a stick is good, it will throw no errors.


Maybe they are all faulty?
November 7, 2012 6:45:34 AM

can you borrow you friends ram and see if that gives the same fault?

unfortunately you nearly always end up needing to swap components in and out and so need spares? it could be memory controller on mobo, very bad luck, requires new mobo, but very very rare.
November 7, 2012 7:01:01 AM

13thmonkey said:
can you borrow you friends ram and see if that gives the same fault?

unfortunately you nearly always end up needing to swap components in and out and so need spares? it could be memory controller on mobo, very bad luck, requires new mobo, but very very rare.


I thought RAM had to be a specific "version" cause its not compatible across other motherboards....
I could borrow the RAM from the other computer in our house, but honestly I don't want to get that complicated... :/  How do I know if its even compatible?
November 7, 2012 7:04:35 AM

If it is ddr3 it will be compatible. it might drop to its slowest speed but it will work.

having other PC's makes you lucky as you can swap components until you find the faulty one.

its not complex, you could have an answer in 30mins if you just sat down and did it. what are you concerned about, so we can offer specific help.
November 7, 2012 7:21:40 AM

13thmonkey said:
If it is ddr3 it will be compatible. it might drop to its slowest speed but it will work.

having other PC's makes you lucky as you can swap components until you find the faulty one.

its not complex, you could have an answer in 30mins if you just sat down and did it. what are you concerned about, so we can offer specific help.



Oh thanks mate :) 

It was just my parents computer, and I didn't want to risk removing their RAM cause if something happened I'd be in the crap :p 

But you are right, it should be fine. I'll do it tomorrow. Right now I'm running the memtests on each of the sticks individually. So far no errors on the first one...
November 7, 2012 8:06:06 AM

That's a really good sign, it means that memory controller is not broken, I thought you had done individual tests? Hence the concern above.
November 7, 2012 8:07:53 AM

13thmonkey said:
That's a really good sign, it means that memory controller is not broken, I thought you had done individual tests? Hence the concern above.


No I did what "Azukay" suggested, one RAM stick at a time testing the games to see if the problem persisted. It did.

So I proceeded to the suggestion from "Sunius", which was to test each RAM stick individually in Memtest
November 7, 2012 9:22:43 AM

RAM isn't fine, he found that out already :p . Now it's up to the task of finding which stick(s) is(are) faulty.
November 7, 2012 9:31:44 AM

Quote:
Another thing to try is running CCleaner on a registry scan to see if there are any problems with Windows. I don't know how well it will go on Win8, but it's been working fine for me on Win7 Pro x64. Make sure you backup your important stuff first before you use CCleaner.
As a last resort if the RAM test fine, if you have a spare HDD you could always try installing a fresh copy of Windows onto that for testing.


I did the CCleaner just before I took to the forums. The registry scan had over 300 problems, but that was probably cause I just upgraded to Windows 8. Fixing that did nothing anyways.

I've finished the first stick, which did 4 passes and said no problems. I will let the computer copy all my files off to a backup in case something goes wrong.

Tomorrow I'll do the memtest on the remaining two sticks. Then if I don't get anywhere by tomorrow afternoon I'll take it to a repair shop to see what they say. Then I can buy the new sticks or whatever I need replaced and they can install it if its a complex thing :p 

Funnily enough I have a spare harddrive sitting in that computer, same size as the C:/ drive, completely empty and fresh :p  So I suppose i could install windows onto that to see if that helps. Though I don't know how to have windows on two drives!
November 7, 2012 9:42:05 AM

first off what brand of ram is it. i need the make model speed and latency timings like this...
ocz pc38500 7-7-7-16

is it 1.65v or less as default
x58 motherboard need to run the cpu and ram within .5v of each other. not doing so will damage 1 or both.
so if your ram is running at 1.65v and the cpu is running at idle 0.950v (due to cpu voltage stepping, part of the powersaving features)your voltages are beyond the .5v safe zone.
and some tweeking will be required if the ram isnt already irreprably damaged.

also do you have a good cooler. as it will actually be easier to overclock your system and get it stable with basic tuning off the default values over the auto values that are way to generous and can cause issues over long periods.. this is a known issue with x58 boards that isnt explained very well in the manuals.



November 7, 2012 9:51:21 AM

HEXiT said:
first off what brand of ram is it. i need the make model speed and latency timings like this...
ocz pc38500 7-7-7-16

is it 1.65v or less as default


Alright :) 

Its red and has a big P on it for "Patriot Memory". Its Australian I believe according to the barcode, but here is what code it says on the label.

PSD36G1600KH

6GB PC3-12800 1600MHz
(3x2GB) kit



If you need any more info, let me know how to get it. Sorry I'm new to most of this...but I appreciate everyone's help so much!

I didn't follow much of what you said on the second part of that message I'm afraid.

I built the computer with a friend, he was trying to teach me how to custom build computers. We selected parts (about 2 years ago it was) for Video editing and rendering. We put in quite a few fans to keep it cool, two largish extra ones I think.

I'm open to overclocking. It used to be overclocked, we tried it on various speeds and it was stable. I don't remember how to do it anymore, somewhere in bios, but i forgot. So if you recommend it, then point me in the right direction and I'll do it :) 

Cheers
November 7, 2012 9:53:48 AM

Sunius said:
RAM isn't fine, he found that out already :p . Now it's up to the task of finding which stick(s) is(are) faulty.



We'll thats the million dollar question isn't it ;)  lol

What could cause one of the sticks to become faulty? (Out of curiosity)
November 7, 2012 10:07:14 AM

Many things: wear, overheating, etc.
November 7, 2012 8:56:00 PM

Ran memtest to 4 passes on each RAM stick individually.

Get this,

No Errors....
November 7, 2012 10:18:10 PM

Quote:
MSI Afterburner comes with a program called MSI Kombustor, this will allow you to stress test your GPU easily. Prime95 is good for stress-testing the CPU .
You could also have a faulty RAM slot too, you can test this by placing a known working stick of RAM into each of the slots you use and running memtest (if you haven't already).


I loaded MSI Kombustor, and did the stress test...but how do I get the results from that to show you? Seems to be working as far as I know...

It just did that ripple thing for a while till I closed it.... GPU load hitting around 98% most of the time, and GPU Temp at about 61 degrees C
November 7, 2012 10:37:40 PM

A screenshot of the results from one of the tests. Doesn't seem like there is any problem with the GPU either
November 8, 2012 3:52:57 AM

Did you test all the sticks in the same motherboard slot? One slot might be faulty.
November 8, 2012 4:12:47 AM

Sunius said:
Did you test all the sticks in the same motherboard slot? One slot might be faulty.


I didn't because I thought the rule was that it had to be in the left most slot and then work your way up. Somehow that was stuck in my head, perhaps because of the interchanging black and red slots.

I'll spend a bit of time changing them round and rerunning the memtest...but its hard cause I work and it takes about 2 hours for each one :( 

I have 6 RAM slots. 3 are black, 3 are red. What is the difference? Perhaps I should put all my RAM sticks in the black ones and try it? The black ones have never been used...
November 8, 2012 4:19:59 AM

You could - that would be a good start. Just leave the test overnight - you don't have to sit and watch it.
November 8, 2012 4:24:51 AM

Sunius said:
You could - that would be a good start. Just leave the test overnight - you don't have to sit and watch it.



I put them in the black slots and the screen stays blank when I boot. I tried again in the red slots to make sure something else wasn't causing the non-booting, and in the red slots it booted normally. Maybe they aren't to be used :/  Confusing.

Yeah I can set and forget, but I mean to change them. Anyway, I'll do that swapping tests tonight :)  Theoretically it will only involve 2 tests.
November 8, 2012 8:34:01 AM

All the slots are fine, producing no errors.

:/ 

Stumped? I am :( 
November 8, 2012 1:33:41 PM

Looks like a motherboard issue to be honest... Is it still under warranty?
November 8, 2012 7:37:35 PM

Sunius said:
Looks like a motherboard issue to be honest... Is it still under warranty?


Purchased the bits and built this computer back in December 2009...so I doubt it :( 

I found a guy to come over on the weekend to have a quick look, and if it is a motherboard, hopefully he'll help me change it.

Can you recommend a motherboard to me? Don't worry if its a tough question, I just don't know what would be best :/ 
Its currently a Asus P6T. Not the best brand i think, but it was chosen for use as a "Hackintosh". I've since removed MacOSX from the computer completely and won't need it again (now I have an iMac)...so any motherboard that is good for games and stuff would be great...

Also its no-longer needed for video editing, just games now. iMac does the video :p 

Cheers :D 

And thanks so much for all your help guys! :love:  You are all so good at this!!
November 8, 2012 8:20:06 PM

December 2009? Check your motherboard manual, most motherboards come with 3 years warranty.
November 8, 2012 9:22:02 PM

Sunius said:
December 2009? Check your motherboard manual, most motherboards come with 3 years warranty.


Oh great! It might be. I'll hunt for the box and manual shortly.

However I'm trying desperately to backup the damn computer, and it no longer sees the other hard drive thats inside it. Its freshly formatted and was showing before hand. It appears in bios, and it appears in device manager with all the latest drivers, but it won't show in My Computer so i can back up my files to it :(  And I even connected another harddrive through a dock with firewire and that doesn't even show. (Though it too shows in device manager)

Honestly I'm just about done with computers this is ridiculous! :( 
November 9, 2012 5:33:17 AM

Write "partition" in start menu and then press "Create and format hard disk partitions". Then find your drive and format it. That way it will appear in the "Computer".
November 9, 2012 5:38:41 AM

Sunius said:
Write "partition" in start menu and then press "Create and format hard disk partitions". Then find your drive and format it. That way it will appear in the "Computer".


Format is greyed out....go figure :( 
It says its healthy too
Only options that are available are "Delete Volume" and "Help".
November 9, 2012 6:00:20 AM

Just delete the empty volume then and recreate it then.
November 9, 2012 6:00:52 AM

Sunius said:
Just delete the empty volume then and recreate it then.


I was halfway through a disk clean with "diskpart" using elevated command prompt...but I'll try what you say :) 

EDIT:// Its formatting now :)  Thanks Sunius! I'll just sit tight, then I can back up the whole computer so in case I'm on the market for another motherboard tomorrow, I'm not caught off guard.

Any personal recommendation for a better motherboard? Or do you prefer not to discuss those kinds of things?
!