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Brief Freezing while gaming - Stumped.

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December 7, 2005 1:49:45 PM

Some may recall I posted a while back about Some odd freezing problem I was having. At the time I basically concluded that it was the fault of a RAID card I had, but since the problem has returned with a vengeance, I now know this isn't the case.

Winchester 3200+ (@stock)
Epox 9NDA3J (Nforce 3 Ultra)
512Mb Crucial Ballistix PC4000
512Mb Crucial Ballistix PC3200 (a RMA replacement for a duff PC4000 stick)
Asus V9999 Geforce 6800GT 128Mb (@stock)
80Gb Maxtor
250Gb Maxtor
SB Audigy
Enermax 430W PSU
Antec P160 - 120mm intake, 120mm exhaust.

I'm basically about to throw in the towel & buy a new PCI-E mobo and graphics card, and just ebay the other bits off. (if Anyone's wondering, this is what my post in the Gfx forums is about).

For those who weren't around, or don't remember....
While gaming (ONLY while gaming, general use/watching vids is fine) at totally random intervals the system will freeze completely for a few seconds as if it's crashed completely. Then it will just resume from where it left off as if nothing's happened.

It still does this in basically every game, although different games seem to be affected to different extents. Most recent one is NFS:MW, which for some reason is most badly effected while just in the menu screens, rather than while actually racing (which would indicate it's not a GPU overheating issue or something)

In the course of testing, I found I had a duff stick of RAM, which I've since RMA'd and they've sent me another duff stick to replace it :roll: ... but it's not nearly as bad as the last one (according to memtest), and it still does this with only the one stick in there, which passes memtest, so I haven't gotten around to sending it back.

It does seem to be related to memory in some way, because the problem isn't so acute when I downclock my memory - it only does it every other race in NFS:MW, as opposed to 10 or 20 times in a single race like it did before. It's still worse on the menu screens though.

By Downclock, I mean I am now forced to run my RAM at 100Mhz, single-channel, 2T - 3-6-6-10, in order to get a half-decent gaming experience.

That said, I still get the problem, and my RAM is running so low below spec that I can't possibly believe it's actually the fault of the sticks themselves.

I have re-installed repeatedly;
I have tried different drivers (motherboard, sound card, IDE, and Graphics);
I have tried removing the SB Audigy;
I have installed windows 2K (instead of XP), then necessary drivers, then NFS:MW (i.e. NOTHING else) and it still does it, so it's definitely not a software issue)
I haven't tried replacing the PSU, but then this doesn't sound like a PSU issue to me(anyone else?) I would expect full-on crashes or reboots if that were the case;
The case is well ventilated; Temps are all always nice and cool;
I have set AGP apeture sizes, I have reduced AGP speed to 4x;
I have looked for BIOS upgrades but I have the latest one.

Since it seems to be memory-related, does anyone think it's possible that the memory controller on my winchester is dying? I certainly hope not. For the record, I've had it running at 2.5Ghz/+.1V for fairly extended periods of time.

About the only thing I have left to try is to replace my 6800 with the Ti4600 in my flatmate's PC and see if that helps. Of course I then can't play my games with all the eye candy turned on though.. :cry: 

So..... Any further thoughts? I'll probably be getting an Abit KN8 Ultra and a 6800GS, but re-using everything else.
December 7, 2005 2:09:29 PM

I wouldn't think that this is a power issue, but...do you have another beefier PSU that you can throw in to verify?
December 7, 2005 2:39:00 PM

Sadly not. The flatmate's PC has one, but that's just some generic 300W one I think, so I might blow it up, or just get other, more 'normal' PSU-related issues.

Might be able to get a Generic 350W one from work over the weekend. Worth a shot I guess.

I'll get MBM5 to log voltages while I game when I next get the chance, just to see...... But I'm not expecting to find anything.
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December 7, 2005 5:44:43 PM

I had the same kind of problem a while back and it turned out that my CPU was overheating because the thermal grease between the CPU and the heat sink had become slightly separated.

It only crashed during games when the CPU was running at high utilization.

Might be worth looking at CPU temp if your MB can detect it.
December 7, 2005 6:10:28 PM

CPU temp's fine. Never goes higher than mid 40s C.

I have a XP-120 Sitting on it, with Arctic Silver TIM.
December 7, 2005 7:40:44 PM

Would be worth a shot with the generic, but I think that would worsen the scenario. Good Enermax 430W vs Generic 350W = bad comparison. You could do something slightly sneaky and get a good 480-500W from a local shop. Return it if it doesn't fix the issue - or keep it for your upcoming upgrade....
December 8, 2005 3:49:40 AM

I had a very similar problem. I have an Adaptec 2120S which is a PCI-X card. I had it in a 32 bit 33MHz PCI slot. I have since gotten a board with a 64 bit 133MHz PCI-X slot. I concluded that the slower, 32 bit, 33MHz bus was bogging down everything. It would seem to worsen with the more crap I would put on my harddrives. In other words, it would do it less after a fresh install and progressively worsen. It was particularly bad when writing to a disk when I was using DVD Shrink or Decrypter or WinRar. Since I got the new board I haven't experienced this problem.
December 8, 2005 7:40:45 AM

Well, I'm using both on-board SATA ports, but aside from that I've only got the audigy as an extra. Granted I used to have a RAID controller card, but I don't anymore.

Never had any of this crap on my old 8RDA+, using that same RAID card and 3 disks. Now I have only the two drives hooked up.

I do have a whole lotta crap on the 250Gb drive, But if I'm not actually running anything off it (Often have a disk image mounted off it though, but after installation that's not gonna get accessed much at all. Certainly not every 10 seconds. ). And if it was related to this, why would running my ram at terrible latencies and half its rated speed help?

So it looks like some obscure mobo problem to me. I might not ebay the board if I feel it's defective (bad karma:lol: ). I'll test the 6800 in the flatmate's PC for a week or so and see if he gets any similar problems. If it's ok, I'll ebay it (which I expect will be the case).
December 8, 2005 10:24:33 AM

Just had a great idea... I've got an old 150W gateway ATX supply kicking around. I can hook that up to just power the Gfx card, and maybe a HDD or two. That should reduce the load enough on the Enermax to prove it's not at fault. Obviously not ideal... but it should do for the moment.. just have to find a spare paperclip :mrgreen:

If I can do that, and try the Ti4600 in my system, then that'll narrow it down at least.
December 9, 2005 4:39:32 PM

Which nforce drivers are u using? 5.10 or 5.11 I hope.. because any 6.xx version are for AMD with PCI-e chipset and does NOT have the AGP drivers.

So, I would use the latest 5.11 to test, but don't use the ethernet drivers.. It has some problems...
December 10, 2005 6:49:43 AM

High voltage to the ram can hurt the odmc. It's supposed to help if you also raise the v-core, though I'm not sure how much.
December 10, 2005 6:19:33 PM

Endyen -
Mobo doesn't actually allow higher than 2.8VDimm anyway... And would a damaged ODMC give issues like I currently have? I'm not sure. Besides, since I've had it overclocked virtually all the time, I've generally been running at around +.1V since I got it :mrgreen:.. I simply haven't found the 'sweet spot' on this rig, since I've been trying to figure this problem out, so I've not tried to see how far it'll go on stock Vcore anyway.

Pat -
Running 5.10 Drivers. I upgraded to these as part of the first load of troubleshooting I was doing on this problem. Can't remember exactly, but pretty sure the earlier drivers were 4.x, and they also suffered this problem. A quick google suggests the LAN problems are mostly it dropping connections and stuff. I don't have that problem, just this freezing thing :(  (but then I am on 5.10 drivers of course)

I just tried using the 150W PSU to power my graphics card separately - Same problem, so it definitely doesn't look like a power issue. I'll swap in the 4600 shortly I think... If that draws a blank then it's gotta be mobo or CPU I guess.... But I would think a failing CPU would be a bit more catastrophic than this. :S
December 13, 2005 9:15:02 PM

OK... Swapped out the Vid card, so now I'm running with a Ti4600. That in itself sucks, but it has cured the problem. So it's definitely the video card :cry: 

That would indicate it's either the card is faulty, a power problem (since the Ti4600 obviously draws a lot less than a 6800GT), or there's some sort of odd incompatibility between the card and the mobo.

I basically ruled out the second option (power) by powering the card from a totally separate PSU (It was actually a 200W Gateway PSU, not 150 like I claimed before... I actually read the label - duh.), so it's either a duff card or a compatibility problem.

I've installed the card in the flatmate's PC (Well, technically it's mine, but I built it for him to use) so We'll just have to install a few games and see if they suffer the problem.

I really hope I don't have to RMA the thing. Not sure if it's still in warranty. :( 

Well, either way it seems I need a new card, and if I'm going to do that, then I might as well still get a new PCI-E mobo and gfx card. Keep up with the times and all that eh? :mrgreen:

Still weird that reducing ram speed/timings helped allieviate the problem though. I can't figure out how that works. Any ideas? :?

Thanks for all the suggestions guys! 8)
December 13, 2005 10:21:51 PM

one other thing to look for...
this one had me tearing my hair for several months.

put your origional graphics card back in, get the drivers working.
Then go into windows system information (control panel -> admin tools ->computer management).
then look for "shared" IRQs and such.
some things you can get away with, some things you cant.
having your sound and network card share the same IRQ = bad
Same for video & HD or any combo of, network, video, sound & HD.

my guess is you'll see some shared IRQs that point to what is being used while your system freezes. If so, twiddle with settings and motherboard card slots until each component has its own IRQ.

My own system would crash out of the game I was in, it woldnt freeze like yours does. but this is something you can check into.
December 13, 2005 11:27:52 PM

Remember that just because the temp. sensor on the chip shows 40 deg C doesn't imply that you don't have local heating elsewhere on the chip.

If your thermal paste gets bumped, or knocked out of contact with the cpu, then some parts of the chip may be much hotter than other areas.

Local heating in the northbridge could happen the same way.

If this was an overheating issue with the cpu or northbridge, then that would explain why crippling your ram would help the symptoms. (Obviously the faster all the other components in your system are running, the harder the CPU will have to work to keep up.)

Similarily, changing out your VC for a slower model could make it that the CPU spends most of it's time idle, while the VC is frantically working.

Anyway, This stinks of being heat related, even if the vid card does turn out to be bad.
December 14, 2005 12:13:15 AM

I had the exact same problem when playing games. The computer would freeze randomly for a few seconds then resume where it left off. Also the whole time the screen was frozen the sound would just keep repeating at a very rapid rate like a stutter. It started this after I built my Athlon 64 system with the 6800 GT video card. I am using an nforce 3 mobo and I had a SB Live sound card. I have 2 WD Raptors running RAID 0 on the on board SATA ports. I had problems with memory failing mem test and I finally got new Geil memory sticks that would pass mem test. I tried breaking the RAID and running with a single drive and it still froze. I tried using a standard IDE hard drive and still the same thing. I tried swapping my 6800 GT with a Radeon 9800 Pro from my other system and it played fine. I replaced my 6800 GT with a new one and the same problem was still there. I swapped the power supply (a 550 watt) with the 400 watt from my other system and it still froze. I finally started pulling cards one by one and playing games just to see if it would crash. Finally after pulling the SB Live card and running onboard sound it was fixed. I tried putting the SB Live into other PCI slots and it would freeze again. I played games for about a month using the onboard sound card until I was convinced it was fixed and I bought a new audigy 2 sound card and it has worked great for about 3 months now.
December 14, 2005 12:49:08 AM

you may have already tried this, but, you could try temporarily running your pc with only the single 'stable' DIMM, and just completely remove the defective DIMM that you received through RMA, to see if that cures the problem
a c 117 V Motherboard
December 14, 2005 1:56:48 AM

WOW and I thought I was the only one who ever had that kind of thing.
Mine was on a VIA 754 MB (I had to get A64 right away)
But it was so random, Even just when listening to music. Lessen for me:
VIA SATA = BAD
Promise SATA = Good
But no one here seems to have that kind of problem. But I had replaced everything for that. PSU 380 to 450, sound card (Live to Yamaha XG to onboard stopped the loop but it still 1 sec froze just with no sound), took out the TV card. got rid of raid. What a pain. Changed all my cables and hard drives. In the end I had to stop running drives on the VIA SATA controller and all was good. Cheap Maxtor one fixed it all up.

I hate to say it but maybe you could try another sata controller? I find some of them just suck.
December 14, 2005 7:23:25 AM

A good suggestion, but IRQ conflicts was one of the first things I looked into.

It's not overheating. I have a decent cooler, I am a bit of an old hand at doing this sort of stuff by now, and besides stuff like F@H and Prime95 don't have any problems. only gaming.

Quote:
you may have already tried this, but, you could try temporarily running your pc with only the single 'stable' DIMM, and just completely remove the defective DIMM that you received through RMA, to see if that cures the problem
I had to for a couple of weeks while waiting for the RMA procedure to go through.

Quote:
I bought a new audigy 2 sound card and it has worked great for about 3 months now.
I've tried removing the Audigy and using onboard sound. Same problem (Except with on-board it keeps 'stuttering' the last 1/2 second of sound throughout the 'freeze', so it's even more annoying)


Believe me, I've tried everything. The only thing that helped was swapping out the graphics card. I'll do some testing on the nforce2 system it's now been installed in, and if that's problem free I'll ebay the damn thing...
December 14, 2005 10:53:58 PM

Try running with No sound card for a while?

Granted this wont be permanent...
!