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Computer reboots on its own...HL2 doesn't run well

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December 31, 2005 6:58:02 PM

I built my computer about 6 months ago and it has been rebooting particularly when I burn DVDs with my Sony DRU-710. I have recently replaced my Antec 300W Power Supply with a Thermaltake TR2-430W with hopes of remedying the problem, but it still does it. My system specs are:

Chaintech Summit SPT800 Socket 478 Motherboard (I think I skimped)
Intel Pentium 4 3.0 Ghz 1MB Cache 800 Mhz FSB w/ HT
(should have gone Athlon 64, but so expensive when I built computer)
XFX 6600GT AGP Graphics Card OC'd to 540/1050
(possibly upgrade to X800 GTO shortly?)
80 GB 7200 RPM Hitachi Parallel ATA HDD w/ 2 MB Cache
(should have gone with Serial ATA? but got deal on this one)
2 x 512 MB Corsair XMS Dual Channel DDR400 RAM (happy with RAM)
Sony DRU-710A DVD Burner
Antec SLK2600AMB Steel Mid Tower Case with intake and exhaust fans
Dell 19" LCD monitor w/ 16 ms response time

Half Life 2 also takes a long time to load, and it stutters at medium settings at 1024 x 768 resolution with no AA or AF. I game, burn & watch DVDs, and use the computer for my college classes (casual use). This was my first build, but I'm learning. Any help or insight you could provide would be appreciated.
December 31, 2005 7:04:04 PM

Reboots usually point to heat related issues. Make sure the CPU heatsink/cooler isn't broken or loose. Also if you have a CPU temerature monitor program see what your cpu temp is after playing HL2 for a few minutes.
December 31, 2005 7:14:56 PM

Oh yeah, I forgot to list my Coolmax Socket 478 Cooper core CPU cooler in my system specs, and it is on and working properly. I don't have any temp. monitoring devices besides my HDD Thermometer and it typically reads 86 to 89 degrees F.
Related resources
December 31, 2005 8:37:29 PM

This is a shot in the dark but, loose ram chip maybe? Slow load on hl means no ram.
December 31, 2005 10:16:20 PM

System properties lists 1 GB of RAM. I double checked anyway and both RAM chips were securely in their slots. Is the system just not capable of good Half Life 2 performance? I thought I'd seen some benchmarks that show I should get pretty good framerates. I still have no idea about the restarts though. Thanks for the input so far. I am at a loss...
December 31, 2005 11:13:57 PM

Don't forget power supply unit, my cpu had problems like this. Though it was heat, wasn't. Corrupt RAM? mmm was PSU first dust bunnies were having the bulge down there, 2nd was just too old not working right to provide enough power.

And your rig... mmm honestly my cpu is not far off from yours atm, 2.0 intel and lower end mobo and card, and 512 RAM =( but I can see your rig not being as good for HL2 as you'd want. Although shouldnt be terrible Framerates...

graphics card id upgrade think help a lot. And honestly cpu, intels just overheat and athlons play games so much smoother, HL2 is more CPU effected game too.
January 1, 2006 12:11:50 AM

That system is beyond sufficient enough to run HL2 .. I've seen my friend do it with a Celeron 2.9ghz and Integrated Graphics

Ok first of all ... reasons maybe Heat, with CPU(Early p4 Prescott cores were pretty hot) and a solution to this can be (even if you have good thermal application, it may drop temps by another 5-10C)

http://overclockers.com/tips1187/

I own an A64-3000NewCastle (2ghz @2.4ghz - stock HSF), before it idled at around 45C no load and about 55C+/- on 100% load with Prime95

With the case mod, it dropped temps to 28C+/- Idle, and about 35C+/- 100% load with prime95, however I only used 1 80mm fan and it still remained very cool without the extra noise. I highly recommend doing this. :) 


Next it may be your overclocked video card which may lead to heat/stability issues... as above you can use a cheap solution to provide adequate ventilation into your case.
Check video drivers, possibly corrupt and can cause stablity issues, I have friend who also had problems with games and a GeForce6600


I don't think it could be Ram b/c i have the same type and Corsair XMS ram is high quality and stable.

Powersupply could be a possiblity with the high power consumption of the p4 Prescott combined with external power going to your 6600, check and see if you have enough amps on your 12V+ rail on the powersupply, recommended minimum nowadays is 18A


But fix the little thing(s) first, like heat being a possiblity.
January 1, 2006 12:57:48 AM

The video card driver check sounds like a good place to start. I'm not very experienced in that area. How do I know what they are supposed to be? Would I get updated drivers from Nvidia's website? The foam board and duct work option sounds like I could screw something up fairly easily. Do you think this would really be a viable option if the driver check/update doesn't work? It looks like it made a big difference for AntiHax0r, but looks fairly complicated. As for my power supply, it has 18A on the 12V rail, 30A on the 5V rail, and 20A on the 3.3V rail. Could that be the problem? I just got it last month as it was highly recommended.
January 1, 2006 1:07:55 AM

CommodoreRed said "HL2 is more CPU effected game"

That would explain why I can play BF2 fairly well, as I've heard it places more strain on the video card versus the CPU. However, I figured 3Ghz would be enough to play HL2 at medium settings without skips and jitters.
January 1, 2006 1:11:11 AM

Download memtest86, burn it onto a CDR, boot up and let it run for as long as possible.

If you have bad or flaky RAM memtest86 will find it!

http://memtest86.com/memtest86-3.2.iso.zip

Good luck and happy new year!
January 1, 2006 1:14:27 AM

Okay, I'll try memtest86 and see how it does. Thanks.
January 1, 2006 2:46:30 AM

Quote:
The video card driver check sounds like a good place to start. I'm not very experienced in that area. How do I know what they are supposed to be? Would I get updated drivers from Nvidia's website? As for my power supply, it has 18A on the 12V rail, 30A on the 5V rail, and 20A on the 3.3V rail. Could that be the problem? I just got it last month as it was highly recommended.


Yes get drivers from the Nvidia site, video drivers for new cards are typically unified drivers that support a range of cards from that company.. try several drivers and maybe give a third party driver a try.. www.omegadrivers.net

Your power supply appears to be good enough for your system.
January 1, 2006 6:06:55 PM

Ok, I ran memtest86 and walked away from my computer for a couple of hours. When I came back the power light was still green, but nothing was on. It wouldn't boot after that for about 15 min. I unplugged it and took out the RAM and reinserted the chips in their slots and it finally booted again. I was quite scared. Is that normal after memtest86 (I hope not).
January 1, 2006 6:41:15 PM

What kind of chipset cooling do you have? I had the same problems before and it was the chipset cooling that was the problem. The stock cooling was not enough. So I changed the passive cooling on the chipset for a fan cooling and the problem was gone.
January 1, 2006 7:50:36 PM

That's very interesting. It is a passively cooled heatsink type cooler. Is there any way to test to see if this is the problem or is changing it to a fan the only way to tell? Also, I've never seen any chipset cooling fans. I'm going to check Newegg now.
January 1, 2006 10:29:36 PM

Memtest86 shouldn't crash your system.

I would suggest watching it if you can.

Hit SHIFT if the monitor turns off. It's possible your power management kicked in.
January 2, 2006 2:02:53 AM

For testing you could take a normal table fan. Open the computers case and put the table fan blowing directly at the motherboard, if the problem disappears or you are able to keep the computer alive for longer then it's most likely a heating problem. And then it's very likely it's the chipset that has become more sensitive to heat.
January 2, 2006 2:16:35 AM

Add this line in the game launch options for Half Life 2.

Open Steam then right click the Steam logo in the systems try and select the games list, go to the HL2 game and right click on it and find the LAUNCH Options.

Copy paste this line in.. For all your Steam Games.

-console -novid -dxlevel 8.0

This should solve your problem as your re-boot issue with HL2 and Steam is not an overheat problem it is a DirectX Diag error causing Windows XP to default to the safety shutdown reboot instead of the old Win98 Blue Screen. You can disable the XP re-boot by right clicking on My Computer and select properties it is in there under the Advanced TAB and Start-up and Recovery settings. Just uncheck the Automatically Restart check box.

If you still have problems fixing the Steam Source bug and still reboot after you uncheck that restart box then you could have a heat problem.

I think this should fix your problem as your graphics card is only a DX8 card at a guess as DX9 cards do not cause the XP re-boot problem you say is happening with Steam. Steam is just the host HL2 and Source are the product you run within the host but the Host (Steam) checks your system for compatibility.

P.S I almost forgot go get the latest graphics drivers for your ATI or Nvidia graphics card. Make sure your motherboard drivers are installed by checking again under hardware in a right click of the My Computer Icon. Any Yellow question marks you Might see there need to be resolved by installing the correct drivers for each device.
January 2, 2006 2:39:46 AM

Quote:

I think this should fix your problem as your graphics card is only a DX8 card at a guess as DX9 cards do not cause the XP re-boot problem you say is happening with Steam.


No, 6600GT is a DX9 card. It is a DX9.0c card to be exactly, all Geforce 6000-cards are DX9.0c.

But I can agree with you that this is most likely not a heating problem, I was tired earlier so I missread the post and believed the computer was rebooting when he was doing other things besides gaming.
January 2, 2006 4:27:27 AM

I missed the part about the 6600 GT yes that is a DX9 capable card but it again does not fully support shader model 3.0 even yes if they say it does it does not. Had problems with Steam and 6200 BFG OC 256MB cards and the 6600 OC 128MB cards both failing shader model 3.0 and DX9.0b benchmark tests. Yes the 6200's had a version with 256MB from BFG they sucked bat shit and the 128MB versions were faster. Nvidia is not alone with this problem ATI suffers from the same problems as Source for Steam was sprung on everyone so fast that ATI and Nvidia both had to write a new graphics update driver in about 3 days to resolve many issues for Source give them credit for that but the hardware still is not up to it and fps suck to date for most cards.

He should still try the console launch options I gave him to see if the reboot problem goes away. You can set a DX9 card to run in DX8 in a Source code game to prevent the card from folding under the heavy Source code.

7800's fully pass all tests but we have to face the fact that the new Source Engine for Steam is the hardest graphics to run out there right now. However HL2 never was released as a Source game like Counter Strike and Day Of Defeat that are now on the Source Engine. HL2 is still a 3.0 Shader model and DX9.0b software program however Steam did ad one source chunk of code into it called HDR or better known as Bloom that simulates leaving a dark area in a game and entering into a sunlight area or area with bright lights this bloom part of the new Source engine is now part of HL2 that was released prior to the new code.

All of this with Steam is a pain in the ass and it is really making Graphics card manufacturers pay their dues now because what they claimed their cards were capable of is in fact not true at all in some cases. However to be fair HDR and the Steam Source Engine as a whole were not released when the GPU's for these 2004 and 2005 Graphics cards were developed/over the last 5 years. It wont be until late in 2006 that GPU manufacturers will be able to properly address the Source code from the Steam platform in newly designed Hardware GPU's.

I know GPU designers have to be scrambling to catch up at this point.
January 2, 2006 12:43:22 PM

I'm going to try entering that line into the HL2 options and see where that gets me. Thanks for all the input this far.
January 2, 2006 1:20:57 PM

Quote:
Ok, I ran memtest86 and walked away from my computer for a couple of hours. When I came back the power light was still green, but nothing was on. It wouldn't boot after that for about 15 min. I unplugged it and took out the RAM and reinserted the chips in their slots and it finally booted again. I was quite scared. Is that normal after memtest86 (I hope not).


Sounds like your processor is getting too hot, thus shutting down your PC. That or maybe you have bad capacitors on your mobo. I doubt it was your memory--memory problems cause instability and even prevent system from posting, but never degraded performance...at least noticeable. I think the "Prescott" discussion above was right on--your cpu is getting too hot and memtest86 is very cpu intensive. Your PC would not turn back on because the cpu has safeguards preventing it from being used if it gets too hot. By the time you reseated the RAM the cpu finally cooled off. Get a CPU temp monitor or check your bios for a "PC Health Monitor" and look at the cpu temp. Heatsink/cpu cooler fluid may have dried up...might need new heatsink.
January 2, 2006 1:36:13 PM

That explanation would make sense. Where would I get a CPU temp. monitor though? I don't think my CPU has a temp. sensor on it, so would I need to buy something like that? My best bet may just be to buy a good CPU cooler. I thought Coolmax was a highly regarded brand though. Do you have any suggestions for a good CPU cooler for socket 478?
January 2, 2006 2:22:02 PM

"I don't think my CPU has a temp. sensor on it..."

It should--I haven't seen a chipset that did not support it yet. I use SpeedFan, but just because it looked good on paper. Someone more experienced could probably point out a better one, but that one seems to give fairly accurate readings on my system.

I could be wrong about the processor heat thing altogether--but then again that is why a cpu temp monitor would help in diagnosing the problem. Let me know what it says.

EDIT: I forgot about the CoolMax...yeah that is a good cooler. Perhaps I am incorrect in my initial thoughts. I'm a callcenter tech, and take calls all day about brand-name systems like HP, Sony, Compaq, and even Viscom, so I'm used to troubleshooting cheap components. All major PC brands use the cheapest hardware possible that meets a certain ROF (rate of failure) requirements, I see those cheap HP heatsinks' thermal paste dry up all the time. I'm not used to troubleshooting computers that actually have solid hardware :) 
January 2, 2006 3:48:05 PM

I'm not an expert but I had this happen to me too so I'll offer my input. For me there was a BIOS feature on my motherboard that made it restart. It's worth a shot just to reload default settings to see if that works. I can't remember but I believe it was a power management feature.

Also, after you computer reboots, does Windows show an error? Or does it seem like a normal reboot?
January 2, 2006 4:05:55 PM

I tried SpeedFan but the only temp. sensor it detected was on my hard drive... so that's kind of a dead end. I put the latest drivers on and I can play HL2 on high settings with only a few skips, however, I was testing it out and played for about 10 min. and it rebooted, showing a serious error.
January 2, 2006 4:13:47 PM

It always shows this error when it reboots.
January 2, 2006 4:19:12 PM

This would seem to indicate windows itself or HL2 crashed bringing the whole system down :-(

It could very well a driver problem or other kind of software issue.

Have you been able to try it with another graphics card?

Different drivers?

Have you checked the error logs? Or the error report winblows is trying to send back to the borg mothership?

Hope this helps!

Good luck!

PS Maybe you could post the log files from the crash here or message me privately.
January 2, 2006 4:32:22 PM

It is possible to disable reboots after a "serious error." Right click My computer-->Advanced tab-->Startup and recovery settings-->uncheck automatic restart. I'm not sure if it's a good idea to do this; I just know the option is there.
January 2, 2006 4:54:30 PM

I haven't tried it with another gfx card mainly because my previous card geforce 4200ti burned up after the fan went out. :cry:  The only other drivers I have tried have been the ones that came with the card on the CD. I have the most recent ones from Nvidia's site installed right now. I don't think it is a HL2 problem because the computer occasionally crashes when I burn DVDs as well.

-At a Loss
January 2, 2006 4:59:41 PM

I just had an idea, does anyone know if Intel has a version of something like AMD's cool and quiet, if so that might be giving you grief, i had so much trouble with that stupid feature same kind of thing with half life not working right.
January 2, 2006 7:53:00 PM

On sort of a side note, would buying a cheap sound card help my performance on HL2 by taking some of the strain off my processor? (as I have onboard 5.1 sound) The game seems to skip at intense audio moments. Or do you think the difference would not warrant spending the money?
January 2, 2006 8:59:47 PM

The SB Live is actually the card I was looking at. I saw it for $35 from ZZF w/ free shipping. That was the cheapest I saw for a new card (excluding ebay).
January 2, 2006 9:30:31 PM

And what the capacitor looks like on your board? Clean and flat top or dirty and rounded top?
January 2, 2006 10:34:12 PM

Wow, I never thought about defective capacitors. I checked mine and they are all in tact, clean and flat tops with no leakage.
January 2, 2006 11:02:26 PM

A reboot is indicative of a bluescreen. Windows XP, by default, is set to reboot if any bluescreen occurs. I believe you may be having problems with memory timings.

I know this may seem harsh but try removing one of the dimm's (ram sticks). If the system runs stable with only one stick of ram, then you may need to look into making your memory timings a little less aggressive.

The biggest culprit is probably gonna be the commnad rate. Try removing one stick of ram and post back on your results.
January 2, 2006 11:21:34 PM

This is true, this is why I suggested running memtest86 earlier.

I also experience random blue screens myself on my dual boot gaming box.

For the record the same machine running Linux is rock solid without any stability issues whatsoever.

Certain games seem to crash more than others...

Morrowind and Empire Earth in particular. Empire Earth seems to crash a lot more frequently if you accidentally ALT+TAB out of the game or if you hit any of the windows buttons which take you back to the desktop.

You might want to check to see if there is an HL2 patch for the game itself.

Good luck
January 2, 2006 11:23:39 PM

Come to think of it, the RAM I got was supposed to be CAS latency 2, but when I put them in, my BIOS detected them at CAS latency 2.5. I changed the CAS latency setting to 2. Maybe I should change them back to what the BIOS detected them at.
January 2, 2006 11:44:04 PM

memtest was a great suggestion but memory test programs will most likely if never catch this issue.

Also, HL2 is a Steam content distributed game. It is always patched to the latest version.

Look here: http://support.steampowered.com/cgi-bin/steampowered.cf...

Numerous other people have had issues with HL2 based games. The engine is very demanding in terms of memory caching. Valve's thought was, that if you didn't see it, you don't need it in memory. So, many textures and objects are passed to and from memory all the time thus increasing the risk for memory errors.
January 3, 2006 12:02:14 AM

Will memtest86 run indefinitely or does it complete its test at some point?
January 3, 2006 12:10:35 AM

It will run until you stop it. So yes, indefinitely.
January 3, 2006 12:20:03 AM

So, the only thing it will do is tell you if it encounters errors right?
January 3, 2006 12:25:43 AM

You can hit the escape key to stop it at any time.

It will test your RAM using several different test patterns which are specially designed to detect errors or weaknesses.

I have seen it detect errors on RAM that was bad outright on the first pass however on systems that had FLAKY RAM it has taken 5 or more passes to detect those.

It is rare that Corsair XMS will go bad or be flaky but I have seen it happen.
January 3, 2006 12:31:51 AM

Here is what a typical memtest86 screen looks like with a lot of errors:




A normal screen without errors looks like this:

January 3, 2006 12:38:16 AM

Ok, I think I understand memtest86 better. I'm going to run it again tonight and try to keep a closer eye on it. Hopefully, my computer will boot after it's done.
January 3, 2006 11:17:04 PM

I've been running memtest86 for about 1.5 hrs. and it has completed 3 passes with no errors. I changed the CAS latency back to 2.5 before I ran this test. So far so good. How long should I let it go?
January 3, 2006 11:20:49 PM

Also, I've read some material saying that RAM that is classified to run at 400mhz will only do so at slower timings than is specified... like my Corsair XMS is CAS2 but at 400Mhz, it only seems to be stable at CAS2.5. The RAM is PC3200. I'm thinking this might be at the core of my problems.
January 3, 2006 11:34:47 PM

Let it run for as long as you can. I have seen it detect errors 5-10 passes into the test.

Also you might want to set your CAS latency to 2 again and see if you get errors (my guess is you probably will).

Are you certain your XMS PC3200 really IS CAS2???

Most PC3200 even Corsair XMS can only do CAS 2.5 or 3.

Are your modules identical? Were they purchased as a matched pair or not?
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