Can anyone help me locate the problem?

I wasn't sure where to post this. I'm trying to diagnose an intermittant issue that's been plaguing my pc for about two weeks. See my sig for sys config. The issue is that the display redraws very slowly - well the whole system is slow as hell. I'm not sure if it's a graphics card issue or maybe the cpu. Most of the time it occurs at startup but it's a rare event. My first thought was overheating, so I opened the case and cleaned all the fans.

Normally I'd chalk it up to the cpu being overheated, however temps are quite low. Under full load the cpu gets to 53c, but standard load is 46c. The HS is a bit dusty still, although I cleaned the HSF. I have to remove the ps and gfx card before I can get the hsf off... which I've not had time for lately.

Current temperatures: (Celsius) case 42, cpu 47, HD1 29, HD2 35

Voltages: vcore 1.73, +3.3v 3.22, +5v 4.81, +12v 11.86, -12v -11.95, -5v 3.55, +5vsb 5.35, vbat 3.31

All fans are working (3x case, ps, hsf, gfx, hd, chipset), although I've had to tinker with the fan on the graphics card. The card gets quite hot even when it's not being stressed. Other than replacing the PS last summer, the pc has worked well for about three years

I booted into safe mode when the issue last occured and while it seemed to be better, the problem remained. As far as I know, there are no viral infections to cause a Windows issue. I've killed a few unneccessary processes (boot footprint is 235MB) and use a minimal set of services.

Can anyone suggest what the issue might be and maybe suggest how I can verify the error. I don't have spare parts (well not a spare gfx card or cpu), so if someone knows of a software diagnostic tool that might reveal the issue that'd be preferred.
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  1. When I last had problems with slow PC (10 minutes to boot into desktop) it turned out to be SP2 causing the problem. I uninstalled it (which took a while) and it cured the problem.

    I no longer use sp2 and my PC has been fine ever since.

    Hope this helps


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  2. dangerousdave29 - SP2 does cause issues but nothing that cant be fixed with a bit of research!

    SP2 did cause issues for me before i disabled disable bit (bitNX) for windows and that solved the issue (thats IF your issue is the same as mine), try it and see if it helps:

    start -> run-> c:boot.ini
    change /noexecute=optin
    to /execute=optin
    save and exit, then restart and see what happens

    btw P4 prescotts slow down when there hot, where as your AMD will go till it freezes (or kicks you out of apps) or resets or burns out - they have no protection so it aint a heat issue.

    dangerousdave29 - give it a shot aswell and reinstall SP2
  3. Overclock you monitor :D

    Seriously, does this problem occur in DOS or another OS? (try a bootable Linux Distro CD to experiment) If not, then the problem is software, not hardware related. That'll give you an area to concentrate on.

    What brand/model/chipset mobo?

    For hardware, check jumpers on the vidcard or mobo (if any) or BIOS settings like AGP clock, aperture size, disable onboard VGA, Init display first - PCI/AGP, Assign IRQ to video, video bios cacheable, etc.

    Try pulling the vidcard, cleaning the contacts with a clean pencil eraser, and reseating.

    For software, could be a lot of things, from Windows patches/SP's like the previous poster suggested, driver issues, etc. Try updating ATI's drivers, or even going back a few revs to see what has an effect.

    Or worst case, reinstall the whole mess from scratch on a blank hard drive to see if that clears it up. Being Windows, a clean reinstall periodically helps clear the garbage it collects over time....
  4. I'm usually fairly good at tinkering with the pc. Today I started pulling all the connections and cleaning/reseating them. The only thing I noticed amiss is that one capacitor on the mobo looked a little rusty, but not excessively. It could be an issue, but by the looks of it that's unlikely.

    The only other thing I can think of is if it were the ps, but I have Speedfan running and always monitor the voltages. It really shouldn't be the ps anyhow, seeing how it's the newest component in the pc (and has worked perfectly for several months).

    dangerousdave29, thanks for the suggestion. I don't expect that to be the issue with my pc though. Sp2 has been installed since it's pre-release (I use autopatcher). The main issue is that my pc's issue is very intermittent. Your sp2 problem was persistant, no?

    I've run a couple system diagnostic programs (Sandra & Pc Pitstop), neither of these have exposed the problem. Sandra completed fine, but when I tried Pc Pitstop the full system test stalled (at the beginning, while testing the HDs).

    I'm just trying everything I can at this point, since I'm not really sure what to look for.


    Thanks for the ideas, Cubber! :)

    Mobo is listed in my sig (updated), chipset is VIA® VT8233A (376 BGA). I'm not sure about the issue occuring in Dos, I'll explore that next time the problem arises. I'll check all the rest of the things you mentioned (excellent ideas!). Jumpers and the like should be fine - I've not played with them since assembling the pc. I'll see about the bios. "Or worst case, reinstall the whole mess"...ack! :o I avoid that like the plague. It's why I'm very quick to kill services and weed out the registry of verbage. I won't say my installation of XP isn't bloated to the nth degree, it's the nature of the beast. I was planning to switch to ReactorOS when it became more functional, but that's not germain to this issue.

    As far as updating the ati drivers, actually when the issue first appeared I uninstalled the drivers and reinstalled the newest updates. Sadly, no change. I've not checked up on MSI's updates in a few months so I'll see what they have.

    I'll try everything you suggested Cubber and report back if I find anything. Meanwhile, if anyone else has ideas please toss them my way. :) Can anyone recommend some other diagnostic tools that might expose the issue?
  5. when rebuilding a friends PC it was incredibly slow, almost able to see the screen re-draw until I installed either the AGP drivers, or the video drivers themselves, I forget which, am more confident about the video drivers suggestion. Try un-installing and re-installing the ATI drivers.
  6. Since it's a VIA mobo, check on the health of the VIA 4-in-1 drivers, which includes the AGP subsystem drivers.

    Sucks that it's intermittent, it's really frustrating to pin those down, causes hair loss. :x

    If it occurs right away or soon after cold booting (when it happens) it wouldn't be a heat issue. If it consistently occurs after some run time, then look at heat.

    You could try the vidcard in another PC or a friend's PC to see if it travels with the card, then it's definitely the card. If that's not an option try the bargain bin of a local computer store for a cheapo AGP or PCI card to see what happens when your vidcard is out of the picture. Or eBay. But watch the voltage requirements on older AGP cards, some of the old 1x, 2x, or 4x cards are mobo fryers and will blow it up. 8O (I have a big paperweight from that reason) Look up what your mobo supports/requires. It's always good to have a cheapo vidcard around for troubleshooting purposes, I have a pile of PCI ones I bought at a computer show for about $2 each.

    Although my wife might divorce me if I bring more computer junk into the house.....

    Good luck!
  7. Okay, I think I've corrected the above issue, although since it occurs infrequently, it's hard to tell.

    At the momment my pc is on the verge of complete failure. If I had spare parts I could swap out things, but since I don't I'm hoping Cubber or someone might be able to point me in the right direction for the fix.

    The issue is that it I have to press the pc's power switch several times in order to get the pc to boot. When I first press the button power only stays on for a fraction of a second (enough to light LEDs). Generally I'd think it was the power supply but the ps is only about four months old. It's readings are stable so I'm not sure if that's the issue. One thing I've noticed though is that the PS runs VERY hot.

    A possible related issue is that a few days ago the pc booted but failed to recognise the hard drive. Thinking that it was a failing drive I ran a diagnostic but nothing turned up.

    Two days ago the pc failed to boot - BIOS beeping (3 beeps - AMI) indicated bad memory so I ran memtest86.. again no errors found.

    I searched various forums for solutions and one indicated the mobo (MSI kt333) as being the issue. The mobo has performed well for about 2.5yrs and I'm not really sure how to test it for issues.
  8. You might have a bum power supply, if it gets real hot. Good PSUs don't run hot unless there's a problem or bad ventilation. If it's not that old, it should still be within warranty. Get one of those power supply testers at a local shop or online. Newegg has 3 for under $13:

    The other thing I'm thinking is a short somewhere on the mobo or a card. That would certainly heat up a PSU. Try pulling all cards out except for the vidcard and see if gets hot again. If not add cards in one at a time to isolate if it's one of them.

    If it does turn out to be the mobo you probably can find a cheap exact replacement on eBay, so you don't have to mess with a total reinstall of Windows.

    The weird powerup issues with the button leads me to those two places. It's definitely hardware related.

    MSI did have a run of bad capacitors in those days, there was a recent class action suit and settlement about it:

    Unfortunately you just missed the cutoff day for a claim, Feb. 8th.

    Good luck!
  9. Thank you, Cubber. It looks like my tool box will be expanding. A PSU tester for general functioning and a meter for load testing...unless I can find a PSU tester that does both (Westek has one but it's a bit more than I need).

    It took a bit of work but I got the pc to boot up today. Speedfan reports the following readings:
    Vcore 1.71V
    +3.3V: 3.20V
    +5V : 4.78V
    +12V : 11.92V
    -12V : -11.95V
    -5V : 3.55V <<--- too high?
    +5VSB : 5.38V
    VBAT : 3.34V

    The -5V reading should at +/-10%, right? Shouldn't it be -4.50 to -5.50? Then again, I'm not sure my mobo uses the -5V rail. :oops:
  10. First issue, slow redraw, I've seen very many times, caused by a problem with SP2 installation: When installing SP2 it has often unregistered my AGP to PCI bridge driver and/or replaced it with the wrong version.

    I've corrected this on newer chipsets by reinstalling the AGP/PCI bridge driver.
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