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Hard locks, sudden reboots, freezes... I'm stumped

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March 30, 2006 12:17:03 PM

I've been experiencing random hard locks while playing games on this computer that would necessitate pushing the restart button since the computer would fail to recognize any input. There are also many instances in which the screen would freeze, turn black, display colorful static, and then return me to the game with either corrupted graphics, or simply freeze.

My hardware is as follows,

AMD Athlon64 3500+
Kingston 512Mbx2 DDR400 RAM
Asus A8V-E Deluxe Mobo
ATI Radeon X800 XL 256 Mb PCI-E
Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS
Antec TruePower II 430W PSU


The only game that was being played on this computer since it was built was World of Warcraft. Since these problems were being exhibited by other WoW players on the blizzard tech forums I dismissed them as being game related and not hardware. However, ever since I got Oblivion and saw the same things happening while playing it, I grew worried.

The problems only occur during gameplay, and not while doing other things on the computer (surfing, movies, music, etc). I've monitored temperatures during gameplay and the CPU/MB both hover around 40/50°C. The video card used to hover around 80°C with the stock heat sink, but I've since replaced it with an Arctic Cooler that lowered that to 43°C idle, and around 52°C during games. The computer is relatively well ventilated with intake from the side panel and outtake through the back.

I've kept all drivers up to date, and have even experimented with catalyst drivers all the way from 5.1 (the suggested fix by blizzard to those with similar problems to mine) to the current 6.3 to no avail. I've also tried the Omega drivers with no success. All other drivers are maintained up to date, such as the Sound Blaster card, the VIA drivers, and ethernet cards. My search on the net has suggested that my Mobo's ethernet adapter (Marvel Yukon) might be the cause of my crashes, but I have that disabled since I use the Wifi adapter on the Mobo to connect to my router and hence surf the net.

I've tested my 2 sticks of memory with memtest by leaving it running overnight, and the program reported back 0 errors.

Here's the current values I get from my PSU from a monitor I have running, I admit though I'm not that well versed when it comes to voltage values, what they are, and what they should be.

Item____|___Current value
Vcore_______@1.54V
+3.3________@3.36V
+5.0________@5.20V
+12.0_______@12.25V


I've contacted ATI support, but the only thing recommended to me was to uninstall Catalyst control center since, according to the tech guy, might conflict with my Norton firewall whenever it tried to contact ATI servers. Doesn't make much sense to me, but I did it anyways. Despite that, the problems linger.

A format and complete reinstallation fails to fix the problems.

My last course of action is to put the stock heat sink back on the video card and to send it back to ATI under warranty (assuming the video card is the cullprit). Since I do not have any other PCI-E card, I'd rather figure out what's wrong now instead of being stuck with no computer for god knows how long.


I am seriously stumped. I have no idea what's wrong with this computer and it's really starting to get to me. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I could do or has experienced something like this themselves? Any help would be appreciated.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 30, 2006 2:34:10 PM

My first action would be to find someone/anyone with a PCI-e ATI card, and see if they would be willing to test your card in their rig for a day or two...

I'm guessing the video card...

(supplemental power input to video card, either molex or PCI-e format, connected, with no y-adapters in line?)
March 30, 2006 2:45:08 PM

I'll look into finding a PCI-E card I could borrow for a weekend.

As for supplemental power, the X800 draws all it's power from the slot. But when I installed the arctic cooler heat sink, it was recommended to draw power for the fan directly from the PSU as opposed to the card itself to avoid "clicking" noises, which I was experiencing (as described here )
Related resources
March 31, 2006 12:49:36 AM

I would say try updating your video card drivers. However, it does sound like a hardware problem with the video card. The PSU should be fine at 430W, so I am leaning towards video card. Also try reseting your CMOS for the hell of it.
March 31, 2006 9:58:15 PM

All drivers are already updated. I'll try the CMOS reset as a last resort.
March 31, 2006 10:04:41 PM

I'm gonna throw my 2 cents in here...or maybe 1 cent...I will bet that its Mobo related. If it were video related, you'd see other problems during other apps or movies, etc. Reinstalling from fresh and starting over still has the problem, i'd blame the Mobo for inaccuacies. I guess your test w/ a different video card will answer your question though.
April 4, 2006 4:21:25 AM

I've been unable to secure a PCI-E card to replace the one I have, since most of my friends are still on AGP.

However, on a friend's advice, I've lowered the clock speed down to 388/482 from the stock 400/490. Over 2 days I have yet to experience any problems during games, though that could be a fluke. Only time will tell.

Should I be concerned that I have to underclock the card to make it work, especially since I have a big ass heat sink on it that should actually allow me to overclock it?
a b B Homebuilt system
April 4, 2006 2:40:46 PM

"If it were video related, you'd see other problems during other apps or movies, etc."

2d display details are contained entirely in the first 2-4 meg of video memory...

Big difference in framebuffer/3d processing while running games....

I'd suspect the gpu is overheating...
April 4, 2006 6:43:29 PM

Quote:
"If it were video related, you'd see other problems during other apps or movies, etc."

2d display details are contained entirely in the first 2-4 meg of video memory...

Big difference in framebuffer/3d processing while running games....

I'd suspect the gpu is overheating...


ATI Tool has it at 40°C idle and around 55°C during gameplay (max at 59°C). The stock heat sink that the card came with, that I've since replaced, used to hover around the 80's.
April 12, 2006 5:58:37 PM

I'm still having problems with this comp. Anyone else have any suggestions?
April 12, 2006 6:49:10 PM

well, you have all your drivers updated, reinstalled windows from fresh, then the only thing you dont have updated is... the GAME
that's why you only have the lock ups when.... playing

any patch avaiable for warcraft or something?
try changing settings at the game, if you dont have anything else to look for
April 14, 2006 8:38:10 AM

Could be the game, but why do all these issues prop up during ANY game, and not just that one?
April 17, 2007 8:32:17 PM

i have the same exact setup as you do, except with a larger PSU and no sound card (just use onboard).
i am also experiencing the same exact problems, mostly in world of warcraft. i am completely stumped on this one as well. my problems arose after a reformat (with no crashing problems occurring before). this leads me to believe that it is some kind of driver conflict. i'm going to keep experimenting and see if i can figure it out.
April 17, 2007 9:07:31 PM

Was surprised to receive a thread reply notification email after so long :) 

What I ended up doing was abandoning my X800 and grabbing an Nvidia GeForce 7900 instead. No more hard locks, in any game.

Guess that was the culprit. I had a bad video card.
April 18, 2007 9:51:59 AM

Not that familiar with the x800 but games would push the card harder than any other apps, glad you got a good card and it is working out for you.
April 18, 2007 10:52:06 AM

The usual suspects; RAM and PSU.

Sometimes, I've had the power connector the the GPU corrode badly due to bad connection, check if it's clean (if it has one)

Then download memtest, and hope it's not there :p 

ATi cards have had a tendency to break for, well, everyone I know.
So if you're sure it's not ram and PSU, it's the graphics card.

Edit. Doh! Old thread!
April 23, 2007 3:11:53 PM

i just got the new catalyst drivers (7.3) and the new .net framework (3.0) and it started working properly... guess it was just a driver conflict in my case
!