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stability problems - newly built athlon X2 4200+

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May 24, 2006 7:29:30 PM

this is my first build from scratch, so problems are expected. well, it's certainly met that expectation. this is to be my main rig, for gaming, video work, and general use, but for right now, my goal is to get BF2 to run correctly.

parts and specifications
mainboard - biostar nf4ul-a9
proc -------- amd athlon64 X2 4200+, stock HSF with AS5
hdd --------- wd caviar se16 250gb sata 7200 rpm
memory ---- 2x1gb g. skill ddr400 2.5-3-3-6 in dual channel
gpu --------- xfx 7900gt 256 mb
sound ------ creative x-fi xtrememusic
psu --------- enermax elt500awt 500w SLI [22a @ 12v]

the case has two 80mm fans in the front and back, and a side mounted smaller one.

running winxp pro sp2 corp edition

symptoms
windows seems to bluescreen whenever i have too many things going on at once, which is contrary to how a dual core setup should be performing. in 6-7 hours of operation i've had as many blue screen crashes. the sound will sometimes not work, but can be fixed by toggling the x-fi's mode of operation. STEAM does something strange - it opens up multiple windows once i am logged in, none of which do anything. they can't be closed and do not show up in task manager, they are just buttons in the taskbar with the STEAM logo.

now, on to bf2. i've never actually gotten to the game, the menu has thus far crashed before i can get anywhere. while configuring my controls, everything seemed normal, until i tried to rebind the radio key [default T]. bf2 refused to let me click on it, freezing up for a few seconds but then returning to normal. further attempts result in more of the same, but only for that specific key - other menu options work fine. after a few minutes in the menu, the video freezes completely, while the sound will cut in and out. at this point the entire system is frozen, bf2 cannot be isolated and shutdown to regain control. the system also freezes when i attempt to update the server list. this is a fresh install of bf2, updated to 1.3 with full patch.

according to speedfan, my cpu is idling at 40 deg C. i don't know what its temperature is under load because, well, nothing heavy has been able to run.

i've also been unable to get the jacks on the front of the case to work. these are a headphone out, microphone in, and two USB connections. i don't believe this has anything to do with my stability problems, but i put it here for completion's sake.

what i have done so far
updated BIOS to support dual core
updated all drivers[nforce, video, audio, amd x2 cpu]
updated windows, including dual core hotfix
set bf2 affinity to single core
disabled onboard sound in BIOS

i will test the RAM with memtest86+ when i get home tonight. others have also suggested that i reinstall winxp, which i will try assuming the RAM isn't bad.

whew....ok, that is the situation. I NEED YOUR HELP! the system is pretty unstable at the moment. if anyone has any ideas how to make windows run better, or to fix the problems with bf2, that would be very helpful. i am not computer illiterate, but i am by no means a l33t hax0r - i would say i am a entry level enthusiast, so please keep that in mind as you [hopefully] offer solutions, thanks.
May 24, 2006 11:36:54 PM

thank you for the reply

when i got home from work today the computer showed marked improvement, without me having changed anything. windows has not crashed so far, and BF2 actually fully loaded. it eventually crashed to desktop, but at least it's no longer frezzing the whole computer.

this leads me to agree with you that the problem might indeed be heat related. it may be that the AS5 has not had enough burn-in time to cure fully. however, speedfan shows an idling temp of 38-41 deg C consistently. maybe it is inaccurate.

for my HSF interface, i removed the stock goo, and lapped the base of my heatsink for about an hour with three grades of sandpaper. not quite a mirror shine, but pretty smooth. i used the 'dab in the center' method to apply the AS5, per their instructions.

i will fully mess with the RAM tonight, and see if that will turn up any information.
May 25, 2006 12:57:44 AM

Play a game with your case opened. If the PC doesn't crash, then it's definitely an overheating issue.
Related resources
May 25, 2006 2:32:12 PM

I also hav e a 4200+ and it should *not* be idling at ~40 C. With the stock heatsink, my 4200+ idles in the high 20s and goes up no higher 45 C under extended 100% usage on both cores (doing something like a very long compile.) And that's with the fans at just 70% speed. So I would certainly go ahead with that lapping and make sure to get a good, solid, square fit over the CPU when you reinstall.

Also, I would run Memtest86+ for several hours to see if the RAM is bad. If it still crashes, check the GPU temps and the power supply's voltage and current figures. If everything is still fine and dandy, open up the side of that case and set a floor fan to blow in it. Now if it still crashes and the temps are fine, it's likely a Windows problem. Windows has been known to crash programs every now and then for no apparent reason.
May 27, 2006 5:27:37 PM

Have you installed the proper AMDx2 cpu driver?
I had hassles with certain games running the old microsoft driver.....had to kill the affinity to one core to get it to run right.
not sure what the "hot fix you mentioned is but,
try here: http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/TechnicalResources/...
May 27, 2006 5:31:18 PM

memtest86+ showed 0 errors after 5 runthroughs.

with that eliminated, i decided to reinstall windows, but after the installation was finished, installing my motherboard drivers caused windows to lock up, which had not happened before. so i am in the process of installing windows AGAIN.

as for the temperature, it is rather higher than i would like, but the computer is in a room with an ambient temperature of 29 deg C, so i guess a 40 deg idle is about right.
June 3, 2006 8:38:54 PM

it's now been a couple of weeks since i first got this system.

general system stability has improved somewhat. windows no longer crashes randomly.

however, i am still having issues with games. all of my games have crashed to desktop at one time or another. BF2 has issues with CTD anyway, it's even worse on this computer. UT2k4, HL2 mods, far cry, even HL1 have all had errors during play. so, it appears that the problem is with my system.

there is some possibility that it is a compatibility issue with my creative x-fi card, but i don't know how to find out whether this is indeed the case.

i'd appreciate your thoughts on this... what could be making every game i try to play crash?
June 6, 2006 1:53:15 AM

i have moved my sound card to the last pci slot on the board, will see if anything improves.

i was checking my IRQ assignments, and noticed this.



nothing is reporting a conflict, but i thought it wouldn't hurt to give the video card its own irq. problem is, i can't change it from windows.



when i looked in my BIOS, only channels 3-15 were present, so i couldn't do anything from there.

do you know of any way to get around the greyed-out box? or is this something i have to take up with my mobo manufacturer?
June 6, 2006 2:49:24 AM

I know you've got a good quality PSU, but there can be bad eggs. Have you checked the voltages? That was the problem with my last system...

If Device Manager doesn't report a problem/conflict then there probably isn't one...I've seen systems where IRQ's were shared and the systems were fine.

You have disabled the onboard sound via the BIOS, right?

I know it passed MemTest, but try running with one stick at a time...

~Ibrahim~
June 7, 2006 9:54:02 PM

the voltages are pretty close, +/- 0.20V is about as off as it gets, i don't know if that's enough to cause this kind of unstability.

yes, onboard sound is disabled via BIOS, and i never installed the drivers for them.
June 8, 2006 2:27:24 PM

Nah, .20 +/- is fine. If it was hitting like low elevens on the 12V or something, then we'd have a problem....

You have the latest GPU drivers, right?

Try running one memory stick at a time.

~Ibrahim~
June 8, 2006 2:53:42 PM

1934 adapter is firewire, so unless your running bf2 from a firewire drive (which I have full confidence your smart enough to not do) the fact they are sharing an IRQ is not important. although 40 idle seems like a low temperature Id go with the others that say they have the same cpu and have lower idles. The symptoms do sound very heat related. Before you go with another timely XP install Id recomend taking the 20 minutes to re-do your AS5, this time with this method:

Apply the thermal paste to the center in kind of a heap as described by AS5, but instead get an old credit card, or any card like a credit card you dont need anymore, use the edges to kinda smooth the thermal paste all over the top in an even layer pulling out towards the edges. Because the processor itself is so smooth youll find this gives a perfect coat over the top that covers the whole cpu rather then just a circle like the dab and squash method does. Ive never had an overheating problem with the above method but have once or twice with the dab and squash method. Especially if you lapped the heat sink because you could have created even very very small areas of unevenness that could have caused the thermal paste to spread unevenly.

Thats just my opinion, ive always learned to do things one at a time, start with the less time consuming and keep it simple as you go because it is usually simpler then you think, if you can avoid re-installing windows then I usually try that first because re-installing windows is a pain in my ass. But so far it looks like your doing good, most people troubleshooting dont even bother with memtest and taking the time for all that. Good luck.
June 8, 2006 3:19:44 PM

I think your mobo is the problem. probably it did not like one of your components without any reason. The same thing happened to me when my local shop owner insisted on selling me an ecs board then he had to replace it with an epox unwillingly because something was wrong but after changing the mobo all the problems are gone. ı say this because all your component's brands are quite good excep your mobo. get something like Dfi-epox or asus
June 8, 2006 3:33:14 PM

I would assume from the errors you have onboard(motherboard) sound turned on and various things you should disable in bios. Please check you bios and turn off things you have a card for i.e. sound onboard. Next off did you use windows update to update drivers? If so reinstall you drivers via cd or other website. Windows is not the best at finding the right driver but the closes based on the main part. Example you have a MSI ATI card it says its an ATI X800 but it's an MSI X800 nut much diff. but small variations on the driver and hard done by MSI. Check this and let us know.
June 8, 2006 3:40:28 PM

I've got the same processor with a 7800 GT. During the winter months it idled 35-38c and would hit 50c at full load. As I type this, it's idling at 42c. That is with the stock heat sink and fan and NO A.S. I would check your temps at max load. If they are getting no higher than 50's, heat is not causing the crashing. They will vary based on case air flow and ambient temps.

I would remove the sound card and drivers and run with no sound. Make sure you have latest Nvidia drivers. See if you can run games without crashing. If still crashing I would focus on memory and power supply. You did mention it blue screened on a fresh install while installing mainboard drivers. I would check for updates for mainboard but your memory still sounds suspect. Years ago, I had Kingston RAM that was crashing my system. I found out I had to run it at a very specific timing or it would generate errors and crash system.
June 8, 2006 3:48:46 PM

Back to the basics!


Ok, I had the same problem when I built my rig with dowloading the servers.

Couple questions..

Did you download all the updated drivers, if so what versions do you have. I've heard of alot of people mixing up the 7800 mobile drivers for the ForceWare Release Version: 84.21


Audigy can cause stop errors. Is the onboard sound disabled?

another thing that happened with me was the onboard Nvidia firewall kept causing problems..
June 8, 2006 4:09:56 PM

Quote:
this is my first build from scratch, so problems are expected. well, it's certainly met that expectation. this is to be my main rig, for gaming, video work, and general use, but for right now, my goal is to get BF2 to run correctly.

parts and specifications
mainboard - biostar nf4ul-a9
proc -------- amd athlon64 X2 4200+, stock HSF with AS5
hdd --------- wd caviar se16 250gb sata 7200 rpm
memory ---- 2x1gb g. skill ddr400 2.5-3-3-6 in dual channel
gpu --------- xfx 7900gt 256 mb
sound ------ creative x-fi xtrememusic
psu --------- enermax elt500awt 500w SLI [22a @ 12v]

the case has two 80mm fans in the front and back, and a side mounted smaller one.

running winxp pro sp2 corp edition

symptoms
windows seems to bluescreen whenever i have too many things going on at once, which is contrary to how a dual core setup should be performing. in 6-7 hours of operation i've had as many blue screen crashes. the sound will sometimes not work, but can be fixed by toggling the x-fi's mode of operation. STEAM does something strange - it opens up multiple windows once i am logged in, none of which do anything. they can't be closed and do not show up in task manager, they are just buttons in the taskbar with the STEAM logo.

now, on to bf2. i've never actually gotten to the game, the menu has thus far crashed before i can get anywhere. while configuring my controls, everything seemed normal, until i tried to rebind the radio key [default T]. bf2 refused to let me click on it, freezing up for a few seconds but then returning to normal. further attempts result in more of the same, but only for that specific key - other menu options work fine. after a few minutes in the menu, the video freezes completely, while the sound will cut in and out. at this point the entire system is frozen, bf2 cannot be isolated and shutdown to regain control. the system also freezes when i attempt to update the server list. this is a fresh install of bf2, updated to 1.3 with full patch.

according to speedfan, my cpu is idling at 40 deg C. i don't know what its temperature is under load because, well, nothing heavy has been able to run.

i've also been unable to get the jacks on the front of the case to work. these are a headphone out, microphone in, and two USB connections. i don't believe this has anything to do with my stability problems, but i put it here for completion's sake.

what i have done so far
updated BIOS to support dual core
updated all drivers[nforce, video, audio, amd x2 cpu]
updated windows, including dual core hotfix
set bf2 affinity to single core
disabled onboard sound in BIOS

i will test the RAM with memtest86+ when i get home tonight. others have also suggested that i reinstall winxp, which i will try assuming the RAM isn't bad.

whew....ok, that is the situation. I NEED YOUR HELP! the system is pretty unstable at the moment. if anyone has any ideas how to make windows run better, or to fix the problems with bf2, that would be very helpful. i am not computer illiterate, but i am by no means a l33t hax0r - i would say i am a entry level enthusiast, so please keep that in mind as you [hopefully] offer solutions, thanks.



If you bought your rig from newegg, I bet you completely missed or ignored my comment on the sh!t quality of the 2x1gb g. skill ddr400 2.5-3-3-6 memory, which cause my pc being blue sceening me all the time. I fix the problem competely by putting 2G Cruical and return the stinky g.skill, and of couse with a bad comment on it.
June 8, 2006 4:21:10 PM

When you reinstall windows does it blue screen when you are actually copying files, or does it blue screen when you are in windows and installing drivers?

One thing I can think of is the nvidia ide drivers. I had a 4 month stable system w/ 3 hard drives (all maxtors), 2 PATA, 1 SATA. I then decided to install the very same WD 250 gb drive you have. I then started to recieve blue screens left and right. I had some major data corruption issues. Turns out that it was the nvidia IDE driver that was not functioning correctly. Apparently it does not like certain drives/combinations of drives on the SATA. A google search will show up all kinds of people with these problems.

I had to reinstall windows and when i installed the nvidia drivers, i did not choose to install the ide drivers or the firewall. I just use the stock microsoft drivers and the system has been rock stable for 2 months with no performance decrease.


Hope this helps!!

TM

My Spec:

A64 X-2 3800+
Asus A8N-E nforce 4 ultra
2 gig kingston value
ati x1800xl
4 hd - 120 PATA, 160 pata, 120 sata - all maxtor, 250 gb sata - WD
audigy 2 zs
hauppauge 150mce
nec and lg dvd-r/rw
windows mce 2005

EDIT:

Just re-read the posts and it appears that you have problems right after you install the mobo drivers (nforce drivers) which include the ide driver. I would uninstall all of the nvidia drivers and reinstall the mobo drivers without the ide and firewall drivers.

I really hope that is your problem. I know how frustrating a whiny computer can be.
June 8, 2006 5:12:37 PM

Hey Krappy and everyone else here, obviously I am new to the Forumz.


For the detail of which you speak Krappy,i'd say that you MUST consider a hardware conflict if it is not a heat issue (which it often isnt)

You DID buy a Biostar board, G.Skill Ram, And an enermax power supply.

NONE of these imply that there is something wrong, but you did not go with the BIGGEST brand names which is often a very good choice when building a new computer.

My guess now is that the Biostar is having serious conflicts. Over the years I have seen this over and over with many manufactuers. Even with a larger company like Gigabyte there are minor dificulties. Please consider that even with MemTest the ram could still "suck" because of mobo confliction. Try the whole setup on someone elses mobo, after these two steps.

1) try new ram, possibly in a new config.
2) Try a whole new PSU!

if neither works, then man, its probably the mobo, no one really every gets messed up silicon from AMD, its just not likely, you know?

also dont forget to plug and test otehr things too if your ARE curious i dont want you to RMA WORKING parts, lol. I know this is hard man.

Now, this may seem bold but trust me, sadly not every computer part is equal. Take care fellow, and keep asking questions, we are all here to help you. Tom's hardware is not made out of a ton of fanboy's or at the very least im keeping my fingers crossed. :D 
June 8, 2006 5:30:17 PM

I have to respectfully disagree on the PSU issue. Enermax is one of the better brands out there. I (and others) rate them up there with the best, just snoop around the forums and see. Also the unit he bought is pretty heafty, 2, 22amp 12v rails. (link below). I myself switched psu's from a 365 watt enermax to a 550 watt antec during the problem i described in my post above. The 365 watt enermax wasnt the problem and ran the machine just fine. I again do not believe it to be the psu, unless you got a bad unit, which i doubt because you state above that all the voltages are in spec.

TM

PSU link
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
June 8, 2006 5:31:39 PM

Quote:
Tom's hardware is not made out of a ton of fanboy's or at the very least im keeping my fingers crossed. :D 


:lol:  :lol:  There are quite a few of them here, you just have to wade through the BS.

TM
June 8, 2006 6:57:21 PM

Naturally, the way your system becomes unsteady with load and time suggests power supply problems, but that might not be the case here.

Going by brand alone is not a good indicator of whether a psu is any good. However, he says that his PSU doesn't vary much and reviews say that this psu is very stable so perhaps we can rule that out.

Try reinstalling windows (I know, a pain, make sure you backup) as it might be a virus or spyware?

It seems memory is fine by his testing.

My first test would be to underclock his cpu.

Go into the BIOS and set the cpu multiplier to 10 or 9. also check that your cpu is getting 1.3->1.35V (Vcore). If it runs fine that your processor is just rubbish and needs to be replaced. If it still doesn't then we need to look elsewhere.

Try doing an error check on your hard drive (mycomputer->right click on hard drive->properties->tools->error checking).

Oh, and, although you didn't quote your temperatures, I'm sure they're alright. Before my cpu was overclocked, on stock cooling it ran at 40'C idle aswell and at 55'C 100% load. I am highly dubious of people who say their cpus run at under 30'C (prove me wrong guys, send me a screenshot and you can have the satisfaction of knowing i'm feeling jealous. Although, cool'n'quiet is cheating.).
June 8, 2006 8:09:58 PM

Have you tried removing the soundcard alltoghether? I would actually remove all components except the video card. Disconnect everything that is not essential. I would even pull out one of the two ram sticks.

If it does not run stable there, swap the ram in there for the one you took out. (still only using one... you will need to use the primary ram slot on the mobo)

If it still does not run well then it is prb your ram. Try and get some known working ram to swap in there to test that if you can. If known working ram still crashes it then it is either the mobo or the psu. (which you put out good #s for the psu so that means mobo)

If the system is working w/ the one ram stick, then start adding components one at a time (starting the system and running after each addition) and eventually you should get to the component that is conflicting. This could still mean a bogus mobo, but could also point to a bad component...
June 13, 2006 3:58:25 AM

thank you everyone, i appreciate the help.

i have been busy with other things and haven't had time to much mess with this, so the next thing for me to do is to pull out the sound card and one stick of memory like many people have suggested.

also of note - i only installed the mobo drivers which came on the bundled disk, and did not apply the driver update from the nvidia website. could this be causing all of my problems? [i hope to god yes]. i only realized this tonight, after utterly failing to get city of villains to work [and it supports dual-core, go figure]

the drivers in question - http://www.nvidia.com/object/nforce_nf4_winxp32_amd_6.7...

i will install that at the first opportunity and test further.

the temperature issue - i do not believe this to be a problem. i've not seen the core temp get above 47 C. of course, a lot of times you can be certain about something and still be wrong. all the games run flawlessly for a while before crashing, which may seem like a heat issue, but my GPU is getting to around 70 C which is well below the default throttle value of 125 C. if it was a heat issue, wouldn't it slow down and degrade performance first before finally locking up?

the majority of bluescreens have been DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, which is the reason i suspected some conflict in IRQ. i have also read that certain NICs will conflict with nvidia mobos/gpus. any thoughts on that? this error is so common and varied in symptoms that it's very difficult to pinpoint the problem.

a big problem is i do not have easy access to components that i can use to swap and test. if i want to try another NIC, or different RAM, i will likely have to buy it.
June 13, 2006 5:14:59 AM

I have gotten some simallar BSOD as u describe. Some time it is a error like that or one of the other common ones is a error with invidia.ddl and one other. I cant rember exactly every thing about the error messages. Well any ways i have found it to largely be the video drivers them selves and i run a 7900 gt also. The 84.21 were the worst at causing that problem. im currently using 91.28 beta drivers and those seem to be the most stable for me yet. The only game that would cause the BSOD i have found is EVE.
Plz note that i did prime95 my system for bout 2 days to make sure it was stable and let memtest run for 8-12 hours with no errors. 91.28 Try those drivers see if it helps any. Oh and make sure to go to clasic mode and turn on the Threaded Optimation.
June 14, 2006 2:14:32 AM

Quote:
also of note - i only installed the mobo drivers which came on the bundled disk, and did not apply the driver update from the nvidia website. could this be causing all of my problems? [i hope to god yes]. i only realized this tonight, after utterly failing to get city of villains to work [and it supports dual-core, go figure]

the drivers in question - http://www.nvidia.com/object/nforce_nf4_winxp32_amd_6.7...

i will install that at the first opportunity and test further.


done. didn't fix a thing.
June 14, 2006 3:40:06 AM

Have you tryed those beta video drivers yet?
June 14, 2006 12:58:03 PM

I had the same exact BSOD "DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL" that was driving me banana's for a month. It turned out to be the Nvidia firewall that came with the motherboard. When I uninstalled it the problem was fixed.
June 14, 2006 10:21:04 PM

the beta drivers have not solved my problems with city of villains so far. i will update this post with other games after i have tested them tonight.

about the BSODs, they are fairly rare. the main problem right now is that the games themselves are crashing to desktop or freezing, but windows remains unaffected.
!