Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Random Freezes - HDD & Mem Upgraded Laptop

Last response: in Systems
Share
August 27, 2006 2:03:35 PM

I own a Fujitsu-Siemens laptop Amilo A 7620 which ran just fine for a couple of years.
But recently to speed it up, i upgraded the memory from 2x256MB Samsung DDR333 CL2.5 to 1x1GB Hynix DDR400 CL3, and changed the slow Fujitsu 4200RPM 40GB ATA-66 hard disk with a blazing fast 7200 RPM 80 GB ATA-100 Hitachi HTS721080G9AT00.
Now the system is really much faster, but once every 2 days or so goes into a random freeze, where the system, thought still apparently running, does not react to any input, including the mouse pointer which does not move anymore.
I tested the memory with memtest and Microsoft memory diagnostic, and the RAM seems to work just fine; i tested the hard disk with the Hitachi diagnostic tool (used to generate error reports for RMA the disk) and it also is reported to work fine.
I tried to use another tool from Hitachi to lower the DMA mode to 4, so back to ATA-66 like the previous disk, but still the freezing occurs.
Here are the full specs:
* Windows XP pro SP2
* Athlon XP-M 3000+ Barton core 2200MHz 512Kb cache
Via KT400 motherboard (custom for Fujitsu Siemens laptop), supports memory up to DDR400
* 1GB DDR400 CL 3 Hynix memory, 1 slot, 2 banks, 184pin standard DIMM (not SODIMM!)
* HDD Hitachi HTS721080G9AT00 7200 RPM 80 GB ATA-100
* Mobility Radeon 9000 64 MB AGP 4X Fastwrites off, Omega Driver 6.05 (but i tried also the Fujitsu Siemens old driver and it doesnt seem to be the problem)
* Latest BIOS from the manufacturer, and being a laptop, all important features such as memory timings etc. are locked/not accessible.

Any suggestions/ideas?
Thanks for helping.
August 27, 2006 2:42:15 PM

I already tried...
Related resources
August 27, 2006 4:24:59 PM

Quote:
I already tried...


And it passed all tests twice with no errors?

EDIT: Since that notebook is a few years old, does it even support 1x 1GB as a RAM configuration?
August 27, 2006 6:54:01 PM

Yes, and it also passed the tests of microsoft memory diagnostic.
The notebook should support up to 2x1GB total memory; of course this is not specified by the manufacturer, being a notebook, but the KT400 chipset does.
And anyway i suppose it runs too well for a notebook who does not support 1GB per slot..
I actually suspect the HDD to be the culprit for my random freezes, but perhaps i could try running the system for a week with the original memory to exclude definitevely this hypothesis..
August 27, 2006 10:47:53 PM

Quote:
Yes, and it also passed the tests of microsoft memory diagnostic.
The notebook should support up to 2x1GB total memory; of course this is not specified by the manufacturer, being a notebook, but the KT400 chipset does.
And anyway i suppose it runs too well for a notebook who does not support 1GB per slot..
I actually suspect the HDD to be the culprit for my random freezes, but perhaps i could try running the system for a week with the original memory to exclude definitevely this hypothesis..


Don't even do to run it for a week. Stick in the orginal memory and run Prime95 on it overnight.
August 29, 2006 12:38:42 PM

But Prime95 doesn't stress the harddisk, does it?
August 29, 2006 1:21:27 PM

Did you do any of the normal things like checking the error logs, event viewer, disabling some (or all) power management, with and w/o AC adapter, with cooler room temp, cleaning out dust, checking fan RPM, putting old memory back to see if problem persists, putting old HDD back to see if problem persists?

It's real simple, you have to isolate the variables in addition to checking all the notebook-specific maintenance items, and then also all the general pc maintenance items.

Since you're presumably running that frail OS, AKA WinXP, also try a clean install or a Linux bootcd, but I'd bet it's hardware to get a complete freeze, but you don't necessarily get a complete freeze right, you claim it still works? Does the taskbar clock keep ticking & updating onscreen?

Contrary to what another poster mentioned, a couple loops of memtest86 is nowhere near enough. Run memtest86+ (note the "+") for at least 12 hours.

You could just be unlucky, maybe a progressing failure was bound to happen regardless of these two system changes. Run the HDD manufacturer's diagnostics. If you have, do it again, sometimes a drive will pass early into a failure but later not.

Don't boot windows once, leave it sitting at the bios menu to see if it locks there, though similarly leaving it running memtest86+ might reveal this, just be sure you leave it in a well ventilated area as it'll be producing more heat outside of an ACPI capable environment.
August 30, 2006 9:16:15 AM

Thanks a lot for the suggestions!
The error and events logs do not register this situation apparently.
I've ruled out temperature and fan problems too, but i didn't try disabling power management and i think now i'll try that.
Yes i'm running a fresh install of WindowsXP Pro SP2 (before i was using XP Home, but i don't think this should make a difference); when the system locks i believe the clock doesn't tick, but i didnt pay attention to it; however the fan keeps spinning relatively loud, which makes me think that there's some CPU activity still going on.
I'll try to swap back the old memory, but i'm not so enthusiast about reinstalling XP on the original harddisk to see if it works.. i was wondering if there is any sw setting which i might try to reduce the performance of the new disk and increase its compatibility (well this far i tried playing with power management, noise reduction and lowering the DMA mode to 4).
I might be wrong, but my suspect is of incompatibility between the mainboard and the HDD, for example could it be that the disk draws too much power, compared to the old one?
Anyway, i'll try with replacing the old memory first, and disabling ACPI.
August 30, 2006 12:32:13 PM

I've worked with laptops a lot. They tend to just disintegrate much faster than desktops.
Honestly you may not have done anything wrong, but installing more ram and a faster hard-drive may have over taxed the power subsystem and damaged some of the components.
Or it could be something as simple as a f-ed up MS ‘update’

Not sure but if you really want to find the problem then take one for the team and reconfigure your system to the state it was when it was working fine. Then start testing components.

Besides its not like you will lose any information on your new hard-drive you will just be out 45 minutes of your life.

Let us know how it turns out.
August 30, 2006 3:17:21 PM

Quote:

Besides its not like you will lose any information on your new hard-drive you will just be out 45 minutes of your life.

Well, probably more than 45 min :)  because i'm using the original disk as an external "data" disk, and it has a single partition (highly fragmented).
So i'll have to defrag, use partition magic, and reinstall windows..
But yeah, i'll try that, as a last resort.
It would really suck to have to reinstall the old disk as main drive, cause the new one can smoke even several 3.5" desktop hdd...
Thank you!
September 8, 2006 2:36:27 PM

Well i've been running the system with the original memory for a week now, and i didn't have a single freeze.
I ran Prime95 only for a coupld of hours though, as the system gets rather hot (it's an Athlon XP-M 3000+) and i dont wanna stress it too much.
I've also been digging a bit, and i found out that the Via KT 400 chipset didn't officially support DDR 400 memory, even though several mobos based on the chipset did (official support was added in the KT 400A, together with a 400 MHz FSB).
So it might either be that my motherboard doesn't properly support DDR 400, or 1 GB DIMM, or maybe just this particular memory type.
Too bad i can't fiddle with memory settings and timings, due to the crippled bios.
Anyway, i'm really glad that the problem was not the HDD, and thanks to everybody for the useful suggestions! :) 
!