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Weird CPU or memory problem

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November 12, 2006 5:20:45 PM

I'm a bit of a noob to all this so I apologise in advance if this is a simple thing to resolve.

I have a DELL Dimension 8400 with a 3ghz Intel CPU. I recently noticed that a couple of recent games would run occasionally in slow mo. And I mean slow mo and NOT bad FPS. The two worst were The Sims 2 and GTR2. Frame rates were ok, it's just that everything moved really slowly. If I rebooted everything returned to normal. Whilst investigating this problem I realised that my system properties reported a different speed everytime I boot. Usually just below 4 ghz, sometimes as high as 11 and 17 ghz was reported! I tested the higher values and it coincided with the slow mo performance. I've contacted Dell support and received pretty much useless help (stock suggestions like driver updates etc, which I have done anyway). I've enclosed images of my System properties over several reboots, is the highlighted speed that of my CPU? If so, why is it higher than 3ghz? And why is it showing a different speed from one boot to the next? I would be extremely grateful if someone could shed some light on my problem.




November 12, 2006 5:39:50 PM

WHAAAAAA???? 8O
Seems like a BIOS or Windows issue, definitely something to call Dell about.

Edit: Scratch that, didn't read at first you already called them, sorry. Bump this thread if it gets too far down. I find it intriguing. Hopefully someone with more expertise will shed some light on this.
November 12, 2006 5:42:13 PM

Trying using CPU-Z.

Make observations on what it says your CPU frequency is doing.
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November 12, 2006 6:21:45 PM

I'm no guru, (and I have to admit that I can't come up with any answer as to why your CPU is allegedly running at those ridiculous OCs) but have you checked for helpsvc.exe running? Even though SP1 was supposed to take care of the problems, they still seem to be occurring. Also if you have the latest McAfee Kill It At Once! I have gone to war with their so-called tech support over it hogging 100% CPU cycles and running my processor to lava stage. Again all of these suggestions are for CPU cycles and not the GHz you're reporting, but I can't think of anything else other than your sensor is hallucinating.
November 12, 2006 8:37:54 PM

I think that you have problems with your mainboard. Check out if the cooling is OK. Also, don't buy Dell crap anymore! Dell is not what they used to be in the past.
November 13, 2006 9:44:31 AM

Thanks for the suggestions and advice, I used CPUZ and it says my core speed is 2991.7 MHz, my system properties at that time showed 3.93 ghz.


I've checked my startup using msconfig and nothing like helpsvc.exe is loaded. I use AVG free as a virus scan not McAfee, would that cause a problem as well?

I built my previous PC before the Dell, but didn't have the spare time so went for Dell last year for this one, I guess I've learnt a lesson there!
November 13, 2006 9:56:23 AM

Try reinstalling Windows.
November 13, 2006 11:08:49 AM

helpsvc.exe has a tendency to just pop up, eat your CPU cycles and then go away. It is among M$' worst pieces of crap (and that is really saying something...)

AVG free is nowhere near a CPU hog as McAfee which in its latest release of a few weeks ago has managed to even outhog Norton! Any "scan-in-the-background" thingy has the potential to go ballistic, but AVG should be one of the better ones.

Again, none of this has anything to do with CPU frequency, just CPU cycles. If CPU-Z says 2991.7 then you're spot on with your processor. I agree that a full reinstall from bare metal might do the trick. Otherwise, just wear a garlic necklace and sacrifice a THG troll on the next full moon. :lol: 
November 13, 2006 12:49:57 PM

Is this still under warrantee?

The misreported system properties is bizarre. Do you have non-stock RAM? Do you have a non-Dell video card? I think that the system properties showing up like that would have to be corrupt Windows, or MB/RAM/CPU troubles. Possibly thermal or voltage, as CPU problems can be related to both.

Windows - Have you formatted and reinstalled, or restored to factory image?

Voltage - Check for additional components not from the factory. Most boxed PCs don't have a huge PSU, so high end non-factory video card, RAID with several HDs, etc could be causing voltage issues. Might pull any aftermarket parts and see if the problem continues. If it works fine with no vid card and the vid card causes problems it could be underpowered PSU.

RAM - Memtest or something similar. Swap with known good. Any random lockups/errors/excess applications crashing?

No real way to test an MB or CPU without swapping, if reinstalling, looking for power issues, and RAM all fail to fix, it sould be MB.

If you're under warrantee tehn set aside a Saturday and spend it trying these tests, documenting with Dell along the way. By 6PM they'll be ready to send you a new MB or CPU.
November 17, 2006 9:28:58 AM

Thanks for the new replies, my PC is out of warranty now so I'm stuffed in that respect!

My system is more or less exactly as it was from Dell, I've added an Audigy card and an extra gig of memory (crucial).

I havn't re-installed XP, that's not something I want to do as I'm afraid of losing data. I'll probably live with the problem for now and get a new PC, it's not a system or a game killer. Nothing that a quick reboot doesn't fix. Thanks for the advice and suggestions (I'm not going to buy Dell again!).
November 17, 2006 9:53:24 AM

Well, good luck to ya. I think this definitely takes the weekly prize for the strangest problem! :?
November 17, 2006 12:15:55 PM

This is one of the most bizarre problems I have EVER seen. I'm sorry I don't have any suggestions for you other than to start with a clean XP installation.

IDEA: If you have an extra hard drive install a clean copy of XP on that and see if you still have the issues.

Good luck and thanks for sharing this with us.
November 25, 2006 9:21:59 AM

I have an update, I've just solved it (I hope) and it's a huge D'oh moment for me. Altho in my defence the fact that Dell support never mentioned it distracted me. I updated the bios this morning and the PC has done 3 consecutive reboots where the system properties shows 2.99 ghz. I have just played GTR2 and spent ages getting used to the speed, as before it was clearly running in slight slo mo, giving me an advantage I miss!! I still can't believe I never pushed the bios update issue with the Dell tech support...oh well. I'm hoping it's fixed this issue for good. Thanks for all the advice.
November 25, 2006 6:21:41 PM

new update :(  just booted up 3 times on the trot and it was 3.93 then 4.11 and now 3.92. Damn PC.
November 25, 2006 9:03:57 PM

Quote:
:lol:  wow thats gotta be the highest oc ever 8O 8O 8O 8O


17GHz, yeah, I would certainly say so. I don't think you can get that even at 0 Kelvin!

:lol: 

I'm completely stumped. I notice most of the standard gurus are avoiding this thread like the plague for the same reason. By my way of thinking if the frequency reading was jumping around with no other effects, I'd say just ignore it as a short somewhere or some weird one-off bug. But if the PC is slowing down considerably at those times, then it needs to be addressed. The PSU could be a culprit. However, I'm afraid that to the best of my knowledge, the only way to get to the bottom of this would be to replace every single component, one by one, reboot and check to see when this behaviour finally stops. Now that is not only time consuming but expensive as hell.

I think it's fair enough to state that if you've stumped THG, then Dell owes you a new system!
November 28, 2006 4:56:44 PM

I've solved it (for sure this time), and it makes no sense to me why! I had an idea to remove all my USB devices and guess what...the PC booted up fine! 2.99ghz displayed. I added my USB devices one by one and once I get past 4 the problem returns. So I'm guessing the USB controller is smegged on my mobo? Either way the PC boots fine (and has done so for the past 2 days) and GTR2 runs great again so I'm happy as larry. I can plug in my printer and scanner after I've booted and everything is fine. Thanks for all the advice, Ideas and support.
November 28, 2006 5:00:56 PM

Quote:
I've solved it (for sure this time), and it makes no sense to me why! I had an idea to remove all my USB devices and guess what...the PC booted up fine! 2.99ghz displayed. I added my USB devices one by one and once I get past 4 the problem returns. So I'm guessing the USB controller is smegged on my mobo? Either way the PC boots fine (and has done so for the past 2 days) and GTR2 runs great again so I'm happy as larry. I can plug in my printer and scanner after I've booted and everything is fine. Thanks for all the advice, Ideas and support.


Weird. Thanks for the updates. I'm guessing your tried the 4th USB device by itself and it didn't cause the problem with the other three not plugged in?

Take care,
November 28, 2006 6:03:40 PM

An odd problem, for sure, and one that most people wouldn't uncover. I hope it doesn't turn out like your last fix with the BIOS update.

Seriously, Dell uses crap parts, that's why they are cheap and that's why I don't buy them.
!