System Instability - Anyone up for a challenge?

Ok, so here's the deal. I build a brand new computer with about $1800 in components and software and it runs like it is 12 years old. The problem? It sporatically freezes for 10 seconds or so and then resumes functioning only to freeze about 10 seconds a few minutes later.

Here's what I do know:

It is not the graphics card or drivers. Swaped the graphics card out with a working one and problem still occurred.

Don't think it's a software issue. After a clean install or while in safe mode, problem still occurs even in bare system or fully loaded system.

In the system error log under control panel - administrative tools - there are several errors for the cd drive saying controller error occurred.

Updated the firmware for the cd-DVD +- burner. Couldn't update it for the other drive, no update. Problem still occurred.

Have left Windows task manager open while working and everytime there is a pause, there is a huge CPU %100 spike. However, when monitoring processes before and after freeze, nothing runs over %2 CPU usage.

When playing a video or running a program and computer freezes, the video or program "catches up"/plays faster before resuming normally.

Windows has been installed and drives formatted completely 3 or 4 times with 2 different XP disks.

The CPU spikes and periods of normal operation makes me think it is a software problem. However, the reinstalls of windows, complete formats, and instability with only XP installed leads me to think it is a hardware problem.

Any ideas? Anyone out there than can help fix this problem is a freakin genius in my book.


Here's some specs:

OS: Windows XP Pro
Motherboard: MB GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 P965 775
Graphics Card: PNY nVidia 8800 GTS
Power Supply: PSU ANTEC|TP3-650 RT
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6600
Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X2048-6400C4
HD - (2) Western Digital Caviar RE WD2500YS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
HD - (2) Maxtor 7200 rpm 80 GB in RAID 0 configuration
LITE-ON Combo Drive Black SATA Model SHC-52S7K-05
LITE-ON 18X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write Black IDE Model LH-18A1P-185
3 answers Last reply
More about system instability challenge
  1. If you got errors for the Optical drives, have you tried running each individually?
  2. Last night, over about 4 hours, I extensively tested the optical drives. Here's what I've figured out. The SATA drive when connected with the IDE drive or if just the SATA drive is connected on its own, errors occur. If the IDE drive only is attached, no problems occurred. So, it was a problem with the SATA optical drive. I temporarily replaced the SATA cable to the optical drive with a SATA cable from one of the HD and no errors occurred...

    So, it appears a faulty cable is the cause. I have two questions though.

    1. Why would a system optical drive error cause the whole Windows system to stall and "eat" all of the CPU? I'm just curious.

    2. The cable that needs to be replaced is a SATA cable. 4 came with the motherboard and I purchased the one that needs to be replaced at a local store. The motherboard is a SATA II compatable motherboard. Is there such a thing as a SATA II cable, and if so, what is the difference between it and a SATA cable? I just don't want to make the same mistake twice.

    The system seems to be running stable now and I can just hope that after all my troubles I really found the correct issue and that replacing the cable will cure all my woes.
  3. Unfortunately, I do not have an answer as to why. Remember that computers are systems meaning changes in any variable, hardware or software, will cause changes in other variables, this is especially true of hardware and drivers. This is why it can be difficult to diagnose a problem. I've seen SATA cable specs indicating they are 1.5 but don't know if that means they are campatible with 1.5 or only work with 1.5. I always use the cables that come with the mobo. Finally, SATA optical drives are fairly new and anytime something is new, there are likely to be clitches, which is why there are firmware updates. What's important is that it is working and if start anticipating problems with a computer, you'll likely drive yourself nuts. :) This is not to say that someone else with far more technical knowledge could not give you a better answer.
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