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Vista freezes to garbled screen at random

I think I have a hardware problem, really, but since I am not sure what hardware, I'm posting it here.

Basically, I built a whole new rig out of fresh parts.
Earlier problem detailed here ( - I just hope that mistake can't actually harm the hardware?

I've installed Vista, upgraded it to the newest version, and upgraded my video card drivers to the newest version. And I've plugged in some USB devices.

Now after a while of being on, my system will crash. It doesn't matter whether I am doing high-definition gaming or browsing the internet. Most of the time, I get a freeze with a garbled up screen. Just a whole bunch of graphical rubbish. Sometimes though, I get a BSOD (Vista only shows it a short while before rebooting - so I don't know what it says). A few times I got the BSOD during a boot. And a select few times it boots to a blank screen (black) with only a movable cursor on it. I can use ctrl-alt-del though, and access the task manager.

I have these components:
Asus Maximus Formula motherboard
Intel Q6600 processor
Coolink Silentator CPU fan (instead of the fan that came with the processor)
ATi Radeon HD3870X2 1024MB video card
OCZ Reaper HPC 4096MB PC2-6400 memory
Cooler Master Real Power M850 power supply
SATA Western Digital Raptor 150G HDD (OS drive)
SATA Samsung Spinpoint 750G HDD
IDE Maxtor 180G HDD

I've done the following:
Diagnose my memory - all good.
Diagnose my OS HDD - all good.
Check my CPU/mobo temps/voltages - NB and SB somewhat hot at idle (50 Celcius) but nowhere near overheated, rest good.
Check my video card temp - 50 Celcius right as it went on to crash into the garble.
Reinstall Vista several times.

And now I'm out of ideas. I'm still not sure where the problem is, although I'm pretty sure some of my hardware is broken.

So what do I do? Is there any test/fix I can still perform or should I just get some professional PC shop to take a look at my machine and find out for me? After searching for 2 days through my PC and google I am feeling more and more disencouraged and more like I'm not going to be able to fix it anyway.
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  1. It sounds suspiciously like a power supply issue. Cooler Master Real Power is a tier 4 power supply. I'm not saying that you should go out and buy and new one, but just keep it in mind.

    I would suggest removing those two extra hard drives and maybe some RAM to minimize the load on the power supply. Run it for a while and see if it runs better.

    If you have another rig where you can borrow another video card (something that is not as power hungry) to remove even more load from the PSU. I'm not suggesting that your power supply is bad, but maybe all of that hardware is too much for that PSU.
  2. I agree with dmroeder, the symptoms of the screen garblling could be a PSU issue. Also could be the RAM on your video card overheating.

    Now, you mentioned you believe you have a hardware issue. You have tried everything and are looking for suggestions. You will need spare parts to troubleshoot the system any farther as far as hardware is concerned. Try a different video card (see comments about your PSU and video card RAM overheating). If a different video card does not solve the problem you might try a different power supply. And so on. If you look at my system configuration, it is very much like yours. I have the Maximus Formula X38 SE, Radeon 3870, E8400 and 8 Gbs of RAM. I have had a Q6600 and PC6400 in here as well as a 8800GTS 640 in all kinds of configurations. One tweak I had to make to achieve totaly stability was to set my Northbridge voltage manually to 1.39v. Also, I have to set my RAM voltages to slightly more than 2.1v and adjust my timings to 5-5-5-15 @ 1066MHz. My system is totally stable for months. The symptoms you describe with the screen showing rubbish sounds like a video card, psu or video card driver issue.
  3. Best answer
    I've been unable to reply ("sorry, this thread doesn't exist" - forum bug?), but I'm able to post now by quoting another user.

    I just wanted to chime in again now that I've found the actual problem, in case someone reads this thread looking to solve the same problem.

    The issue was in fact a power supply / energy issue, but my PSU is quite fine.

    First of all, plug the cord directly into a wall socket. Don't use a socketbox sharing it with multiple other appliances. This was not the problem for me but it's a possible fix nevertheless.

    Then, my situation. My problem was that I plugged the PSU into a non-grounded socket. I'm using my PC from a grounded socket now and it works absolutely fine.

    Thanks for the help guys! You were quite helpful by pointing me to the PSU which was related enough to the actual problem to help me find it.
  4. Schweet, good work.
  5. Yeah, enjoy your Radeon X2.
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