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BSODs and general system instability following updates

Last response: in Windows XP
June 6, 2008 4:22:22 PM

Alright, this is a longish story, so bear with me.

First, PC specs

Mobo: Asus a8n-sli se
4GB elixir DDr 400 RAM
Windows XP Service pack 3
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 3800+, MMX, 3DNow (2 CPUs), ~2.0GHz

Now, the video card. At the start of this story, I had a Radeon x1800XT. This will change though, read on.

It starts with Second Life. A client update was having some strange graphical glitches. Water turned pitch black if shaders were enabled. Linden Lab support advised me that it was a video driver issue, and to update my driver to fix it.

I checked, and sure enough there was a new driver available. I installed it, and second life started working perfectly. Unfortunately, it caused other problems. Team Fortress 2 refused to run, following that driver update. An error message something like "unable to create d3d object".

Valve support told me that updating everything would help. Since my video driver was now the most recent, I set about updating some other things. Basically, I went to windows update, and installed everything microsoft told me to. This included the following things:
Update for Windows XP (KB920342)
Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) version 2.0 allows you to publish and resolve peer names with other PNRP nodes running v2.0. This is important for peer-to-peer applications on your system. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Creative - Sound - SB Audigy
Creative Sound sofware update released in June, 2007


Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0: x86 (KB928416)
The Microsoft NET Framework 3.0 is the managed code programming model for Windows. Version 3.0 enhances version 2.0 with new technologies for building applications with visually compelling user experiences, seamless communication across technology boundaries, and the ability to support a wide range of business processes. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Logitech - Other Hardware - Logitech USB Camera (Pro 5000)
Logitech Other Hardware software update released in October, 2007

Logitech - Sound - Logitech Mic (Pro 5000)
Logitech Sound software update released in October, 2007
This was all done on 25th april 2008.

I quite reasonably assumed that the maker of my operating system is a source I can trust, and so downloaded and installed all of these things from microsoft as instructed. The last two have certainly made my webcam work better..

After installing all of these, everything appeared fixed. Although team fortress now worked, I'm very sure it was noticeably slower than before doing any of this.

Over the next few days though, problems began to crop up. Crashes, generally.

A quick summary:
-MSN messenger now crashes occasionally. Before this, it had never crashed, ever.
-Civilisation 4 locks up regularly, every 10 minutes or so. Sometimes this can be fixed by minimising and restoring it, sometimes not.
-Sim City 4 crashes to desktop occasionally. This happens with no warning, and no error dialog. Just poof, back at the desktop, and my city isn't saved.
-Assasin's creed fails to play voices during cutscenes.
-Blender runs horribly slowly sometimes, suddely taking upwards of 20 seconds to do anything.

Laziness, I guess, is what held me back from just doing a system restore. I'm not sure if it's too late now. I have tried several things to fix it.

Firstly, I visited windows update again a while later, and got service pack 3. This has made no apparent difference to anything, though.

I got very frustrated with assasins creed, and did manage to fix that. By simply ripping out that driver microsoft gave me, and installing a new one directly from creative.

Removing the .net framework update has had no effect.

In case this was being caused by the video driver, And because I felt it was about time anyway, I went and got a new video card. My machine now runs an Nvidia 8800GTS 512. This has made everything significantly faster, but has had zero effect on stability problems.

Since I got the new video card, I've installed 3 new games, which are all having their own stability problems.

-GTA: San andreas. Crashes to dresktop without warning like sim city. Very annoying.
-Painkiller. Now this is odd. Basically, after I've been playing for an hour or so, the game suddenly seeems to go into overdrive. Everything moves at massively increased speeds, the guns suddenly take forever to reload, and the physics get screwy, resulting in people floating in mid air. Restarting the game does not fix this, I need to restart the whole pc to make it work normally again.

-Black and White 2: Worst of all, and what prompted me to finally make this thread. This game bluescreens on me, on a very regular basis. That's very worrying. :freakout:

After a bluescreen crash, and I start the machine up again, windows informs me that it's recovered from a serious error, and wants to send a crash report.

The first few times I did this, a microsoft knowledgebase page came up, telling me it was caused by a device driver. Of course, it neglected to tell me WHICH device.

Now, it tells me the error report is corrupted instead, and says this "indicates a serious problem with your computer"

At this point, I decided enough is enough, and went for a system restore. It won't work though. I tried to restore to 19th april, before any of these problems. And it goes through the motions, takes a long time to load the system restore, then on startup, tells me there are no changes to the system , and asks me to choose another restore point. The system restore is not happening for some reason.

I've tried some other things, too. completely removed the camera drivers, no effect. And today, I did a clean install of my video drivers. Made sure every trace of nvidia and ATI was gone. And reinstalled the nvidia drivers.

Not only has this not fixed anything, it's actually made things worse. I now have a problem with text. In all applications, there seems to be invisible strips down the screen now. Any text that falls inside these appears slightly blurry, and darker than the rest. This only happened today after reinstalling the drivers.

Finally, I have a repro for the bluescreen. I ave a save file in Medieval II, just before a battle. The PC always bluescreen crashes when I try to play that battle. Tried 4 times nowwith the same result every time. I suppose I can at least use this to tell if anything is helping.

So, everyone. Any and all advice is appreciated. Simple tips, common advice, information about similar problems, give me anything you've got. Any and all help is appreciated in making my pc not crash with every game i play.
June 7, 2008 10:30:56 AM

try to find a recent copy of directx and reinstall it. Dont try to uninstall the current version. I dont think it can be done anyway, Just try to reinstall and it will over write the existing files and make any registry changes that may be needed.
One of your games should have a copy on the cd
June 8, 2008 12:48:08 AM

That's worth a shot, I guess.

Since Posting this yesterday, I've run a full pass of memtest86, and updated my nforce4 chipset drivers too. Not yielding any results

I also discovered the bluescreen is caused by nv4_disp.dll