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New build reboots when starting most games

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November 24, 2007 12:59:17 PM

I built a new rig about a week or so ago:

Q6600 G0
Asus P5KC
2 GB OCZ 1066 DDR2-8500
8800GT 512MB
Sounblaster Audigy 4
2 x SATA HDD, 1 x IDE HDD, 1 x IDE DVD-RW
Antec Smartpower 500W PSU

Running XP SP2

I bought and have been playing Bioshock (through Steam) at high settings with no problems at all (more than 15 hours racked up in this game with extended 5 hour + gaming sessions no problem).

Bought NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer and COD4 as well a few days ago, and installed both earlier. However, when I try to play them my PC just reboots of its own accord. This happens at about 2-3 minutes into NWN2MOB, and with COD4 it always happens at almost the exact same point during the introductory sequence whilst the main game is loading.

Portal runs okay as well as Bioshock. Given this pattern, I suspected a Securom problem, but I found it happens with Oblivion as well - again after about 2 minutes of game time as with NWN2. (I also tried a no-DVD crack for COD4 to see if that helped, but it didn't make any difference) I also found that the HL2 Lost Coast video stress test causes a reboot as well.

So... how do I diagnose and correct this issue? Why does Bioshock run so well for so long whilst a less taxing game like NWN2 causes a reboot so soon, and COD4 won't even get past the introductory loading sequence?

I am stumped. Usual suspects for me would be:
PSU - but it's a quality brand, with 37A on the 12V rail - and Bioshock runs fine?
RAM - but Prime, Orthos and Memtest run okay (Prime for 10 hours blending, Memtest I've run for 11 hours without errors)
Gfx card - I've read about some problems with the 8800GTs, and have tried underclocking everything on the card (though my temps are fine on it anyway) and, again, Bioshock runs perfectly!

I've restored my BIOS to default settings, turned off RAM transaction booster, onboard audio, PCI memory mapping, and other potentially destabilising settings, but still no joy. I've also got the latest chipset, gfx and sond drivers installed. I've tried swapping my memory sticks around, using one at a time, and changing the slots they use.

I have no other PCI-E gfx cards to test with, nor a spare PSU.

What are my next moves? Help! Please!

I have automatic restarts disabled in system settings as well.
November 24, 2007 3:26:56 PM

I'm going to put my money on it being a driver issue with your GFX Card. I have often run into similar problems only to have then all fix themselves when the right driver was released. Most recently the crysis demo was a good example. System would crash but the latest beta driver no problem. Also quake had similiar driver issues for a time I could not even open a multiplayer game unless I had fraps on first. But a driver upgrade fixed what ever the issue was there too. Best I can tell these Drivers really have a huge impact on how systems run. You have some of the latest hardware out which again I believe is a factor. They really probably haven't even tested their drivers on quad cores yet. It's always the hardware out first and then the software later to make it run right. And then they often still have to optimize the drivers for individual games.
You may want to experiment with some of the older drivers too. I have found for some games they work better. And dont forget to use a driver cleaner too. Good luck but you may just need to give things some time on the driver front.
November 24, 2007 3:47:27 PM

Thanks for the suggestion. Just found new 1 newer certified and 1 newer Beta driver for Nvidia cards. I'm going to install these and will report back.

I understand what you mean about holding fire for driver updates, but I also have to consider that I am approaching the end of the period during which I can obtain a refund for my motherboard or gfx card if they do turn out to be faulty or unstable. I'll see what difference these drivers make. Cheers!

UPDATE: neither set of drivers makes any difference. The puzzling thing is that COD4 causes a reboot before the game itself has even loaded! It always happens halfway through the speech about the world situation during the loading sequence, so it seems like there wouldn't even be much load on the gfx anyway - surely nowhere near the amount caused by playing Bioshock at high settings?

This is driving me crazy! I'm pulling my hair out here! Any other suggestions, anyone? Please?
Related resources
November 24, 2007 5:48:19 PM

Oops didn't read your whole post =)
November 24, 2007 8:02:27 PM

Do you have the most recent DX9 update? Also is anything overclocked? Checked your voltages? On my most recent build the motherboard set the ram voltage and the southbridge voltage to low at stock setting (no overclocking) and I was having stability problems also. I got the DX9 update and set the right voltages and my rig has been stable ever since.
November 24, 2007 9:16:33 PM

I re-downloaded and installed DX9C just to be sure, but it didn't help, unfortunately.

I've tried increasing voltages as far as I feel comfortable, but I think I've got to the stage where I'm in danger of frying components now. It still hasn't made any difference. I'm still completely bamboozled by this problem.
November 24, 2007 10:44:09 PM

O.K.. Do you have Speedstep enabled?
November 25, 2007 8:12:22 AM

Speedstep? Is that a BIOS function? There is a BIOS function that throttles the CPU when idle in the BIOS for this board. I forget what it's called now, but I have tried disabling that (along with just about every other BIOS option that might cause instability).

Thanks for the suggestion, though.
November 25, 2007 10:03:27 AM

It's most likely your GFX Card..My brother is running COD4 on his Athalon 3500+ with a radeon 1600 pro GFX Card and no problems.....
8800GT is so new that they probably haven't created correct drivers for it yet!
November 25, 2007 10:05:56 AM

I am kind of thinking now it's between gfx card and motherboard myself - with a possibility it's also the PSU, I suppose. (<sigh>)

I have an Nvidia 7600 arriving next week for my spare PC, so I'll test that, which may rule out the gfx card or confirm that as the fault. I'll update on progress of that in due course.

Thanks for all your suggestions to everyone who's replied so far!
November 27, 2007 8:36:52 PM

Update here: the 7600GT for my spare PC arrived today. Dropped it into my main rig in place of the 8800GT, and found that I could play COD4 for the first two levels perfectly fine (albeit at lower settings, of course).

Well, at least this rules out my motherboard, CPU and RAM as potential culprits for my reboot problem.

It does, however, leave me with three possibilities to consider. These, and my thoughts on each, are:

1. My 8800GT is simply a bad card.
I do wonder how it was able to play Bioshock so well, though, and why 3d Mark 06 and RTHDR IBL ran perfectly.
Possibility: something specific demanded of the GPU in all games I tried except Bioshock and Portal? Seems a bit odd, but possible bad GPU memory? I don't know.

2. The problem was caused by driver issues with the 8800GT.
Still, I tried a number of drivers, and whilst they did seem to make a difference as to when COD4 crashed and rebooted, none gave me a reboot-free experience. If this was the problem, wouldn't I expect to find forums full of people with the same issue?

3. My PSU was not enough for the 8800GT, but is enough for the 7600GT.
This is possible as well, I think. However, I remember COD4 always rebooted in the same place (though other games seemed a bit more random) - would this be because it was a point requiring more power suddenly? Even though one point was during a loading sequence (albeit an animated one)?

I'd appreciate the input of anyone who could shed any light on the relative likelihood of any of these possibilities.
November 27, 2007 8:46:27 PM

Quote:
1. My 8800GT is simply a bad card.
I do wonder how it was able to play Bioshock so well, though, and why 3d Mark 06 and RTHDR IBL ran perfectly.
Possibility: something specific demanded of the GPU in all games I tried except Bioshock and Portal? Seems a bit odd, but possible bad GPU memory? I don't know.


This happened with someone else. One or two of their games ran perfectly fine, but the rest had all sorts of abnormalities and artifacts.

I'm going to have to put my money on a few things... failing PSU, or bad GPU, or bad HDD. (Slight chance it's the mobo, but no likely. It's probably not RAM either, because you would receive some kind of memory error if you have the BSOD enabled + automatic restarts disabled) Just out of curiosity, try opening your event viewer and searching for errors with the following numbers: 1001 or 1003. If you see any around the time of your reboot, document them and check them vs. Microsoft's knowledge base.

Do the connections going to your GPU's extra power adapter connect to anything besides the GPU? If so, isolate the GPU onto it's very own, separate rail and try again.

Also, I doubt this will help, but try using Driver Cleaner to remove your old drivers before installing the new ones.
November 27, 2007 8:57:33 PM

Quote:

I'm going to have to put my money on a few things... failing PSU, or bad GPU, or bad HDD. (Slight chance it's the mobo, but no likely. It's probably not RAM either, because you would receive some kind of memory error if you have the BSOD enabled + automatic restarts disabled)


Yeah, this is what's bugging me - I just don't know how to decide with any certainty between failing PSU and bad GPU. I was hoping the specifics of the situation might clue someone in - e.g. the fact that I played Bioshock all the way through on high settings, but COD4 crashed even on lowerst settings. It seems intuitive that this would make power a less likely culprit? But I really don't know enough to state that tbh.

Wouldn't the fact that my 7600GT works ok rule out HDD, motherboard and RAM, though?

Quote:
Just out of curiosity, try opening your event viewer and searching for errors with the following numbers: 1001 or 1003. If you see any around the time of your reboot, document them and check them vs. Microsoft's knowledge base.


No, nothing that I can see relating to those event codes. Out of interest, what do they signify?

Quote:

Do the connections going to your GPU's extra power adapter connect to anything besides the GPU? If so, isolate the GPU onto it's very own, separate rail and try again.


At first it shared a connector only with the front case fans, but I tried moving it to its own connector soon after first encountering these problems.

Quote:
Also, I doubt this will help, but try using Driver Cleaner to remove your old drivers before installing the new ones.

Yes, I'm somewhat sceptical about the need for this, too. I did try it anyway, though, without it making any difference.

I'm leaning towards RMAing the card soon, but I just wish I could know more about whether it might be power or not based on what's happened.

Thanks for your detailed reply, btw.
November 27, 2007 9:32:51 PM

Disable all sound in your hardware and try again. Sound drivers also can crash games. It's happened to me many times over the years. We forget sound, but it's in all games we play.
November 28, 2007 7:04:20 AM

That's an interesting suggestion. How would I do that, though. If I uninstall my sound devices, won't games fail to start in the first place? Or is there another way to disable sounds without uninstalling all the drivers?

Also: since these reboots no longer happen when I swap graphics cards, wouldn't that rule out sound as a possible cause - or is there a possibility of some bad interaction between sound drivers and one particular card?
November 28, 2007 8:31:49 AM

Bit of a strange one - I'm a CoD4 addict and also have an 8800gt 512mb card. I have no probs at all and only have a 485w psu.

The drivers that I'm using are the current one's on the nvidia website.

Unfortunately I don't think there is a quick fix to your particular problem without having access to try another 8800gt or psu.

Have you done a complete rebuild (software) on your pc? Wipe the disk and start from a fresh build.
November 28, 2007 8:35:03 AM

Ignore last line, as I've seen that you only built your system a week ago *doh*
November 28, 2007 9:07:03 AM

Highly unlikely to be driver issue as it would blue screen before rebooting.

I'd suggest a heat sink seating problem with your cpu. Starting the game raises load, which raises temperatures, it overheats and thermal protection kicks in.

Personally I'd remove the CPU heatsink (carefully -= hold the edges of the cpu as you do so as not to lift it and damage the pins) then clean it and the CPU up with some TIM cleaner , then reapply some Artic Silver 5 - get the specific instructions for your cpu from the AS5 web site as some cpus need lines not blobs in specific places, then reseat the heat sink. NOTE: AIR IS A GOOD INSULATOR - YOU MUST NOT LIFT THE HS AT ANY TIME DURING THE SEATING PROCESS - if u do you need to start over again - ie clean everything down and start from scratch. Check the specific instructions for your CPU on the AS website but for many a twist is recommended to spread the TIM and adjust the HS to avoid air contamination. Again follow instructions on the AS web site and only twist if specified. Whatever you do, never lift even a fraction after initial HS to CPU contact.
November 28, 2007 12:25:13 PM

Quote:
Highly unlikely to be driver issue as it would blue screen before rebooting.

I'd suggest a heat sink seating problem with your cpu. Starting the game raises load, which raises temperatures, it overheats and thermal protection kicks in.
I'd thing if it was CPU / HS issue that playing Bioshock would also induce similar results.

Quote:
Yeah, this is what's bugging me - I just don't know how to decide with any certainty between failing PSU and bad GPU. I was hoping the specifics of the situation might clue someone in - e.g. the fact that I played Bioshock all the way through on high settings, but COD4 crashed even on lowerst settings. It seems intuitive that this would make power a less likely culprit? But I really don't know enough to state that tbh.

Wouldn't the fact that my 7600GT works ok rule out HDD, motherboard and RAM, though?
Sadly, this isn't one of those issues that usually has a miracle quick fix w/o having matched hardware to swap out and test. I seriously doubt it would be motherboard or RAM as I said above, since most of the time RAM errors would result in a BSOD or a '1001' or '1003' error in Event Viewer.

January 9, 2008 4:13:07 PM

i had exact same problem, only way i found to be able to play was to create a new windows xp user, then i there was no problem to play cod4, with xfire, teamspeak, msn, etc... everything was working, but still not working with my owner's user, i think the problem is a spy (new one cuz spybot and ad-aware cant caught it), or just a program conflict (but i dont understand why it would work with the other user now)

so i made this new user a game only, no firefox or explorer, no downloading, in case it is a spy causing this ****

hope it will help you guys
January 9, 2008 4:41:20 PM

What are the temperastures of your video card during play?
Try putting a fan in front of the video card with the side off.
January 11, 2008 5:10:26 AM

problem found! i've uninstall asus gamer osd, reinstalled video driver but this time without allowing 2 programs to install becuz they werent approved by windows xp, and now it's working fine! i've reboot, start and quit over and over, and reboot, and start and quit, over and over, and seems like everything working fine now

not a temp problem, it was doing that at launch, even after the comp been closed for more than 24 hours...
January 11, 2008 5:14:58 AM

here's my tech specs:
here my tech's specs:
Manufacturer:
System manufacturer Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.00GHz (2 CPUs)
Memory: 3582MB RAM
Hard Drive: 80 GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS
Monitor: Plug-and-Play
Sound Card: SB Live! 24-bit
!