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Computer crashes during games for unknown reason.

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  • Homebuilt
  • Computer
  • Seagate
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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November 28, 2008 3:42:56 AM

Hello,


I've got a homebuilt computer with the following specs:

Intel D865GBF motherboard
Intel Pentium IV 2.4 GHz with Hyperthreading
2 sticks of 512 MB PC-3200 at 2.5-3-3-7
ATI Radeon X1950 Pro AGP
Creative Soundblaster Audigy
450w power supply
Western Digital Caviar 80 GB
Western Digital Raptor 75 GB (SATA)
Seagate Barracuda 500 GB (SATA)
Lite-On DVD-RW
Windows XP Home with Service Pack 3


Soon after I added the Seagate, my computer began to crash frequently during games. The video either turns black, vertical stripes of black and color, or a checker-like pattern of colors. Also, the audio turns into a loud buzzing, and a fan inside the computer seems to accelerate. I usually have to restart it manually, but sometimes it'll restart on its own.

I wondered if the problem might be that the Seagate was taxing the power supply, especially since its external fan doesn't work. I uninstalled the Seagate and the crashes stopped. Later, I noticed that the power cable for the Seagate was broken, so I got a replacement. I wondered if that broken cable might have been the actual cause of the crashes, so I decided to reinstall the Seagate.

For a while, everything was running smoothly. However, the computer began crashing again yesterday. I uninstalled the Seagate again, but that didn't solve the problem. I was thinking about upgrading my power supply, but I don't want to spend money unless I know that it's the cause of my problems. How do I know what's causing the crashes? Do these symptoms point to anything in particular?

By the way, my computer is protected with a Motorola VT2442 Router, Comodo Firewall, Avira AntiVir, and Windows Defender. I keep these programs up-to-date, and I run weekly virus, rootkit, and malware scans. Also, my operating system and video card drivers are up-to-date.


Thank you,
Steohawk

More about : computer crashes games unknown reason

November 28, 2008 4:16:26 AM

Sounds like a faulty Video Card to me.
Do you have a spare VGA card to test your system with?
a c 122 B Homebuilt system
November 28, 2008 4:22:47 AM

Does the computer crash anytime else?

What brand/model of PSU?

"and a fan inside the computer seems to accelerate"
CPU fan? If so, that may indicate some kind of temperature problem.
November 28, 2008 4:53:13 AM

Thank you both for your responses.


Quote:
Do you have a spare VGA card to test your system with?


I have an X800 XL. I'll try swapping it and running some tests. Then I'll post the results.


Quote:
Does the computer crash anytime else?


No. It only happens during games. I've even tried running some games at ridiculously low settings, but it still crashes just as frequently.


Quote:
What brand/model of PSU?


It's a Powerup! LP6100D. Also, I just noticed that it's only 400w.


Quote:
CPU fan? If so, that may indicate some kind of temperature problem.


I tried to rule out overheating by using Everest Home Edition 2.20 to monitor the temperature of my motherboard, CPU, video card, and hard drives. Even during games, none of my hardware has ever risen above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
November 28, 2008 5:05:57 AM

The PSU wattage should be OK for your current configuration.
Try swapping your vga with the X800 XL and let us know what you get.
a c 122 B Homebuilt system
November 28, 2008 11:03:18 AM

I looked up your PSU. It has a 25 amp 12 volt rail. Roughly estimating your 12 volt consumption, I get:

MB - 2 amps, CPU - 8 amps, vid card - 3 amps in 2D desktop and about 6 amps gaming, each HD - 1 amp, and DVD - 2 amp. That's about 18 amps in regular operation going to 21 amps while gaming. I estimate a total load of about 300 watts on the PSU.

Sounds pretty good so far, but ...
(Now it gets kind of technical.)

Your PSU is rated at 70% efficiency and rated at its full output at 25 C which is typical of inexpensive PSU's. That amounts to about equivalent of a 100 watt incadescent bulb's worth of heat inside the PSU case to produce the 300 watts. When the PSU runs hotter 25 C, it will produce less power. (This is called "derating".)

If the internal temperature of the PSU reaches 40 C, it will produce anywhere from 5 - 10% less power. And all of a sudden you have a marginal power supply.

Your symptoms match a marginal PSU - works in desktop and 2D applications, but crashes during games.

My suggestions:
First, swap your video cards like goahead suggested. If games do not crash, you have two possibilities: a bad X1950 or inadequate power. An X800XL pulls about 3 amps less at full 3D load so having it work does not eliminate the PSU.

Second, with the X1950 installed, unplug all but your boot drive, run games and see what happens. Unplugging the drives will reduce the 12 volt load by 2 - 4 amps.

See if you can borrow a more powerful PSU from a friend.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 28, 2008 11:28:59 AM

All considered, I am leaning towards this problem has to do with a weak PSU for all the hardware he is running. I agree that adding the 3rd drive was kind of "the straw that broke the camels back" type of situation.
November 28, 2008 6:43:04 PM

Thank you all for your replies.


Quote:
I looked up your PSU. It has a 25 amp 12 volt rail. Roughly estimating your 12 volt consumption, I get:

MB - 2 amps, CPU - 8 amps, vid card - 3 amps in 2D desktop and about 6 amps gaming, each HD - 1 amp, and DVD - 2 amp. That's about 18 amps in regular operation going to 21 amps while gaming. I estimate a total load of about 300 watts on the PSU.

Sounds pretty good so far, but ...
(Now it gets kind of technical.)

Your PSU is rated at 70% efficiency and rated at its full output at 25 C which is typical of inexpensive PSU's. That amounts to about equivalent of a 100 watt incadescent bulb's worth of heat inside the PSU case to produce the 300 watts. When the PSU runs hotter 25 C, it will produce less power. (This is called "derating".)

If the internal temperature of the PSU reaches 40 C, it will produce anywhere from 5 - 10% less power. And all of a sudden you have a marginal power supply.

Your symptoms match a marginal PSU - works in desktop and 2D applications, but crashes during games.


Wow! Thank you very much for taking the time to research all of that. I really appreciate it.


Quote:
My suggestions:
First, swap your video cards like goahead suggested. If games do not crash, you have two possibilities: a bad X1950 or inadequate power. An X800XL pulls about 3 amps less at full 3D load so having it work does not eliminate the PSU.


Swapping the video cards appears to have solved the problem.


Quote:
Second, with the X1950 installed, unplug all but your boot drive, run games and see what happens. Unplugging the drives will reduce the 12 volt load by 2 - 4 amps.


I'll try that next.


Quote:
See if you can borrow a more powerful PSU from a friend.


I tried. Unfortunately, I don't know anybody nearby with a more powerful PSU. They all had 300w or less.
!