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PC Crashes - help with trouble shooting

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  • Gigabyte
  • Windows Vista
  • Motherboards
Last response: in Motherboards
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July 31, 2009 4:48:28 PM

HI. My 18 month old HTPC started to crash every few minutes. I did a clean re-install of VISTA Ultimate in the hope that OS has been corrupted. Here are the system details

Antec NSK2480 with 380W EarthWatts PSU
GA-MA69GM-S2H
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
Sampsung Spinpoint 500GB
AVerMedia AVerTV PCIe
Microsoft Remote
LG DVD-RW
Vista Ultimate
Encore wireless N card

Is there a way I can determine which component is causing the problem? I suspect it could be motherboard. If that is the case, what microATX mobo would you recommend? What you guys do to trouble shoot such situation. Thanks.

More about : crashes trouble shooting

a c 177 V Motherboard
July 31, 2009 5:14:39 PM

I have run accross several situations where Corsair memory, specifically, has appeared to 'degrade' over time, and cause a once working setup to become unstable. The first thig to do is download MemTest86+ here:
http://home.att.net/~chip.programmer/Memtest86/memtest8...
Unzip it to an .iso, burn the .iso to a CD, which will make a bootable memory tester; boot to it, and let it run a full pass or two - see if it's finding memory errors...

Any problems with burning an .iso - post back, I'll post a tutorial, and links to a couple of burning programs...
July 31, 2009 5:28:50 PM

bilbat said:
I have run accross several situations where Corsair memory, specifically, has appeared to 'degrade' over time, and cause a once working setup to become unstable. The first thig to do is download MemTest86+ here:
http://home.att.net/~chip.programmer/Memtest86/memtest8...
Unzip it to an .iso, burn the .iso to a CD, which will make a bootable memory tester; boot to it, and let it run a full pass or two - see if it's finding memory errors...

Any problems with burning an .iso - post back, I'll post a tutorial, and links to a couple of burning programs...


Thanks bilbat. I got memtest and burned the iso image onto a CD. I will give it a try and report back.

Could it be a virus problem?
Related resources
a c 177 V Motherboard
July 31, 2009 6:13:20 PM

Quote:
Could it be a virus problem?

Always a possibilty; viruses can cause all sorts of strange problems. Do you have an AV program installed? Do you update it faithfully? Have you done a recent scan? Those three reduce the probability to insignificance...
July 31, 2009 6:32:54 PM

bilbat said:
Quote:
Could it be a virus problem?

Always a possibilty; viruses can cause all sorts of strange problems. Do you have an AV program installed? Do you update it faithfully? Have you done a recent scan? Those three reduce the probability to insignificance...


I have AVAST which is updated regularly. The system crashes started while copying some files to external hard disk of a friend. It crashed. (Crash = random reboot, rebbot will stuck after verifying DMI pool data with error boot disk could not be found). I restarted, it crashed again. I unplugged the external hard disk. Then it started to crash frequently.

I did a virus scan on boot hard disk by connecting it to other PC. It was clean. SMART does not report any errors.
a c 177 V Motherboard
July 31, 2009 6:38:48 PM

Now that the external is unplugged (and I'm betting it was a USB connection), go into your BIOS' first page, and do a "Load Optimized Defaults"; I'll bet it's cured... I'll explain in an hour or two (tending to fairly elderly parents - be gone for about two hours - mom to WalMart!); I can cause pretty much the same trouble (even more bizarre, actually) just by plugging in a particular bran/model of 'pendrive'...
July 31, 2009 6:42:16 PM

bilbat said:
Now that the external is unplugged (and I'm betting it was a USB connection), go into your BIOS' first page, and do a "Load Optimized Defaults"; I'll bet it's cured... I'll explain in an hour or two (tending to fairly elderly parents - be gone for about two hours - mom to WalMart!); I can cause pretty much the same trouble (even more bizarre, actually) just by plugging in a particular bran/model of 'pendrive'...


Thanks. It is WD 1TB.
July 31, 2009 10:57:43 PM

bilbat said:
I'm unclear here - is it fixed?

I've been meaning to do a post regarding Gigabyte's USB peculiarities:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261902-30-gigabyte-ta...


It passes the memtest. As per your suggestion, I loaded optimized defaults. It did not crash for last 30 minutes. Is there any stress test that i can apply to this pc.
July 31, 2009 11:07:54 PM

Prime95 it
a c 177 V Motherboard
July 31, 2009 11:27:42 PM
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 1, 2009 12:04:26 AM

BTW - I love your 'handle' - I'm big on molecular biology - congenitally nuts, fiddle with my neurochemistry pretty much continuously :pt1cable: 
August 1, 2009 12:46:09 AM



I think it is fixed. I ran all the tests of PrimeTime. No problem. Here is the data
[Fri Jul 31 19:55:45 2009]
Self-test 1024K passed!
Self-test 1024K passed!
[Fri Jul 31 20:12:02 2009]
Compare your results to other computers at http://www.mersenne.org/report_benchmarks
AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 5000+
CPU speed: 2605.86 MHz, 2 cores
CPU features: RDTSC, CMOV, Prefetch, 3DNow!, MMX, SSE, SSE2
L1 cache size: 64 KB
L2 cache size: 512 KB
L1 cache line size: 64 bytes
L2 cache line size: 64 bytes
L1 TLBS: 32
L2 TLBS: 512
Prime95 32-bit version 25.11, RdtscTiming=1
Best time for 768K FFT length: 28.375 ms.
Best time for 896K FFT length: 34.467 ms.
Best time for 1024K FFT length: 38.245 ms.
Best time for 1280K FFT length: 48.816 ms.
Best time for 1536K FFT length: 59.361 ms.
Best time for 1792K FFT length: 73.063 ms.
Best time for 2048K FFT length: 80.889 ms.
Best time for 2560K FFT length: 108.397 ms.
Best time for 3072K FFT length: 131.855 ms.
Best time for 3584K FFT length: 160.114 ms.
Best time for 4096K FFT length: 178.793 ms.
Best time for 5120K FFT length: 239.285 ms.
Best time for 6144K FFT length: 290.852 ms.
Best time for 7168K FFT length: 358.873 ms.
Best time for 8192K FFT length: 415.234 ms.
Timing FFTs using 2 threads.
Best time for 768K FFT length: 18.221 ms.
Best time for 896K FFT length: 23.721 ms.
Best time for 1024K FFT length: 26.705 ms.
Best time for 1280K FFT length: 33.276 ms.
Best time for 1536K FFT length: 39.862 ms.
Best time for 1792K FFT length: 47.933 ms.
Best time for 2048K FFT length: 53.140 ms.
Best time for 2560K FFT length: 73.029 ms.
Best time for 3072K FFT length: 86.814 ms.
Best time for 3584K FFT length: 104.837 ms.
Best time for 4096K FFT length: 116.710 ms.
Best time for 5120K FFT length: 147.766 ms.
Best time for 6144K FFT length: 183.341 ms.
Best time for 7168K FFT length: 224.376 ms.
Best time for 8192K FFT length: 265.191 ms.
Best time for 58 bit trial factors: 4.967 ms.
Best time for 59 bit trial factors: 4.592 ms.
Best time for 60 bit trial factors: 4.585 ms.
Best time for 61 bit trial factors: 4.571 ms.
Best time for 62 bit trial factors: 4.591 ms.
Best time for 63 bit trial factors: 8.401 ms.
Best time for 64 bit trial factors: 8.409 ms.
Best time for 65 bit trial factors: 10.609 ms.
Best time for 66 bit trial factors: 10.551 ms.
Best time for 67 bit trial factors: 10.575 ms.

Let me know if this much testing is enough.
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 1, 2009 1:11:57 AM

Looks good to me! Best stress test is cranking up windows (especially the installers!) - I can run prime95 all day at 4GHz; my stress test is watch and pause one channel of NTSC off a PCI tuner, while recording a second HD stream off a networked antenna tuner, while transcoding and pulling commercials out of a third stream to an NAS - one single megahertz past 3825 and blooey! - spontaneous reboots, with the occasional blue screen thrown in for good measure...
August 1, 2009 1:25:49 AM

bilbat said:
Looks good to me! Best stress test is cranking up windows (especially the installers!) - I can run prime95 all day at 4GHz; my stress test is watch and pause one channel of NTSC off a PCI tuner, while recording a second HD stream off a networked antenna tuner, while transcoding and pulling commercials out of a third stream to an NAS - one single megahertz past 3825 and blooey! - spontaneous reboots, with the occasional blue screen thrown in for good measure...


Big relief. I am connected second hard disk and running Avast scan. Hopefully, it will work fine. I really appreciate your help. Thank a lot.
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 1, 2009 1:30:23 AM

Always welcome - come back anytime!
August 3, 2009 1:41:40 PM

Guys, problem still persists. Five BSD for past four days, three yesterday. Three of these were while watching live or recorded TV on VMC. I am using onboard HDMI connected to a projector.

I am still at Vista SP1 and ATI drives (ATI 7*) that came with the mobo CD. Latest driver for onboard X1250 are ATI 9.3. I am thinking about installing ATI 9.3, but not sure what is the best way to install. Some forums say that you can install right over the previous drivers. Others insist that old drivers should be uninstalled first.

I have also ordered Crucial memory which can run at 1.8v. My current Corsair runs at 1.9v. I am not sure if that will help, as there was no problem with the memtest.

Does Windows error codes have any meaningful information?
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 3, 2009 2:45:06 PM

Quote:
Three of these were while watching live or recorded TV on VMC.


Pretty much what I said about MC being the best 'stress test'. I realize it's a batch of work, but my best recommendation here would be to switch to Win7 - they finally have MediaCenter working right - the installer got a lot smarter, it's more flexible, all around, a better deal... I always had problems with VMC, even with the TV_Pack installed - not 'finding' tuners, occasional stuttering, even though my DPC latencies were low; rarely, random resets; pause buffer just casually going back to 'live' uncommanded; just a general mess... Since MC7, pretty much all cleared up; another nice thing about it is there is a site, 'Hacking Media Center 7':
http://www.hack7mc.com/
that has just a ton of goodies for it; some are just visual tweaks - different themes and color channel logos; some are utilitarian, like how to add on screen caller ID display; lots are registry 'secrets' for doing things like boosting your pause buffer size; every day, something new, and at least twice per week, something I find I can't live without!

Quote:
I am using onboard HDMI connected to a projector.

I'm envious! Whose projector? How do you like it? Anything you'd do different, if you had a chance to start over? I'm nosy as I have a couple HTPC projects 'on the docket'...

Quote:
I am thinking about installing ATI 9.3, but not sure what is the best way to install. Some forums say that you can install right over the previous drivers. Others insist that old drivers should be uninstalled first.

I'm old-school (in pretty much everything - I'm just a cantankerous old-fart), I've suffered through all the 'uninstall-reinstall' problems forever (have used ATI cards exclusively since the mid-nineties, after a serious, costly run-in with nVidia on a client system), so I pretty much automatically do the uninstall first - they may have fixed these problems, but I wouldn't trust 'em if they said they did, I have never found anything actually from ATI to say 'no, you don't have to bother with this', and, hey, it's just an extra step and reboot - what the hell, cheap insurance. If you do go to 7, I'd try it for a while with the 'native' drivers that ship with 7 - I have a consistent bug with the ATIs, 9.3 through 9.6; 'breaks' right clicking on any favorite in IE8, crashing it; I use the drivers anyway, as I use them for my GPUs' OC, and for 'managing' the Avivo driver set, which I find useful for various and sundry things...

Quote:
I have also ordered Crucial memory which can run at 1.8v. My current Corsair runs at 1.9v. I am not sure if that will help, as there was no problem with the memtest.

I'm with you there... I don't think it will help, but it certainly shouldn't hurt! I believe that the root problem is one of two things: either there is some kind of large-scale memory read-write operation going on when you are pulling a TV 'stream' off one of the busses, and it's having trouble with random huge transfers; or there is some kind of 'bus coordination' problem occuring; or both factors are interacting. Whatever, like I said, I can run stress tests and MemTest all day long at over 4GHz, but crank up MediaCenter, and powie!

Quote:
Does Windows error codes have any meaningful information?

They do, but generally, they're pretty generic - seldom a lot of help; if you post the hex code, I can look it up (or googling will work), but don't expect a lot of specific info. I'm working on car problems for my dad that kind of exemplify this: I bought an OBD tester for the car; got 'random misfire', 'too lean', and 'too rich' codes simultaneously - well, it's 'stumbling' cause it's running lean, and when it misses, the unburned fuel passes into the exhaust - too rich; tell me something I don't know, like what in the ^&%$ is causing the lean condition in the first place...
August 3, 2009 5:57:04 PM

I am using Mitsubishi HC1600. It works fine. SD TV looks great on wall with normal white paint. DVD playback is even better.

Problem is with the HTPC. I am not sure if I am ready to move on to Win7. I will spent some more time trying to fix this.

When you install ATI drivers, do you separately install VGA driver and CCC or the Suite? Also, what happens to chipset drivers? Are these part of the suite or you need to update those separately. I see new SB drivers for X1200 on AMD website.

This HTPC is one of the four PCs that I built over last five years. I never had such issues with other three. Maybe I was less careful in selecting the components or just unlucky. I am wondering why this PC is not working like others. All are running Vista Ultimate. So, it is not VISTA issue. That leaves the hardware and VMC. Either some piece of hardware is defective or hardware is not robust enough to handle the requirements of VMC. The weak link could be memory or mobo or CPU or PSU. If I could just know which one. I just want this PC to behave like others.

So, my plan is to

Update the catalyst to 9.2, as you said there is some bug with 9.3. Or may be 8.4 because it worked great before this problem appeared.
Update the SB driver to 9.3
Install new memory when it arrives.
Install HD 4670 GPU.
Change mobo? I hope there is no problem with CPU and PSU.

I am not sure what should be the sequence of these events. I am still at Vista SP1. Shall I go to SP2 before attempting to any of these? Unable to decide. I would appreciate your comments.
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 3, 2009 6:55:05 PM

Quote:
Or may be 8.4 because it worked great before this problem appeared.

Umm - this would seem a telling point, to me. Very first thing I'd do is 'go back'... Hit a restore point (if you still have one), or uninstall, reinstall to the 'previously working' driver. Is there a specific reason/bug you updated for, or was it a 'general maintenance' upgrade? It wouldn't surprise me at all if they've 'broken' something in a later revision - happens way too often! Do you have 'TV Pack' installed? TV Pack fixes a lot of stuff, but entails going to the new .wtv file format - which 'breaks' a lot of utilities (especially if you're doing automatic commercial stripping).

Quote:
The weak link could be memory or mobo or CPU or PSU.

The most common symptom of CPU problems is catastrophic failure - hardly ever manifests as a 'detectable' or noticeable problem. Memory should be good if it passes a few runs of MemTest86+ (though, as I say, I suspect there may be problems specific to video streaming that it either can't catch, or are systemic - somehow related to bus and large memory accesses). PSU problems can be tricky - out of the three, I'd say most likely to give 'peculiarities, rather than just failure; however, unless you're really 'on the edge', I don't think it's likely that the PSU is toleration stress testing, and MemTesting, and then giving failures in operation... I think video driver grief is really likely, especially given the 'was working' nature of the problem...

Another thought is to slightly 'down-clock' or 'over-volt' the CPU itself to see if the stability problems go away.
August 3, 2009 7:51:10 PM

No, I do not have TV Pack.

I agree with you that most likely it about the robustness of the system. It cannot handle the kind of data traffic during VMC operations - watching live TV or recording TV. It played a DVD movie without problem after the crash and running photo slide show since then (about 18 hours).

PSU is 380W and my system load is less that 300W. It may not be a problem.

System heating could be an issue during yesterday's BSOD as people have reported system heating up when they use onboard video. Although I have two 120mm case fans and 92mm arctic cooling HSF. I have to carefully monitor the temps to confirm this.

I am not sure how to handle ATI catalyst. When I built this sytem, Catalyst was at 8.4. So, I updated the system. It was working fine. When I upgraded it to 9.1 or 9.2, I had problems, so I went back to 8.4. THen came present problem.

Bilbat, thanks for your patience.
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 3, 2009 10:57:36 PM

PSU is 380W and my system load is less that 300W. It may not be a problem.
You've got about twenty-five percent 'headroom' there, so I think you're right - not likely, unless actually malfunctioning - one way to test easily is throw a few extra drives onto it temporarily - if it was close to crapping out, that'll usually push it over the edge...

A pair of one-twenties in an HTPC case should be plenty, most HTPC cases have abysmal cooling, and still keep ticking! Found a few references to 690G overheating issue, but seems to come mainly from people OCing. One thing that may help video is to increase the frame buffer size on the 'Advanced BIOS Features' page; I'd try it at at least 256 - 512 might work even better. I would stick with 8.4, just to minimize the amount of stuff being changed at one time...
August 4, 2009 1:46:12 AM

No BSOD for past 24 hours. Did recorded scheduled programs and we could watch the recorded and live programs.

However, VMC froze once as Receiver Service stopped working. I checked the event logs for yesterday's crashes.. They were all due to VMC. So, decided to install SP2 in the hope it will fix VMC issue.

My temps are good, in low thirties while VMC was running. Overall system looks stable. TV and DVD video quality is good. Only if VMC becomes stable.
August 4, 2009 2:06:40 PM

I was not very lucky. BSOD occured sometime during night when system should be just idling. Here are the error codes

STOP: 0x0000008E (0xC0000005, 0x875CF588, 0x803F89D0, 0x00000000)
CLASSPNP.SYS - Address 875CF588 base at 875CA000 DateStamp 49e01ee9

COuld you please let me know what does this mean? Is there a database to look up for these error cosed? Thanks
a c 177 V Motherboard
August 4, 2009 2:21:45 PM

Sounds like gradual improvement; thinking back to the original VMC reminded me of another trick; above and beyond management of uneeded services, I found that cutting the workload of the audio codec to a minimum helped; things like loudness compensation, bass boost, etc., were offered in the audio driver; I found that disabling everything, and just letting it run at no-frills, plain-jane 5.1 made a bit of instability (mostly skipping and artifacting) go away...
!