This is my first post here at Tom's Hardware forums... I've never really had a hardware question I couldn't get answered from my technical friends. I'll start by saying that I'm by no means a noob to hardware. I've built four computers thus far in the last two years, and have never had any issues I couldn't resolve.
My newest computer was built a little over a month ago. I had Windows Vista running on it for about two weeks. It repeatedly had this issue where it would lock up, especially playing DVDs. The entire screen would turn to this plethora of pink dashes. Sometimes the audio would freeze up, other times not. Every time this has happened, I was either playing Halo 1 or a DVD or video file from YouTube. I was almost certain it wasn't really a hardware issue, because Halo 2 and Crysis were able to play for HOURS on end without this problem.
But I decided it was a Vista compatibility problem... so I reformatted my box to Windows XP Professional. I went about a week on it without a problem, but evidently that was just a fluke. As recently, it's begun to experience the same problem. So far, I haven't had it during any games, but sometimes when I open WinAmp to play a video, it will do the exact same thing. Other times, it's when I open a folder full of video files and it starts making a thumbs.db. The other odd problem I've had is sometimes after a hard reboot, it will immediately do this right after showing the desktop. Login screen can sit for hours, but it won't render the desktop.
(Didn't know where to include this in the paragraph above, but as one more side note, I am able to watch DVDs on Ubuntu Linux for hours without any problem. Ubuntu has NEVER frozen like this, or at all, on this computer. So I am inclined to believe it's not a hardware problem, but rather a driver problem maybe?)
Every time this system crash happens, my USB keyboard and mouse stop responding. Sometimes the audio will freeze and skip on the last note of whatever song or thing I was listening to, but this doesn't always happen. Sometimes my Internet radio stream will keep going without interruption until I pull the plug on the machine completely.
To be honest, I'm not sure whether this is a motherboard problem or a graphics card problem, but I figured the graphics card board would be a good place to start. A few of my friends suggested that it might be an outdated driver, or something like that. If so, what driver could be out of date and causing this issue? Have any of you seen anything remotely like this before? How did you fix that problem?
Any help you could provide would be appreciated. Thanks!
So before, I had the driver from the card's CD installed. The version number on the website was the same, so I didn't think it would be the problem. Since I had already reinstalled the OS a few times, I didn't try reinstalling the driver. So this time, I reinstalled the driver, using the download from the manufacturer's website rather than the CD. For some reason, I think it may have worked. I won't make any extreme claims, but I haven't changed my usage pattern, and it's been about 3 days now without any crashes. I think I have solved the problem, for XP anyway. I'm going to try the same thing on Vista and see if it works, but I imagine it will. Perhaps the copy of the CD is slightly corrupted or something. Whatever the case, I believe a reinstall from the manufacturer's website has fixed the problem.