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Irregular Reboots in 3D Games / Apps

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 27, 2009 6:30:18 AM

This is a weird issue I just cannot even reproduce at will:
While running any 3D application, my computer may (or may not) shutdown as if I pulled the plug, only to restart five seconds later. I have searched around and found several people who claimed to have a similar problem, but after trying all the suggested solutions I came to a conclusion that this is probably a bit different.

My specs:
Intel Core2Duo E6600, GeForce 8800 GTX, 2GB RAM, ASUS P5K mobo.

The problem is not consistent in any way I could find. I could be playing a resource heavy game for hours on end without incident, or use some light 3D app with this happening. It seems completely random!

I thoroughly dust cleaned the computer, the PSU and the GPU and I have made sure the GPU fan is at 100% constantly.

I tried stress testing the GPU, and the temperatures remain in the normal (below 90 degrees C) and the computer did not crash.

I have even replaced my 600W PSU to check if the fault lies there, but with no luck.

I have, of course, updated all the drivers and tried several GPU drivers.

The main problem is that the computer reboots at what seems like completely random occasions, which means I cannot reproduce the problem by myself and have to live in fear of it happening at any single moment. The only thing I do know is that this problem only occurs when I am using a 3D application of any sorts.

This is driving me nuts, please help.
a b U Graphics card
May 27, 2009 11:49:07 AM

Maybe you just forgot to mention this, but have you stress tested the ram and cpu as well?

Also, when you attached your motherboard, you didn't put any insulation between the standoffs/screws and the board, correct?

Have you tried a full windows/all drivers reinstall?
May 27, 2009 6:27:30 PM

I actually forgot to say that I did a big stress test for the CPU and memory using Orthos. Full windows reinstall I have yet to do. I don't think this is software related.
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a c 165 U Graphics card
May 27, 2009 6:59:22 PM

How hot is the Southbridge? Perhaps a small fan on the Southbridge will help.
May 27, 2009 7:16:42 PM

You mean for cooling the memory?
May 27, 2009 7:35:28 PM

which 3D application ? i use 3D Max, Maya, ZBrush, and Solidworks.

May & Maya especially are capable of getting "locked up", where the CPU is anywhere from 25% to 100% on a quad core, and the page file gets bigger, sometimes over 10GB.

but it never crashes in those situations. it just gets really slow.

i haven't seen the reboot like you're describing since about Windows 2000, maybe.
a b U Graphics card
May 27, 2009 7:57:04 PM

Check the windwos event viewer after one of these crashes. Let me know what is there (if anything).

Crashes like this, without a BSOD, are 99% of the time hardware related. Usually an interuption of power.. could be a problem on the MB, since you replaced the PSU probably no issue there.

The last time I had a problem like this it was faulty memory. But I heve seen it before with a bad PSU, bad MB (southbridge got cooked), and a fried CPU... years of overclocking things and assembling computers for others has given me a long list of components i've watched die :D .

The southbridge is generally for storage control (RAID, Sata, IDE, etc..), it doesnt have anything to do with the memory.. well.. not directly.. the northbridge controls RAM.
May 27, 2009 7:57:14 PM

Most 3D applications I am talking about are GPU intense. I think that the problem occurs mostly when both the CPU and the GPU are stressed together. However, this only started happening lately, so I don't know what could cause the damn thing..
May 27, 2009 7:58:54 PM

daedalus: There are no special events, because this isn't an operating system crash. It's some sort of a power crash. I am beginning to think that my replacement PSU is faulty as well. Maybe the store is ripping me off somehow.
a c 165 U Graphics card
May 27, 2009 9:28:34 PM

The Southbridge is the chip covered by the heatsink in the lower right hand part of your motherboard, behind and slightly below the top PCI-E slot.
This chip deals with the PCI-E interface between the CPU and graphics card, amongst other things.
An overheat here could cause the MB to shut down suddenly.
Try running with the side panel off with a fan blowing in to keep things cool.
May 28, 2009 6:33:25 AM

Hmm.. ok, that's something I haven't tried yet. Is there any standard way to monitor the temperature of the south bridge?
a c 153 U Graphics card
May 28, 2009 6:41:21 AM

coozie7 said:
The Southbridge is the chip covered by the heatsink in the lower right hand part of your motherboard, behind and slightly below the top PCI-E slot.
This chip deals with the PCI-E interface between the CPU and graphics card, amongst other things.
An overheat here could cause the MB to shut down suddenly.
Try running with the side panel off with a fan blowing in to keep things cool.


This happened to me when I was having a similar problem. I upgraded to a full tower case from my mid, and I have not had the issue since.

This COULD be the case with you.
May 28, 2009 6:48:27 AM

Too bad I will only be able to buy new gear next week because of a holiday... :??: 
The thing that bothers me is that my PC ran smoothly for a year and a half, so why suddenly would this problem show up if its just the south-bridge overheating?
May 28, 2009 3:01:22 PM

I am now certain that the problem isn't with the south bridge.
I have connected a thermo-sensor to the south bridge and did a GPU stress test (which does not bring the computer down by itself). The south bridge heated to about 54 degrees after about 5 minutes of the stress test. After that, I have tried the nvidia GeoForms demo (which uses both the CPU and the GPU and usually causes the crash). I made sure to check the south bridge temperature closely. When the computer crashed the temperatures were 52 degrees, which leads me to believe that south bridge overheating isn't the cause for my problem. This is frustrating...
a c 165 U Graphics card
May 28, 2009 7:14:42 PM

Sorry to hear you are still having problems.
My idea was that since everything else seems OK and the Southbridge deals with the PCI-E interface it might be overheating under heavy 3D load, because that would, obviously stress the southbridge more.
So, a shot in the dark: You have a E6600 I take it with stock cooling? If so, you should be able to set the fan to run at full speed, which will cool the motherboard voltage regulators (VRM) which is something else that may be causing the problem.
The controls are best set in BIOS, failing that try with Speedfan.
May 28, 2009 7:20:08 PM

Hi, thanks for the help, but I am not using stock cooling. I have a Freezer Pro which keeps the processor nice and cool. Up until lately everything worked fine, and I haven't changed a thing.

I'm more inclined to believe that I was cheated with the PSU. I will only have a chance to assert that on Sunday :( 

Unless, of course, anybody has another idea...
a b U Graphics card
May 29, 2009 12:47:47 PM

coozie the northbridge handles pci-e, not the southbridge (it handles slower pci, usb and audio).
June 8, 2009 8:14:43 AM

I can finally say that the problem was the PSU. It was difficult and time consuming, but I had finally isolated it with high certainty and got a brand new PSU that is now working perfectly. You can read how I diagnosed the problem in my blog:

http://mylimitbreak.blogspot.com/2009/06/technically-wo...
!