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New system crashing problem.

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June 6, 2009 6:10:58 PM

***
only knows what's going on here, if you could help i would really appreiciate it, thanks.

Specs:
Mobo: Asus P5QL
Graphics Card: Geforce GTX 280 1gb
Processor: Intel Q6700 Quad Core CPU
RAM: 4gb Corsair TWIN2X4096-8500C7 DDR2
PSU: 625W HIPER HPU-S625 PSU
Cooling: 3x 120mm Fans.

If you need any more info do ask. Thanks again in advance. (ps many bothans died to bring us this information.)
June 6, 2009 6:12:57 PM

Hrm, didnt seem to let me post it all, reposting top bit:

"I've recently built a new system, the spec which i will post below this, and i've come across a bit of a problem. I am able to run Crysis well on full settings, Sims 3, Bioshock, World in Conflict etc. all run near flawlessly on full with 1920 x 1200 settings. However, for some reason i'm coming across a strange problem with the whole system freezing when playing Sims 3 or Crysis.

At first, i believed only Crysis was the problem. It was the only game that had crashed in this manner throughout my PC's short life-span. That was of course until today. I've installed Sims 3, and was able to play it for about 2 hours before the very same crash took place, with the same symptoms.

Crash Symptoms: The crash can take place at any point (in Crysis) from about 5 to 60 minutes of play, the most common timeplace being about 20 minutes. The game will be running well (averaging 30 fps, full settings, no AA, 1280 x 1024 [i've gotten a new monitor and uninstalled crysis recently]) until the crash begins. At first, there will be a noise coming from within the pc, as if something inside were shutting off, or a fan had stopped turning or something. After a second of the game continuing to run, the image will either freeze in place, or the display will simply disapear, leaving my monitor telling me there was no signal. Both of these two symptoms are accompanied by repeating the noise of the last half-second of life of the game. At that point, ctrl-alt-del does not work, the system is completely seized up. The only thing to work is killing the pc's power.

Extra Info: Sometimes, i will hear the noise inside the PC, and -if i'm lucky- the crash will be put off a few minutes, which is what happenned the first time in the Sims 3 crash. In the Sims 3, the crash took place after about 2 hours of play the first time, but the second time, in happenned within about 50 minutes. I think that the crashes are happening at graphically intense times, which would explain why only Sims 3 and Crysis are effected (though World in Conflict is by no means poor graphics, which makes me doubt this) as when playing the last level of Crysis (where the giant alien walker attacks the ship) the game was crashing every 5 minutes or so. However, in Sims 3, the crash hasn't happenned enough to warrant a decent guess towards whether this hypothesis is true.

Not sure if it's overheating, the CPU is kept relatively cool, bordering the 60c barrier. THe GPU can run a little hot, in the early 70s, but i believe the cut off point is about 30 degrees hotter."
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June 6, 2009 6:15:34 PM

Ooops I see you posted a second message. Now I'll have to read it :p 
June 6, 2009 6:24:52 PM

OK good post.

Did you apply the most recent Crysis patch? What you describe, especially at the end boss fight, was quite common with the original unpatched game. It was a piece of crap, really.

This is not the first post I have seen both Crysis and Sims 3 mentioned together as having issues.

The first thing we always do is go into the BIOS and make sure your RAM settings are correct. Voltage, frequency, and timings. You can use CPU-Z to get the info you need:
CPU-Z

June 6, 2009 6:41:36 PM

I've applied the latest patch for Crysis, and Crysis Warhead. Both games had the same issue, and now Sims 3 does as well.

Thanks, i'll try the CPU-Z thing now, i set the timings but not much else, so ill whack that a go now and get right back to you.
June 6, 2009 6:49:48 PM

Does CPU-Z tell me what my current settings are, or what they should be? I'm a slight newbie at this sort of thing.
June 6, 2009 7:05:33 PM

Christ almighty i'm confuzzled :p 
June 6, 2009 7:13:31 PM

The tab in CPU-Z you want is the SPD tab. This lists possible settings for the RAM that are stored in the RAM modules themselves. The memory tab tells you what the settings currently are.
June 6, 2009 7:39:36 PM

I think i've set the timings and voltage up all nicely, referring to the 400mhz my ram had. I'm now running at 1.8v 6-6-6-18-24
June 6, 2009 8:09:52 PM

Just as an update, i'm reinstalling Crysis to see if the set timings will work.
June 7, 2009 12:15:00 AM

Ok, apparently it didn't seem to work :(  Think the performance boosted a bit on the plus side, woo.

Any other suggestions?
June 7, 2009 5:55:48 AM

I had a very similar problem with my computer a while back. It went on and on, and I couldn't resolve it. Then one day I installed the newest drivers from ATI after a complete driver cleaning, and the problem vanished. This was after doing the same with other previous drivers.

I think you need to experiment with various drivers at this point. Or borrow a much different card to test with.
June 7, 2009 8:10:28 AM

I've installed two sets of different drivers, having wiped the HDD before each time, but with both i've still had no luck so far.
June 7, 2009 8:33:55 PM

Proximon earlier diagnosed a memory issue for a guy who had successfully run Prime for 5+ hours, and memtest for 17 hours. It seemed the memory failure only showed up under heavy graphics load, and I thought that's where he was going with you at the start.

I wonder if you could try turning up the memory voltage just a tad? Perhaps your psu/mobo/memory combo works fine until it gets into a borderline situation under load?
June 7, 2009 8:43:51 PM

What voltage would you suggest? I have it at 1.8v at the moment. And i may be wrong, as i often am in many things, i think since setting the voltage and timings have not entirely fixed the problem, but actually extended the time before it crashed, which is a mighty good thing i believe.
June 7, 2009 9:33:02 PM

Forgive me, I'm a belt+suspenders+and-a-rope kinda guy in these matters. First I'd check what the voltage actually is once running in Windows by using:

http://www.cpuid.com/hwmonitor.php

or any other tool you have confidence in. It should of course say 1.8V because that's what you said you set it at in BIOS.

Then I'd check what the max voltage is supposed to be for my specific Corsair chips - yours shows (on Corsair website) the following text: "Tested at standard JEDEC latency settings (7-7-7-20) at 2.0V." Mine shows (in CPU-Z, SPD tab) that it can run at 2.1V which is the max voltage for mine.

In any case, 1.9V shows to be safe, all other settings left as you have them. If that doesn't work, and 2.0V also fails, then look further to see if your mem can go to 2.1V

My memory wouldn't *boot* at anything other than 2.1V in my first mobo, an EVGA. My second mobo, a Gigabyte, chooses 2.1V for it automatically.
June 7, 2009 10:38:48 PM

I set it at 2 volts, with no success on test, cranked it up to 2.1 volts and still no success yet. I am right in thinking changing the RAM voltage is under the Memory Voltage option in bios, right?
June 7, 2009 11:08:14 PM

Yes and I wouldn't go any higher.

If you are not crashing in other games such as Bioshock then I think it's more likely to be driver issues, hardware conflicts, that sort of thing.

Have you turned off anti-virus software while playing? Killed everything you could in task manager?

Oh, and are you installing drivers from the motherboard disk? Vista SP1 usually doesn't need ANYTHING from that disk with new hardware and it's often detrimental to install any of that ASUS junk.

Have you looked in your error log? Control panel/Problem Reports and Solutions. See if there is a common file listed that is crashing.
June 8, 2009 2:55:54 AM

Good to have you back, Prox - this one was getting over my head lol.
June 8, 2009 4:05:02 AM

just wanted to back it up a bit.. you mentioned a 'noise' inside your pc just prior to the crash being experienced.

Is the noise definately inside, or could it be coming through your speakers?
If the noise is inside, what does it sound like? High or low pitch?, Clicking?, Squealing?, Beeping?
Do you ever experience the noise without a crash/when doing other things?
Does the noise stop as soon as the crash occurs, or persist afterwards - if so, until you reset the system, or just for some time, after a short power off.

It sounds as though for some reason (and i wouldnt have the foggiest why) Crysis and Sims are taxing something that other games are not. If the noise is a high pitched squealing sort of noise, this is a power supply component (either on the psu or on the motherboard) getting very hot and yelling about it - this could be the cause of the crash.

Your PSU is adequately rated, although i have no idea what the brand is like, and i am assuming that you are not OCing, so you shouldn't be upsetting anything.

Be interested to hear back.
June 8, 2009 7:45:11 AM

Sorry for the late supply, my fiddling in the BIOS with the FSB frequency- like a fool- has caused my pc not to turn on anymore. Not to worry, apparently there's a simple fix so back to the main problem.

The noise is exclusive to Crysis and Sims 3, i've never encountered it in any other situation. Except one time where i heard the noise when playing Oblivion, though it didn't crash and i never heard it again. The sound definitely comes from the PC, i often test it on Crysis with the speakers off so i can be sure of how it sounds. The sound itself begins with a low-pitched click, then seems to descend slightly, the best way to describe it is that it goes "clo-shu" I believe i can here smaller clicks as well in the descending part. This may not be too accurate though, ill be my PC working again and reiterate accurately, or i could record it for you all.

The sound will, now and again, go off without the actual crash, usually going off twice in a short burst, but the PC manages to pull through. When the crash occurs, the sound will go off for about 2 seconds, going off about 2-3 times, and that will be that. Apart from the repeating sound from the actual speakers, the culprit itself does not reoccur while its in a state of retardation. Hope you guys can help, Lordy this has been bugging me.

June 8, 2009 8:25:52 AM

Do you have a Seagate hard drive? And please see my previous post.
June 8, 2009 8:49:42 AM

Oops, missed your last post, sorry! I actually have an external hard drive, which isn't Seagate.

I haven't tried turning the anti-virus off, but i have tried minimising the amount of programs running.

I have installed some drivers, but not from the motherboard itself, instead i've had some updates form the actual website. However, the crashes have been happenning from before i installed these. In fact, it's happenned since before i installed SP1, i was hoping it might have fixed it if i did. :S

Weirdly enough, in the problem report, there are no error reports about the crash, the system has crashed this way many times, but not once has it registered on the PC. In fact, when i turn it back on after, the only recognition of a problem from the PC is the "unexpected power loss," and it offers me to boot Windows in Safe mode, normal etc.
June 8, 2009 9:25:37 AM

PS: Got the computer up and running again, Swapped the jumpers round.
June 8, 2009 11:48:47 AM

Are you in a position to run with the side of your case off and be able to look inside???
It is a long shot (only because i can't see how this could only happen under certain games..), but one of your fans may be failing at high temps, and stalling. Affected componet overheats, crashes machine... cools down and fan comes good.

I had a computer a while back with a sick fan that made a few noises that i think are similar to what you describe.. in my case the fan occasionally stopped and if it did i could get about 10 minutes into a game of CS (old computer) before i got a crash that required the big reset button... New fan, all good.

Good luck
June 8, 2009 5:45:29 PM

I've removed a fan that's not necessary to the cooling, and played Crysis for quite a while without crashing. However, this probably hasn't fixed it, as it only takes the air blown out from the Heatsink's fan and blows it out.

I think i should mention though, it graphically intense moments, i've noticed the noise of the fans in the PC raising and dropping rapidly, as if their speed is fluctuating. In less intense moments, it stays steady.
June 8, 2009 5:53:04 PM

If I had it, I would be able to isolate the noise using a stethoscope. Some electronic parts CAN make a noise by themselves, but your description does make it sound mechanical. I have heard that a cardboard tube can help as well.

The quality of your PSU model is fine, but maybe you have a bad one.

June 8, 2009 8:29:53 PM

Ok, it seems i had a retard moment earlier, when you asked if i had a seagate HDD, i for some reason thought of my DVD drive instead, which is external. My HDD is actually normal and internal, though also really small, only 160gb (cutting costs hell yeah.) It's a Hitachi, but i've made a discovery!

The sound, i believe is coming from the Hard drive. I got the toilet roll out and had my head balanced precariously in, and i'm pretty sure it's the hard-drive. What's your diagnosis Doctors?
June 9, 2009 12:20:13 AM

Some Hitachi diagnostic tools:
http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm

If the disk is simply being parked or something when the crash occurs, it might not be the issue, but we need to pursue that and see if we can verify it as the problem or eliminate it.
June 9, 2009 7:56:31 AM

Thanks, i'll pop into town and grab some blank CDs and run the tests.
June 9, 2009 12:51:25 PM

Ran a diagnostic, yet the results yielded nothing wrong with it. I'm going to run a memtest program for a while to see what i can do.
June 9, 2009 3:53:02 PM

Ram memtest, 2 passes, no errors there either. I'm more stumped than a lumberjack doing calculus.
June 9, 2009 8:57:55 PM

Based on the lack of error reports, I think your next test would need to be swapping out the PSU or the MB. Pretty much down to swapping parts.

My guess would be
PSU
MB
GPU

In that order.
June 10, 2009 9:20:43 AM

Thanks for your help, i'll see if i can grab some replacements.
June 11, 2009 9:37:01 PM

Well, i think i've found the problem guys.

Graphics card overheating :(  I know i said that i'd checked this, and that it stayed safely on the threshold, but then i realised that id never actually seen the temperatures directly before the crash. This was mostly because in Crysis, for some reason, the thing never reached the cut out temp when i was monitoring it. For this reason i believe my PC is possessed, and out to foil my plans. However, earlier i noticed that it would make the sound without crashing on the Sims 3, and also Lord of the Rings Online now, if i pause and allow it to recover. When i noticed this, i had the GPu temperature gauge on the desktop, and as soon as it had recovered, i minimised to see my GPU at 102c. It seemed to make the sound as it bordered the 105 c cut out mark.

Sorry for taking up your time in this mystery, but thanks for all your help. If it wasn't for your help, i wouldn't have managed to fix it myself. :)  I think i've got it fixed, idling at 43c, but we'll see in a few minutes :S
June 13, 2009 8:22:30 AM

Thanx a lot for taking the time to post the solution - it helps.
!