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UPDATED!! Frustrated beyond belief...

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June 22, 2009 7:57:07 PM

Looking for some ideas from you all...

I am getting random lockups while in windows. Only seems to happen when in normal mode....not in safe mode. Happens in both XP and Vista 64. It can happen anywhere from a couple minutes after logging into windows to hours later. Think the longest I stayed signed in before it locked up was around 16 hours straight. At first all windows or games will freeze, but the mouse can still be moved. Eventually that locks up too within a minute or so. In many cases I can minimize a window or click on the start button or right click, but nothing ever actually comes up. My system makeup is as follows:

Antec Sonata Lifestyle Sonata II case (came with 450w power supply. Replaced with Coolmax 950w power supply)
Asus M2N32 Sli Deluxe M/B (AM2)
XFX GeForce 9800+ Black 512mb PCIe video card
150gb WD Raptor sata hdd (also have 3-80gb sata drives for storage dumps)
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ dual core
4-2gb A-data DDR2-800 dual channel

At first I had an issue with my motherboard and got that replaced. Now I am just trying to narrow it down and get rid of these lockups totally. It seems to be one of a couple things....driver related as it has never locked up in safe mode or motherboard getting hot. I installed the PC Probe that came with my motherboard and it said the board was running too warm (45C) That didn't seem very hot to me. I have been trying to find some temperature specs on my motherboard but not having much luck. Anyone out there know what they are or have a link to the page?

I am at a loss on what my issue is. I am hoping someone out there has run across any issues with any of the hardware I have that might pinpoint the problem or at least narrow the field. Ask any questions you may have. I will answer to the best of my ability. Who knows, someone might job a memory or two.

Thank you beforehand.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 8:15:21 PM

You could have an issue with that PSU as well, which is junk. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think it's the PSU, and possibly the PSU has damaged the board as well.

Here is the Coolmax 950W getting tested:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...
June 22, 2009 8:32:21 PM

That is depressing to hear. The reviews I read on NewEgg were pretty good. I went by those. I have the 450w psu that came with my case. I suppose I could throw that back in and see if it will even power up my system...actually, no I can't. Don't have any power connections for the GPU. Wonder if I can use a combo of the two....the 950 for the video card only and the 450 for everything else....

Any other thoughts anyone? Will look into PSU's shortly....any recommendations out there?
Related resources
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 9:04:40 PM

Software readings are often useless when it comes to voltage, but if you see a lot of movement on the rails that would certainly be a clear indicator. Just be aware that you cannot accept the actual values as truth, so don't freak out if the 12V rail says it's running at 16V.

CPU-Z
Real Temp
HWMonitor

All three of these are very small easy programs, and may aid in troubleshooting.

HWmonitor will give you the above mentioned voltages.


Have you checked for BIOS updates to see if any where applicable? Have you downloaded the latest MB drivers from Asus?

Have you checked the RAM voltages, timings, and frequency in the BIOS and made sure they are what the manufacturer calls for?

I didn't mean to suggest that you shouldn't pursue all avenues. Just giving my best guess up front.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 9:06:30 PM

The PSU is certainly suspect......even though they may seem fine, I have learned over the years they can cause many, many odd things to happen that can indeed have you pulling your hair out.
You might try bumping your memory voltage up a little, seeing as how your are running 4 sticks. But don't hold your breath, as I don't think that it is your particular problem, but what the heck at this point try anthing.
June 22, 2009 9:31:26 PM

When I rebuilt my computer Sunday to rule out Vista 64 being the issue, I downloaded the latest BIOS from Asus and re-downloaded all drivers from ASUS and XFX to make sure I was using the latest. Some hadn't changed, some had.

I will try out those 3 programs and see what they can tell me. If the REAL Temp just tells me temperatures, the PC Probe that came with my ASUS board tells me that already...will give it a shot anyway.

I had checked the timing of my memory in the BIOS and manually set it, even though it appeared to detect it correctly. What will bumping up the voltage a notch do for me?

The Real Temp program says it is for intel based boards and CPUs. Should it also work with AMD?
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 9:38:50 PM

Ah no, but no worries HWMonitor will cover that. Sorry, was a quick cut-and-paste.

I try to avoid loading anything off the Asus CD. The other programs they supply can cause issues, including Asus Probe.
June 22, 2009 9:47:05 PM

Thats a bummer. I kinda liked the Probe and the AI Booster software. If I ever looked into overclocking, I was certainly going to make use of those utilities. Is there anything better for overclocking the CPU and GPU? I thought I remember seeing a utility for Nvidia cards that you can use to overclock and monitor it. I couldn't find it on XFX's website.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 9:58:32 PM

bhowell said:


I had checked the timing of my memory in the BIOS and manually set it, even though it appeared to detect it correctly. What will bumping up the voltage a notch do for me?



With 4 sticks of memory, some boards will simply act flakey, cause lockups or problems booting.
You can raise the voltage slightly, and correct it. Like I said, probably not your problem, but I would give it a shot anyway.
June 22, 2009 10:08:00 PM

I was able to set the timing, but I was unable to find any place to set voltages... I am sure it is there somewhere, but not in an obvious spot.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
June 23, 2009 12:13:45 AM

It's sometimes in another section entirely from the timings. Possibly near the CPU voltage.
June 23, 2009 1:23:09 PM

An update for those of you that have been helping me.

Last night I took out all but one stick of my memory and installed Vista 32 (to rule out 64 bit altogether). Everything was running great during the install and even while I was configuring my settings. I was thinking I had the problem solved (mind you I hadn't loaded any drivers yet at all other than what vista installed during the setup). From there I went straight to windows update and ran it. It took about 3 hours to download and install all the updates (normally lockups happen well before then). Again, I was thinking that everything was going good. I rebooted the PC and once I logged in, it wasn't very long until the PC locked up again!! Right now I am thinking the problem is one of drivers, but which one?????I don't know yet. I have had blue screens that have mentioned one of two SYS files. NVATA64.sys and NVSTOR.SYS. Both of those deal with IDE or SATA connections. I don't use a raid and have that option turned off in my BIOS. From all intents and purposes, the problem seems to be storage related.

Tonight I am going to try again. Going to put everythng back the way it was originally. Going to install Vista 64 and run it plain jane for an hour or so (not that I will be able to do much). Might use that time to run a defrag or backup. Will usually lock up when I do both of those operations. From there I will load one driver and run that for an hour or so doing the same thing in the previous step. Just keep repeating that process until I start gettng lockups. At least then I may have an idea on what is causing my problem and may be able to determine where to go to fix it.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 23, 2009 2:11:09 PM

You really need to look in your motherboard owners manual and find where to set the RAM voltage. Auto settings often don't give the RAM enough voltage, especially with 4 sticks of RAM. RAM running below its rated voltage will cause all sorts of weird stability issues.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 23, 2009 2:57:34 PM

Check out your mobo manual. In the Bios Setup system, from the opening menu choose Advanced and then Jumper-Free Configuration (manual section 4.4, page 4-19. The sixth item down, DDR2 Voltage Control (page 4-21) is where you can adjust RAM voltage. But you only get access to that by changing the very first option, AI Tuning, to Manual. I suggest you may not want to change any settings other than RAM voltage. Check your RAM's specs and see whether the board is already giving it the right voltage by default or not.
June 29, 2009 5:08:26 AM

The 2 sys problem files you mentioned deal with the video card. Try a known video card with known good drivers and see if that improves things. Google or Bing the 2 sys files and you may find some helpful suggestions.
June 30, 2009 5:42:12 AM

reinstall windows and do not do the downloads, have had more than one fresh install go bad because of it
June 30, 2009 8:19:12 AM

Wow, that PSU has serious issues judging from the reviews. It's funny, the PSU, which has no processors, no driver software, no moving parts (fan excluded) and appears outwardly like a smooth black brick, is the source of more computer problems than any other component (heck, maybe more than all the rest combined).

If you replace it, I'd get a Corsair. You're not drawing anywhere near 950W - 650W would be plenty (double-check before you buy - but I'm fairly sure you're not drawing above 500W, unless you have 60-something CD drives which didn't make the list). Corsair PSUs are about as high quality as they come, and not really much pricier than mediocre ones of the same wattage.

If you have another machine, or a willing friend, you could swap the PSU out for another suitable one to test whether that is the problem.

good luck.
July 14, 2009 1:37:26 PM

Some things that have transpired since my last post....

In working with XFX, I have RMA'd my original card and gotten another. They saw an issue with the card, but it wasn't anything like what I had experienced. They sent me another. Same issues.

I have been in contact with Coolmax and RMAing my power supply. When I get that back, I will try it again. In the meantime I have taken it out and put in an Antec 500w power supply. I still get the lockups.

If I take out the 9800GTX+ and put in a low end 6200LE GPU, I can run it for hours with no issues. One would think the problem is video card at that point, but I am not so sure. If I just leave the machine on while it is locked up, I will get a blue screen after 10 mins or so with the message that the nvstor.sys file is the culprit. That isn't video card. That is sata/IDE.

I think that is my issue that I have to figure out.
!