Random crashes during gaming

Hi all -

I'm at my wits end and hoping you all have some insights into my predicament. I have a 1 year old home built system with the following specs:

Motherboard: Gigabyte PA35-DS3L
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E84000
GPU: BFG 9600GT
RAM: G.Skill 8GB PC2 6400 (4 x 2GB)
Two Seagate SATA hard drives
A PC tuner card

System was running Vista x32 and was recently upgraded to Windows 7 64 (RC). Under both Vista and Windows 7, I get frequent but unpredictable crashes while gaming - primarily with older games like Civilization 4 and Medieval Total War. I thought a clean install would help which was part of my motivation for moving to Windows 7. Sometimes the game crashes right away - sometimes it'll run for 20-30 minutes before crashing. Temps for GPU get up to about 65 C under load - CPU temps never go about 53 C under load.

I don't think it's a windows error that's occurring. It's a hard crash to a black screen. The monitors flash like they have power but no PC signal. I have to hold down the power key to reset the computer. There's nothing obvious in the Windows Event Log - except for the messages about the computer not shutting down correctly. I can't find any .dmp files in the system. Which makes me think it's hardware, but...

Things I've tried:
Installed a new, more powerful PSU (went from 550W to 700W)
Re-applied thermal paste and reseated heatsink and fan
Run memtest (no issues)
Run disk error check (no issues)
Hard disk defrags once/week
Installed another cooling fan
Run both games in Windows XP SP3 compatability mode
Run both games with sound disabled

None of the above have worked. I have no idea what could be wrong :o - any help would be very much appreciated! :hello:
23 answers Last reply
More about random crashes gaming
  1. Sounds like your ram is causing the lockups.

    Have you tried running prime95? If not here is the link :

    http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=103

    Run a torture test : 3rd option (LOTS OF RAM) and if your system locks up again, remove a stick of ram and test again till you find the bad module. Once you have located the faulty module, call the manufacturer and submit an RMA.
  2. OvrClkr said:
    Sounds like your ram is causing the lockups.

    Have you tried running prime95? If not here is the link :

    http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=103

    Run a torture test : 3rd option (LOTS OF RAM) and if your system locks up again, remove a stick of ram and test again till you find the bad module. Once you have located the faulty module, call the manufacturer and submit an RMA.



    Thanks for the suggestion. Ran for 12 hours - no errors... any other thoughts?
  3. How long did you run memtest for?
  4. OvrClkr said:
    How long did you run memtest for?


    Memtest ran to completion, if I recall correctly.

    Other updates:
    1) It's DEFINITELY hardware. I installed XP 32-bit on another partition and installed the games - same behavior
    2) just in case it was the RAM, I removed half the sticks and rotated through - same behavior

    So, I think I'm down to GPU or motherboard. Any suggestions on how to isolate it? In Medieval 2, for example, it runs huge battles just fine - only crashing on the AI turns - which you think would preclude the GPU but I can't tell anymore. I just don't get it...
  5. Wow.... this is a tricky one....

    Do you have Ntune? What overclocking GPU tool do you have (if you have one)?
  6. OvrClkr said:
    Wow.... this is a tricky one....

    Do you have Ntune? What overclocking GPU tool do you have (if you have one)?


    Thanks for the help, Overclckr!

    I don't have an overclocking tool as I'm not currently overclocking. Would those tools provide some insight into what's taking place under the hood?
  7. If you download Ntune, you will be able to test your card with the "Stablility Test" ....after that is done it should be easier to narrow it down to the cause of this issue..

    You can stress you card with that test and if it crashes at stock speeds then you most likely have a faulty card.....
  8. Stability test ran for 1 hour - 414 tests completed successfully.

    I also tried disabling the sound via device manager. Game still crashes.

    One more data point - not sure if this will help - when it crashes, if there's sound playing the sound will keep playing in a short loop over and over again until I reboot.
  9. Yep, sounds like a RAM issue to me....

    The only thing that I can say ATM is try swapping your ram for another brand if you can, I had the same issue and when I changed my ram from OCZ to G.Skill all my issues dissapeared....

    I would play a game of Crysis or CoD4 and 5-10 min into the game it would freeze and I would hear a loop of sounds that would go on forever and the only way around it (make it stop) was either hold down the power button till my pc shut off or hit the rest button...
  10. OvrClkr said:
    Yep, sounds like a RAM issue to me....

    The only thing that I can say ATM is try swapping your ram for another brand if you can, I had the same issue and when I changed my ram from OCZ to G.Skill all my issues dissapeared....

    I would play a game of Crysis or CoD4 and 5-10 min into the game it would freeze and I would hear a loop of sounds that would go on forever and the only way around it (make it stop) was either hold down the power button till my pc shut off or hit the rest button...


    Will do - I've got another set of RAM I can try tonight... my fingers are crossed :)

    While on this topic, is there a certain pagefile setting I should be using in Windows 7? Back in the day it was all about setting a fixed size on the non-primary drive - I'm not up to speed on what the rules are these days.

    Thanks for everything!
  11. I'd like to jump in and point out that you may need more RAM voltage. It's quite common for a fully populated board to require extra juice to keep the RAM happy, and this will NOT show up on memtest.

    Adjust your RAM upwards. If it's running at 1.8V set it to 1.9V.

    PS. I see you tried with just 4GB. What exact modules are these? PI Blacks? You should still try the voltage thing. RAM voltage issues do not show up in tests, only apps and games.

    You should check your event log as well.
  12. Proximon said:
    I'd like to jump in and point out that you may need more RAM voltage. It's quite common for a fully populated board to require extra juice to keep the RAM happy, and this will NOT show up on memtest.

    Adjust your RAM upwards. If it's running at 1.8V set it to 1.9V.

    PS. I see you tried with just 4GB. What exact modules are these? PI Blacks? You should still try the voltage thing. RAM voltage issues do not show up in tests, only apps and games.

    You should check your event log as well.


    Cool - I'll try that.

    As for the RAM: I didn't explain well - I actually have 4 x 2GB GSkill setup.
  13. I did see the 4X2GB G.skill, but there are many different models that fit that description with different voltages and timings.
  14. OK - zero progress - but I've tried a lot.

    Swapped out the 4 x 2 Gskill for 2 x 1 GB and 2 x 500 MB ram that I had in my system before. Same behavior.

    As for the voltage increase, it seemed like I might get a little longer before I crashed, but it wasn't much. And that's when it was cranked up to the flashing .7 + voltage. Could be my imagination, though - I have nothing scientific to back it up.

    No events in the log. I can report that almost 100% of the time my USB mouse does not work when I get back into windows after one of these crashes - but I'm not sure that means anything other than the system did not shut down the right way.

    Thanks for the help guys - I really appreciate it.

    So, is it more likely to be my MB that's bad or my GPU? I'd love to experiment by my old PC doesn't have the right type of MB or GPU to swap.
  15. Prime95 should crash or error out eventually if it's a MB issue.

    I had a very similar problem a while back. I would crash in MOST games at some point, usually after at least an hour, and all tests were fine, temps were fine, none of my hardware was really suspect.

    I had tried various graphics drivers, and had given up on that solution. Several months had passed and I had decided to give the newest driver a shot. I did the usual clean sweep, installed the new driver, and the problem vanished. Needless to say I haven't touched my driver since.

    Other things to think about with system instabilities...

    Power source. Doesn't matter if your PSU is quality if the voltage from the wall is wacky.

    Hard drives. Seagate has made some bad ones recently that had to be recalled. They caused crashes as I recall.

    Motherboard installation disks. Yep they give you junk that causes issues. If the OS version is more recent than the MB, ignore the disk. If not, consider slipstreaming the newest service pack.
  16. UPDATE: Problem solved

    It was my 9600 GT video card. I finally had enough and just went out to the store and bought a new card. Immediately the crashes disappeared (I bought a 9800 GT) after finding a thread that had referenced lots of issues with the 9600 GT OC cards. BFG released a second version of these cards which makes me think there were a bunch of problems.

    What's interesting is that the computer never failed during any of the video card stress tests. Not sure how or why - but I'm happy to say I have resolution. It's RMA time.

    Thanks for the help all!
  17. If your card was made by BFG then there was no need to go out and buy a new one.... All you had to do was submit an RMA and you would have gotten a new card in the mail....
  18. Yea, unfortunately I needed to buy a card to even validate the issue having RMA'd a card with BFG before - I don't know anyone with a PCI-E card to borrow. I also couldn't afford to be without a PC for any length of time.
  19. How much did you pay for the 9800GT?
  20. It was on sale @ BBY for $129
  21. ON SALE????? dude the GTS 250 is in that pricerange :

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&Description=GTS+250

    unless you live outside the US the 250 would have been a better buy... not that the 9800GT is a bad card.... just not worth more than 90.00$....
  22. Probably should have done a bit more research before I headed out - I was massively frustrated after repeated crashes yesterday and saw the 1 GB 9800 GT (by BFG, of course - I really do appreciate the way they support their products)...

    Oh well - I'm still happy (though slightly less so :) ) - I have a stable machine again.
  23. Well the good news is that you have a lifetime warranty so you have nothing to worry about if the card dies in the future....
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