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1 year of computer problems, need advice

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November 22, 2009 8:24:27 AM

I own a Alienware area 51 desktop, that i have been having problems with for a year now.

When i first got the computer it ran flawlessly, and i had no problems with it, until a few months later i started noticing that it was running slower and slower. as an example, when i first got my computer i was able to run World of Warcraft, tab out, open firefox, and start streaming videos in a matter of seconds, but then my computer had gotten so slow, it would literally take 30-40 seconds to tab out of a game.

I tried defraging my hardive, and of course ran antivirus/spyware scans, but that didn't help. I put up with it for a few more months, but couldn't take it anymore, so i used the windows system recovery disc, hoping that would solve my problems, but boy i was in for a surprise.

After the system recovery, my computer ran even slower, and to top it off, i started to get crashes and blue screens of death while in any game.

at this point the windows 7rc was available, and i figured a clean reformat with a new OS would do the trick :p 

Well, i was pleasantly surprised that after the reformat with windows 7rc, my computer had never been faster, and everything ran great, but..... the crashes and blue screens didn't go away.

a friend told me the way my computer was crashing/freezing (screen would turn green, somtimes gray, or different colored lines across the screen) sounded like video card problems, so i replaced it, and it didn't fix anything.

I have tried running memtest, tweaking volts, and i updated my motherboard bios, but nothing helped.

It's been a long time and I've run out of ideas at this point

I'm sorry for such the long post, but any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

PC specs
..........................................................................

Processor: intel core 2 extreme QX9650

Motherboard: nForce 790i ultra SLI

Memory: Patriot DDR3 4g

Video card's(old): nvidia geforce 9800 gx2 (replaced)

Video card (new) ATI 4890
...........................................................................
November 22, 2009 9:06:01 AM

power supply? what temps are you getting under load?
November 22, 2009 10:25:16 AM

Write down the error codes of the BSOD and paste them into google, often a good indicator of what piece of hardware/software that's causing the problem.
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November 22, 2009 3:32:34 PM

I actually don't get very many blue screens. 90% of the time when my computer crashes it will either reset or get stuck on a black screen.

the few blue screens i do get always say

*** Hardware Malfunction

call your hardware vendor for support

*** the system has halted ***

I've google'ed this message, and the only info I've gotten is to run mem test to check if my ram is bad, which i have done, and didn't detect anything.

Also my system runs relatively cool.
November 22, 2009 5:44:39 PM

Quote:
a friend told me the way my computer was crashing/freezing (screen would turn green, somtimes gray, or different colored lines across the screen) sounded like video card problems, so i replaced it, and it didn't fix anything.


Hello;

I would like to start with saying that "I am that friend" who told him that the problem could be with the video card.

Now, here are some facts that I believe that you need to know.

The problem started with a simple video card driver update, and over the time, the problem got worse (More crashes, slowness, etc) that why I believe that the problem was with the video card, we tried different versions of the Nvidia drivers but the problem was the same, also we re-install Windows Vista 64 (A.K.A Windows 7 pre-Alpha release < Just Kidding :)  ) , and It was a complete failure.

Then, I asked to remove one of the video cards (Instead of Dual 9800GX2, Just one... Bye Bye SLI :(  ). The problem seemed to decrease significantly, but it still was there. This enforce my idea that the problem was on the video card, and the possible root cause, Overheating!.

We downloaded some Nvida's software that shows a lot of info, and when I saw the temperature, I considered a little bit high. I put the Video card Fans at Max in order to get changes on the behavior of the problem, but unfortunately, no change :(  . Then, I started the process to underclock (little by little) the video card until I could findsome settings that would make it stable, but this was another failure.

Windows 7 Rc got released, and we decided to give it a try (we have nothing to lose at that moment), we noticed that the slowness on the system was gone, but the crashes were still happening.

Then we install a new video card (ATI 4890), and for two hours the computer ran fine, but then the computer crashed. At this point we realized that we were looking in the wrong place, The issue was not with the video cards.

We ran a couple memory test and some test passed, and in others it crashed.

I started to dig a little bit more about this issue on the forms, and after a couple days, I found out about the infamous reputation of the 790I ultra SLI, and I ran the check list:

1 - Similar symptoms - Checked
2 - Same motherboard - Checked
3 - Same memory & Similar symptoms - Checked
4 - BIOS version (P06) - Checked

According to many forms the problem is a memory corruption caused by the motherboard. and the best way to proceed in this case was a BIOS update.

At that time the computer had the Alienware BIOS P06, I logged into the Alienware support site but they did not have any update for it. Then I checked EVGA, and they have the version P08.

I decided to force the EVGA Bios Update, and this time, we got a good change. For the first time in months the computer ran without any crash during more than 3 days (very impressive, before it was no more than 2 hours before any crash)


Well.. I have some question that I would like to someone could answer:

- Other forms point to the Motherboard as the root of the problem, but, if this is a software/bios issue. Why did the computer not show any problems at the begining?, and only started to crash after the windows system recovery.

- I know that XFX released the BIOS P09 for their motherboard, Do you think that I should try to force the XFX BIOS on a EVGA Motherboard

- Do you think that I need to check for something else?, and if so, could you please name it and tell me how we can test it
November 22, 2009 6:05:52 PM

Your motherboard chipset is known for a Northbridge that runs on the hot side. Get a utility to check temps.

November 23, 2009 3:18:57 PM

hundredislandsboy said:
Your motherboard chipset is known for a Northbridge that runs on the hot side. Get a utility to check temps.


Any idea what utility we can download for test it. And if we detect that is too hot, what we can do to fix it?
November 23, 2009 4:24:31 PM

Try PC Wizard. It works on my 750i mobo and I often see the "mainboard temp" (the sensor is on the NB) rise when I game. I leave out side panel or you can buy a northbridge HSF if you're not using one already.
November 24, 2009 4:41:01 PM

Ok, so downloaded PC wizzard and my mainboard temp is around 85c when I'm not doing anything, and it went to 88c when i jumped into a game.

Could all these crashes really be cause of my motherboard overheating? if so, how come my computer never crashed until i used the windows system recovery?
November 24, 2009 4:50:30 PM

85 C for the mainboard temp is ridiculous and if true IS probably the reason for the crashes.
Are you sure you are not reading the GPU temps?
When you first boot, what is the manboard temp? Tto rule out a stuck or failed sensor, it should start out below 50 C. Or if you live in cold climate, 10 C for example - but not freezing - take your PC case outside for 30 minutes or an hour to chill it and then boot up and check temps. This way you will know if your temp sensors are working normally.


November 24, 2009 4:51:21 PM

In PCWizard settings, did you set it to show temps in Celsius or Farenheit?
November 24, 2009 5:28:48 PM

When i first boot up the PC its already at 85c, i do live in hot climate, but i have the AC on in my room most of the time.

and the temps are showing in Celsius.
November 24, 2009 6:48:34 PM

Well, did you install the fan for your Northbridge? It should have been bundled if you bought your motherboard retail.
November 24, 2009 6:52:32 PM

Also, set everything to default in the BIOS, no overclocking.
!