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New System Build - Odd Symptoms

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December 7, 2009 3:44:58 PM

Hi all,

Recently built a new i7-920 based system and am loving it so far. However, I've been having some strange symptoms that are proving hard to track down. I figured I'd post it here and see if anyone had some input.

SPECS:

Intel Core i7-920
ASRock X58 Extreme
Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1333 2GBx3 (running at 1066 or 1333 doesn't seem to affect the issue)
2x Sapphire Tech 5770 in Crossfire
4x Western Digital 750GB Caviar Blacks running in RAID10
Corsair 750W non-modular PSU
Windows 7 64-bit Enterprise

Notes: The system is not overclocked at all. There are 5 case fans in total all oriented according to the case manual (Antec Three Hundred). Temperature does not appear to be the issue. I am using the stock CPU cooler.

ISSUES:

I am experiencing three different issues. All these issues only seem to occur when gaming on "demanding" games (i.e. Crysis and Operation Flashpoint 2 will experience issues, CS:Source will not).

1) A hard lock-up will occasionally occur where video, and control will freeze. A hard reboot must be done to correct the issue. Turning off SpeedStep seems to have helped with this type of lockup.

2) A lock-up will occur after playing a game where the keyboard, mouse, and sound will all stop responding, but the game will continue to render and play. A reboot must be done to correct this. Unplugging and plugging the USB devices back in during the lock-up will not fix the problem.

3) The RAID controller will frequently kick a drive out of the array claiming it has failed. This has happened to two different drives, yet they rebuild with no problem, and drive diagnostic tests from Western Digital return error-free. It happened to one drive and port twice, after which I figured the drive was toast, and removed it from the system. An hour later, it kicked another drive out on a different port, which is why I suspect an issue other than the drives.

SOLUTIONS:

I have messed with several settings in the BIOS to disable things I am not using, or do not wish to use. Besides turning off SpeedStep and Intel's virtualization technology, other settings changes have not made a difference. I am using all the latest drivers available for my equipment, and the latest BIOS for my board. Event Viewer shows nothing of use, except for occasional "timeouts" for the RAID controller.

I suspect an inadequate PSU, or a problematic motherboard. Does anyone else have any other ideas?
a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2009 4:13:34 PM

Your RAM requires 1.65V and the default for DDR3 is 1.5V. That's one of the most common causes of freezing. Check that RAM voltage is set to 1.65V in the BIOS, and if not, set it manually.

The RAID issues I can't help you with, but see if the memory fix at least corrects the freezing problem.
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December 7, 2009 4:57:14 PM

Thanks for the input.

I went ahead and checked the RAM voltage, and it is set it "Auto" in BIOS. I then used the OC Tuner tool that comes with the motherboard which has the capability to monitor various things including voltage. The "Auto" setting on the motherboard does appear to work, as the voltage read out at 1.65.
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December 7, 2009 6:13:53 PM

Your suspicion that it's either the mobo or the PSU nevertheless makes sense. Run something like HW monitor and take a look at the voltage levels for CPU, 5V, 12V, etc., as well as temp levels. Anything look out of the ordinary (more than 5-10% variance from spec)?
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December 7, 2009 6:41:51 PM

Just a quick suggestion; ensure all your drivers are updated to the latest 'stable' release (no beta's here). Another troubleshooting tip is ensure all of your components and power connectors are firmly seated in their respective slots. Also. check your CPU cooler and ensure it's mounted tight and flush. It might me 'tipped' to onc side and not getting full contact to the IHS.

In my experience, flaky PSU's will start crashing the OS in strange and unreproducible ways. Go into your sys logs and see if the error is consistent, for example, the same type of error with the same error code or memory location.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 7, 2009 7:22:18 PM

sircodealot said:
Thanks for the input.

I went ahead and checked the RAM voltage, and it is set it "Auto" in BIOS. I then used the OC Tuner tool that comes with the motherboard which has the capability to monitor various things including voltage. The "Auto" setting on the motherboard does appear to work, as the voltage read out at 1.65.


Well, it sounds like it should be working fine, but I have had motherboards SAY they were auto-detecting the correct voltage, and it would show up as the correct voltage in monitoring software ... only for some reason unbeknownst to me, it wasn't actually supplying the right voltage.

Most recently, it was a set of Patriot Viper DDR3s at 1.7V ... plugged them in, got the freezing errors like you did, checked the voltage, and it was supposedly auto-detecting at 1.7V just like it should've. Problem kept happening until I set it manually to 1.7V, and then the problem went away. I don't mean to harp on the voltage issue, but my experience has been that if you have DDR3 that's not "standard issue" 1.5V, relying on autodetect works sometimes and doesn't work sometimes. Probably based on the individual quirks of each board and memory stick. So I'd try doing it manually and at least see if that helps; no harm done.

If that's not it ... I agree that the drivers or a PSU would be the next most likely places to look. I do not think your PSU is inadequate, as 750W should be more than enough for that setup. Only thing I can think of (other than a faulty unit) is that your system will draw a lot of amps, and if all the core components were connected on a single rail that can't handle it, you may overstretch it. But most decent PSUs are set up in ways that make it hard for that to happen.
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December 8, 2009 4:37:47 PM

"The RAID controller will frequently kick a drive out of the array claiming it has failed. This has happened to two different drives, yet they rebuild with no problem, and drive diagnostic tests from Western Digital return error-free"

this makes me think of the PSU. With all other "random" issues being software based, your RAID hardware *should* be completely independent(unless almost entirely software RAID), which means the only common ground is the power source.

PSU under load could also make your system crash. Usually a memory error or something of the sort would result in a blue screen. A solid crash to black-screen is usually a result of hardware failure like Overheating/power issues/etc.

If you got a spare PSU, give it a shot.
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