Why does my system keep freezing?


I'm hoping someone can help me determine why my system randomly (seems to me anyway) freezes up. Here is what typically happens: my first indication is that my mouse pointer stops moving, then I will notice that all hard drive activity has ceased (i.e. my HDD light stops blinking and it doesn't make any sound), only my fans will continue to run and my monitor will display the last state indefinitely (for example, if I leave it for two hours the clock does not change), or if the monitor was in sleep mode (black) it will not awaken. Most of the time it is quiet. However, sometimes it is accompanied by a strange warbling, high frequency, electronic sound from the speakers (think aliens). One time it must have frozen while writing to the external hdd because it corrupted the master file (thank God for Knoppix). And once it just hard rebooted on its own. This has been going on for nearly a year (basically since initial build and all components were new). A few weeks ago I opened up the case and noticed that the 5v rail was not completely snapped in so I secured it and checked all connections and bios settings (found that the HPET mode, whatever that is, was set to 32 bit so I changed it to 64 bit, everything else looked good). Afterward, it was fine for a week and a half to two weeks running nearly continuously crunching BOINC projects (using all four processors and GPU). However, before anyone suspects that it is related to that, I was not doing DC crunching before this and had the problem when just browsing for example with a cool, recently booted, PC. My temps seem ok, individual core temps might get up to high 50s C (after hours/days at 100% utilization), but CPU temp stays around 30C, system temp below 40C and GPU temp below 55C, HDD below 35C according to HWMonitor). I have ran Vista's memory test and it came out ok. The PSU voltage looks good when I check it in the Bios, but the +12V usually comes up at less than 1V when checking it via software, HWMonitor or CPU-Z) which I hear are notoriously inaccurate anyway. In the last couple of days it started to happen again, it froze up, then I rebooted, it froze up again, etc. (once right after reboot, other times hours later). I opened up the case, and all connections are secure, and all BIOS settings look correct. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Below are the details of my system, please let me know if you need anything else to help diagnose this.

Thanks much in advance!

CPU: Q8200
Heatsink: CoolerMaster Hyper 212+
RAM: 2x2GB G.Skill DDR3 1333
HDD: WD Caviar Black WD5001AALS
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
8 answers Last reply
More about system freezing
  1. i had this same issue about 3 years ago i ended up RMAing my hard drive
  2. How did you determine it was the HDD that was causing the issue?
  3. i tested the hard drive in another system and it did the same thing.. usually when your hdd light freezes it is a problem where your hdd is not sending data to the mobo... if this were an issue with ram.. you would either get a blue screen of death, or your mobo would not post. If this were your processor, aplications would freeze leaving you still in controll of your computer, or no post, or blue screen. If this was your GPU you would either get artifacting or no picture at all... So this leaves it to be either your hdd or your mobo itself!! but seeing as how you switching to 64 bit temporaily fixed it i am betting you have a bad sector in your hdd! good luck
  4. So, I RMA'd the HDD and WD was nice enough to send me a 750GB in place of the 500GB. However, this has not solved the problem. I've now determined that the system is stable if I only use one stick of RAM (2GB), but it wlll freeze (in dual channel mode) or not post (in single channel mode) with both sticks. Gigabyte support is telling me that my processor Q8200 should have RAM set to 800 or 1066 and that my 1333 RAM is overclocking it. I can't find any info on the net regarding that. Does that sound right?
  5. You should manually set the RAM speed/timings/voltage to the specs the RAM is rated for. After that you should download Memtest86+ from www.memtest.org, burn it to a CD, boot from the CD, and let the memory test run overnight. The Vista memory test is essentially useless. Memtest86+ is much better at detecting faulty RAM once you manually set the speed/timings/voltage. Faulty RAM is by far the most common cause of freezing problems like the ones you describe.
  6. try the other stick, and see if it freezes with that, after trying both ram sticks by their self, try both ram slots too. and change them around, see if you have any problems with each configuration. if i change my 2gb and my 1gb stick around, my system becomes unstable, i have no idea why, so my sticks have to be in the right order.

    Just one of those weird things.

    Btw it would of been much better if you would of broken down your original post into paragraphs, its much better & easier to read that way.
  7. maybe you are undervolting your ram... you may need to change the voltage settings in bios.
  8. Just wanted to close the loop on this. I had already done all that the folks above suggest prior to the 3/8 post - to no avail (though I still appreciate the suggestions). After the original post I had run Memtest86+ for 9.5 hours with no errors (at the correct RAM specs - 1.5v 9-9-9-24), which, I should point out, the Gigabyte mobo had set correctly. On the advice of Gigabyte support I had tried the RAM in various single/double combos and found that it always ran fine with single stick (didn't matter which stick or which slot) and always failed with both (either in single or dual channel, again in any slot combo). I also raised the RAM voltage to 1.6 initially and eventually to 1.66v (spec is 1.5-1.6). This also did not fix the issue.

    I finally got the system stable by dropping the RAM to 1066 at 7-7-7-19 at 1.5v. Though the RAM is running below spec I think it is actually performing better due to the lower latencies. As I understand things, the RAM is still capable of more bandwidth than the FSB in this setup.

    Makes me wonder why they created a mobo with DDR3 that can achieve DDR3 2200 (OC) if the system can't handle the 1333 native (perhaps a limitation of my cpu with its low cache?). I'm sure there is an explanation as I'm still learning and would appreciate any thoughts on that (particularly on what I might improve - e.g. would getting a Q9550 CPU allow me to raise the RAM freqs). At any rate, I wanted to post this bit of info in case it helps anyone else searching for a solution to the particular issue I experienced.
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