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3d games causing very strange PC crashes

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 13, 2010 7:24:19 AM

Hello, in the past few month every time I have run a 3d game or program( even switching between windows vista feature), my pc would immediately crash. I could not alt-tab, ctrl-alt-del, nothing, i had to reset every time. It was never a big deal because one reset fixed it every time, but now it has gotten a lot worse.
The crash looks like this http://tinyurl.com/2fydour and can be any number of colors, blue, green, neon, pink, etc. It also loops the sound of whatever sound was playing just before the crash

Today, I tried running another 3d game with the same result, but this time after resetting it continued to crash. I have been at it for 12 hours attempting to fix it and am at my wit's end. Here is what I've done:
-System restored vista to early april, late april, early may
-Did a FULL system restore/reinstallation of vista
-Did a clean install of multiple drivers, including current, early 2010 ones, and ones from back in 09.
- Swapped GPUs around one at a time to see if any one in particular was causing it, every combination yielded the same crash
-Made sure components aren't overheating, cleaned dust. Have 8 fans in case and a large heatsink and HDD cooler, so everything is cool enough.
-Power cycled PSU, its providing more than enough power and definitely working fine.
-Restarted possibly 100+ times today
-Ran some diagnoses, temp tests, etc. All looking fine.

My specs are:
30" 2560x1600 Samsung Syncmaster 305T+
Windows Vista 64 bit
NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
2.83 GHz Quad Core Q9550
2x SLI XFX GTFO 280s
8GB DDR2-1066 RAM
300GB 10k RPM velociraptor HDD

This crash is caused by any 3d game or program: From crysis and WoW to diablo 2 to the "Switch between windows" vista feature, but 2D games work perfectly fine. I am suspecting another broken motherboard or GPU, but because i crash no matter how i swap the GPUs, and don't have any spares, it's really hard for me to say.

I REALLY need my PC to be working right now, so help is greatly appreciated

Thank you
May 13, 2010 7:33:36 AM

Hmm, well i'm no expert at this but wouldn't the crash of 3D app's mean that load is applied to certain components?

If said statement is true, something in your computer is not coping with that load, causing the crashes and looping sound you listed.

This could be because of a number of reasons, such as Motherboard failure, RAM failure, GPU failure ect..

Check the motherboard for bulging/leaking capacitors, make sure there's no dust around/in/on the RAM and slots and check the cable's are tight.

Sorry, about all the advice i can give.
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May 13, 2010 7:42:04 AM

Nothing in the mobo is disconnected or leaking, cleaned out as much dust as i possibly could, and as for what specifically is causing it, thats the whole problem , i cant really find out considering i crash no matter what i swap.
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May 13, 2010 7:46:08 AM

if you have more than one RAM stick, have you tried taking one out, leaving one in and replacing?
If that doesn't do it, test the hardware in another computer (if possible), if it all works well you might have to consider a new Motherboard but i hate to be wrong, so it would be best to try every possible combination before buying new hardware and finding out it wasn't the fault.
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May 13, 2010 7:50:49 AM

I've taken out and swapped every single component i can manage to boot up the pc without, and every combination ends up with the same crashes. I have 4 sticks of 2gb ram but they all appear to be working fine. im really not sure what it is because no matter how i set things up i keep getting the same result. ATM only concrete thing that might be the problem is the mobo or cpu i guess, only because i cant take those out and boot up
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May 13, 2010 8:01:47 AM

Well there must be something wrong with either the CPU or Motherboard if nothing else presents a problem.

is there any way you can test the CPU in another system? if it still works then it will most likely be your motherboard.

Also you didn't list, what's your PSU?
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May 13, 2010 8:16:54 AM

PSU is a 1250w coolermaster, far more than enough for my setup and as far as i can tell working without a hitch. Yea I'm thinking its a mobo or CPU problem too but im not ready to drop hundreds of dollars on guesses, because this is set up o badly for me that i cant rule out any single component... Determined a couple months back my PCI-E slot was fried just by swapping around GPUs, easy stuff, just buy a new mobo and go. But now I'm really at a loss
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May 13, 2010 8:23:41 AM

Yeah gotta pinpoint the problem, don't need to waste money on the wrong thing.
A while back my Motherboard failed, computer turned on but didn't POST, found out later it was a bust Voltage Regulator.

I'm going to take a guess here and blame the CPU, since the CPU needs to send Audio, and Visual data to the corresponding places on the Motherboard (or elsewhere), if the CPU can't do that the last thing to be sent to that hardware (Be it Audio or Visual) you will get a loop of the last few seconds of sound (or milliseconds) and corrupt screen at the same time.
EDIT: Well i mean.. you can get any kind of graphical problem from that, like black screen ect..
Anybody know how to test something without spare parts? :o 
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May 13, 2010 8:34:34 AM

The thing is, I have trouble believing the CPU is the culprit because it hasn't been so much as touched since I built this PC back in october 08. Also, if it's a CPU problem, shouldn't I have problems at POST also?

Also theres still the question of why 1 reset used to fix this and now nothing will...
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May 13, 2010 8:39:07 AM

Oh and it's probably worth noting that every now and then when I used to restart, when it came back up vista would call it "Recovering from a driver error", but I've done multiple clean installs of GPU and chipset drivers, both current and old, so I don't know what that is.
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May 13, 2010 11:57:37 AM

I'd test the psu+gpu, ram and hard drive individually in that order on another computer, (say for 10 hrs each). Bad motherboard is also quite a possibility than a kaput cpu.
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May 13, 2010 3:51:15 PM

I've already said I tested every single component I could boot up with and the result was always the same, so I'm guessing it's what I could not run without (CPU, mobo, maybe gpu or ram) but I can't throw around a couple grand on guesses.

Anyone know how to fix this or at least find out the cause?
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May 13, 2010 4:24:42 PM

I've finally found threads similar to my problem and a few where people solved of by RMAing their defective gpu... problem is both crash individually in pci-e slot 1, SLI or not.

Any way to find out which it is? I also don't know sbout RMA, because I bought these close to 2 years ago. Can I still RMA?
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December 25, 2010 11:59:25 PM

im getting the same problem, did you ever get to the bottom of this?
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