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I am starting to get overwhelmed, halp!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 26, 2010 8:39:58 PM

Hello community!

I suppose I shall start from the beginning for best results.

I built a computer about a year ago with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400, BFG 9800GTX+, XFX 750i MB, 4GB OCZ RAM, 650 watt Thermaltake PSU (later upgraded to Corsair 750W), 2 old optical drives (a DVD-ROM drive and a DVD-RW drive), and a 500 GB Seagate Barracuda. At the beginning, I was running Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. At that point, everything was working splendidly, although I only had all of those original parts for a month or two at most. I decided to upgrade to an XFX GTX 260 Black Edition video card for a little more juice, and sold the 9800GTX+ to a friend for a slight discount (granted that it was used but still relatively new). At this point, my computer continued to run well, or so I recall. I then added 4GB more of that OCZ PC6400 RAM, and began to experience crashes during gaming. However, because I had also recently purchased the new video card, and had fiddled with the settings a bit before experiencing my very first crash, I believed that the video card was the source of my problems. I RMA'd it and received a refurbished replacement. Upon installing the new card, I continued to get the same crashes during video games that I had gotten previously. One thing that I noticed about the crashes was that they seemed to happen less if I had my fan speed turned up to 100%. This lead me to believe that the video card was still at fault, and perhaps was just getting too hot. But the temperatures never exceeded 70 degrees C if at that. Eventually, my computer began to crash and lag even when not gaming, and a friend advised me take out the extra 4GB of RAM, so I did. This stopped the crashes all together. Before I was able to celebrate however, I did a Windows Update and restarted. I then received a S.M.A.R.T. message that my HDD was going bad, and that I should back up and replace my data. I began doing so, and things really got out of control. My computer would lag and BSOD constantly whenever trying to transfer data off the HDD or running gaming applications. I decided to get a new HDD and a new case with better cooling just for the hell of it. I transferred all of my components to the new case, and have it up and running. On my brand new WD 1TB HDD I installed Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit again, only to find that my computer still crashes during gaming, now more than ever. I have fresh 197.45 drivers installed for my video card, as well as up-to-date MB drivers and audio drivers. I did install the NVIDIA storage driver which I normally don't do, so perhaps that could be it? I even updated the BIOS earlier successfully as this was recommended for my specific motherboard. Prior to the installation, I did get an error message or two (no more than two) about system files, but I don't recall more than that. In the end, I was told the update was installed successfully, and I was left with a command line and no further automated activity, so I rebooted. The computer booted up like normal, I loaded all optimized defaults for the BIOS, but was still met with crashes while gaming. As a side note, these more recent crashes have actually caused my monitor to simply lose signal from the video card while the speakers emit a looping glitchy sound. This is similar to how the crashes used to be, only before the crashes caused my screen to turn one solid color or black (and sometimes just get very colorful and flashy, like massive amounts of purple and pink) instead of just having my monitor lose signal all together.

As another side note, I changed out my VGA cable for my I-INC iF251H with a brand new one, as I was getting some cable interference that would cause screen tearing or distortion in the picture. I plugged in the cable, and everything worked great. The image looked very crisp, with absolutely no screen tearing or distortion. However, my computer crashed at one point while gaming, and when I restarted the computer I lost the option to set my monitors resolution to its proper 1920x1080. When opening video games, I'd get background that simply said "OUT OF VIDMEMORY" in all pink and purple, whereas other games wouldn't seem to detect my "hardware" properly, but still run great. I ended up putting my old cable back because I had no way of setting my resolution properly, but now my monitors resolution during the booting process is permanently off. The BIOS is kind of off center, and the "Starting Windows" screen before the login is off to the left a good deal. Any ideas how to fix this? Regardless of what HDD I use (old faulty one, or new one) I get the same off centered logo and BIOS.

I know this isn't exactly a handful of technical information, only my observations from start to finish, but I was wondering if anyone could take the time to maybe help a scrub out and guide me towards the light of being able to game uninterrupted for once on this POS learning experience of a computer.
June 26, 2010 8:44:41 PM

I guess one of the biggest questions I have is, from everything that I have posted, would you guys think that there is an error in my software and system setup that would be causing these crashes? Or does it sound more like a faulty video card and/or RAM?
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June 26, 2010 10:28:47 PM

bumpity bump :D 
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June 27, 2010 5:36:59 AM

hey jblock, did you try running memtest? you should download it, burn it to a cd, boot from it and run memtest (i think it was memtest +86 but not sure.. someone chime in?).. if you get errors, your RAM is the issue..

also, for the RAM, you didn't mention any voltage changes.. maybe check that you are supplying your RAM with enough juice so that you dont get BSOD's.. so check your RAM, the timings on the RAM, and the voltage you are supposed to give the RAM.

I personally think it's RAM. you said you had up-to-date drivers for your gtx 260.. did you make sure to use proper software to "clean" your hard drive before installing new drivers? could be a software problem instead of RAM..

Also, maybe you can try clearing your CMOS on your motherboard.. you would have to manually put in your settings in the BIOS again but worth it if that was the problem right?
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