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I built a machine for my move to Japan, and I'm having some trouble.

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August 29, 2010 6:11:12 AM

Okay, bear with me for a moment while I describe my situation.

My build:
Gigabyte Geforce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1 GB 256 bit GDDR5
Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Mobo
G.SKILL 4GB (2x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DD3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit - I have two of these sets
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core


I built this about a month ago in anticipation of needing a computer in Japan, wanting to get the build out of the way since I had a local friend who could help me, plus I can navigate Newegg better than the streets of Japan. It worked beautifully for a while, playing games and such, except that whenever I tried to use a different monitor, it liked to throw a blue screen my way. I was told that some NVIDIA drivers were weird about Windows 7 and that I'd be able to find a fix once I bought a new monitor. I have not thoroughly tested my second set of RAM, as I ordered it after I built the computer, but it has seemed to work well enough that the computer stays on for hours.

So I packed up everything, took the computer in the case's original box as additional luggage, marked fragile, and now I've moved into my new apartment. I booted up the computer, attached to a surge protector that converts the 3 prongs to 2, it worked perfectly fine for about half an hour. I installed an HL2 mod called Synergy (which I've since uninstalled via safe mode), booted it up, and played for a few minutes until the computer decided to restart itself.

At first, I was able to get back to Windows long enough to load programs and stumble around, until it would inevitably either blue screen or restart itself. Some of the time, it would give me a series of long system beeps, in groups of 3. According to the mobo manual, continuous long beeps means there's a problem with the Graphics card, which I've since tested as thoroughly as possible and I'm certain it's installed properly. The blue screen errors shown were linked to memory problems, but testing each stick individually never fixed the issue, nor did memtest reveal any problems (on its first pass - it restarted halfway through the second). Now, I can either get into Bios for a few seconds before it freezes, or it just goes straight into the long series of beeps, no longer booting after a few sets.

I'm suspecting that my issue lies in power usage, since Japan and the US have different voltages, but I have no idea how I would go about fixing that issue, especially since I can't get into the Bios, either. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

-quick edit - after resting a bit, it does turn on and stay on long enough to access the bios now.
August 29, 2010 7:39:06 AM

I understand those are rather expensive, so I'm hesitant to go out and buy one before I'm sure that's the problem. I haven't heard of people needing to convert voltages like that before, since US and Japan have such similar standards. Also, my laptop has never had a problem...
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August 29, 2010 7:59:12 AM

If it is a power supply issue it may be easier to buy a replacement power supply in Japan as they would be compatible already. However, I doubt that this is the case. I suggest that you run scandisk to search for disk damage that may have occurred in transit, your symptoms can be caused by such errors. I also suggest re-seating all plugs, cables, cards and chips, you may have some loose connections that separate when the computer warms up.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 29, 2010 8:54:50 AM

Most likely, the RAM error is being caused because when you went to four sticks, it's requiring an extra 0.05-0.1V over spec to run properly. It's been known to happen. Go into the BIOS and adjust that manually and see if that helps. But random freezing and blue screens are 90% of the time caused by RAM voltage problems or bad RAM.

The other problem sounds like it could be a power problem, or it could be the GPU drivers being retarded. I'd put my money on the second -- whenever a new card comes out, it inevitably takes them a few months to sort out all the quirks and bugs with the drivers in all given situations, which is why they keep releasing driver updates. The original ones that come on the CD are crap half the time. Unless you're particularly attached to your Windows install, I'd re-install the OS and immediately download the latest drivers for the video card. That might help. If not, the power issue is where I'd look, and I agree that buying a Japanese PSU is probably the cheapest and easiest.
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August 29, 2010 4:42:05 PM

You should really test that g-skill ram, I bought 2x2 last year and they arrived with one DOA,....:) 
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August 30, 2010 1:30:17 AM

I've actually tried running the computer on each stick of RAM individually, but it still wants to eat my face all the time. I'll try adjusting the voltages on them, but the problems probably won't go away.

My next step will be to reseat everything, then attempt to fix the video drivers.

I'm not sure what this means, but the computer does not make any sounds at all when I turn it on and the monitor isn't plugged in. The one I'm using is an old Dell 15" LCD, and it has worked well in the past. It was only when I plugged the computer into our HDTV that I had a problem before. It's also my understanding that drivers don't actually load until the operating system does, so a problem that occurs like this as soon as I turn the computer on sounds different.

Thanks for all your helpful suggestions thusfar!
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August 30, 2010 4:39:03 AM

I added a bit more voltage to the RAM and reseated all the components. I even switched the RAM from ganged to unganged, as I saw that might have caused some trouble while researching this.

I attempted to start backing up things, but then the computer froze, and now the same problem persists - sets of three long beeps. I'm currently trying to reformat, but if the problem is the same as it has been, it will most likely freeze even if I can get past the 3 beeps.

Is my only option here to really go get that UPS, or the Japanese PSU?

Note that it's also making the beeps now regardless of whether or not the monitor is plugged in.

Edit: I'm more inclined to believe the problem is power related after I unplugged my side fan and DVD drive and took out the 2 new sticks of RAM, it gives the three beeps less often, but still restarts itself during boot up. I was able to use safe mode before perhaps because it wasn't demanding as much power. But still, even with minimizing the power usage, it gives those 3 long beeps.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 30, 2010 6:21:49 AM

In the CMOS Setup Utility open the PC Health Status menu. What detected value is displayed for each of the following:

Vcore
DDR3 1.5V
+3.3V
+12V
Current System Temperature
Current CPU Temperature
Current CPU FAN Speed

Are the detected values within normal specifications or are they out of spec, especially the voltages?
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August 30, 2010 6:30:41 AM

Vcore: 1.344
DDR3 1.5V: 1.584
+3.3V: 3.376
+12V: 12.429
Current System Temperature: 27
Current CPU Temperature: 34
Current CPU Fan Speed: 1691-1754 and rising

my DRAM voltage control has been raised to 1.600 and CPU NB VID control to +0.100V, as per suggestions from this and another site - these changes have let the computer stay on slightly longer than in the past.

are these normal values?


In my research, I found that the specific RAM I have doesn't list my mobo on their supported RAM list. Yet, it's clearly a compatible type... could this really be causing my problem?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 30, 2010 7:16:54 AM

The voltages look like they are within spec. The voltage regulators on the motherboard seem to be doing their job.

AMD chipset motherboards tend to be more sensitive to RAM module compatibility.
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August 30, 2010 7:38:49 AM

so, if theyre within normal ranges, does that mean that power isn't the issue?
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September 9, 2010 2:36:47 AM

Since it seems that my problem is hardware related, and I don't really have access to other hardware, I was forced to send the computer out to a repair guy, and hope for the best. Thanks for all your comments, I'll let you know what the problem was, as it seems this has happened to more people than me from my searches.
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