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"Random" freezing and lock-ups in Windows 7 64-bit / GTX 460 - Help!!!

Last response: in Systems
August 29, 2010 5:38:13 PM

I built a custom machine with the following components.

Core Hardware

CPU: Intel Core i5-760 2.8GHz
Mem: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB)
PSU: SeaSonic 850W ATX12

Other Hardware

HD: Samsung 500 GB SATA II
Burner: LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R
Case: LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62
Monitor: ASUS 21.5" Widescreen 1080P

OS: Windows 7 64-bit

And let me tell you its one beautiful machine. But the trouble started after installing Dragon Age: Origins (direct2drive). The game was running flawlessly at very high-res for an hour before it unexpectedly froze while in-game. At the point when it froze, whatever sound note was playing just repeats indefinitely on the speakers. Mouse and keyboard non-responsive and I'm forced to do a physical reboot of the machine.

At this point I have a flurry of freezing problems whenever trying to boot back into windows 7. First the monitor says no-dvi and does not recognize its plugged in. I reboot again and windows freezes at the welcome screen. I reboot again and it even freezes in safe mode (both networked and unnetworked). When I finally get back into windows after several more reboots then Dragon Age freezes again during the load screen. The freezing happens now both in dragon age and windows at random intervals and random triggers, from anywhere between a few seconds to a few hours.

I tried a plethora of solutions from reseating ram, disabling the dvd drive, flashing and resetting bios, running very low graphics settings, tweaking directx, disabling onboard soundcard. I monitored CPU temps, GPU temps, and fan speeds the entire time and nothing EVER exceeded 70-deg celcius. During some freezes the exposed part of the heatsink on the GPU was warm enough to touch my finger to it without burning. All windows updates were up to date and all drivers up to date also with no apparent trouble - none of it helped. I did notice that while playing DA:o  my cpu usage would hang out at 60-80% at times which I thought was odd.

Aside from the "turbo" feature of the bios which does give the CPU a small boost - I'm not doing any overclocking and all settings are stock - but as I said the temps are always well within safe range. I checked ram/voltage timings in the Bios and they match the specs of the ram perfectly - only thing is the freq. is set to 1333 instead of 1600 but I don't see a way to change it and not sure if running it under like that could even hurt.

I reformatted and installed a fresh copy of windows. This time I only installed the minimum chipset drivers (latest ones from gigabyte) and latest video driver (from nvidia). I didn't install Dragon Age or any other software except some diagnostic tools. I ran stability tests and benchmarks against my GTX 460 in FurMark and it passed everything with flying colors. Temperature plateaus as 70-deg cel. even when I max it out for 5 minutes+! I thought my problem had been solved until it once again froze while I was selecting a screensaver from the dropdown and the entire computer locked up again.

Anyone got any idea what might be going on? Because of the occasional no-dvi message on the monitor, I'm inclined to think its an issue with the GPU, but it passed FurMark with flying colors. I'm out of ideas now and about to just start RMA'ing random components back to newegg.

I've attached a screenshot of the windows event viewer (Pulled right after the first post-reformat freeze up). The log contains events spanning the fresh install of win-7 up to the freeze which happened at approx 6:30-6:40. If anyone needs more than this I can try to host-up the real file somewhere and link out to it.

Event viewer screenshot

Furmark score @ 5-minutes
August 29, 2010 6:27:01 PM

I want to expand a bit on the memory frequency issue as this is the only discrepancy I have found.

Here is the advertised timings and voltage for the ram: 9-9-9-24-2N / 1.5V
Also, the advertised speed is: DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Now in my bios settings, the timings and voltage match perfectly. However the frequency is set to 1333 instead of 1600 - and I could not find a way to change it.

I did some subsequent research and found that the ga-p55a-ud3 when used with an i5 will not support 1600 without overclocking. I don't know exactly what this means for me except that I don't know enough to be comfortable overclocking, so I guess I may need new ram.

Could having the ram set the way it currently is damage my mobo or cpu? Could this be the culprit for the freezing/lockups I'm seeing?
August 29, 2010 6:49:37 PM

under the mit there is a ram settings were theres a list of numbers which inlcude 12 (this is were the timing is set take it down till it reads might help it sounds like a ram overclocking issue/
Related resources
August 29, 2010 7:10:10 PM

I enabled XMP (extreme memory profiling) in the bios (its also under MIT) which boosted the freq. to 1600. I'll try running the computer at this setting for a few days (also downloading Crysis demo to do some real stress testing) and see if this solves the issue.
September 3, 2010 4:00:05 PM

To my surprise enabling XMP seemed to temporarily stop the problems - but I dont want to consider this definitive because as I understand it the RAM should be able to scale back to 1333 in this scenario with no problems. Plus it changed my BCLK to 160 and I don't want to overclock.

So still no definitive resolution to this. The computer locked up on post screen (just before posting the ram) yesterday. The transient freezing and lock-ups continue now in and out of the os. Tried to run the newest memtest86 on the ram and it kept rebooting my computer 5 seconds into the process. The multicore version locked up on me. Running an older single-core version worked though - and the ram apparently passed (I ran it twice to make sure).

I wonder is it still worth investigating defective RAM, or maybe I should RMA the motherboard?

There is one small thing I noticed which is that the small two-prong female plugs coming from the case (for HDD light, Power button, reset button, etc) are almost all documented as having a ground and a power side. However the male plugs on the mobo all have a positive and negative side. When I hooked this up I always put the ground side from the case to the negative side on the mobo. They all seem to be working but could this be causing the issue?
September 3, 2010 4:30:56 PM

Negative would be ground that shouldnt be the problem. Underclocking the ram Should not be a problem. I had to underclock at 1333 some corsair xm3 on this board (games would lock n crash when set to 1600) I'd still look at the memory, before the board. The first memory tests you did rebooted the machine...I'd try to rma them and if possible get something besides gskill...I've never had much faith in their stuff. (not ocz either their ram is spotty.)
I'd look at either of these
September 28, 2010 11:10:03 AM

I'm experiencing the same problems, also with a Gigabyte-P55A-UD3 and the GTX 460. Was your problem resolved?
September 28, 2010 3:32:31 PM

No it was never resolved - I'm still trying to determine the problem. I've isolated it to a symptom I can reproduce with 95% consistency though - cold boot. I just turn the machine off for 8 hours and then boot it up - and on this first boot it lags big time during the bios post, and then lags out during the loading of Win7. Every other boot after that seems fine - but if I turn it off for another 8 hours I can reproduce. So I bought new RAM and tried it out with every different timing setting in the BIOS - and it still has the cold boot problem. So I'm suspecting its problem with the welding somewhere on the MOBO and I'm getting ready to RMA it.
September 30, 2010 6:38:51 PM

The problem that was originally posted is the exact problem I keep getting. I think it has something to do with the gtx 460 because I have had my computer for 4 months now but had a gtx 260 and never once had this problem. The problem started 2 weeks ago when I installed my new Zotac gtx 460 768mb graphics card. I have emailed their customer service and they haven't told me anything helpful.

I cleaned out my old drivers and updated all my drivers and that hasn't helped either. I'm thinking it doesn't have much to do with the memory as much as it's the graphics card.

Note: When the computer freezes don't just reboot the computer, turn the psu off in the back and then turn it back on, that way it doesn't freeze when going into windows 7 (can't figure why that is but that has worked the past two days).

Specs: i7-875k, evga 132-LF-E655-KR mb, OCZ Fatal1ty ram, OCZ 60gb SSD.
October 1, 2010 4:54:51 PM


Well one thing you could do is try benchmarking and stress testing your graphics card - I like furmark, its free and easy to use. That should give you a better idea whether its damaged or not.

Interesting approach with cutting the power to the PSU - that would address the fact that I would get frequent windows loading issues only after a freeze.

Also - I've started to suspect that a lot of these issues are Win7 related, because in many cases they just simply never happen in XP or other OS. I don't get the freezes anymore - even with Dragon Age which was the one game I could use to reproduce the freezing consistently - now all of a sudden I can't get it to freeze even once, and the only thing that has changed is a few windows 7 updates.
October 4, 2010 5:00:15 PM


I did run furmark for 25 minutes just fine (I was going to do longer when I didn't need my computer) and so I closed it and opened windows media center and it locked up. Then I cut the power and then it would lock up going into windows every time unless there were not drivers installed or it was safemode.

I have had all my drivers updated, and I tried three different gtx 460 drivers and that hasn't helped. I reformatted my computer and it worked until the drivers are loaded, and then when it restarts it will lock up going into windows. Now it locks up ALL the time.

My old gtx 260 worked just fine and my *amazing* ati 4350 works without a problem.

I really don't get this mess.
November 13, 2010 2:59:00 AM

I have the same problem with a GTX 460 and Win7 x64 freezing randomly. I haven't tried safe mode or uninstalling the video drivers, but I run the x86 version of the same version video driver in XP with no problems. Anyone figured anything out, or has everyone pretty much just chalked it up to Win7 issues?
November 22, 2010 9:36:15 PM

Hi LivingEgg,

I have an identical setup to you, only difference being the PSU and Case.. Same Graphics, CPU, Mobo and RAM.
I'm getting the exact same errors.

I have swapped out the PSU and it didn't help ($200 later of course).

I have currently moved the graphics card across to the second PCIE slot to see if that helps, have not had a chance to leave the machine running for long enough yet (I too get lock ups anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 hours after bootup).

One thing I'm starting to wonder though, is that everytime I think I've fixed the problem the machine is always lying on it's side with the case open. As soon as I put the case back on and stand it up the problems come back. This might just be chance but I've got a thought in the back of my head like maybe the PCIE slot on the mobo doesn't have a touch enough grip on the card and it's getting slightly unseated as it gets warmer when the machine is standing upright. Theory here being that maybe gravity is enough to keep it in place when it's laying flat. Again I have not had a chance to try this thoroughly though.

Things I've yet to try which I don't recall you mentioning.
a) Install an extra drive and run XP (Don't think this'll help as I often get lockups pre Windows)
b) Try the graphics card in another machine to see if it locks up there
c) Try a different PCIE card in the machine long enough to 100% confirm the problem goes away with a different card. (Problem here is that if the card is just too heavy and is coming unseated, an older, lighter card, may not actually tell me if the card is coming unseated or if it's just plain faulty).
d) Try different RAM

One last point of note, I by chance noticed one day when it had locked up, it locked on the screen where windows says "you didn't shutdown, do you want to start windows normally". Funny thing was that my wife was watching tv episodes on my mediaplayer, the media player connects to the computer where the files are stored. This proved that the machine was still technically running and at the very least FileZilla was still running. I was also able to occassionally connect to the machine via LogMeIn/TeamViewer when the computer was in it's frozen state (graphics all messed up when I connected though).

Has anyone else seen similar results?

December 7, 2010 2:08:25 AM

I was typing here in order to say that I have the exact same trouble as described here, when... guess what... another freeze...

Of course, I can't be a hundred per cent sure that my issue is the same as yours, but I have too an nvidia gtx 460 (point of view) and I'm experiencing the same kind of behavior that you describe. Btw, my other specs are:

Gigabyte X58A UD5
Intel i7 930 @2,80ghZ (not overcloking, not even turboboost)
8 GB
Windows 7 64 bit

Since I have this computer (almost 2 months), I've been experiencing random lock ups while doing nothing in particular (I don't play games, just Photoshop+Lightroom), although at the very beginning I remember I got consistent freezes when trying to use windows media classic (bundled with k-lite codec pack). I switched to km-player and the problems disappeared, but every now and then I have been having freezes, and the most strange thing is that my system can work flawlessly for more than 10 hours a day for 2 weeks... then one day I have a freeze, I power off/on, and I really have a hard time to load Windows, because it gets stuck at the "Starting" screen, just when the desktop should appear. The circle icon before "Starting" gets frozen (instead of spinning) and nothing happens other than the HD led blinking every second or so. Usually when I leave the PC turned off for several minutes (as opposed to less than one minute), I am able to boot up normally again... until the next freeze, of course. Then the next day, everything works perfect again for days and weeks... until there is a new freeze and everything starts all over again. For some reason, once I have a lock up, the rest of the day it keeps repeating (maybe just after loading windows, of several hours later).

Today it has gotten specially bad, to the point that I couldn't even post a message here. Finally, after reading your posts, I have removed the GTX 460 and I have replaced it with my trusty Ati Radeon X1800 from my old computer. After a couple reboots (getting the card recognized by the mobo and installing drivers), it has loaded windows without problem at last - I've rebooted 5 times in a row for testing, and no problem. Of course, the computer was unplugged for some minutes while I swapped the graphics cards, so that could be the reason too... but after every crash, Windows said there were troubles unresolved related to the graphic card driver, so I guess it must indeed have something to do with the gtx 460.

Since the freezes can take up to 2 or 3 weeks between each one, it's hard to be sure whether everything's fine now. I plan to return the card or something, but I'm afraid the store doesn't let me... what a royal pain in the ass, but even if I have to end up buying a new card, I'll be happy if this nightmare of random lock ups ends once and for all!!

Thanks everyone for sharing your ideas.
December 8, 2010 7:27:06 PM

For what it's worth, I tried to use the 460 again yesterday, and spent about 6-7 hours trying to recover from another lock up that happened shortly after starting windows. This time there was no way I could make it past the initial windows welcome/starting/whatever screen, consistent lock ups everytime, even after unplugging the pc for ~10 mins.

I make a living using my computer so I can't stand this situation anymore, so I went to the store and bought an ATI Radeon HD 6850. Finally, I can work without surprises... well, now I have a small busy mouse pointer aliasing issue (hell, can't anybody make something that WORKS straight out of the box?) but it's meaningless if compared to where I'm coming from.

I'm trying to exchange the 460 for something else, but it will take sometime since the retailer must send it back and wait for an answer from the wholesaler. If they refuse the return, I'll end up with an ugly and expensive paper weight.

Anyway, I hope eventually nVidia get their act together and release proper drivers for the 400 series (provided this issues can be fixed with drivers alone). Or at least I hope they officially acknowledge this problem, so that RMAs are easier. Best of luck for you all...
April 2, 2011 10:36:55 PM

Ok guys,

I were having the same problem with my ASUS ENGTX 460 Top DirectCU, mainly with lockups at the start and, ramdomly in the Windows 7, a lockup and after some seconds with a message saying "video driver has stoped working... blablabla". And this repeats again and again and some times the image freezes completely, and is only the image cause I keep hearing sounds and I can even manage to turn off the cpu by remembering the correct hotkeys.

After reading almost all posts in this topic and the one in the NVDIA forum, I have concluded that the only trully "fix" is to RTM the GTX 460 and try another one. So I did this.

Now, with the new one, I have NO LOCKUPS until now! :D  So it MUST be a problem with the board.
Two things to note:
1. I manage to see, before the tech support installed it, that the 7 last digits of the part number are very diferent of my old one;
2. The ASUS Smartdoctor now have a greater range for VCORE, from 0.975 to 1.087 and 0.975 is the default. My old one minimum was 1.000.

So, for people that no longer have warranty time, a "solution" could be try to update the GPU BIOS. The problem with this "solution" is if you have a GPU lockup during the BIOS update, you are F#$@!

I dont know from where this faulty GPUs came from, if its a NVIDIA problem or, in my case, ASUS. But I think, as this problem came with the graphic board, It should be solved by who manufacture it, being it on warranty or not!

Good luck to all of you,
and if my GPU starts locking up again :cry:  , I let you know.

Gigabyte 965P-DS3
Intel Core2Quad Q9300
ASUS ENGTX460 Top DirectCU
4x 1GB DDR2 666Mhz
1x Sata2 HDD 320GB
1x DVD-RW drives
SoundBlaster Xfi
SevenTeam 650w PSU
April 21, 2011 8:31:34 PM

I'm having similar problems and they started after installing an nVidia GTX 560Ti. I have an Asus P6 Mobo, Core i7 940 stock clock, 12GB Corsair DDR3 in matched sticks. Running Win 7 Professional 64 bit. Seemed fine for a couple of weeks then bang! Windows randomly hangs. It acts like an old single core machine with no memory. You click something, then a minute or two later the click registers. Running Task Manager show no processes hogging the cpu cycles, in fact, System Idle is at 99%. I've swept it for viruses using MSE, Norton 360, and by booting from the AVG bootable USB drive and running a sweep that way. Ran MemTest with no errors. Cannot for the life of me figure what this is about. Corsair 800w modular PSU. Running a C drive and 2x1TB drives in mobo native Raid 1. Crikey this is annoying. I use my machine for photo editing, and audio/video production so I really would like to get to the bottom of this. I'm going to swap in my old GTX 8800 card to see if that makes things more stable.
August 30, 2011 4:22:33 AM

This is ridiculous I have a gigabyte GTS 450 and a asus 460gtx. Gigabyte card had RMA 3 times and 3 new cards each froze with in 1 hour of using them. But I throw in my old 9800gtx and my 8600gts and they work great. The asus card has worked great in my computer for 4 months. Now its freezing before window 7 even loads. But throw in my 9800gtx and my 8600gts and everything works great. Ive tested both of my systems with both cards. I have xp 32 bit and win 7 64 bit i get the same freezing on both systems. Only difference is that the asus card freezes on start up on win 7 but on xp it lets me onto windows and then freezes. Basically I have 2 cards they both freeze both systems which are completely different. I tried those same 2 cards on my in law computer and guess what both cards froze there system also.