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Newly built system stuttering and shutting down during games

Last response: in Systems
September 7, 2010 10:10:06 AM

I recently built a computer with the following specs:

Intel core i7-930
ATI Radeon HD 5870
Asus Rampage III Gene mATX motherboard
Kingston HyperX 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 1600 memory
Corsair 650W power supply
Intel X25-M 80 GB solid state drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The problem is that during (and only during) gaming Windows will often initiate a spontaneous soft shutdown. I can usually tell this is about to happen by stuttering on the screen. The stuttering isn't a FPS drop, but more like a strange droning sound will play from the speakers and things will seize upon the screen for a split second. If I continue my game, this stuttering will continue sporadically for a minute or two and then Windows will immediately shut down.

I sent my CPU back and got it replaced, and tried swapping in another video card and the issue continued to happen. What DID help was tweaking the memory voltage and timing settings in the BIOS. When I set the memory speed from 1600mhz to 1033mhz, the problem temporarily went away completely. I was able to play games for hours with zero problems for about 3-4 days. Now the problem is starting to come back, although it is still much more rare than before (where it would be almost guaranteed to happen within 5-10 minutes of playing a game).

I've considered heat as a possible culprit. My CPU idles at ~45 C and at load it can hit 80 degrees, which I'm aware is incredibly high. However, the stuttering problems seem to happen almost at random regardless of what the temperature is, as long as I'm stressing the system by playing a game. Also, I had a 4 day stretch where the computer had absolutely no issues. The only single change I made was to alter the memory timing/voltage/speed. However since I made that tweak, the stuttering issues seem to have gone away and then returned, but the computer no longer shuts down immediately afterwards.

Does this seem to be a hardware problem, or a settings problem, or something else? Thank you for your help.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 7, 2010 1:20:09 PM

It could be a host of things causing the stability issue.
Could be improper dram voltage for your kit check vendor sticker for proper voltage.
The first thing i would do is burn an iso of Memtest86+ 4.10.
Set your ram to default speed 1333Mhz.
Load Memtest disc in bios from cd
Test one stick of ram at a time
if you find errors that's your problem.
a b B Homebuilt system
September 7, 2010 2:03:52 PM

When I had a similar issue in my system, I raised the CPU voltage to 1.275 (i7-920). This eliminated all problems and the voltage is still under the manufacturer's max of 1.375 volts.

During the OC (currently running at 3.82 GHz) I had set the voltage to the lowest possible voltage to reduce heat and increase CPU life. Obviously, this was a little too low. Raising the voltage solved the problem. While doing so, do not exceed the manufacturer's max voltage limits.

For reference, the Corsair Dominator RAM is underclocked from 1600 to 1452 MHz. This is fine.