PC Crashing. No idea what is causing it

This is a peculiar problem because I'm pretty sure that when I first started to use my pc it didn't crash and none of the components have changed, it did crash I recall fairly soon after I first built it, but not for perhaps a few months. However I have formatted and still the same problem.

I do remember the pc not even loading windows due to faulty ram which I replaced with some 'Kingston value ram' as it was all I could afford at the time, a 2 gig stick, because the guy didn't have any 1 gig sticks. (sigh at my impatience, no duel channel)

Right so when does my pc crash?

1. Random is possible. On rare occasions it crashes during web browsing, but this is very rare.
2. 95% of the time it is during gaming or intense work. But nearly always gaming. Sometimes even loading up a game can crash it (company of heroes online does this, WoW sometimes did it, and now, starcraft 2 is doing it all the time, as I expected.
3. It would crash on highly graphically intense things like boss fights or raids in wow, I had to turn all the settings right down for it to work. The lower the settings the less frequent the crashes but they do still seem to happen and I can't stand having shite graphics when I paid for a decent computer.
4. I started to try to unplug various components suspecting the power supply. Stability -Seemed- to improve but it's hard to measure. Increasing graphic settings of games seems to still *** it up no matter if I unplug my fans, cd drive, second HD.

My hunch has always been the radeon 4850 being a power hungry card is drawing too much power and the comp is shutting down or shorting out. However there have been some rare crashes where my pc doesn't restart and simply makes strange noises where the screen goes completely off - no signal at all, which points me toward graphics card, right?

I have no components to test with sadly and not willing to spend £60-100 for a pc repair buff to sit and do the same thing I could do if I had the parts. My dad just got ripped for £80 for a reinstall of windows because I couldn't remember how to do it.

Anyway, this problem is REALLY driving me insane.. and any methods by which to find the problem would be a great help.

Here is some of my Dxdiag, My PSU is a 'ColorsIT 550w' it's pretty old though, and the guy in the shop actually suggested older psu's wouldn't like the radeon 4850, perhaps he just wanted a sale, because my mate said 550w should be fine. However.. something is not right...

System Information
Time of this report: 10/28/2010, 14:59:45
Operating System: Windows XP Home Edition (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_gdr.100216-1441)
Language: English (Regional Setting: English)
System Manufacturer: Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd.
System Model: EP45C-DS3R
BIOS: Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E7200 @ 2.53GHz (2 CPUs)
Memory: 2046MB RAM
Page File: 823MB used, 3114MB available
Windows Dir: C:\WINDOWS
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
DX Setup Parameters: /Silent
DxDiag Version: 5.03.2600.2180 32bit Unicode

DxDiag Notes
DirectX Files Tab: No problems found.
Display Tab 1: No problems found.
Sound Tab 1: The file ctaud2k.sys is not digitally signed, which means that it has not been tested by Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). You may be able to get a WHQL logo'd driver from the hardware manufacturer.
Music Tab: No problems found.
Input Tab: No problems found.
Network Tab: No problems found.

DirectX Debug Levels
Direct3D: 0/4 (n/a)
DirectDraw: 0/4 (retail)
DirectInput: 0/5 (n/a)
DirectMusic: 0/5 (n/a)
DirectPlay: 0/9 (retail)
DirectSound: 0/5 (retail)
DirectShow: 0/6 (retail)

Display Devices
Card name: ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series
Manufacturer: ATI Technologies Inc.
Chip type: ATI Radeon Graphics Processor (0x9442)
DAC type: Internal DAC(400MHz)
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_1002&DEV_9442&SUBSYS_026A1043&REV_00
Display Memory: 1024.0 MB
Current Mode: 1280 x 1024 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Plug and Play Monitor
Monitor Max Res: 1600,1200
Driver Name: ati2dvag.dll
Driver Version: 6.14.0010.7131 (English)
DDI Version: 9 (or higher)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 9/11/2010 02:42:48, 300544 bytes
10 answers Last reply
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  1. Update:

    I have narrowed it down to the PSU / Graphics card.

    Even with my Dad's crap graphics card my system doesn't crash in games. Sure it lags but it's stable and I can open SC2 every time I've tried.

    This surely means:

    The PSU is insufficient or incompatible with my GFX card.
    My GFX card has a fault or has burnt out at some point and become unstable (is this possible?)

    My next test may be to try to power the set up with a new PSU. Thing is I will need to buy one or find someone with one. Thing is, my pc crashes even when I unplug as many things as I can, all fans, extra HDS, DVD drive, etc, so to me, increasing wattage of the PSU wouldn't work, there must be a fault with the PSU itself? as it's a 550w.

    Any ideas?
  2. Your "Colorshit" PSU is a generic piece of bowel movement. It is not suitable for powering a modern computer. In this case, the guy in the shop was correct (whether or not he knew why is another question). Older PSUs put too much of their output on +5V and not enough on +12V, where a modern PC needs it.
    Your system would run quite well on a quality 430W-450W PSU, like an Antec Earthwatts. Seasonic, Corsair, and Enermax are other quality brands.
  3. I think your input is enough to confirm I need to go and punch my 'pc wizzkid' friend who constantly bullied me for suggesting the problem was the PSU.....

    Thanks mate. :)

    I am on quite a budget but I don't want a peace of crap... the LEDs lighting up on the 4850 do say '12volt error' so.. that makes perfect sense.

    Was my PSU really crap? Because I was actually recommended it. Then again it was by a local shop, probably limited supply.. I won't trust that guy again though methinks...whilst I'm here... another Q:

    I have Kingston 'value ram' and it's running single channel - I think I'd like to go to windows 7 at some point and try the 64 bit drivers for my hardware etc as I feel like XP is an ageing dinosaur and im tired of the awful search features etc.

    A: Am I losing much performance not having dual channel?
    B: Should I buy another 2 gig stick of 'Kingston value ram' or get something better?
  4. Er also..... can I in the meantime somehow free up more power for the Graphics card or will it just continue to crash no matter what I do?
  5. if you can afford it....

    buy another 2gig stick of the same type of ram.

    and get a quality PSU... here's a good example http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151074&cm_re=seasonic-_-17-151-074-_-Product

    then upgrade to win 7 64 bit...
  6. and realistically until you purchase the new power supply i suggest you take out that 4850 and just run of the motherboard.... your taking a fair risk on frying your whole setup if you dont.
  7. At some point I'm thinking I may add another radeon 4850, as they're only around £50-60 nowadays it seems... to get cross fire. Not sure if I'd be able to do that with a 430 or even a 500 watt power supply, what do you think?

    I like the look of the Antec Earthwatts, I'm a fan of being green. How does this one compare? I don't want to spend more than £60 (I'm in the UK)
  8. http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Power+Supplies/650W+or+less/Coolermaster+GX550+80Plus+Certified+?productId=41770

    how about this. It's cheaper and higher wattage than the Earthwatts - not as efficient maybe? Efficiency is pretty high on my agenda.
  9. bump just want a little feedback on psu's if possible :)
  10. I'm not sure on that coolermaster. I would say something along these lines if you want to possibly go crossfire in the future.

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