Hard Crash Mystery - PSU or GFX Card?

Hi Everyone,

I'm a PC gamer and have recently been having some major problems with my PC that do not allow me to play my precious games. I have narrowed the problem down to 2 main possibilities and 2 less likley ones and I need your help to narrow it down further. Please take a close look at the info below and see what you can make of this problem. Thanks


Immediate hard crash 90% of the time when starting up ANY application that uses 3D or "advanced graphics" (Ex. Any PC game including old, sorta 2D ones like Diablo II, iTunes visualizer, GFX card stress test programs). Hard crash results in garbled/funky color patterns on monitor and corrupted sound for ~5-10 seconds then screen goes black with no sound. Crash requires manual PC restart to get back into Windows. Crashes NEVER occur when in the standard Windows environment or when running software like MS Office/iTunes/Internet Explorer. Crashes also NEVER occur when running intensive stress tests only on the CPU/RAM/HD. In the 10% of tries that the program does not immediately crash at start, I can run PC games and graphics stress test program for hours with zero crashes.

Crash Screenshots:

System Specifications: (All purchased new July 2008 from NewEgg)
CPU: Core 2 Deo E8500 3.16GHz Overclocked to 3.8GHz
MOBO: ASUS Rampage Formula (BIOS Updated)
RAM: 4GB (Two 2GB OCZ Reaper 10664GK)
Sound: Creative Soundblaster PCI-E X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro (Updated Drivers)
HD: Seagate Barracuda ES.2 250GB x2 running in RAID-0
Graphics: EVGA NVIDIA GTX280 SSC x1 (Updated Drivers)
Power Supply: Mushkin XP-800AP (800 watt)
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit (Fully Updated)
Case/Cooling: Antec 900 with fully upgraded/high quality air cooling for case and CPU

Troubleshooting Actions Completed:
- Disabled all Overclocking/Tweaks (Still Crashes)
- Dusted out entire PC
- Reformat/Reinstalled Windows
- ALL drivers/software/firmware fully updated
- Reseated all removable cards
- Tested system with sound card removed, removable drives disconnected (Still Crashes)
- Tested RAM with Memtest86+ (No Errors Found)
- Checked Hard drives for errors (No Errors Found)
- Checked all component temperatures (All fine, no overheating, all fans spinning/sound right)
- Switched out GTX-280 GFX card with old PCI-E X1900XT (* No Crashes with this card *)
- Tested 12v PSU voltages manually with a digital multimeter (Idles at 12.37-12.39v, Under Load 12.25-12.27)
- Checked all other voltages in BIOS and with 2 software programs (All appear steady and in range)
- Spoke with EVGA GFX Card tech support, they think it is the PSU but I'm still unsure
- Have not been able to contact Mushkin tech support yet
- Have not tried another PSU (b/c it will cost money even if returned :-/ )

What do you all think?

A) Graphics Card Problem
B) Power Supply Problem
C) Motherboard Problem
D) Other

Thanks Again!
4 answers Last reply
More about hard crash mystery card
  1. Well, you switched the graphic cards and had no problems... :)

    I would try to get a different PSU maybe from a friend and check this out with your "problematic card"..

    If the problem persists with a different PSU I think its the card, you can double check the card with a different computer.
  2. Does sound like classic GPU issues to me as well...
  3. dying gpu memory looks like
  4. Ok, I suspected the GPU memory and was going to run some tests on it with MemtestG80 and MemtestCL from Simtk.org. I downloaded it but was scared away due to the command line interface. Mostly anti-learning laziness I guess :??:

    Does anyone think my 12v voltages are ok? I thought they were too high for what is suppose to be a higher end PSU. They are still under the 5% 12.60volts threshold though.
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