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Freezing then BSOD, even after OS re-install attempts...

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December 27, 2010 6:27:36 PM

Back in Sept of 07' I performed my 1st new PC Build and I'm now having issues with it and before I take it outside and introduce it to my sledge hammer I thought I give you all shout to see if y'all can point me in the right direction.

It a Q6600 Core2 Quad, 4 Gigs of RAM, Gigabyte MB GA-N650SLI-DS4, 2 Nvidia Video cards in SLI configuration, NZXT 650 Watts PSU, 1 Raptor 140 (OS Drive) 2 Western Digital 500 Gigs for data, 2 DVD Rom Drives & WIndows Vista Ultimate 64bit for PC Builders.

1st of all everything had been running fine until a couple of days ago when the PC just stated freezing up. Sometimes it would do it right after start-up and sometimes it would do it 5-10 minutes after start-up. Luckily, as it started doing this I moved all my important files to the two other hard drives I have just in case the main HD had become infected with something.

I have been running Trend Micro's Internet Security for years now and it was up to date and current.

I made sure I had the latest virus definition files and I scanned the whole HD (a Western Digital Raptor 140) and the AntiVirus Software didn't find a thing. Al of the sudden it started giving me the Blue Screen Of Death on Start-up so I decided to start all over again and re-install my Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit. I have the original DVD I purchased when I built the PC.

I set the BIOS to boot from the CD ROM and attempted to install Vista Ultimate; the 1st time it loaded windows files, asked me where I wanted the OS to go and then asked me for the Key; the system did its thing but when it went to do its first re-start all I got was the BSOD. After trying a few more times I gave up.

On X-Mas day I removed the Raptor from my case and installed it on my son's PC and was able to re-format the drive. I re-installed it on my case and attempted to install Vista once again. The screen showed in the bottom "Loading Windows Files" and as soon as that was done the microsoft Vista "ticker showes and then BSOD.

I even went into the BIOS and loaded the "fail-safe settings" and still the same results.

I have already performed a mem test and it passed every time.

I'm assuming I got a virus of some kind that is actually located somewhere in my hardware and its not letting me gain any ground; Am I looking at this correctly?

The only "easy" thing to do is to remove my RAM and try to re-install Vista with just 1 gig of RAM at a time in case the virus is on one of them?

Any ideas here?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Regards,

BA...
a b B Homebuilt system
December 27, 2010 6:50:43 PM

What kind of RAM, and what are the voltage requirements? Half the time, "random" freezing like this has to do with an improper RAM setting. If it's DDR2 and anything orther than 1.8V, or DDR3 and anything other than 1.5V, chances are you're going to have to set the voltage and timings yourself in the BIOS.

Additionally, it's fairly common for the BIOS's default "Auto" setting to work on non-standard RAM for a while, and then one day it stops working and you get unexplained freezing. To top it off, when this happens and the memory isn't physically defective, it'll quite often pass memtest despite the fact that it doesn't work when you try to use it for real.

Also: You cannot have a virus IN the RAM -- it's temporary memory that loses everything stored in it as soon as you turn the power off. I have heard of virus attacks that can cause a corrupted BIOS, but that's exceedingly rare and doesn't sound like your problem in any case.


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a b B Homebuilt system
December 27, 2010 7:08:23 PM

Your power supply might now be marginal for two video cards and three hard drives...

Drop back to a single video card, and a single hard drive, which might free up to 150 watts or more...drop back to a single stick of RAM if necessary, you can test them individually after getting some sort of stability.
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December 27, 2010 7:08:47 PM

capt_taco said:
What kind of RAM, and what are the voltage requirements? Half the time, "random" freezing like this has to do with an improper RAM setting. If it's DDR2 and anything orther than 1.8V, or DDR3 and anything other than 1.5V, chances are you're going to have to set the voltage and timings yourself in the BIOS.

Additionally, it's fairly common for the BIOS's default "Auto" setting to work on non-standard RAM for a while, and then one day it stops working and you get unexplained freezing. To top it off, when this happens and the memory isn't physically defective, it'll quite often pass memtest despite the fact that it doesn't work when you try to use it for real.

Also: You cannot have a virus IN the RAM -- it's temporary memory that loses everything stored in it as soon as you turn the power off. I have heard of virus attacks that can cause a corrupted BIOS, but that's exceedingly rare and doesn't sound like your problem in any case.



Fantastic!!! Something to look into. I can definitely get into the BIOS no problem and I have the Memory specs saved up somewhere so I can retrieve them from my Newegg account and set them by hand to see if that works.

EDIT: This is what I found out I have: 2 X CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) and according to the tech specs on Newegg they are: Timing = 4-4-4-12 , Voltage 2.1v

Anything else you can think of Capt_Taco? Anyone else?

Thanks a ton for the response...

I'll try this tonight to see if it works...

Regards,

BA...
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December 27, 2010 7:10:38 PM

mdd1963 said:
Your power supply might now be marginal for two video cards and three hard drives...

Drop back to a single video card, and a single hard drive, which might free up to 150 watts or more...drop back to a single stick of RAM if necessary, you can test them individually after getting some sort of stability.



But they have all been working together without a problem since 2007, why would it not be enough now? Just a thought!!!

Thanks for the response...

Keep them coming...

BA...
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December 27, 2010 7:28:14 PM

Well I have never had a bios go bad or known anyone else who has but I have had many folks including me who have had memory go bad. In particular I have had two sets of Corsair dominator 6400D memory sets go bad. The manufacture replaced them and eventually got a good pair but it was a hassle.

Run memtest and if that passes with NO failures than run a full Hard disk diagnostics and if that passes make sure all your plug in cards are seated properly. I have also had BSODS when a particularly heavy video card kept sagging its ass out of the slot over time.

Good luck
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December 27, 2010 7:32:15 PM

warezme said:
Well I have never had a bios go bad or known anyone else who has but I have had many folks including me who have had memory go bad. In particular I have had two sets of Corsair dominator 6400D memory sets go bad. The manufacture replaced them and eventually got a good pair but it was a hassle.

Run memtest and if that passes with NO failures than run a full Hard disk diagnostics and if that passes make sure all your plug in cards are seated properly. I have also had BSODS when a particularly heavy video card kept sagging its ass out of the slot over time.

Good luck



Thanks warezme, I did a mem test and it passed. I'll try this also and see what happens...

Thanks again!!!

BA...
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January 4, 2011 6:51:18 PM

Hey guys...

I will be off work tomorrow so I will be trying some of your suggestions then and I'll come back here and let you all know if anything worked...

Crossing my fingers!!!

BA...
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2011 7:00:12 PM

BABear70 said:
But they have all been working together without a problem since 2007, why would it not be enough now? Just a thought!!!

Thanks for the response...

Keep them coming...

BA...


So essentially you are saying the power supply was formerly known good, so therefore, should be considered good today as well? :)  Components are only truly known good the last time you had a good system, or, ....yesterday.

Another thought....

CPU/heatsink thermal paste breaks down over time, until the cpu can no longer cool itself....

Check CPU core temps in BIOS....
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January 4, 2011 7:09:20 PM

mdd1963 said:
So essentially you are saying the power supply was formerly known good, so therefore, should be considered good today as well? :)  Components are only truly known good the last time you had a good system, or, ....yesterday.

Another thought....

CPU/heatsink thermal paste breaks down over time, until the cpu can no longer cool itself....

Check CPU core temps in BIOS....


Will do...

Going to strip the system to the minimum components needed to boot up and see if I can get Vista to install on my Raptor. If that work this means some of the components I removed was faulty and needs to be narrowed down.

Fun stuff...

BA...
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January 6, 2011 1:35:40 PM

OK folks this is what I can report this morning...

I stripped down the system to the minimum components needed to boot up and I was able to load the OS to my Raptor with no issues. I only had one DVD-ROM, one HDD, one Video Card and one stick of RAM (1GB).

I went ahead and installed components one by one back into the fold, other than memory sticks (I had a feeling this was the culprits).

I let the system do updates and such and then, just to prove a point I installed all 3 remaining stick of RAM back and and low and behold, BSOD!!!

Took the 3 RAM sticks I had just installed out and re-booted. All was well again.

I installed one of the RAMs and started it up and no problems. Now I have 2GB's of RAM.

Out of curiosity I had Windows rate my system with 1GB RAM and with 2GB of RAM, the Windows rating for my system with just 1GB ended up being a 1 out of the max 5.9 but it was only due to the RAM; all the other categories were at 5.9.

With the 2GB's the Rating went all the way up to a 5.0 for Memory and 5.9 for the rest. Now comes the interesting part. I installed a 3rd 1GB stick of RAM and everything booted up no problem. I re-did the Windows Rating and now my score went down to a 4.5; WTF???

I would had expected the rating to go up or at least stay the same. Should I interpret this as a RAM stick that might be going bad?

I didn't have time to remove the 3rd stick and replace it with the last one I have that has not been put in with the other already known good sticks but I didn't want to go and buy memory to find there is something wrong with the memory slots on the MB. Is that even something that happens at all? Bad RAM slot on the MB?

Maybe I'm over-thinking all this. Just glad I was able to get things up and running.

BTW, after I had everything working I downloaded software from Western Digital to test my 500 GB Caviar Blue HDD and the 1st one I tested came out with too many bad sectors. Good thing I copied all my important stuff to both HDDs rather than only one.

Any thoughts here???

Thanks in advance!!!

BA...
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 6, 2011 1:58:03 PM

WIth two sticks in the correct slots, it will be able to run dual channel mode, faster access...

WIth 3 sticks, you revert to single channel mode, which will bring down memory bandwidth related benchmarks....

Check your BIOS settings for single/dual channel; if 3 sticks, you might be manadated to single channel access.....
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January 6, 2011 2:38:32 PM

mdd1963 said:
WIth two sticks in the correct slots, it will be able to run dual channel mode, faster access...

WIth 3 sticks, you revert to single channel mode, which will bring down memory bandwidth related benchmarks....

Check your BIOS settings for single/dual channel; if 3 sticks, you might be manadated to single channel access.....


Did not think of that... Thank you very much!!!

This makes sense and makes me feel better than I just, more than likely, have a bad stick of RAM... WHat a hassle for such a thing...

BA...
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January 7, 2011 1:57:28 PM

Troubles in paradise AGAIN!!! :cry: 

Apparently there is more to it that I thought. ARGH!!!

I cranked up the PC last night and after cycling a few times it finally booted up. I decided I was ready to run the Memtest86+ so I shut it down and I removed the HDD that was bad (BTW I'm 4 months out of the 3 yr warranty... Bummer).

Went down to only 1 stick of RAM and re-booted it. The PC started faster that I have ever seen it since new. I went and downloaded a Free CD Burning software from CNet and installed it.

When it was done installing it the system required a re-start to finish the installation so I said OK. The PC started it shut down sequence and it just hung up shutting down. I waited almost 15 minutes for it to "shut down" but it didn't so I hit the reset button and attempted to re-start it. The system posted, the MS Vista Bar timing bar came on the screen and then BSOD!!! AGAIN!!! :ouch: 

This time the screen says "driver_irql_not_less_or_equal" and I went on my Droid to search WTF is it now and its back to what was originally suspected, bad memory.

Well I was using the known good stick when this happened but I shut it down, removed that stick and inserted one that was known good also, same results. Shut it down again and installed 2 known good sticks of RAM as dual channel and same results. :sarcastic: 

Any other suggestions, clues, etc?

As you may imagine I'm getting frustrated big time, especially when I actually used the PC on Wednesday night for a few hours doing my monthly budget without any hiccups with 3 sticks of RAM and a bad HDD.

I'm considering starting over again from scratch, not sure if it will do any good since the culprit is a piece of hardware... Don't know what else to do with what I have.

Thanks for any help you all can provide.

BA...
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January 13, 2011 7:57:10 PM

Just an update for y'all...

After all the hardware testing I did the other day a friend supplied a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit and I went ahead and started from scratch. Loaded up everything, including all pertinent updates for Windows, Motherboard, Video Cards, etc. Everything worked right out of the box with minimal hardware connected. :ouch: 

I decided it was time again to run MemTest 86+ and I tested each ram stick individually, then as Dual Channel pairs and finally all of them together. Never, not even one time did the BSOD re-appear. :bounce: 

Nothing seems to be wrong now. Everything has been working like a charm for almost a week. :sol: 

After everything had been working perfectly I installed the "suspected bad" WD Caviar Blue 500GB's back in the PC to check if its really a bad one and the thing just hung up and would not boot up at all. :pfff:  I disconnected it, did a Windows Fix and all was back to working perfectly with no problems. :)  I disposed of the bad HDD.

I went ahead and ordered 8GB's of RAM (4 x 2GB's) and a 1TB WD Caviar Black from Newegg 3 days ago. Waiting for them to come in but the weather here has not been cooperating much, snow and ice in SC gets things all whacked out. Hopefully when I install these components I will be OK for a few more years... (I wish...) :heink: 

Any thoughts on the latest developments? Seems very strange to me that things are "perfect" now, unless that bad HDD was wreaking havoc on the system and making it go all wacko on me.

Thanks for y'alls help!

BA...
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January 15, 2011 1:13:32 PM

OK, this is what happened when I got my new components installed...

Remember that I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit and that my motherboard's max supported RAM is 8GB's.

I got all 4 sticks of RAM (8GB's) (Kingston Hyper X - 4 X 2GB's) in and pluged up the new HDD and attempted to boot-up the PC and............. NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH!!! :fou: 

I was like WTF now??? I composed myself and removed the HDD and attempted boot-up, again..... SAME RESULTS, NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH!!! :fou: 

I now went down to only 2 sticks of RAM (4GB's) and voila', boot up with no problem. I shut down and removed those 2 sticks of RAM and installed the other 2 sticks I had removed before (thinking they where DOA) and lo and behold boot-up with no problems... :ouch:  WTF??? :sarcastic: 

Keep in mind also that as the PC finally booted-up the 1st time I went into the BIOS and made sure the RAM had the correct voltage, in this case 1.95V. My system is old enough that I can not set the actual timings only the voltage.

I went ahead and re-connected the new HDD and re-booted, no issues at all.

Just for testing sake I left the 2 new sticks of RAM in Slots 1 & 3 and I installed 2 of the other RAM I already have, known good in Slots 2 & 4 for a total of 6GB's on board and AGAIN, NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH!!! :fou: 

Do you all still think is a RAM problem??? Can it be that my Power Supply is not providing enough "juice" anymore??? Again the weird thing is that I can have all 4 stick of my OLD RAM (4 X 1GB's) and everything works without any issues but I can only install 2 stick of my NEW RAM (2 X 2GB's) without the system not booting up on me. One more odd thing is that the OLD RAM is supposed to be at 2.1 volts while the NEW RAM is supposed to be at 1.95 volts.

I'm totally confused at this point, not sure what else to do from this point. I can return the NEW RAM but there is a freaking RE-STOCKING FEE!!! ARGH!!! :fou: 

Any more thoughts for me???

Thanks for y'alls help!!! :D 

BA...
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