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Games freeze my homebuilt machine

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January 26, 2012 2:32:48 AM

In September I built myself a machine with the following parts from newegg:

AMD A8-3850 Llano 2.9GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU
ASRock A75M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory
APEX TX-381-C Black Steel Micro ATX Tower Computer Case
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
I am running windoze XP installed via USB stick (no optical drive).
I have not overclocked anything.
I should add that the DVI port on my mobo was DOA, as in it has never emitted any type of signal as far as my monitor (which works with other DVI devices) can tell.


The problem is that most games I play freeze with a sound loop. By 'freeze' I mean that ctl-alt-del, alt-f4, and the mouse do not work, and my only recourse is to hold the power button.

I have tried:
Updating every driver and the BIOS from my mobo's site here: http://www.asrock.com/mb/download.asp?Model=A75M
Updating the graphics drivers further from here: http://sites.amd.com/us/game/downloads/Pages/radeon_xp-...
Disabling all of my sound drivers in the device manager. This has the result of allowing me to play longer (~45 mins as opposed to ~15) before the freeze occurs.
Trying an external (albeit very old) sound card. Same results.
Installing windoze 8 via USB stick. Occasionally I got watchdog_timer bluescreens, but these went away somewhere in the middle of driver/bios upgrades. I still had the sound loop freezes though.
Reinstalling XP.
Testing my RAM. No problems detected in five "standard" tests by the Ubuntu server 11.04 USB installer.

The games that crash, and their symptoms:
Supreme Commander 2: Total freeze and sound loop.
Team Fortress 2: Total freeze and sound loop.
Shogun 2: Crash to desktop. Event log: Faulting application shogun2.exe, version 1.1.0.0, faulting module shogun2.dll, version 1.0.0.0, fault address 0x00ac5c14.
Only recently:
League of Legends: Approximately 40% chance of a total freeze when a game ends.
Minecraft: Total freeze.


I am strongly tossing my computer off of a tall building in downtown SF, but I would much rather perform this action on a single problematic part. Does anyone have suggestions for further tests or changes I should try?

Thanks in advance.
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2012 1:26:14 PM

Can you crash it doing anything else other than playing games?

Download HWMonitor from CPUID and play some single player thing and every minute or two alt tab out of the game and check the temperatures of everything. Let me know if they trend upwards all the way up to the crash.
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January 26, 2012 2:37:32 PM

Will do after work today.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 27, 2012 1:59:53 AM

If your PC wasn't crashing, I would say that 75c was perfectly fine.

However, since it is crashing it may be too early to make that call.

Try operating the computer with the side off and a regular AC oscillating fan pointed into the case if you have one.

It could also very easily be a PSU overheating problem. Every 1c the PSU increases in internal temperatures it can put out quite a bit less wattage. Since your case has a top mount PSU that means all the hot air is sucked into the PSU before being blown out the back of the case.

With these sorts of setups it isn't hard to heat up the internals of a PSU to the point that it can't put out enough wattage anymore.

Consider getting a good case, one that has a bottom mount PSU and a lot of upward fan power like the HAF 912.

Speaking of which, the APEX case only has 1x 90mm fan on it period which is just very poor it you want cool internal temperatures.

The HAF 912 has both intake and exhaust fans and many more.

Even if it doesn't help fix your issue right now I would strongly advise you get a case like the HAF 912 or Antec 300. A good case adds many years to the life of computer parts.

It may very well help fix the issue as well, especially since the PSU on those cases are botton mount which means the temps in the PSU will be a lot lower and the power it can put out a lot higher as a result.
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January 27, 2012 4:56:05 AM

Initial tests indicate this may be the answer! With a fan pointed at the open side it hasn't gotten higher than 71C (the fan is like 4 feet away), and I haven't crashed yet. I'll torture test this a bit more (again after work tomorrow - ah, employment).

If this does conclusively turn out to be the issue, which would you recommend as better value: buying an extra few fans and adding them to this case, or shelling out for a better case? I'm kind of a cheapskate, but I would prefer that my machine actually run properly. Do you have a recommendation for a cooler case in the $40 range rather than $60 for the one you mentioned? If not I'll just browse around for a bottom mount PSU and good ventilation.

Thanks for your help -
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
January 28, 2012 1:52:33 AM

You get what you pay for.

A good case will stick with you through every build you ever do. Ten years from now you could still be using the same case while every other part will be upgraded.

Airflow just doesn't change that much, especially when you are close to the ideal as it is with plenty of in and out and bottom mounted PSU and everything.

The ones I mentioned are as good as it gets for the low end. You would have to find a really good markdown deal to get an equal case for less or a better case for equal. Those are pretty much the gold standards for entry level enthusiast cases.

I would use the fan until you can manage to save the other $20. Then get a good case and be done with it.

It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to get more fans for the current case in the mean time since you can bring forward fans to the next case when you get it.

That being said, I don't think there are too many empty fan slots on the cases I mentioned in the default configuration.

Also, I don't think you are going to hurt anything if it is a bit closer than 4 feet and it could help.
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January 28, 2012 6:32:56 AM

Best answer selected by Skreeg.
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January 28, 2012 7:08:58 AM

Spent a few hours tonight hammering away at the system with SupCom 2. Crash free!

Thanks a bunch for your help. Back to case shopping.
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January 28, 2012 9:47:50 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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