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Random freezes and restarts

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March 24, 2012 3:23:07 AM

Hey guys!

Well unfortunately, my pc has started to randomly hang and restart. The problem was there for a long time, but it's just that I've never had the real need to use this computer until recently. Now, progress on my assignments would be lost in a matter of seconds, so now I've come to the point of consulting you guys :p 

Also, my computer has the annoying habit of detecting my RAM whenever it feels like. So one day I could be working with 2 GB, and after a few restarts it would suddenly go back to 4 GB.

Anyways, I'm hazy on the specs as my pc is prebuilt, but it's a Dell Studio XPS 8000 (I think) with:

i7-860 (2.80GHz)
4GB RAM
Random PSU
Nvidia GT220

And yeah the other parts are from Dell, and I have no idea where they were manufactured.

I think I've already located the problem; I went into the Nvidia settings and checked out the temps for my GPU - turns out it's averaging ~70C @ idle, which I thought was absurd, seeing as how it hasn't been running any games for months, let alone in the past few hours. The CPU was sitting at a slightly toasty temp of ~40.

So the question is whether high-excessive GPU temps can cause the pc to hang and/or restart. And if not, what can?

Thanks guys.
March 25, 2012 6:43:11 PM

Temperatures most definitely CAN cause the PC to hand/restart.

Blue screens of death can also cause the computer to restart. The default setting in Windows 7 is to restart instead of displaying a blue screen of death.

High temperatures can also cause blue screens of death too, if they negatively affect some hardware component.

However, high temperatures should have no bearing on how much RAM the computer detects.

Also, the CPU temperature of 40c isn't something I would generally be worried about.

For that matter, I am not overly worried about a video card temperature of 70c either.

Most of the time the components are made to withstand those sorts of temperatures.

There is one component, however, that does not tend to do really well in high temperatures, especially over long periods of time and the temperature of which you cannot measure in all likelihood.

This is the same component that is almost always the first one to fail in any computer that lasts more than a year without any problems at all.

That is the PSU, the thing you plug the power cord into in case it needs to be clarified.

Computer makers like DELL pretty much always mount the PSU on the top of the case, which means all the heat from the internals usually gets sucked into it and pushed out the back of it.

This pretty much means that these PSUs have high levels of heat inside them for the entirety of the time that DELL computers are turned on.

This degrades components internal to the PSU casing which you can't see or sense the temperatures for.

My best guess is that over time it has degraded slowly and now it is at the point where the last straw has broken your back.

Most likely, if you get an XFX 450w PSU, the problem will be fixed right away. This should cost about $45 or so.

However, if you just get one of these and mount it in place of the old one, the same problem will likely continue on to a lesser extent.

PSUs don't like high internal temperatures and it would still be sucking all that heat into itself during operations.

Best would be to additionally replace the case with something that lets you mount the PSU on the bottom (ideally with intake vents directly below the bottom mount area, to allow the PSU to draw in air directly from the outside).

A very popular case of this sort that is suggested to everyone building low end computers around here is the Cooler Master HAF 912. That would be about another 50 or 60.

Anyway, you can think about that stuff and make the decision you think is right for you about how to proceed.
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March 25, 2012 9:28:56 PM

Hi, "my computer has the annoying habit of detecting my RAM whenever it feels like." This might be the key.

Your PC will run with one memory dimm. You have two memory dimms installed. One of the dimms may be intermittently failing which will cause the type of problem you are seeing. This is easy to test/debug.

Unplug PC, open case. Touch the power supply to ground yourself. Locate the memory dimm. See if you can remove one. Then plug PC back in (i leave case open). Fire it up. does it run stably with one dimm? Can you run a memory test program against the one dimm (your HP came with hardware diagnostics including a memory test program. If you can't find it or uninstalled it you can download a memory test program from teh webb, they are everywhere -- memory fails).

Once you know you have one working dimm shutdown and unplug. Ground yourself against psu. Swap the dimm in the case for the dimm you previously removed. Plug the PC back in and test the second dimm.

If one dimm is bad and one good then (1) run the PC with one dimm, that's fine (2) order a new set of memory from a place like Crucial or newegg (google them).

Note: an i7-860 is still a very strong system. this is worth fixing. hopefully it's the memory, if not then post.
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March 25, 2012 10:17:51 PM

You might also just push harder on the RAM. If it isn't all the way in the slot then it can have a lot of weird problems too.
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March 26, 2012 9:12:22 AM

Thanks guys for all the suggestions, and sorry for the late reply :p  I had uni.

Anyways I'll try out the suggested solutions tomorrow when i have a bit more time. I'll keep you guys posted. In the meantime, keep the ideas flowing!
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February 8, 2013 12:39:42 PM

Raiddinn said:
Temperatures most definitely CAN cause the PC to hand/restart.

Blue screens of death can also cause the computer to restart. The default setting in Windows 7 is to restart instead of displaying a blue screen of death.


Do you know hwo to change this default setting?
I am having the same problem, and would like to know if it is memory related before violating the case.
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