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Computer periodically "hard hangs"

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April 15, 2012 6:23:19 AM

Hello,
I built myself a new computer a few months ago and it has been going through phases of instability. I would say 95% of the time the computer will just freeze up, the image hangs and there is no sound, no response from hitting caps lock on my keyboard, and no BSOD. There have been a couple of times when the computer would just shut itself down, though that hasn't happened in quite awhile. These instances are always recorded as "Event ID: 41" although no additional information is recorded. Also, these instances almost always happen under load, usually during gaming but it has also happened while browsing or just loading a couple programs simultaneously.

At first I thought it was a faulty power supply, but I don't have any means of testing it accurately so I tried to see if it was another piece of hardware causing the problems. I've ran Prime 95 a few times and never had an error (I usually run it for 15-20 hours at a time). I've also ran Furmark multiple times and my graphics card has never faulted. I've ran Memtest 86+ multiple times (usually for about 15 hours) and the windows memory diagnostic with no errors. I downloaded CPU Z and set all of my RAM timings to the manufacturer's recommended settings. I've updated my BIOS and all of my drivers to the most current versions without success. I was afraid it might be my boot drive so I re-installed Windows onto an old drive that I know works. That seemed to be working for a couple of weeks until last night when the freezing came back in full force.

I am running out of ideas and I'm afraid the freezing might be starting to do damage. It seems that after I power my computer back up things will be... odd. The mixer will mess with volume levels and today my minesweeper data got wiped.

I should probably mention that my computer froze last night while playing Tribes. When I went to turn it back on the computer had to try a few times before successfully posting, which makes me suspect my power supply again. I guess I'll have to shell out for a multimeter or something to test it. Is there a way of testing it under the conditions it is usually in for the problem to occur? Is there anything else I could have missed? Other stress tests I can run to check other pieces of hardware? Any suggestions at this point would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


Specs:
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, SP1
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 980
Mobo: Asus M5A88-V EVO AM3+ AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/S
Memory: G.Skill F3-12800CL9-4GBRL (2 x 4GB)
Graphics: Sapphire 100312-3SR Radeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition
PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power Supply
HDDs: OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (Previous boot drive, not currently installed)
HITACHI HDS721050CLA362 (0F10381) 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (main drive that I store most everything on)
And then there's my HDD from my previous computer that is my current boot drive, don't remember what kind it is but it never failed me before
a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 3:45:31 PM

In my experience, a straight up freeze is almost always from the PSU failing. Especially if it happens during gaming.

However, this is hugely impacted by the case that you have.

The PSU you have usually is a very good type, so my guess is that you have a top mount PSU case.

Is it true? Which sort of case is it that you do have?

If it is true, I would guess that if you changed to a HAF 912 case that all your problems should go away. That is unless hardware damage has occurred from the prospective power failing.

I don't suspect any hardware damage has occurred, but it is possible.

If you want to try to test this theory without spending money, you can take the side of the case off and aim a big fat oscillating fan straight at the inside of the computer.

If it doesn't crash while you are gaming when you do this then it is almost certainly bad airflow in the case.

- Edit - I skipped over the sentence in the first read where you said you had trouble turning it on after one of the crashes. That could indicate damage to the PSU hardware, but maybe not. If the PSU internals were still extremely hot due to bad airflow when you tried to bring it back online then it could have been a temporary thing.
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April 15, 2012 4:42:50 PM

Unfortunately my case is bottom mounting. I can't remember the exact model but it's also made by Corsair so I don't think there would be any incompatibility there.

I have tried taking the side off and using a desk fan with no success. I don't really know anything about electronics, but is there a difference in the type of load under gaming conditions versus benchmark conditions? When I didn't get any failures running Prime 95 and Furmark separately I tried running them at the same time to max out both the CPU and graphics card. I assume that would demand the most out of the PSU as well as getting the inside as hot as possible, but it still didn't cause crashing.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 5:16:35 PM

Hmm, these sorts of problems are definitely much more common in top mount PSU cases.

If it is not one of those, how are you looking on fans? Does each slot have the largest type it can hold and are they oriented according to all the regular rules of thumb?
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April 15, 2012 10:05:22 PM

I have not added any additional fans to my case, but it already has 200 mm fan on the side and three 120 mm fans (two in the front, one in the back).
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 15, 2012 10:24:58 PM

Do you have anyone that you can borrow a PSU from?
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April 16, 2012 1:32:15 AM

Sadly, no. I think I'm just going to bring my PSU into a local hardware/repair place and see if they can test it.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 17, 2012 12:28:40 AM

You would have to bring your computer to the store and have them try a different PSU in it.

It would be very difficult for them to recreate a setup similar to yours for testing purposes if you just bring them your PSU only.

PSUs have various scales of working or not working. A PSU can work with a low power using video card and not work with a high power video card. There is a break point where a PSU can provide X amount of power at Y temperature and if you go even 1 watt above that figure you are likely to freeze up or restart or something.

Also, I should point out that a lot of these computer stores will charge more money just for testing than it would cost you to just buy a whole new PSU yourself.

It does sound like a PSU problem and if indeed it is one the cheapest thing to do would be to just replace it without having them test it.

However, it could be more expensive if you buy a new PSU, that doesn't fix it, and you still have to take it to the shop and they tell you to buy something else.

There are pros and cons to both options.
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April 18, 2012 9:07:04 PM

I just installed a new PSU of the same model. I guess it's just a matter of time now.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 19, 2012 1:02:15 AM

Let me know if the problem persists.

Also, I just skimmed back through some older posts in this topic.

Do I understand it right that you have 3x intake fans and 1x exhaust fan?

If so, you may be creating a positive pressure environment which could have negative effects on performance. It is recommended to have a negative pressure environment if possible (more out than in), or at the very least an equal pressure environment (same number and sizes of exhaust fans as intake fans), but preferably not positive pressure (more and larger intake fans in relation to exhaust).
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April 19, 2012 3:20:24 AM

It didn't work :( . As for the fans, yes, it looks like I have 3 going in and only one out. I'll reverse the ones in the front and back, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Perhaps the motherboard is at fault?
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 19, 2012 12:38:52 PM

It wouldn't help to reverse the ones on the front and back. The front ones are intakes because colder air is lower to the floor and the upper ones are exhausts because hot air rises and pools at the top of the case.

Assuming you have a Corsair 400r or 500r, there should be upwards of a dozen fan mount locations on there. You could probably take the front ones and move them to the top. That would change the pressure situation without going against the laws of physics.

It is possibly a motherboard issue, yes.

Try reinstalling Windows except this time don't update any drivers manually, only whatever is installed with windows updates.
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April 19, 2012 5:40:07 PM

What about the drivers for the motherboard? I can't access the internet until I install those from the disk. I suppose I could just install that one driver and let windows take care of the rest.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 19, 2012 7:47:52 PM

Are you sure Windows 7 doesn't have a built in driver capable of getting your board on the network?

I am pretty sure it does for most people.
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April 21, 2012 2:37:52 AM

I've re-installed Windows and let it install as many of the drivers I could. I tried to get it to install one for the network but couldn't. Not surprisingly, I have already gotten it to crash. I'm guessing the next step is to send back the power supply and order a new motherboard to test out.
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a c 78 B Homebuilt system
April 21, 2012 4:28:11 AM

Ok, so you reinstalled Windows and you tried to use the basic drivers that came with Windows and it both couldn't get on the network and it crashed?

That makes me think something is wrong with the core (RAM/Motherboard/Processor), but you stress tested those things for huge periods of time and came up clean.

If the Corsair PSU can handle stress testing both the CPU and Video Card at the same time it really doesn't seem like it would be that.

I think I would probably just start unplugging things that I don't absolutely need, like the data drive and the CD drive, and all except 1 stick of RAM.
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