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[RESOLVED] Seemingly unresolvable hard lock-up.

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May 2, 2012 5:03:12 AM

Hello forum,

So, this is the first problem I've ever had with a PC that over two weeks of troubleshooting didn't fix. As such, this is going to be a bit of a read, but I would appreciate any help with resolving this immensely.

Anyway, I built a new PC for gaming about two weeks ago, and although everything outside of gaming seems fine, online games bring on hard lock-ups that occur anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour into the game. Battlefield 3, specifically, freezes the image and becomes unresponsive, with the freeze being accompanied by a short, loud "scratch" or static sound (the sound is difficult to describe, but it basically seems like a scratched piece of whatever sounds were playing at the time of the freeze). At the same time, Mumble (which is usually displayed on my other monitor) loses its connection to the server momentarily, then informs me that it has reconnected, but it's still in a crashed and unusable state, with the interface and text being messed up. Basically, after the lock-up in BF3, even if I can open another program, it immediately crashes.

This has also happened in Mass Effect 3 co-op, with the exception that the frozen image only stays for a few seconds, then the game crashes with a "Mass Effect 3 has stopped working" error window. The freeze is accompanied by the same sound effect, however, and all programs both already running and opened after the freeze crash. The only thing to do with both of these crashes is to restart my PC with the power button.

PC specs:

Case: Corsair Carbide 500R
Mobo: Asus M5A97 AM3+
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 980 (3.7 Ghz)
Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII S524
GPU: Sapphire HD 7850 O.C.
RAM: 8GB (2x4GB) G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1600
PSU: Corsair CX600
HDD: Hitachi 1TB

I have run MemTest86 for 2 passes without error.
I have tried disabling the onboard Realtek HD audio azalia device, both from device manager and in the BIOS.
I have tried multiple versions of the display drivers for my GPU.
I have tried multiple proposed solutions that had to do with PunkBuster, even though that didn't really make sense, since Mass Effect 3 doesn't use PunkBuster.
All other drivers are up to date.
I'm using a Razer Megalodon headset, and since it has a sound card, I updated the firmware on it.

One thing I have actually been unable to try is updating my BIOS. For some reason, I cannot use any of the ASUS utilities that are supposed to be available with my motherboard. I tried downloading the ASUS A.I. Suite, which includes ASUS Update (to update the BIOS), but none of the utilities will install. I attempt it, then two security check windows pop up along with a blank cmd window. After responding yes to both, it all just goes away and nothing happens. Through the disc and an external website, I was able to install ASUS Update specifically, but when I try to open it, it tells me that I don't have an ASUS motherboard and am therefore unable to use the program.

I suppose it should also be noted that I am connected via ethernet port on my motherboard, which is a Realtek LAN controller. I would try disabling this in the BIOS, but then I obviously couldn't reproduce the situation (online gaming).

I cannot even express how much I would appreciate help with this problem. I built this PC specifically for online gaming with what little money I could get together, and ironically enough, online gaming is the one thing it won't do properly.

UPDATE: I should also point out that I think this problem may also be occurring in Skyrim, which is obviously not an online game. It's a lot more similar to the Mass Effect 3 crash, though, in that it crashes to the desktop and makes all open programs - and programs opened afterwards- crash. It is different, however, in that the sound upon crashing is a short burst of pure static, as opposed to the scratchy amalgamation of the currently playing sounds that occurs in BF3, as well as ME3 (to a lesser extent). The differences in the sounds might be irrelevant, but I thought I would specify. Given that Skyrim runs in Steam, though, I don't know if it qualifies as 100% offline, so I don't know if it changes anything.

SOLUTION: So, going through the process of updating the BIOS with EZ Flash, I set the optimized defaults and did a CPR. After doing that and before actually going through with the BIOS update, I figured I would just try it for the hell of it. Apparently, that solved it. It blows my mind, though, because the only non-default settings I had were disabled on-board audio and a couple of other irrelevant things. I think it might have been the CPR that did it, although I have no idea how. Either way, all is well now. Thanks for the help guys.
May 2, 2012 5:28:52 AM

You should be able to get a BIOS update directly from ASUS's website and apply it from within the BIOS. I'd try running Prime 95 and seeing if you have a temperature problem. That seems to be the culprit right now.
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May 2, 2012 5:57:14 AM

aicom said:
You should be able to get a BIOS update directly from ASUS's website and apply it from within the BIOS. I'd try running Prime 95 and seeing if you have a temperature problem. That seems to be the culprit right now.


I did download a .ROM file of the latest BIOS version from ASUS's website, but I need to use ASUS Update to implement it. I imagine that there are other ways (as you are obviously saying), but I don't actually know any of them. I'm just trying to be really cautious, since I don't want to screw up my motherboard.

As far as temperatures go, I have been monitoring them while in games, and I did run Prime 95 for a while; Temps on my CPU never seem to go above 44C or so. GPU peaks around the same temperature, by the way.

EDIT: Ah, if it's relevant, I'm getting these temps from SpeedFan. I'm not sure if that is the best monitoring program to be using, so if there is something more accurate or convenient, I'd love to know.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 2, 2012 6:45:36 AM

most bios updates when there more then one. (5) on asus web page you have to do them in order. the flash programs are not smart at most times they look for the last bios file. (most time it in the read me file). i would get hardware monitor from cpu-z and watch the voltage of your power supply to see if it stable. the only other issue i could see is that the onboard network chipset is overheating and failing.
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May 2, 2012 7:35:54 AM

smorizio said:
most bios updates when there more then one. (5) on asus web page you have to do them in order. the flash programs are not smart at most times they look for the last bios file. (most time it in the read me file). i would get hardware monitor from cpu-z and watch the voltage of your power supply to see if it stable. the only other issue i could see is that the onboard network chipset is overheating and failing.


Well, the thing is that the utility to install the bios updates is what doesn't work for me. As I said, I need another way to update the BIOS if that's what needs to be done.

I did also think about the network chip, and possibly just putting a pcie network adapter in there, but I would really like to try other things before that so as not to spend money unnecessarily. I should also point out that I think this problem may also be occurring in Skyrim, which is obviously not an online game. It's a lot more similar to the Mass Effect 3 crash, though, in that it crashes to the desktop and makes all open programs - and programs opened afterwards- crash. It is different, however, in that the sound upon crashing is a short burst of pure static, as opposed to the scratchy amalgamation of the currently playing sounds that occurs in BF3, as well as ME3 (to a lesser extent). The differences in the sounds might be irrelevant, but I thought I would specify. Given that Skyrim runs in Steam, though, I don't know if it qualifies as 100% offline, so I don't know if it changes anything.

I'll add the point about Skyrim to the OP, since it might be relevant.
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
May 2, 2012 2:42:10 PM

most mother now have a bios dos flash update.you just tab over or hit a f key at post to go int oa dos menu.all you need is a flash drive conected to a usb port and have the flash files unzipped. if we want to rule out a lot of hardware the first thing would to look at your ram and see if it under the mb qual list. new motherboards are very picky now with ram. asus mb the new 7zz have a very shot list from a lot of vendor...myself thought i was getting the right gskill ram from new egg..nope got the red memory led of death. also check the memory setting and voltage. you cpu-z to read the jdec and see what the memory in the bios is using. most time for the 1600/1300 correct speed you have to use the xmp profile. if we want to see if it the sound card chipset failing or over heating go into the bios and turn your sound off and go back and play the games. if it locks up it not the sound card. for the video cards as it an over clocked unit the card ram or the gpu when it stessed may go into a locked state...i would try ccc or a amd program like msi afterburner and put the card down to stock speeds. if the games start running fine under clocked then you know the video card has some type of gpu or power issue.
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May 2, 2012 9:46:19 PM

smorizio said:
most mother now have a bios dos flash update.you just tab over or hit a f key at post to go int oa dos menu.all you need is a flash drive conected to a usb port and have the flash files unzipped. if we want to rule out a lot of hardware the first thing would to look at your ram and see if it under the mb qual list. new motherboards are very picky now with ram. asus mb the new 7zz have a very shot list from a lot of vendor...myself thought i was getting the right gskill ram from new egg..nope got the red memory led of death. also check the memory setting and voltage. you cpu-z to read the jdec and see what the memory in the bios is using. most time for the 1600/1300 correct speed you have to use the xmp profile. if we want to see if it the sound card chipset failing or over heating go into the bios and turn your sound off and go back and play the games. if it locks up it not the sound card. for the video cards as it an over clocked unit the card ram or the gpu when it stessed may go into a locked state...i would try ccc or a amd program like msi afterburner and put the card down to stock speeds. if the games start running fine under clocked then you know the video card has some type of gpu or power issue.


All right, so that means just having the .ROM file on the flash drive (past that I know where to go in the BIOS)?

The RAM I am using is on the QVL for my motherboard, so that isn't the problem. I've also already run Memtest86 with no errors. For using the xmp profile, I'm not sure how to do that.

I have tried running the games with the onboard audio off and the same lockups still occur.

The GPU is factory overclocked, yes, but I have tried setting it to stock clocks and even underclocking, yet the lockups still occur.

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May 8, 2012 11:59:16 PM

Best answer selected by TechnoLlama.
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