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Games, iTunes, and web browsing freeze my computer, any ideas?

I have been having this problem infrequently ever since I got my build about two years ago. I had a factory PC (Hewlett Packard of some kind) and then I got all new components and copied info on my old hard disk to this new system and fresh installed Windows 7:

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 (645)
Mainboard: MSI 870-G45
RAM: 4x2 GB DDR3
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 6900
HDD: Seagate 2 TB
PSU: Rocketfish 450W

The exact problem is this: during certain programs (I’ll be more specific further on) my computer freezes, loops the last millisecond of sound (if there was sound playing) and requires a hard reboot. I’ve seen this problem posted before but when I followed the advice given to those posters it did not solve my problem. What’s causing the freezing may be different than others with a similar problem because it is very specific:

When it does freeze:
-during games, after random amounts of time (seems truly random, from 10 minutes in to hours)
-When iTunes is open (even if nothing is playing) and my perception is that this happens a little sooner than during games but still at random intervals
-If I leave the web browser open for long enough (I had to turn off the auto-sleep option to figure this one out, it takes hours before it freezes) on any site (streaming video or just ebay left on idle)

When it does NOT freeze (even after 24 hours or so):
-If I leave the computer on idle at the desktop
-Photoshop CS4 left on idle
-Microsoft Word left on idle
-During stress testing of the memory, PSU voltage, GPU and CPU temperatures (used OCCT, Prime 95, and Memtest to figure this out)

What I have tried so far:
1 – At first I assumed it was a faulty graphics card, because my first graphics card was a returned GeForce 240 and there were occasionally artifacts and other graphics-related problems. I got the Radeon listed in my build above once I could spare some cash for it (about six months ago) and that solved the artifacts and other graphics-related issues, but the freezing persists. That’s when I started testing everything I could think of.
2 – Once I tested enough programs it seemed like a sound-related issue. I had a sound card (something cheap and standard by SoundBlaster) so I uninstalled the drivers, took it out of the system, and used the sound from the graphics card instead. This didn’t solve the problem.
3 – Following the assumption this was sound-related, I found a similar problem someone posted in a forum like this one, and they said they solved it by disabling the onboard sound for their Motherboard in BIOS. I did this in my BIOS, but I’m still freezing
4 – I thought it might be temperatures getting too high, but according to CPUID Hardware Monitor they are well below dangerous temps even after a couple of hours of gaming. OCCT tested CPU and GPU temps and no freeze. After about 4 hours of the OCCT GPU stress test the GPU reached 85 degrees and stopped testing but I understand that the stress test is way harder on the GPU than gaming, plus I never play any games for 4 hours. I did re-apply thermal paste to the CPU heatsink just in case. The factory stuff was pretty bad for my CPU (I’m told) so I got Arctic Silver 5 and applied that a couple of weeks ago, following the directions very carefully. No change.
5 – I have updated drivers for pretty much everything. Problem occurred prior to updates and continues to occur after.

What I haven’t tried yet:
1 – I know that my PSU isn’t very good and that Rocketfish went out of business, etc. etc. This is a component I should replace eventually, but could it be the cause of these particular symptoms? The other day I opened iTunes and the first song I played froze my computer after about 10 seconds. Could iTunes really be taxing the power supply very much? Don’t PSU failures usually cause an instant reboot rather than freezing?
2 – Motherboard diagnostic… I don’t know much about BIOS or motherboard troubleshooting. Someone with a similar problem was instructed to get a new motherboard and she did but her problem persisted with the new one.
3 – You tell me :) ! I’m not an expert on hardware and even worse in software so I really have no idea what to do (or even the appropriate place to post this, sorry). This is a problem I can live with but after so long and so many attempts enough is enough. Please help if you can!
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Well first off, let me say that you'll most likely want to get a new PSU. I'm concerned that your PSU may have some troubles powering your entire system, especially with a 6900 series GPU.

    Secondly, does the screen just freeze? Or does it go black/other random color then loop the last millisecond of sound? My brother and I had an issue where his system wasn't getting enough power after installing a new GPU, so it would randomly freeze/crash during gaming, web surfing, listening to music, etc. Increasing the CPU voltage (I know this is a bit of a different matter) and getting a new PSU eventually solved his problems.

    Hopefully there was some relevant information that you could make use of :lol:
  2. Thanks for the response. I actually did replace the PSU just yesterday with COrsair GS700w. Problem persists, though my overall performance is better now (hard to enjoy it with such instability :(

    The screen freezes in place and the sound loops last millisecond. Somtimes sound is a feedback screeching instead. When I have headphones on it gives me a heart attack.
  3. Best answer selected by Ludo_Down.
  4. Solved: this was a RAM issue causing the lockups and requiring hard reboot. Physically uninstalled the RAM sticks and then replaced them one by one, testing each one as I went. mocchan you were right about my PSU anyway, even if it wasn't causing this issue it was still not sufficient for my setup. Thanks for the help. :bounce:
  5. Glad to be of help :) and I'm glad you found a solution to your problems as well!
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