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Long term PC builder stumped.

Last response: in Systems
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June 2, 2012 4:24:20 PM

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I've been an avid PC builder for about 15 years and a gamer longer than I can remember. I have a recent build that has me stumped pretty bad. Last December I put a friend of mine together an amazing piece of machinery, I'll post the specs below. The problem is, he complains about intermittent freezes. I've had it at my house 3 times and cannot replicate it. Another one of my IT friends has tried to fix it to no avail. I'm just at a loss. So here I am. I'm thinking at this point that it might have something to do with the RAM timings or voltage or possibly needing a beefier power supply.

Here are the specs:

Intel Core i7 2600k 3.40Ghz (LGA1155)
Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3
Coolmax ZP-1000B 80 Plus Bronze PSU
MSI Twin Frozr II/OC Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5
MSI Twin Frozr II/OC Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 (CrossfireX)
WD Caviar 500GB SATA 3GB 7200RPM 16MB
WD Caviar 500GB SATA 3GB 7200RPM 16MB
OCZ 30GB Nocti SATA II mSATA SSD
Thermaltake Armor A90 Chassis
Windows 7 Home Premium System Builders OEM

The memory I'm having trouble locating the invoice for, I'm going to guess and say it's 8GB of Corsair DDR3-1600. I'll contact my friend and see if he ordered it under his account or not.

The hard drives are configured in a striping array with the 30GB mSATA drive as a cache drive using Intel's storage technology drivers.

Nothing shows in the event logs or anything when it locks up so I'm assuming it's a hardware freeze somewhere. I've reloaded the OS several times due to him messing stuff up, always make sure that it has the most recent drivers on it, etc. The interesting part of this situation is that I've not been able to replicate the freezing under any environment. I kept it for 4 days after he first complained that it was freezing, used it the entire time like I normally would. I even ran burn in tests for 2 of those days and not a single hiccup. I'll reply later when he's awake to find out what RAM is in it since I know it's hard to troubleshoot something when you don't know the full specs of the components. Any advice in the mean time would be appreciated.
June 2, 2012 4:31:59 PM

I forgot to mention that temperature is not an issue. The computer has ample fans and under load it blows cool air out of the case.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 2, 2012 5:35:09 PM

If you suspect the RAM I would run Memtest over night, but memeroy normaly gives a blue screen not freezing... try swapping your PSU with his and give it back to him and see if he still has a problem or now you do.
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June 2, 2012 5:43:13 PM

+1 for Memtest.

Also try running Prime95 and Furmark together overnight, too.

The PSU raises a question in my mind...I've not heard of Coolmax. With 2 GPUs, it could be that the PSU isn't supplying enough power when gaming, causing the issues. As in, it says it can do 1kW, but it's not managing to reach that. It could be incapable of sustained output at the level needed, and then be causing issues for you.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 2, 2012 6:05:31 PM

start with check the mb bios..the x68 and 7zz have had updates for cpu and memory. i would also check the firmware of the ssd and hard drives. i would also have your friend check the outlet that the pc is plugged into it may be the issue or his house has bad power. with the ram run cpu-z and look or print out the spd tab then go into the bios and see what the mb set the ram speep up at. it may be that the ram timming is off.
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June 2, 2012 6:24:50 PM

@anonymous1: I'll run memtest on it and see what happens next time he brings it over.

@Diellur: I've definately considered the PSU an option to fix. Unfortunately, I don't have a PSU with the wattage required to run 2 6950's so I would have to buy one and hope it fixed it. That's the last option on my list right now. ;)  I used Prime95 on it for about a day and a half with no result. I'm almost tempted to get a sleeping bag and go to his house and camp out for 2 days until I can see it freeze just to know it's not something he's doing himself.

@smorizio I'll flash his BIOS next time he brings it by. I considered that the outlet at his house was probably the issue until he brought it to another friend's house that has newer wiring and it froze there as well. The RAM timing is something I know can cause hard lock ups, one of my friends had a similar problem with his machine and bumping the voltage by .1v fixed it. Something else I'll have to do when he's here.

Appreciate the responses and advice guys! Keep it coming!
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June 2, 2012 7:03:10 PM

To me, the biggest mystery here is why it doesn't happen to you. I understand the freezes are random but I wonder if a typical interval pattern can be established. If possible have your friend use the computer at your place for longer than the typical freeze interval. If the machine doesn't freeze for him at your place I would suspect the AC at his place. A quality PSU can "eat" many AC problems without passing them on to the machine. You'd probably be surprised at what can come out of the wall from your local AC provider.
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June 2, 2012 7:14:17 PM

See, his outlet at his house was basically my original diagnosis. I think he's pulling too much amperage out of the outlet. He runs 2 32" monitors at home. When he takes it places, he only uses 1. However, when he was at my other friend's house with 1 monitor, it still froze several times over a week's period with newer wiring. The freezing interval is from what he says, completely random at best. At home, sometimes it'll go 2-3 days without freezing. Sometimes it'll do it every 30 minutes for 2-3 hours and then be okay for a few days. His house was built in the 70's and is a pretty rural area. The power coming to his house is probably not the cleanest compared to mine, since I'm in a very urban area in comparison. I just feel bad because it's the second build I've done for him, his first one worked perfect in comparison with this one. I've always built very stable machines and this one is just bewildering me beyond belief. I guess you could say I have a bit of OCD when it comes to stability, especially when it's someone else's rig I've been working on. So hard to troubleshoot a problem that you can't see for yourself.
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