Hey all, I hope someone here can help with this, because I'm at my wits end. Some of this stuff will be pasted from a thread I have going on Overclockers.co.uk.
The basics: The system will freeze for approximately 2 seconds, 3 times in quick succession, then everything will return to normal. It only lasts maybe 10 seconds in total, and it never causes a crash. But it always locks 3 times in a row quickly. It will happen maybe once every 15-30 minutes and will always happen while playing games or watching movies in VLC or other players. Issue has persisted through PSU upgrade.
Steps I've tried so far:
Monitoring the temperature and system load during the locks (no change or spikes, temperatures are reasonable)
Full clean Windows reinstall (multiple times)
BIOS upgrade/downgrade with and without overclock settings
Swapped GFX card to difference PCI-E ports
Hard drives set to never shut down in Windows settings
Disabling 2nd monitor
Changing SATA ports of all attached drives & disabling GSATA in BIOS (recommended in a similar issue posted elsewhere)
Enabled extreme memory profile in BIOS (as above)
Memtest & GPU memory test clean
Clean startup via msconfig.exe
Moving all devices out of USB3 ports
Downgrading GFX driver, installing with/without CCC
Detatching everything except keyboard, mouse and main HD.
Full surface scan of HD.
I tested with a spare GFX card (GTX550Ti) and the card was extremely unstable with crashing drivers and artifacts on 3D or video (even after a clean Windows install), but the card itself may have been faulty.
Full clean Windows reinstall kind of rules out virus, but I would still check with a stand-alone download of Norten or MS SEcurity essentials.
Some network and disk error recovery procedures look like this stutter. Check smart data on the disk (download diag program from disk manufacturer to get best SMART data). Do you have another disk you can try (trial of Acronis true image will clone your current drive) ? Can you drop the network by disablign adapter in Device Manager and see if it still stutters ?
Thanks a lot for your reply. I just tried disabling the network card and ruled that out. However I did find something interesting on the Disk graph for resource monitor which I never noticed before. On the most recent stutter there were 3 spikes on the "Highest Active Time" meter (blue line). I/O didn't budge.
The problem is tested and confirmed to be the hard drive. Still don't know what's causing it exactly, the surface scan, SMART and all other tests came up clean. There are other reports of similar problems with this drive model.
I disabled it last night and installed Windows on an old 5400 120gb SATA drive, and despite the fact it's slower for general use, zero stutters. Touch wood, the problem is solved.
I gone online and treated myself to a shiny SSD, a replacement 1tb storage drive, and a couple of stutter free hours of Diablo 3. The old drive doesn't seem to have any data corruption issues so I'll pick up a USB caddy and use it for non-essentials.
Thanks for the help and suggestions, and great catch on the hard drive symptoms!