EDIT: I believe this may be an overheating issue, I would still like some advice regarding this.
I am new so I am sorry if this is the wrong sub-forum.
I am having frequent total system crashes and I don't know why, I am hoping you can help me with some information.
My GPU is modest and suitable enough for my gaming needs, I think, an nVidia GTX 460SE. I was informed that for my CPU, an Intel Core 2 Duo (2.66 Ghz), getting a GPU that was any more powerful than the 460SE would be pointless, so I assumed they were a decent pairing. I also have 3.1 G of RAM.
However, many of my games, even played with minimum specs, cause total system crashes, requiring restart. The most demanding game I have is Batman Arkham City, but even it's reccommended requirements fall within my Hardware's limits. The minimum specs on the box are: Nvidia 8800 GT, Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz and 2GB RAM. Wikipedia says the reccomended RAM required is 4GB, which is what I have installed physically, but apparently only 3.1 is used. Can RAM cause system crashes?
Even if my specs do not match, I would assume a laggy game or maybe CTD would occur, not a system crash, so I am suspecting something more elusive is happening.
A local PC repairer said that perhaps inadequate power levels could be responsible, but I have no idea how to address this. If this sounds like a valid thing to investigate, I would appreciate any links or advice on what to do. He also mentioned drivers but my drivers always appear current.
I would also like any other hints on what can cause system crashes. I don't think overheating is a problem as I have my PC in a cold room, a well ventilated case and I have ensured that there is putty covering the space between the CPU and heat-sink. What about overheating HDD's? Can that cause crashes?
I would appreciate any advice you offer!
More about :games causing inexplicable system crashes
This power calculator will help you determine if the wattage is enough. You'll have to open the side panel and read the sticker to find what you have... it's the only way. Also check the brand... no-name or low-quality PSU's can cause problems even though they're "rated" high enough. http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp
Something else that caught my attention... 3.1GB of RAM is kind of an odd combination for your setup. How many sticks and of what size/speed are they? For a lot of setups to be stable in gaming, they usually come in pairs of the same size and speed. The pairs make 1, 2, 4, or 8GB typically (in older machines). You may have something like a pair of 512MB mixed with a pair of 1GB modules, which may or may not be the same speed. Still, it would read slightly under 3GB.
The RAM could be a problem... it's normal for it to read low from base-10/base-2 rounding, but not THAT low.
Try running this memory test program a few times to see if it flags anything, if you're up to it. There are others out there, but this is what a quick Google search yielded. Standard around here is to run it 3 times. http://www.memtest.org/#downiso
Edit: It looks like your power supply is around twice as much as what you need, so less likely to be a supply issue. If it's a Chinese fire box, or you have bad luck, there's still a chance it could be causing problems under load.
Yes, the .iso is a disk image file. Windows 7 can then burn to a physical disk, and when you restart the computer, the memory test will run instead of Windows. I'm not familiar with that particular tester, so that's as descriptive as I can be.
There's also a link for an installer that will put the program straight on to a thumb drive if you have one.
...or if you really want to use the floppy.
Personally, I use Hiren's boot disk and run the memtest straight in Windows. Same deal with the .iso and burning to disk, unless you use a program like Daemon tools or Alcohol120 for virtual disks, but that's a separate issue. http://www.hirensbootcd.org/download/
Edit: DDR2-800 (PC2 6400) should be a safe bet for your generation of board/processor. A sure fire way to tell is to get the model number from your motherboard to check the manual (or just check the manual, if its available). It'll have a list of compatible RAM and configurations, speeds, etc. You could also pop out a stick of the old stuff and check what type it is... should be somewhere between DDR2 500 to 1066. If you can't get the memory test running, you can check the RAM the old fashioned way by running 1 stick at a time and seeing if one misbehaves more than the other. Just remember to completely power down the machine, unplug it from the wall, wait a few seconds, ground yourself to the chassis, etc.
You may have put too much on. Too much thermal paste will act as an insulator and cause more harm than good. I found this manual on Arctic Silver's site that may help. http://www.arcticsilver.com/pdf/appmeth/int/vl/intel_ap...
If you're using the stock Intel cooler, you also need to clean off the old thermal paste/tape before seating the heat-sink back onto the processor/board. Make sure the heat-sink is firmly locked in place and the fan gets plugged back in.