And here’s the primary things I use this system for (besides the basic “Word and E-mail”):
- Watching DVDs and streaming videos
- Video editing
- Some gaming and game programming
- 3D modeling and rendering / animation
- MIDI-based music composition
So since I built this system in late 2009, everything was going fine until two weeks ago, when I started getting random lockups and BSODs, usually when display was in full-screen mode. Stop error I usually got was 0xn00000EA — “THREAD_STUCK_IN_DEVICE_DRIVER”.
I opened up my system and sure enough, the video card’s fan had failed, and the card’s 2-year warranty had expired. I have been contemplating some upgrades anyway, so this seemed like the moment to do it. Besides getting a better video card, I also upgraded the RAM, and knowing that 32-bit versions of Windows can’t use above 3 GB RAM, I also decided to upgrade to Windows 7, 64-bit.
This however, also meant upgrading the sound card, since there are no reliable Win 7 drivers for SB Live, but I need MIDI and SoundFont support, so after confirming official Win 7 drivers for it exist, I got the Audigy SE. And to finish things off, I also get a video capture board, so I can finally archive my irreplaceable VHS tapes.
Here’s the system now, with all the upgrades (below the line of ******):
Motherboard: Asus M3A78, Chipset AMD 770 / SB700
CPU: AMD Athlon X2 64 (3.1 GHz, Dual-Core)
RAM: 8 GB DDR2 PC2-6400, Dual-channel
HDD: 2 x Seagate Barracuda SATA (2 TB total)
Video Card (PCIe x16): Diamond Radeon HD 6670, 2 GB GDDR3
Sound Card (PCI): SoundBlaster Audigy SE
Video Capture (PCI): Pinnacle Studio MovieBoard HD
OS: Dual boot — Windows XP Pro, 32-bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
I needed the ability to dual-boot because, as it turns out the Win 7 driver for the Audigy is very “minimalist” and leaves out the advanced features I need. I also have an aging scanner for which there are no Vista/7 drivers. So I also installed a second 1 TB drive, so that I have one each for each OS, and each OS uses the other, non-system drive to store its swap file.
Perhaps I should also note, in case it turns out to be relevant, that the new video card is a PCIe 2.1 card in a PCIe 2.0 slot (The guy in the store said it wouldn’t matter, which I know proves beyond a shadow of doubt that it doesn’t! — End sentence spoken in irony.)
Now the system seems to work okay, at least under Windows 7. But when I’m back in XP I occasionally (not as frequently) still get hit with the old problem of hangs and Stop error 0xn00000EA — “THREAD_STUCK_IN_DEVICE_DRIVER”. Only now the system will sometimes spontaneously reboot without producing an error message, and no indication of an error shows up in Event Viewer. These crashes still happen mostly when in a full screen 3D or video display, but sometimes when it opens a video-intensive display, like a web page with extensive flash video, the whole system freezes (including the mouse pointer) for a several nail-biting seconds before either resuming normally, or sometimes crashing with BSOD. As I said, these symptoms only occur under Windows XP. There seem to be (so far) no issues under Windows 7. But I still need Windows XP for some of the Win7-incompatible features, as I said, and I don’t want to have to unnecessarily keep hopping from one OS to another, so I would like to resolve the XP issues.
Besides what I just described above, I am also observing the following symptoms:
- At POST, the memory check stalls for a second or two at 3328 MB before continuing to the correct value 8192 MB.
- Periodically, I hear the system make an odd sound similar to the sound a HDD drive makes when its heads are parking themselves, except it doesn’t seem to be connected to the drives spinning up or down.
In order to address some of these issues I’ve verified that the mobo and video card drivers are up-to-date and flashed the BIOS. But to no avail. Anyone have any ideas where I should go from here? Would some of these problems be rectified if I installed the 64-bit version of XP? Could the motherboard be at fault? (It BTW took three tries before I got the BIOS to flash successfully without crashing. )