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Weird Screen Freeze and Video Signal Issue

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January 27, 2013 8:46:18 AM

Hello guys. I've got a computer problem here and I hope someone has the knowledge and the patience to help me out.

Here is my system information exported from the programs Speccy and SpeedFan:




Here is the short version of what my problem is:

I get a screen freeze while playing games (black/red screen) or just web browsing (light blue screen like my background). The reset button on PC responds slowly or not at all and even startup show symptoms (I get no video for post screen sometimes). So far it’s been working for the last 30 minutes that I’ve been web browsing and typing this but eventually it will freeze.

Now in long form, and with key facts underlined, here are the major developments since it began last night:

- I’m playing a game (Planetside 2) and suddenly the screen freezes up. I still hear sound effects and the computer looks like it’s running normally (fans, lights, etc.) but my monitor is showing a black screen with red lines going down the screen (like vertical scanlines). I’ve never seen such a thing. My first response is to Alt+Tab+Delete out of this but the screen stays the same. The next thing I do is hit the Reset button my my computer case. To my SHOCK, there is no immediate response when I press it. I press it again and after staring at the screen in confusion the reset command seems to register a few seconds later. However, my PC doesn’t perform an ordinary restart. It looks as if it powers down first before starting back up again and the I hear the sound of a computer fan(s) going real fast and super loud during startup...another unusual thing.

- Early this morning I’m playing another game (Team Fortress 2) and 3 minutes into it I get the same visual problem. This time the PC is taking too long to respond to the reset button pressing so I just hold the power button ‘till it goes off, flip the power supply switch in the back off and on, and turn the PC back on. To my surprise, I get NO video signal now. Not even the post/bios screen. I repeat the power off steps I just mentioned and this time I wait for anything. After a minute I HEAR the windows login jingle. So I guess my PC is running fine now except for the video issue.

- After another restart the computer and windows start up normally, YAY!!! Then while web browsing I’m hit with another screen freeze (I don’t remember the color of this one).

- So far my attempts at fixing the problem have been: (1) disconnecting and video card, sound card, and RAM sticks from my motherboard and reattaching them tightly to ensure that they are not loose if they were before; (2) switching the video card connection from one DVI output to the second; (3) uninstalling the latest ATI Radeon drivers and installing the disc drivers; and (4) reinstalling the latest ATI Radeon drivers because I’m getting desperate. I still have the problem.

- Earlier I woke the computer up from Sleep Mode and found the Aero theme disabled (you know, it goes to ugly mode when video issues occur). 2 minutes later I get this screen:



- I’d like to think this is a software problem (graphics drivers) but having no video signal during post and loud fan noise before windows starts makes me think it’s a hardware issue I’ve got. My greatest concern is not being able to figure out which hardware needs to be replaced. I’m ready to upgrade my graphics card to a Geforce 660 Ti and ditch ATI for good if it’s a graphics card issue. Just say the word guys and I’ll buy it now.

- After getting that blue screen I restarted and so far the computer has been fine for the last 4 hours. I didn’t do anything to get rid of it, so maybe it’s going to bug me tomorrow.
January 27, 2013 10:43:43 AM

First things first: check the temps. Mainly the GPU. That should be able to determine the cause more accurately.
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January 27, 2013 5:32:13 PM

I immediately checked the GPU temperature after exiting a demanding game and found it at 80 degrees and cooling down to 70. It's important to know that I did have the case open for the last few hours so that was definitely a factor, but It definitely goes up during gaming. However, according to my video card manufacturer, XFX, "The normal temperature range of a video card is up to 95C under load. We expect that in most cases a card will not break the high 80s but large cards under high load can get as hot as 95C. This temperature will not damage your video card and is considered normal."

Well, it's a new day and I'll be playing heavily to see if it happens again. Maybe I can get a more telling screenshot than that light blue screen I posted.

Update: Today I get this screen after 3 minutes playing:

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January 28, 2013 6:03:22 AM

Even though XFX says that it is fine up to 95C, it is DEFINITELY not recommended. Try lowering the clocks a bit and check the power connections are secure. Run Furmark for as long as you can. It might crash, but that tells us that it is a GPU problem. The other thing you might want to check is the screen. Are the connections all in tightly? Perhaps try another screen.
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January 28, 2013 11:43:17 AM

Thanks for the reply. You're the only one who's provided help on this issue so far.

I installed and ran FurMark for 30 minutes under 1920x1200. The GPU went up to 90 degrees most of the time and stayed around there. It didn't crash so I just stopped the test after 30 minutes. If you'd like I could run 3DMark when I get back in a few hours but I don't know how much that would help.

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Best solution

January 28, 2013 5:40:54 PM

OK. the good news is that your GPU is fine. Now try Prime95 to stresstest your CPU and RAM. Im just trying to find the cause. If your issue was GPU related, Furmark would have crashed your PC. Therefore if prime95 crashes your PC, then it is a CPU or RAM problem. If prime95 doesnt crash the PC, then it would be a software problem...
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January 28, 2013 8:16:10 PM

I'm going to run Prime95 overnight (starting in a few hours). I understand this could take a ridiculous amount of time. I'm only going to give it a max of four hours unless you recommend way more. Also, I read about "IntelBurnTest" as a good alternative. I'll post tomorrow morning with results and I'll check back at this forum before I start Prim95 testing in case you want me to stop or do something else.
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January 29, 2013 9:00:59 AM

Sounds like a good plan ;)  IntelBurn is also very good and accurate... the results of these tests will be the defining factor in determining the cause.
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January 29, 2013 11:17:40 AM

Alright, I got up this morning and stopped the Prime95 test after 10 hours of stress testing and not one error was found. I did notice 1-2 CPU cores were displaying results a few seconds later than the others though but I guess that’s not an issue. Here’s the result:



Now, what is interesting is that after this I ran 3DMark and launched a full test in 1920x1200 under Performance settings and near the end of the 2nd graphics test my computer CRASHED and restarted without a video signal.

I’m hoping these details are enough for something to figure out what’s going on with my PC. Clearly the computer passed the stress test with flying colors but it crumbles 3 minutes into 3DMark.

P.S. : I did not use the Intel test yet. If you need more testing results just let me know and I'll try that.

Oh and thank you VERY much for your help so far.
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January 29, 2013 12:47:14 PM

What i want to say is that it is actually a driver issue, but you stated in the beginning that you tried reinstalling them. I still think it is still a software problem, but that is only a rough estimate. Did you record the max temps of your CPU while running Prime95? Reseating your CPU cooler with fresh thermal paste would drop the temps a bit if they are a tad high. Other than that, reinstalling windows would be your best bet... The issue might be registry orientated or a corrupt file which would take an age to find...
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January 29, 2013 3:52:37 PM

Thanks for the help man. I checked SpeedFan after the Prime95 and while I don't remember the temps I do recall that they were pretty much just like the picture above at 48-53 or so.

My external hard drive will arrive tomorrow so I'll be ready to backup my stuff and reformat (it probably needed this a long time ago anyway). I will post next week if I get the freezes or not. Hopefully this thread wont be closed.

Just a thought. I have been having Creative X-Fi sound driver issues for the last month. I don't know if it's related or not, I'm just throwing that out there. But I have a question, when I start fresh again should I install all of the latest drivers from the web or play it safe with the disc drivers?

Thank you for all your help. My wallet thanks you too.
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January 29, 2013 6:34:40 PM

The latest drivers are always recommended. They are usually the most stable.... I wish you luck ;) 
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January 29, 2013 7:37:59 PM

Best answer selected by thebigbadgrim.
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March 29, 2013 6:43:42 PM

Hi guys,

I have this same problem... my screen sometimes looks like that with the pc frozen but Skype still working... and then there are other times when the pc manages to refresh and I am back in game but my mouse cursor is a weird shape but everything else looks ok... what's strange is that I've replaced every single but of hardware since I had this issue a piece at a time... I was using and old AMD x2 and now piece by piece I've changed it to:

Intel i5-3470
Gigabyte H77M-d3H
8G G.Skill DDR3 RAM
Radeon HD 6770
120 SSD
Thermaltake 500w power supply

I've even done a fresh install to windows 8 on the SSD...

Its strange... I've got the same issue on the old and new setup... I did the video card and power supply first ... then the SSD and windows 8.... then I thought it was my mob n cpu...

So im totally stumped... With every upgrade the freezes appear a little different... but now it looks identical to thebigbadgrim's photo...

I've even tried swapping frm HDMI to DVI ...

Does anyone have an suggestions as to how I can diagnose this?.... I'm not as tech savvy as most here but any help is much appreciated...

Cheers!
Mark
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