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My new system crashes periodically

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January 28, 2013 3:00:20 PM

Hi All. Last week I got the parts together and built my new machine. Thanks to the folks who helped me pick the parts in my other thread. After the build, the machine booted right up. I checked that all the fans were running and then installed Windows 8.

The problem that I'm seeing is that every once in awhile the machine will crash: the screen will go a solid color or stripes. This has happened a few times. Several times while I was opening a new tab or switching to a different tab in Firefox and once while I was copying several different streams from a USB hard drive to my HDD.

I have installed Whocrashed and a program to look at voltages and temperatures for the various parts. No crash logs are being generated. I do not know how to verify that the electrical stuff is correct, but the temperatures seem OK to me. Everything under 50 C. The system plays Skyrim fine at very high settings and has not crashed while playing the game, only while doing "normal" computer activity. I have updated my GPU drivers and the drivers that ASRock suggested for the motherboard.

There was one problem putting the machine together, which is that the case's USB 3.0 header was not a tight fit in the motherboard, so after the system crashed a few times, I took that out in case it was a problem. I have no USB 3.0 devices so I don't care about this very much.

Any ideas for what I should check? I have tried reseating all the cables and so on, and I will do that again tonight.

Here are the parts:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Best Buy)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($91.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: G.Skill Phoenix III 240GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($184.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($309.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Titanium Grey) ATX Mid Tower Case ($104.66 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($74.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1296.54
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-28 11:53 EST-0500)

January 28, 2013 4:16:40 PM

check your load temperatures...to check the cpu load temp use prime 95 for stress testing and coretemp for temperature...for graphics use furmark and it has a temperature graph included...i would also check your ram for bad sectors as sometimes you can get defective ram or you have shocked one of your ram sticks while installing them...for ram use memtest 86...download iso and burn it on a cd..boot from it and run the test
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January 28, 2013 4:38:54 PM

What error is your event log throwing?
Go to computer management > Event Viewer > Check logs under system and application.
Is it just throwing an error that says something like The previous system shutdown at "time" on ‎"date" was unexpected? Or is it giving a specific reason?
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January 28, 2013 5:04:22 PM

I have checked the Event Logs and there isn't much being shown there. There is a periodic warning about the Broadcom driver not available or some such, but nothing about the crashes. (not at home, I'll get exact information later)

Thanks for the diagnostic suggestions, I will try those things and see what happens.
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January 28, 2013 5:16:51 PM

I had systems crash because of a SATA port becoming deaf. it would work for a few hours then stop responding. the system would crash the next time it had to get something from the hard drive. no error log entries or minidumps would be saved. I found that all my SATA 2 ports would disconnect after a few hours and they would not reconnect. It was a BIOS bug, enable the BIOS hotswap for the port should have fixed it but did not. I ended up putting the SATA 2 drive on the SATA 3 controller to work around the issue. Later ASUS just had me RMA the board and they gave me another that worked as expected.


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January 28, 2013 11:57:03 PM

I ran Prime95 for about an hour and a half with whatever its default test was (four workers) and it did not crash. It got up to Self-test 896k passed for all the workers. The CPU temp maxed out around 53C.
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January 29, 2013 1:50:51 AM

I reseated the RAM in the other two slots and moved the HDD SATA connector to a different port. I downloaded memtest86, burned it to a DVD and will try that tonight.
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January 29, 2013 11:05:10 AM

Ran memtest all night and it found no errors.
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January 29, 2013 7:52:58 PM

Anyone have a suggestion for what to look at tonight? Am I correct in thinking that power and heat should not be a problem at this point due to the tests done?

Should I disconnect my HDD completely and see if that helps? Is there a way to determine if the SSD is the problem? I'm not sure if I can disconnect it and install Windows on the HDD without having a problem with the MS licensing.
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January 29, 2013 9:04:29 PM

google on how to force a memory dump. Create a memory dump while the system is working correctly. I can look at it if you want to see I can see a problem.

-The tests you ran really will not address your issue. failures in RAM generally will result in a memory dump bugcheck if you have it enabled. Overheating of a main CPU generally will not stop a minidump from being created. even overclocking memory or CPU generally makes a minidump. (tracing them can be confusing though)


-you can get a locked up system if your GPU has GPU memory, GPU heat or GPU power issues. The drivers supplied really don't help isolating the cause. Just make sure you are not overclocking the PCI bus or the GPU.

-generally you will only get these when you run a game or do not provide the required external power to your graphics card (or your power line from the power supply is having issues)

There are several causes that I can think of.

main question: does it seem the problem occurs after the system have been idle for a bit? I have seen bugs where a drive goes to sleep but fails to respond correctly to the wakeup event, this prevents the OS from working and the system crashes 30 or 40 mins later when it can not access a critical file.

I would put your OS on another drive (ssd) and see if the problem still exists.
if you can ever get a minidump created it would be pretty easy to determine the cause.

got to run, sorry it is not much help

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February 4, 2013 11:55:44 AM

Just to check in, I haven't had a crash since Wednesday. I really haven't been using my second drive though. Previously I would always be running Notepad++ at least. I will start running it again later and see if the system starts crashing again.

I also have stopped running Firefox since I was taking action in Firefox for most of the crashes and it was also running constantly. Firefox is installed to my SSD though.

I think I might ask about this last part in the disk forum, but I noticed a couple strange things this morning and I'm not sure if they're normal for Windows 8 or what. First thing: my second (SATA HDD) drive is showing up in the list in my system tray for "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media". That's odd, IMO. Never seen that. I configured the disk normally in Disk Management, there are two lettered partitions E and F, etc, both are 250 GB and NTFS.

Second thing is that I noticed I have an Intel Rapid Storage technology icon in my system tray also and it is not showing my second drive in there. It shows my SSD on port 0 and my DVD burner on port 2 but otherwise it shows that the ports are empty (1,3,4,5).
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February 4, 2013 1:34:20 PM

Safely remove hardware and eject media

I think it might be related to the hotswap setting in the BIOS for the SATA port that the drive is on.

You should get this if the drive configuration is set to do lazy writes, by clicking on tray item you are telling the OS to flush all cached writes to disk because you are about to remove the live drive from the machine.
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