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Dell XPS 400 freezes intermittently

Last response: in Computer Brands
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July 30, 2010 10:11:12 PM

I have a dell xps 400 that freezes up every 2 seconds or so for about a second. The mouse freezes, audio skips, the hard drive freezes (from watchin the light and listening to it). At first I thought it was a goof in XP so I did a complete reinstall of XP. While installing updates after the reinstall, it started doing it again. The only thing that cures it is a reboot. I also noticed that when it does this, I loose my ethernet connection. The lights are still on on the port and the "network connections" box shows its still active, but there is no internet or local connection.

Then I started suspecting a hard drive failure since it started doing it only with heavy HDD usage (Installing updates and copying files back onto the PC). I ran both the short and long DST test on the HDD using SeaTools. It passed both times. I have ran Burn In Test multiple times at 98% on the CPU, RAM, Graphics (2D and 3D), HDD, and Network. The PC passes every test every time with NO errors.

I ran a Hardware monitor while the freezing occurs and temps are reading normal (no overheating). I am going to run a PSU test this afternoon. I am also going to try another stick of RAM just to be sure but to me its looking like a Motherboard especially. What do you guys think??
July 30, 2010 10:12:43 PM

edit: I tried a known good stick of RAM and it still freezes. Also, I can confirm that when it gets the freezing spells, I loose ethernet connection.
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July 31, 2010 8:42:58 PM

Update: I just started the thing up and it is saying there is an unknown USB device plugged in. The only thing that is plugged in USB is my mouse and it is recognized in the device manager. This PC doesn't have a card reader either.
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July 31, 2010 9:25:52 PM

Update: I tried plugging my mouse into all the USB ports and it worked in all of them but the "unknown USB device" never went away from the device manager. While I just typed that, the pc blue screened saying: "Hardware malfunction. call your vender for support. NMI: Parity Check/Memory Parity error" This is all sounding like a bad motherboard to me.
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August 2, 2010 9:13:20 PM

Right click and uninstall that unknown USB device, then restart. It should try to reinstall on restart.

Check the eventviewer for errors.
start-->run-->eventvwr.msc-->look for system or application errors
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August 2, 2010 9:43:34 PM

I un-installed the unknown USB device and it tried to reinstall but still could not find drivers. Nothing unusual appears in the event manager.
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August 3, 2010 1:44:07 AM

Get into the device manager, and then unplug your mouse. Then press F5 to refresh it. The mouse should disappear. Does the unknown USB device disappear too?

If no, uninstall all of the USB root hubs, and restart.

Are there any leaking or bulging capacitors on the motherboard?
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August 3, 2010 10:49:57 PM

I unplugged both the mouse and the keyboard and they both disappeared from the device manager. I uninstalled all the USB root hubs and restarted. the hubs were all re-installed when I opened the device manager after boot up but the unknown device was still there. It also started the freezing glitch right at boot up. I dont see any leaking/bulging capacitors.
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August 3, 2010 10:50:49 PM

edit: when I unplug the mouse and keyboard, the unknown device remains in the device manager.
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August 3, 2010 10:57:26 PM

Make sure you have the newest chipset and video drivers. If there is a BIOS update, run that. Also, make sure you are up to date on the windows updates.
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August 4, 2010 1:53:49 AM

I have went through and updated all the drivers after I reinstalled windows. Everything already had the most recent driver except the BIOS, which I updated but didn't change my situation any
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August 4, 2010 2:08:45 AM

I'm not sure what that USB device could be. But it shouldn't be causing freezing. Is all your hardware accounted for in the device manager?

Does the freezing happen in safe mode?

It sounds like you've done some good testing. I guess it's time to swap in some hardware for testing.
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August 4, 2010 2:04:48 PM

Yeah the unknown USB device is really bothering me. It pops up a message in the system tray and when you click on it it brings up a window showing the unknown device next to an "unused port" I plugged my mouse into all the ports and when I plug it into one of the 5 ports on the back, it shows up in that "unused port" but the "unknown device" stays in its same spot. All 5 USB ports in the back and 2 on the front work.

Yes, all the devices are accounted for in the device manager.
The freezing does occur in safe mode.

Just to mention, that "unknown device" was in the task manager on the previous install of XP before I wiped it clean. This isn't my computer so I can't tell you how long it has been there or exactly how long the freezing glitch has been occurring.

I have ruled out the hard drive and RAM. There's not much more to be tested short of the GPU and MOBO.
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August 4, 2010 2:11:58 PM

I think I'd start with the PSU, as I'm sure they didn't put in a great one. Failing PSUs can cause all sorts of odd issues. Though, I doubt it has anything to do with the unknown usb device. It may have something to do with the freezing.

Then I'd probably move on to the motherboard. This could be the cause for both issues.

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August 4, 2010 2:22:13 PM

I was thinking motherboard too but I'll test the PSU first. I'll need to get a new multimeter. Mine died the last time I used it. Or is there a software based program that shows voltage on the positive rails?
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August 4, 2010 2:34:41 PM

None that I'm aware of.
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August 5, 2010 9:43:09 PM

I borrowed an Antec PSU tester and when I hooked the 20 pin connector to it, it said it the +12 rail was low. But when I got home with my new multimeter, I tested every +12 volt wire coming off the PSU and everything read exactly 12 volts. I also tested all the +3.3 and +5 wires and they checked out as well.
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August 5, 2010 11:40:26 PM

It may be at the right voltage, but it may be lacking in wattage output.
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August 9, 2010 12:03:36 AM

I don't know of a way to check that. I'm still thinking MOBO. But I think the owners of the computer are just going to live with it since they don't use it for anything more than email and internet. They said they'd probably be getting a new laptop soon anyways. Aford10, thanks for all the help!
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Best solution

August 9, 2010 12:19:07 AM

You can verify it by unplugging the current PSU, and connecting a better quality/higher powered PSU. If the problem ceases, then you know the cause, and they can choose to replace it or not.

Either way, best of luck!
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August 19, 2010 12:52:10 AM

Best answer selected by jdcountryboy91.
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August 19, 2010 1:36:10 AM

Thanks for the vote :) 
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January 13, 2011 11:58:08 AM

I had the same problem and must have tried ten different suggestions I found on different sites but nothing worked. I went into my task manager to close a program that wasn't responding because of all the stopping beeping. The beep was the sound you hear when you plug a usb device in. Anyhow I saw that for some reason, I had two explorer.exe's running at the same time. I ended the one that was using the least amount of memory and it stop right after and has never done it again. I had also went to the windows folder and opened the explorer.exe so I would have two running like before to see if that was the problem. As soon as I opened it, the problem came back. I have not heard of a solution to this in all the websites and forums I have been on. Try it.
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