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Need help finding source of computer shutdowns

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March 5, 2005 6:22:49 PM

I have been having incredible difficulty with my computer since I first built it two years ago, and replacement of parts up until now has not fixed it. I am one step short of just bringing it in and paying $100 to have the problem diagnosed, but this forum has never failed me in the past- so I want to try asking for help.

Here's my basic computer specs (I know there is a file I can get with details on my system, but I forget how to- if you need it, let me know, and I'll get it)

Motherboard- Soyo Dragon KT400 Platinum
Processor- AMD Athlon XP 3000+ (333 mhz fsb)
RAM- 2x500mb 400mhz dual channel DDR /w ultra cooling copper heat spreader on each
Graphics card- Radeon 9500 128 megs VRAM
Western Digital WD800JB (80 gig 7500 RPM (whatever the normal RPM is, that's it))
DVD drive- Sony DVD RW DRU-530A
Heatsink used- ThermalRight SI-97 with Vantec Tornado 92mm fan and Arctic Silver 5 thermal conductor paste used
Sound Card- SB Audigy 2
OS- Windows XP SP2
Antivirus and firewall- Norton Systemworks


*takes breath* Whew, okay, that should be a good summary. Here's the problem- sounds simple, but it's hard as hell to figure out. My computer simply restarts- one short beep and it restarts, often I have to turn it off and on again manually as it will just sit blank for a bit, but eventually I think it restarts on its own. This happens when 1) I am web-browsing, sometimes at certain webpages it will just restart. 2) Playing more recent games. Diablo II it never resets on... playing more recent ones, however, especially ones that utilize the power I bought it for, it will regularly restart. Particularly strong 3D games like Rome: Total War. Any 3D game, you name it. 3) It used to happen with burning DVDs when I used my previous processor, AMD AThlon 2500+ but doesn't happen so much now. 4) Almost always resets when I do a full virus scan, and used to reset when I installed large games on my hard disk before I upgraded the processor. Now, just virus- I put the computer in safe mode, and (after rebooting a few times trying to start safe mode) it usually works. My computer is, according to Norton Systemworks, completely virus free, btw.

Here's what I've replaced: I started with an AMD Athlon 2500+ with the HS/Fan that came with it, and upgraded to AMD Athlon 3000+ 333 mhz with my own fan/heatsink. The fan RPM is over 5000, which is good from what I know. The case side has little in the way of air holes, but there is a 92 mm fan on back sucking air in. 400 watt power supply. Due to driver problems I didn't want to pull my hair out getting over, I use an ethernet card instead of the motherboard's.

So, that's the basic state of things. My problem: what is causing these reboots? Why can't my system be stable or handle the kind of loads an AMD Athlon XP should handle without problem? My system temp seems to be okay- when it shut down last, the temp was 107 deg F. It usually runs around 98 F on start-up. I tried lowering the FSB mhz speed, but it won't start up properly unless I have it at 166 mhz (erm, the setting that lets it run at 333 mhz... I forget the terms, but my motherboard has built in settings to let me overclock (which I DO NOT DO) and adjust settings). The heatsink and fan I have SHOULD be more than enough to keep this baby cool.

Goal- I want to find out what is wrong. If I can't fix it, I'll replace whatever needs to be replace. Hard disk file problems? I'll reformat (if I ABSOLUTELY have to), or replace hard disk (what I will probably do if old HD has problems). need new graphics card? Fine. New motherboard? If I have to, I'll save up for it. New case for better air circulation? Sure, no prob. But what I won't do is replace everything randomly until I find out what is wrong.

Any ideas? What info can I give to help you aide me in assessing the problem? This reset issue has gone on since the system was first put together by me- and I had a professional tech look it over and make sure eveything was put together correctly during config one (before I upgraded processor).

Most sincerely,
Patrick
March 5, 2005 7:13:22 PM

1) Heat
Have you looked at how hot your running? Check on your mobo CD for a tool (often the name is rather cryptic) if that fails try MBM5 (MotherBoard Monitor)

You can try Prime95 torture test (heat) while monitoring the temperature.

2) Voltages - How do the voltages look under stress. You might try something like the SiSoft Sandra Benchies while monitoring voltages with tool or MBM5. You don't mention your power supply. How many Watts and what kind? Generic?

3) Tried a reseat of the graphics card?




The loving are the daring!
March 5, 2005 7:31:07 PM

Bad power supply perhaps ? Generic power supplies are more often than not overrated by their manufacturers.





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March 5, 2005 8:22:56 PM

Wow- that's a lot of stuff to do, but I can try (I'm not super experienced with some of that level of knowledge, such as obtaining the voltage, etc. I believe in my note I did mention my power supply- 400 watt. It is, I believe, generic. I MAY have reseated the graphics card, but I can always try again. The reason being I installed one of those PCI graphics card fans next to it- just to make sure it was runningcool.

Could you give me the links for the software (safe ones are sometimes hard to find!) you mentioned? I'll be glad to try out those tests. I've gotten temp readings from my motherboard BIOS information- as the built in motherboard config software gives great detail.
-Patrick
March 5, 2005 8:26:29 PM

Quote:
You don't mention your power supply.

Yes he did ..there

"Here's what I've replaced: I started with an AMD Athlon 2500+ with the HS/Fan that came with it, and upgraded to AMD Athlon 3000+ 333 mhz with my own fan/heatsink. The fan RPM is over 5000, which is good from what I know. The case side has little in the way of air holes, but there is a 92 mm fan on back sucking air in. <b>400 watt power supply</b>. Due to driver problems I didn't want to pull my hair out getting over, I use an ethernet card instead of the motherboard's."

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
March 5, 2005 8:36:19 PM

The first thing I would do is to run the computer with the side panel removed. Stable then, heat problem. While the side panel open, check for bad capacitors. They should have a flat top, so if you see some with bubbled top or some leakage around them, them you better stop there and get a new motherboard.

Then, I would remove the sound card and play the game. Stable then compatibility problem with Sound blaster and VIA chipset. Try to install the latest VIA 4 in 1 driver.

If your power supply is rather generic, it may have problem with your setup. I've seen a 450w not able to start an AMD64 setup while a better quality on with only 300w would. Get a good one, as it might be easily reused for a newer computer later if you upgrade.

this is the first step to check. How long sisce the last time you installed windows? Myght want to check if your system is stable with a fresh install and get unstable after a while.

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
March 5, 2005 8:36:32 PM

voltages +12V, +5V, +3.3 Come from the MBM monitor. you can have a quick peek in the BIOS (usuallY)

variation: 5% is ok, 10% is supposed to be acceptable (but I wouldn't trust past 8%)





The loving are the daring!
March 6, 2005 1:25:52 AM

Pat (from another Pat, actually),

Thanks for the advice! Some great things to try. First of all, for about a month I actually ran my computer with the side off to see if it would help. I only in the last week or so put the side back on, and found no difference at all that I can tell. I will, however, try taking the Sound Blaster out- I have not yet tried that at all. I'll keep you guys posted on that.

Power supply- if you think that is the next step to try replacing, I certainly can do it. The motherboard does not have any visible problems with it, either.

Finally: Windows- I've only installed it once, which obviously was when I first built my computer. Since I don't really want to reformat my hard disk (and have to re-install all my programs, some of which I downloaded and I'm not even sure if I have what I need to re-install them, Norton included) I would rather make that a last option. Is there a way to re-install windows without loosing everything? If so, let me know how and I'll be glad to do a "fresh install".

Thank you again!

-Pat (Coroloro)
March 6, 2005 2:51:28 AM

"Norton programs".

Shut them down and see what happens.

I've read about restart problems with some versions before.

<font color=red>DCB</font color=red><font color=white>_</font color=white><font color=blue>AU</font color=blue>
March 6, 2005 2:57:48 AM

I have some updated info- most importantly, CPU temp information and my voltage info.

Cpu external temp- 34 cel
CHA temp- 32 cel
CPU temp on die- 45 cel
CPU fan speed- 5443 RPM

Vcore- 1.63v
+3.3v= 3.20v
+5v= 4.81v
+12v= 12.48v

DDR voltage= 2.48v
AGP voltage= 1.45v

Also, I'm going to run the SiSoft Sandra tomorrow and see what I can get. I'm also going to take out my Sound Blaster sound card shortly after writing this and see if I can still replicate the reboot problems with it out. I'm going to run a memory test tonight while I sleep and check it out, but as I installed it in Jan and paid the seller to test it for me I'm pretty sure that should come out clean.

Most sincerely,
Patrick
March 6, 2005 4:22:27 AM

V-core is a little low, can you get it up to 1.65 or 1.675?
March 6, 2005 12:35:07 PM

I have a preliminary finding- as suggested, I removed the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 from my computer, then started up and attempted to repeat the error. I felt the game best assured to repeat it was Rome: Total War (as it always brings it about, even in average quality much less high). With average settings, I was able to play through several battles no problem. So I tried pushing the settings up to almost max- higher than high- and, for probably the first time ever, no crashes. I will keep on trying this out and see if I do face a reboot, but so far it looks like the Sound Blaster MAY have been the source! If so, it would definitely save me a lot of trouble- and my Soyo motherboard has a built-in sound card I am using.

Question- If this is the case, and the SB A2 is the problem, can I no longer use a Sound Blaster on my system? What causes this device conflict and what solutions are there? It makes sense in some ways, since everytime I crashed and booted back up, Windows would report a system error and tell me it was related to unknown device driver problems.

I hope I've found the answer- thank you for your help so far! I'll keep you posted.

-Patrick
a b à CPUs
March 6, 2005 12:44:01 PM

Quote:
It makes sense in some ways, since everytime I crashed and booted back up, Windows would report a system error and tell me it was related to unknown device driver problems.

THAT would have been a nice piece of info to know!


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:tongue: <font color=red>Have you read the FAQ? Searched for other posts on this topic?</font color=red>
March 6, 2005 12:54:02 PM

In which slot the SB was? try to move it in one of the 2 last slots just to see.

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
March 6, 2005 6:03:44 PM

Quote:
Finally: Windows- I've only installed it once, which obviously was when I first built my computer. Since I don't really want to reformat my hard disk (and have to re-install all my programs, some of which I downloaded and I'm not even sure if I have what I need to re-install them, Norton included) I would rather make that a last option. Is there a way to re-install windows without loosing everything? If so, let me know how and I'll be glad to do a "fresh install".


Personally, I think it's good practice to completely format drive and re-install Windows every 6 to 9 months. As long as you have all your installs saved on a slaved drive (or partitioned), you can be back up and running in less than an hr to the point prior to when you clicked 'L' to wipe the drive. That's one of the first things I try when my computer starts acting goofy and 95% of the time a fresh format will fix it.

However, if you've been running into these problems since day 1, I would second Pat's advice as it most likely is hardware-related although I would strongly consider a fresh format and re-install of Windows. At least doing that would pinpoint the problem to being hardware if it still persists.

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