Athlon System Freeze

Wondering if any of y'all could help me out.

I've been experiencing complete system freezes on my Athlon machine while gaming. The screen, mouse and keyboard completely lock and audio goes into a continuous loop, requiring a cold reboot.

My rig is as follows:

- Athlon Thunderbird 900Mhz
- AOpen AK73 Pro mobo
- 256 meg Atlas Precision PC-133 (2 128s)
- Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card
- Windows 98 SE

I initially was using a LeadTek Winfast Geforce2 GTS (32 meg) but had numerous problems getting it to post to my system. When it did work, games would freeze within 10-20 seconds. I then purchased a Hercules 3D Prophet II GTS (64 meg)...this card eliminated the posting problems but all games would freeze within 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

Figuring I had an AGP problem with my mobo, I picked up a Voodoo 5500 PCI. This card is much more stable, but I still get game freezes after 30 minutes or so of play, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

I've checked the CPU temp, and it does seem high (running around 114 degrees F), and I'm wondering if it is being overheated and causing a freeze? What typically happens when a processor overheats? Does anyone have any clue as to what this problem might be and how I might attempt to resolve it?

(As a side note, the heatsink and fan on my Thunderbird does not sit flush. Rather, it is a fraction of an inch off of the chip, so that a bit of the processor is exposed with no heat sink/fan on it. Could this be an issue?)
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More about athlon system freeze
  1. check you FSB, if you are running your mem at 133 try droping it to 100, I have had problems with the mem controller before.. and your heatsink should touch the raised centre of your cpu unit and if it does not this is a problem...


    UK Prices are <font color=red>toooooooooo</font color=red> high , keep competition going to bring em down :smile:
  2. I'm assuming you have already updated the chipset drivers, mobo BIOS, and obtained good drivers (not necessarily the latest) for each of the video cards. For the nVidia's you want the reference drivers, 6.50. For the Voodoo5, well I'm not sure but probably the latest "official" drivers.

    Having said that, your first two symptoms, system not posting and system crashes immediately after starting 3D games, would indicate a power supply problem. You should read this article at regarding power supplies.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>

    The article mentions three key symptoms of an inadequate power supply. You have two of them.

    Some more useful information can be found at <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>. There you will find that for the combination of an Athlon-based system and a Geforce card (and it should apply to a Geforce 2 card) that a PSU which can supply 20 amps on the +3.3 volt line is recommended. Typical 300 watt power supplies only provide a maximum of about 14 amps on that line.

    Your Voodoo5 card is also a power-hungry card but it is kind of unique. If I recall, (and I know I may be wrong), it has two GPU's. The fans of these GPU's are powered from a separate 12 volt connector. This reduces the need to pass some power through the AGP connector but you still have two GPUs drawing power, a lot of power.

    My recommendation is to check the power spec's of your power supply, especially the +3.3 volt line. You'll find the spec printed on the top of your PSU. If you power supply is inadequate then replace it with a bigger unit. Typical 350 watt PSU's will supply about 28 amps on the 3.3 volt line but check the individual spec's before you buy. I recommend the Enermax EG351P-VE (which, actually, is only rated at 330 watts). It supplies 30 amps max for +3.3 volts. If you want extra insurance go for the EG451P-VE and get a 40 amp max. (I forget the overall rating). The former goes for about $55, the latter $90.

    Please read the references I provided above and see if you come to the same conclusion.
  3. Appreciate the above advice and I went ahead and purchased the Enermax PS.

    While this PS is awesome, and I'm glad I now own one, it hasn't solved my problems. Both the Voodoo and GeForce both still freeze my system as before.

    This sucks.
  4. I mentioned chipset and graphics drivers in my initial post. Are you using the most current chipset drivers and the best drivers for your graphics card?

    Are you still having difficulty POSTing or just in 3D games, now? If no problems POSTing maybe we are making progress.

    Sorry, the new PSU did not solve all (if any) of your problems. I assume that after reading the 2 references that I have provided that you came to the same conclusion since you did go ahead and buy the Enermax.

    At least, from now on, you can rule out power as a source of problems.
  5. Seems to me you have a faulty AGP slot. I suggest exchanging your motherboard. What else could it possibly be!

    - I don't write Tom's Hardware Guide, I just preach it"
  6. if you are currently running the ram at cas2, try dropping it to cas3
  7. I'm surprised that everyone has glossed over your heatsink issue because not having your heatsink tightly flush mounted to the processor is bad. The HSF must be mounted properly. 114 degrees is way too hot. You should be down around 90. Once you take care of that issue, I would look closely to see if you have an IRQ conflict. The description you gave, especially with the audio looping, sounds like an IRQ problem. When your system first posts, look at the device listing and see if you have more than one device using the same IRQ. If you do, do those devices allow IRQ sharing? Look closely at the sound card, the video card, Serial controller (USB), and video card. If you have a conflict try rearranging the conflicting cards into different PCI slots.
  8. Take a closer look at your heatsink. It only touches the small raised center (silicon) part of your chip. 114F/45C is warm, but not too hot. If you had no contact, or even not so good contact between chip heatsink, you would have already fried the chip.

    Is 114F under heavy load?
  9. I've reinstalled my system from scratch several times thus far...and my GeForce will still freeze right after a clean install of '98 on a reformatted drive, with the latest drivers and motherboard BIOS and with the GeForce being the only installed card.

    That having been said, when I power up my system my CPU temp starts at about 77 F and then climbs to about 93 F if left alone. If I start running some software it will crank up to 114 F and then stay there, even if I stop running software and just let it run idle for a few hours.

    For cooling I have the cooler master heatsink/fan that came with my Athlon, a case fan located directly above the processor and then the Enermax PS has an additional fan which draws air directly out of the case and then out through the standard PS fan.

    I have a feeling I simply have a bad motherboard as the AOpen support site is swamped with posts complaining about power issues and system freezes with the AK73 Pro. Unfortunately, AOpen's support is atrocious.

    I'll probably get a new heatsink/fan (any recommendations?) and then a new motherboard. Can anyone here recommend a good RELIABLE mobo for an Athlon Thunderbird?
  10. AMD sucks dude, get an Intel machine.

    Sounds to me like your CPU has been fried.

    its still operational to some extent, but you knows its whacked!

    GL, buy more AMD
  11. More great advice and help from FUGGER. FUGGER, you're a technician? For what, oatmeal?

    Chris_m_millar, if you have 2 128m SDRAM modules, remove the second one. See if you still have lockups when gaming. Most games will take advantage of as much RAM as is available. If you still have the problem, then substitute the installed RAM with the one you removed.

    This way, at least you can eliminate the RAM as the problem.

    If your system only freezes when gaming, you have not fried the processor. You would know if you did. You would smell it, and your system would not POST.

    Be sure you are using the best (not necessarily the latest) version of the VIA 4 in 1 drivers for your board. Try the different releases, and see which one works best for you. When I first assembled my system (my first AMD system), I experienced lockups in games until I installed version 4.26 of the VIA drivers.

    I have not had any experience with the AOPEN AK73 PRO board, so I can't help you there. I am using the ABIT KT7-RAID, and it has been rock solid stable, hasn't locked up once. It runs 18 hours a day.
  12. FUGGER, why can't you give helpful responses? Why dig someone when they are asking for help?

    I know you are capable of being helpful. You did post a great piece of information in the BAD SUPPORT forum, a link to That was great!

    Thanks for the link.
  13. Strip the machine down to just the video card and one memory stick. Load the BIOS defaults. Turn off the serial controller. If you're still locking up I would say you've got a bad motherboard. If it is the mobo go with a Asus A7V133 or Abit KT7A. I just did 3 machines with the Abit KT7A, two with the Duron 800 and one with a 1GHz Athlon and they are rock solid. If you change heatsinks go with the GlobalWin FOP32-1, but be forewarned, it's hard to attach the clips. Be careful!
  14. had this same problem with an MSI 6167 and ASUS K7M and Athlon 600. Using a TNT2 Ultra, SB Live X-Gamer, pc100 cas3 micron mem, Linksys 10/100 NIC. Some games would freeze quickly, others like Quake 3 would take a few minutes or half an hour before they freeze. Never could figure that one out man. Trust me i tried everything!

    All Your Base Are Belong To Us!!
  15. Thanks for the help, boyos.

    I stripped my machine to just one stick 'o RAM and ran for 5 hours with nary a freeze. Then I went to bed. :)

    I now have the dubious task of trying it out in various combinations of configurations to make sure this is the problem, but I think y'all are onto something here.

    If this situation holds, instead of returning the offending 128 meg module, I think I might just smash the [-peep-] out of it with a hammer!
  16. Good to see your having fun with AMD.

    Keep up the great posts like this one ending in sheer disgust! I love it.

    buy more AMD!
  17. Fugger, learn how to read!

    "If this situation holds, instead of returning the offending 128 meg module, I think I might just smash the [-peep-] out of it with a hammer!"

    The problem was identified, it is a bad RAM module. What does that have to do with AMD? Are you saying that the defective RAM would work properly in an Intel machine?

    I find it interesting that a computer technician, such as yourself, could not have made the suggestion (diagnosis) to troubleshoot the RAM.

    How did this thread end in disgust? It looks like the problem was found.

    Read the post again, only have your parents look over your shoulder to help you understand what is written.
  18. I have almost the same set up. Your problem lies within your IRQ settings, trust me!! I've actually posted this question under sound cards and received advice that resolved these issues. Look for my posting and read my responses. You definitely want to get rid of your SB 16 Emulator, no matter which IRQ it lives on, it seems to cause a conflict!!

    Good luck


    -Insert clever phrase here-
  19. I get the same problem with only the video card installed and a limited driver set, with no discernable IRQ conflicts.

    And it seems the RAM module wasn't bad after all. I'm going to swap into a different motherboard and see what happens.
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