Complete failure in XP

Sorry to sound like an idiot ...but I am. I recently made the mistake of trying to assemble my own computer. Everything seemed to go without a hitch, but now I'm suffering from some unidentifiable ailment. XP itself seems to run okay, but whenever I run a game, eventually they all lock up, usually taking the entire computer out with it and forcing a reset. I get occasional errors at the start of windows saying that it has recovered from a serious error and that the cause was an unidentfied device driver. Well, the only device driver I've installed from outside the automatic XP was the new GeForce detinator, which I've uninstalled and reinstalled since to see if that would help (it didn't). I also installed the newest drivers for my VIA chipset. So, perhaps one of the innumerable drivers that XP auto-installed for my hardware is to blame, but how could I find out which one?

I realize this is extremely broad, but I simply don't know what to do. The whole reason I bought this new rig was for games, and now they all seem unstable (except for Civ III). They all run perfectly smooth and pretty until they abruptly crash, so my hardware is working well up until the end.

Anyhow, so sorry for this huge mess, but if anyone has any ideas, I'm game ...I really have no idea what to do except throw it against the wall.
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  1. What kind of hardware do you have? Mother board, Type of Ram is it, are they the same sticks if more then one, CPU, power supply, CPU temps, errors, if you get them? My first guess would be the BIOS, and how you have it set, default would be good, if it doesn’t screw up another setting you may have made. If you have a 300 or less watt cheap power supply, that could be it. Was your computer running games better at another time, and if so what do you do that change that? All for now. If your computer restarts you can choice to get a error instead.
    Start/Control Panel/System/System Properties/Advance/Startup and Recovery/Settings/Uncheck automatic restart

    Hey Baby, want to play with my computer?
  2. I'm using a homebuilt AMD Athlon 2100+, one 256 2700 dimm, geforce 4200 128, 400w atx power supply, VIAKT400 mother, running on XP. The computer is completely unstable, but will ALWAYS crash in games, if not right away, then after a few minutes. Sometimes it will freeze the whole comp, somtimes it will exit to windows. SOMETIMES, the comp will just randomly restart without any warning! The errors that are registered come out as "access violations"
  3. What about your BIOS is it at default or have your tweak it some? I would start there.

    Hey Baby, want to play with my computer?
  4. Have enough ventilation? Could be heat problem...
  5. I have in no way tampered with the BIOS to my knowledge, unless I did so when I downloaded the newest patches for my VIA motherboard.

    I think it could be a heating problem, but would that cause only games to crash and not normal desktop apps, and if the CPU did crash due to heat, woudl it cause just the app to crash or the entire system? Sometimes only my app crashes, and it seems a heat issue would bring the whole ship down.

    How do I check my CPU temp? Any Diagnostic programs out there that could help?
  6. What about memory? I suspect this is the problem... my computer seems to run poorly, it is unstable, and after I quit a game (if it doens't crash), windows runs like utter crap! It seems like all the symptoms of having my memory eaten up -- but Christ, this isn't my old 16 meg machine on Windows 95! I would think 256megs of DDR could survive a trip into Civilization III. So, maybe this is the problem ,and if so, how do I confirm this -- I don't exactly have a lot of RAM just lying around to switch out.
  7. Most mother boards I have gotten came with a program to check your heat and volts being used. You should look on your mother board CD for that, and look in the manual. Also after a sudden crash you can quickly go to the BIOS and check from there as well. You should look in your BIOS and see where it is.

    If you hit Ctrl+Alt+ Delete your get the task manger and can see how much memory your using in Performance. You can go here if you need to shut some stuff off <A HREF="" target="_new"> blkvipe</A> Off hand I don’t know any software that can check you memory, maybe some one els might. 256 isn’t a hole lot, especially for playing game. Maybe you need more memory, but I suggest you start shutting of things you don’t need and try to free up some memory, but take your time doing so and read everything, and don’t try to kill everything from the start, or you might have more problems. If you haven’t shut off anything, you could start there and see how that works. I don't think your memory is bad, could be, but sounds like your OS ant running the best it could.

    At <A HREF="" target="_new">guru3d</A> you can get the NVRefreshtool, also the RiverTuner, but you might need help with those, if you haven’t used them, and they may not help your current problem.

    Hey Baby, want to play with my computer?
  8. Look at the BIOS APG Graphics Aperture Size. It should be @ 64, no more than 128. If it's above 64, set it to 64. That should stop the lock ups. More is not better here. Overwhelming the APG Buss I'd guess.

    Signature, I'm still learning & having fun doing it!!!!!!
  9. Try <A HREF="" target="_new">motherboard monitor</A> to keep up with your temps and stuff. If you already have the settings in the bios at default, and have downloaded the newest drivers for your system, I would suspect the RAM or PSU.

    Old age is a hoax.. Turns out to only be a severe back problem.
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