It's either a very stealthy hardware problem or windows - long post

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been having a long and painful struggle with a system I built in January. Hopefully someone can at least give me some advice on what to try next.
First off, here’s my build:

• Asus M4A79XTD EVO Motherboard
• AMD Phenom II X4 955
• Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 GFX Card
• 4gb of G.Skill RAM
• OCZ 700W Power Supply
• 750gb Seagate hard drive
• Windows 7 x64

I can provide more details on individual components if necessary. Everything is running at manufacturer’s specifications – no overclocking, RAM tweaking, etc.
I had some relatively minor performance issues with the computer for a month or so after I built it, however I eventually got through them and got the thing running pretty smoothly until mid-June. I did a fair amount of hardware troubleshooting during this phase, including Prime95 torture tests and hard drive testing software, so became fairly well convinced that my hardware was working well. In June, however, I gradually started getting BSODs with increasing frequency, usually logged as “the computer has rebooted from a bugcheck” in the event viewer.

Eventually it got to the point that the computer was crashing during Windows loading, then crashing during Startup Repair and even crashing during System Restore. After experiencing this, I decided to reformat the hard drive and do a clean install.

The install proceeded smoothly, and I installed my drivers and Windows updates, however the computer continued crashing. This time, the event viewer would read “Crash Dump Initialization Failed!” rather than the bugcheck error. The “event” was the same for every single one of these crashes – probably 30 or 40 over the course of a month. Crashes would occur very frequently – I use my computer primarily for gaming, however they’d happen when I was using Firefox or OpenOffice or even when no non-system programs were running at all.
If the computer was unstable in general, it absolutely fell to pieces whenever I installed Windows updates from 6/28 and beyond. After one of these updates, it would usually crash and reboot after the Windows loading screen, right before log in, then would crash again during my first attempt to boot from the Windows CD and launch the repair tools, then on the third try would successfully boot from the CD only to crash a third time during system restore. After this crashed system restore, however, I would be able to start Windows in Safe Mode and run system restore yet again, usually successfully. After this restore, the computer would usually run reasonably well.

I went through this process 2 or 3 times, always in response to a Windows update. I tried my best to disable automatic updating, but my restore point was at a point where shutting down the computer would install an update and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Eventually, a friend convinced me to reformat again. Crashes restarted immediately, this time returning to the bugcheck event in event viewer. I did some fiddling with system restore, and eventually got the computer to the point that it ran crash-free for a few days, something that hadn’t happened in months. Then, on Monday, I got 2 crashes in a row. The first occurred while I was playing a computer game, the second ~45 minutes after the first with no programs other than the general system startup programs running. (I was sort of fed up with the computer at this point)

Soooo I decided to run my hardware tests again. And again, everything passed with flying colors. 24hr of prime95 in blend mode, 24hr of prime95 in small FFTs mode, all hard drive diagnostics Seagate offers, 0 problems. Sigh.

What do I do now? If it’s a hardware problem, I’d say that it’s either the power supply or the gfx card at this point. I’ve run gfx card monitors in the past and have never experienced a temperature excursion, so I really don’t think it’s the gfx card, yet I’ve eliminated everything else. I can try RMAing these components, but I’d rather not if it’ll just be a waste of time. If it’s a software problem, what on earth can I do to fix it? I’ve reformatted many times, tried various combinations of drivers, and still get these crashes.

Someone, please help me. I’m about to take a hammer to the thing.
4 answers Last reply
More about stealthy hardware problem windows long post
  1. Check your motherboard for any physical issues, puffy caps, reseat each component. I have seen several systems with bad capacitors run Prime95 for hours, do several PCMark and other stress tests, then fail soon as you use the PC regularly for an hour.

    Have you played around with various RAM combinations, trying with only one chip, maybe trying totally new RAM? That would be guess #1 for me.

    You may want to try a new drive even though Seagate stuff said it's good.

    Power supply is a good idea to check, if you can find a spare one. Sometimes buying all sorts of stuff just to test an issue is a pain.

    That's about all of the things I can think of that I have not seen you try in your post.
  2. OK shoot me, get a low cost Nvidia card
  3. Thanks for the responses guys. I suppose I'll open up the case and check out the motherboard/reseat everything today.

    I've already played around with the RAM, trying one stick at a time and slightly upping the voltage, and didn't get any improvements. The voltage is an area I have much experience with, so I was pretty hesitant, however I was assured that going up a tenth of a volt or two would be fine. It didn't help anything, so I reset everything.

    Just for the sake of completeness, I had another crash yesterday. This time the computer ran fine while I was gaming for 3 hours, then crashed while I was using Firefox. No "bugcheck" event in the event viewer, just an "Audit events have been dropped by the transport." Here's the text from Event viewer.

    Audit Events have been dropped by the transport:
    - <Event xmlns="">
    - <System>
    <Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Eventlog" Guid="{fc65ddd8-d6ef-4962-83d5-6e5cfe9ce148}" />
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2010-08-13T00:11:56.351225900Z" />
    <Correlation />
    <Execution ProcessID="856" ThreadID="368" />
    <Security />
    - <UserData>
    - <AuditEventsDropped xmlns:auto-ns3="" xmlns="">

    Rebooted without shutting down first:
    - <Event xmlns="">
    - <System>
    <Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power" Guid="{331C3B3A-2005-44C2-AC5E-77220C37D6B4}" />
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2010-08-13T00:11:49.690014300Z" />
    <Correlation />
    <Execution ProcessID="4" ThreadID="8" />
    <Security UserID="S-1-5-18" />
    - <EventData>
    <Data Name="BugcheckCode">0</Data>
    <Data Name="BugcheckParameter1">0x0</Data>
    <Data Name="BugcheckParameter2">0x0</Data>
    <Data Name="BugcheckParameter3">0x0</Data>
    <Data Name="BugcheckParameter4">0x0</Data>
    <Data Name="SleepInProgress">false</Data>
    <Data Name="PowerButtonTimestamp">0</Data>

    Previous System Shutdown Unexpected:
    - <Event xmlns="">
    - <System>
    <Provider Name="EventLog" />
    <EventID Qualifiers="32768">6008</EventID>
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2010-08-13T00:11:55.000000000Z" />
    <Security />
    - <EventData>
    <Data>8:10:34 PM</Data>
    <Data />
    <Data />
    <Data />
    <Data />

    Thanks again guys.
  4. download bluescreenveiwer and look at the mini dump files
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