Vista Gaming Help!!

So I know there are dozens of threads about Bioshock crashing and HL2 crashing on Vista 64 bit... but my problem isn't that one of the games crashes or that all my games crash, it's that only specific games crash and I'm at my wits end as to why.

Both Bioshock and HL2 do the exact same thing.

+ I can load and start both of the games. Once started they run smooth and fast (as I expected with my new hardware - I just built the rig specs below).

+ Once the game starts I have roughly 30secs-2min until the game freezes and the sound starts an endless loop ie. an explosion sound again and again and again until I quit the program, usually via task manager. Occasionally Vista will pop up saying that the game stopped.

+ In Half Life 2, in both multiplayer like Team Fortress and single player the same problem happens.

+ Whenever the games freeze there is no BSOD or code given.

Things I've tried and have noticed.

+ Updating my BIOS, mobo drivers, GPU drivers, audio drivers and updating Vista as much as possible. I've even been luckily enough to find the 64bit versions of all the drivers I need. The only driver I'm not 100% sure about is the dx10 (which was installed through the Bioshock installation).

+ I installed and can play Oblivion flawlessly on high detail.

+ I've tried playing Bioshock and HL2 in admin mode, in XP SP2 compatibility mode and with dx9 instead of dx10.

+ I've tried playing HL2 with -nosound set, which seemed to work for a little bit... but didn't.

+ I've tried playing both games with lower resolution and lower effects to no avail.

+ There is no consistency with the game crashes. Sometimes its in the middle of a heavy action scene, other times its when I'm moving around or even while hacking in Bioshock.

+ I've had random problems with Vista in general (I imagine it's why everyone can agree Vista still sucks) like random BSOD memory dumps even though I've just been at the desktop with nothing running.

Does anyone have any ideas? I've submitted a request to Valve for help but I imagine they'll not be very helpful. I've also tried everything I can find in forums and online through the developers websites. Please please please help me out. Thank you in advance for any ideas/tips you have. Thanks.
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  1. Oh and in addition.

    + I disabled Vista Tablet features (read it in a forum somewhere... again, thought it would work but it didn't)

    + I've stressed my computer with Everest and my CPU temps are nowhere near high enough to think that the hardware is overheating. 22C idle 40C stressed. GPU is at 66C but from everything I've seen thats normal.

    + I'm currently downloading and then installing the very latest dxsdk package from nVidia (the 468MB packet) I'll let people know if it works.

    + I have also tried replacing the Bioshock default and DefUser files.

    + I've tried playing Bioshock in window mode.
  2. + Oh and I also logged my temps while playing Bioshock. My temps never broke 30C...
  3. Bioshock needs a patch badly. That is why that game crashes. I also have vista 64 bit.
  4. Have you tried running the games on lower quality/resolution settings?

    Have you disabled all startup programs?

    Have you tried asking for help here?:

    Did any of my ideas help?
  5. Try lowering a few settings on your motherboard, like the ram speed and FSB. Sounds like a hardware problem to me. From what I have seen Oblivion is not very memory intensive, Bioshock however is.
  6. Do you guys think that it's more likely a hardware issue or a software issue?

    My only thinking is that since most programs runs and even a system intensive one like Oblivion, without problems that it must be a software problem. The thing that still blows my mind is that both HL2 and Bioshock are doing the same thing, which would lead me to believe they're both running into the same software problem. Orrrr... my hardware simply fails on me after a while, which would explain why I can start both games fine but they crash after a while.

    Also my computer does odd freezes and crashes even without games running. Just this morning I turned on my computer, left the room and came back to the desktop being frozen (I couldn't even pull up task manager).

    So if this is a hardware issue. What can I do?

    I've run the Vista memory check software and it came up clean. I've stress tested my memory and CPU and they both preformed fine as well. My motherboard BIOS and audio drivers are all up to date, as are my dx10 and nVidia drivers.

    Is there a way to check my HDD, Mobo and GPU? I could imagine that this all might be linked to a HDD error, its a perpendicular drive and even though it says its "whisper quite" it's definately the loudest part of my rig. It's also an OEM drive, not sure if that would matter. The more I think about things, the more likely I can see all my problems being hardware related because I have a fairly common setup and I haven't found any threads with someone having these sort of problems. I did just read reviews of my HDD and there are a few that mention OS hang ups and crashing problems like I've been experiencing. The reviews are here -> Could this just be a bad HDD issue?!?

    Oh. Another oddity I noticed. In Everest it reported that my memory timings were 5-5-5-15, even though my sticks are supposed to be 4-4-4-12. Not sure if that would matter.

    To anyone who has any ideas or suggestions on how to check my rig and fix it, thank you, thank you, thank you!
  7. Just because it’s Windows Vista does not mean it’s more likely to be a software error than a hardware one. In fact as far as vista goes software either works or does not work at all, there are no maybes as far as I have read/seen. This problem if it was happening on WindowsXP would surly be a hardware problem, just because your using Vista you should not think otherwise.

    Normally what you are experiencing is due to hardware settings more than faulty hardware it’s self. But from what you have stated it does seem that it could be memory related. As most problems found on systems today are due to memory related problems e.g. Timings, Speed or Motherboard compatibility issues.

    Since you have a fair bit of memory, not sure if it’s 2X 2GB or 4X1GB but you should try playing about with the timings and ram ports. Try with only 1 stick in the motherboard and then try every slot. Also try underclocking the memory or setting the timings fairly high, for instance 5-5-5-15 also try setting the ram speed to 677MHz instead of 800MHz. You could even try upping the memory voltage to make it more stable. Never go above 2.3v though.

    Trouble shootings a bitch but it’s got to be done to find a hardware fault. Also it’s always a good idea if you have had an Operating System for a while to reinstall from scratch every once in a while. More so if your very messy with your software. If you have had the OS for a while and have been putting random software that you have any doubts about on your system then a format might be a good idea. It would at least get rid of any doubt that there is some rouge software causing your system to crash randomly.
  8. Thanks cafuddled.

    I've only had Vista for a week now and have only installed the three games, spyware software, anti-virus software and the drivers.

    So you think its more likely a memory issue than a HDD one? Once I get home I'll definitely try taking out RAM pairs and checking them. I currently have 2 (2x1G Patriot DDR2 800) sticks. Are there any good techniques to testing the sticks beyond taking them out in pairs? Is it possible to check individual sticks by mix and matching sticks? Gah!

    Oh and how hard is it to change my memory timings and voltages? I would hate to f'up things more by trying to clock my system.

  9. If you don’t know then it’s not worth trying, you will probably do more harm than good. What your best doing is leaving the timings alone and just changing the frequency to 677MHz as I said. Also as for changing memory modules, you are best disabling Dual Channel for trouble shooting by only having one memory stick in the PC.

    Try playing these games with only one stick (1GB) of memory in your PC and see if it still crashes. If it still crashes once it has been in every port on the motherboard and you have tried different sticks, then try having only one stick in at 677MHz. And if that does not work then it is most likely not the memory at all and I would be looking more at your motherboard/cpu instead.
  10. Is disabling Dual Channel as simple as going into the BIOS and disabling an option? And once I've done that, will it matter which port the memory goes into (slot 1-4)?

    And you think that if its not the memory that it's going to be a mobo issue and not a HDD one?
  11. Hard disks very rarely cause games to crash like you describe, especially at random parts. It is the least likely case in this example. I have had faulty HDD’s, one with bad sectors and I have also had one that stopped working at random times. Both where very easy to spot if they where at fault, they never once crashed my system to a halt they simply rejected data access requests and stopped windows from booting.

    To disable dual channel it is basically as simple as only leaving in 1 stick of memory or putting 2 sticks in to the wrong ports. There is normally no option to turn Dual Channel on or off it is an automatic switch that turns it on once 2 sticks of ram are placed in the correct ports.

    As for what stick you put the one memory stick in, that is up to you. But normally it is best placed in the slot closest to the CPU, but as your trouble shooting you can use anyone you want.
  12. Awesome, thank you so much cafuddled. I'm sure I'll be posting a new set of problems soon :)
  13. Hey Cafuddled. I tried the memory testing suggestion and it worked exactly as you thought. Just to start off I tried only testing a pair at a time. One pair worked flawlessly and the other caused Vista to not boot and then when it did, it immediately memory dumped. I'm RMAing the defective pair. Thanks so much.

    *Oh and as hilarious ironic addition, Bioshock and HL2 work perfectly now.
  14. Always a pleasure to help someone in need, hope your new memory comes through fine :)
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