Computer crashes after a few minutes. I've tried everything.
March 24, 2009 7:53 AM   Subscribe

My computer crashes a few minutes after it boots about 50% of the time. If the computer doesn't crash in the first few minutes it won't typically crash. The crashes are strange; the audio coming out the speakers studders, then the mouse stops moving, and then everything on the monitors stop moving (the monitors stay static until I reboot). No blue/black screen and it doesn't unfreeze even if I wait 20-30 minutes. I have to reset the computer to get it working again. I work in IT, and have tried lots of things to fix this problem. Some of the things I've tried as well as the specs on the machine are listed inside.

I reinstalled windows, installed every windows update, installed all of the latest drivers listed on my motherboard's website, flashed the bios, installed the latest GPU drivers, and the problem continues. Nothing is overclocked except the GPU which is factory overclocked. I've got all of the cables tied down and tucked away, and the air flow feels pretty good. I've run memtest and some other diagnostics and nothing so far points to a problem. I can run cpu/gpu/ram stress tests and the computer doesn't crash. It doesn't look the computer is overheating.

I have two backup copies of all of the data on the system, so I'm not too worried about loosing data.

System Specs:

OS: Vista x64 Ultimate
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3P
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6750
Cooler: Zalman 9700 CPU (With Arctic Silver)
Ram: 4x G.Skill 2GB PC2-6400
GPU: MSI RX3870X2-T2D1G OC Radeon HD 3870 X2 1GB 512-bit
OS Drive: Western Digital Caviar 250GB
Storage Drive: Western Digital Caviar 750GB
Swap Raid: 3x Western Digital Raptor 36GB (In RAID 0 using windows software RAID)
Wireless card: EW-7128g
Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM750-HP 750W
Optical Drive: LG gsa-h62n
Case: RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP (With the door on the front removed for better air flow)
Monitor: 2x 19' Hanns-G LCD
Mouse: Wired Logitech
Keyboard: Wired Microsoft
posted by gregr to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Either you have a hardware problem or your computer (or a part of it) is overheating.

I would make sure the computer is in a well ventilated area away from any heat sources.
Check the air coming out - is it hotter than you expect?

Then run a hardware test. On Linux stress, cpuburn and memtest86+ are good.
posted by devnull at 7:59 AM on March 24, 2009

Symptoms point to Power Supply or Motherboard:

Test using a different power supply with just the MOBO and HD connected.

If you still have issues, my educated guess would be that you have bad capacitors on the MOBO (Hint: You wont always see swelling or electrolyte spillage on the caps) Get the mobo replaced/swapped or repair/replace the capacitors.
posted by emjay at 8:11 AM on March 24, 2009

Heat is definitely the arch-nemesis of electronicals. I think if it were an overheating issue it would happen consistently and more than likely the machine would simply power off completely.

My next thought would be that it was an element of the boot-up process since you say that if it doesn't happen soon after or during booting it doesn't happen at all. Barring that I would guess some kind of driver issue. It sounds like you've thoroughly explored those pastabilities.

So, it sounds like a piece of hardware has gone bad. In my experience with these things (power supplies, graphics cards, motherboard components, etc.) the manifestations of such problems can certainly be intermittent. I'd skip straight to Devnull's latter suggestion and start looking for a junk piece of hardware.
posted by Gainesvillain at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2009

The problem seems to happen frequently enough that eliminating potential problem areas should not be too tedious. As a starting point, try running the PC with onboard video (or an older video card), and with only the OS drive and only 1 stick of RAM. That should eliminate several of your components as the culprit off the bat.

Next, to eliminate heat issues, you could try running the rig with the case as open as possible, and with a powerful room fan aimed directly at it.

You could also try installing windows-7, xp or some other OS on one of your other drives to see if you can replicate the problem.

Good luck.
posted by jameslavelle3 at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2009

I'm with emjay on this. Motherboard and/or Power supply.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:45 AM on March 24, 2009

I've had similar issues. The first time it was bad memory, the rest of the times it's been heat related. Get some compressed air and blow out the heat sinks on the CPU and the video card first.

A quick way to find heat issues, is to install SpeedFan and watch the temperature when you do something CPU intensive. If the temperature isn't leveling off before a crash, it's heat. If it isn't getting hot, then it's memory or something bad on the motherboard.
posted by inthe80s at 9:52 AM on March 24, 2009

Sounds like what happened when the mobo flexed on one of my old laptops. It's definitely hardware, as others have pointed out. Swapping the PSU is probably the cheaper option, but I'd be surprised if it was actually that. I'm guessing some connection on your mobo is suddenly very heat-sensitive for whatever reason and is flipping out a bit.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:21 PM on March 24, 2009

« Older Is Countrywide any good for mortgage?   |   Birds are procreating in my petunias! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.