What's with the crashing?
June 20, 2011 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I have a new Nvidia GPU, and now games keep freezing on me!

I recently upgraded my PC a little. Specs:

Core 2 Duo E7200 (o/c in the bios to 333mhz bus, 3.16ghz CPU)
2gb DDR2
8800GT 512mb
P31 motherboard
Corsair 450w PSU
Windows 7 64

I ripped out the 8800GT and the RAM and upgraded to a GTX560 1gb (non-Ti) and 4gb DDR2. Most games run very smoothly, but some, which certainly worked before upgrade (i.e., I played them to completion) now crash, and crash hard: I can't alt-tab out, and bringing up the task manager I can't kill their processes. Restart and the system will stick on the shutting down screen, so I have to hard reboot every time.

Portal 2 crashes in this way at the exact same moment every time. Crysis 2 will allow me to load a save but crashes like this as soon as gameplay starts. But The Witcher 2 plays happily and hasn't crashed once.

I've done a clean install of the graphics drivers and a clean install of Portal 2 with no luck. Googling around got me nothing but people with Optimus laptops reporting the exact same crash (but with no apparent solution). I thought maybe I was pushing the PSU too hard so I returned the CPU to stock clock and took out a hard disk; same crashes. Which is a shame because I'd love for the problem to be the PSU as it would be easy to drop a new, better one in.

Any thoughts?
posted by ArmyOfKittens to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 450w power supply is, ah, pretty weak sauce. PSU, mobo and graphics card combinations are a finicky YMMV bunch, based on my experience.
posted by k5.user at 11:14 AM on June 20, 2011

Best answer: Seconding the PSU. Plugging in with a couple of guesses as to your optical drive, case fans, etc. puts you right up and perhaps over the 450W mark even before factoring in anything like capacitor aging.

Check This Site out, it's generally been quite trustworthy for me. I'd go ahead and bump up the PSU, preferably by a few hundred watts to leave room for more upgrades later on.
posted by Rallon at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm eyeing the PSU suspiciously. Unfortunately the only spare PSU we have knocking around is a no-name 480w model so I can't really test the theory reliably without spending.

However, I'm resigned to picking up a new PSU at some point anyway, seeing as I'll probably move to a quad core before the end of the year. What sort of wattage would you recommend? Assuming name brand PSUs, no SLI, etc.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2011

Best answer: I'm n'thing the PSU. I don't know the exact specs of your computer (fans, drives, specific components, etc.) but with a typical setup I've got you at 440W draw on a 450W PSU. Depending on how old the PSU is, the capacitors might be aged enough to push too much. Have you tried dropping your CPU to stock instead of the overclock? Don't drop in the no-name 480W PSU unless you've checked it out to be a reliable one. No sense in burning out your system.

The other thing I noticed is that you've got a big imbalance on your machine. The E7200 isn't going to match up well with the GTX 560 and you might see some CPU limitations on CPU heavy games.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:35 AM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, I tried dropping the overclock with no effect, but running all the crap inside my PC -- it's one of those boxes that just accumulates over the years -- through the PSU calculator and going to 30% ageing pegs it at exactly 450w recommended. The PSU's well over two years old with a lot of 24/7 use so 30% is probably generous.

After dinner I'm going to try dropping the CPU to stock, disconnecting the DVD drive and fans, basically pulling out everything except what's required to boot and load Portal, and see if the problem reproduces. Although I guess even if it does that doesn't rule out the PSU, since it has just the one 12v rail and is rather old to be running such a recent card.*

*nb I don't really know what I'm talking about re PSUs, but I have absorbed words from the internet!

And yeah, there's an imbalance in my system alright :) I bought the 560 specifically for Witcher 2, and while it coped well enough on high/ultra settings theotherhalf's quad core/460 machine did better. I'll be sticking a quad core and a new motherboard in before the end of the year.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:43 AM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: So yeah, coming up with a really honest assessment of everything that's normally either inside or hanging off this machine puts the PSU recommendation up to 474 watts. Which is, yeah. I'm still waiting for Steam to finish redownloading Portal 2 (which I decided to reinstall in a possibly inadvisable fit of let's-try-everything) but in preparation I've started pulling out the various ipods, phones, webcams, game controllers and so on that are normally plugged in.

Assuming it does prove to be the PSU at fault, I'm looking at these two as potential replacements, with room for modest (i.e. non-SLI) upgrading at a later date.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Eeyup, it's the power supply. Downclock the PSU, run two (of four) fans, unplug the DVD drive and pull out all the extra USB crap and suddenly Portal 2 and Crysis 2 are running perfectly fine. So I'll be ordering the new PSU then!

I'm leaning towards this one as it has good reviews -- any thoughts?

Funnily enough the system still seems to be on such a knife edge that plugging in a 360 pad causes the problem to recur!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2011

That OCZ one has decent-but-not-great reviews. It puts 600W through just fine and is labeled appropriately*. The main downside on the reviews have been fan noise which has been deemed excessive. It gets a lot of 4 out of 5 reviews with the complaint being noise.

I'm not quite sure who the favorite PSU manufacturer is other than Seasonic, who ultimately manufacturers most of the best PSUs (most quality PSUs are rebranded Seasonics). Seasonic, Antec, OCZ, and Corsair tend to be favorite picks. I personally run a Corsair HX750 on my home computer. The 650TX tends to be a favorite and the new 650TX V2 can be had for around £65 per Google.

* - Many PSUs are labeled as X watts when they'd only actually be able to achieve that wattage if in a freezer and handle it for 10 seconds before blowing up. Tom's Hardware did recent tests with cheapo PSUs labeled 450-480W and blew up at under 400W. Some manufacturers are trustworthy in that regard, such as OCZ, Corsair, Seasonic, Antec and others.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the really good advice :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2011

Noone's suggested a possibly faulty GPU? I'd at least consider RTMing the card if you're in the warranty period for it.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: I'd thought about that, but seeing as I can make games crash by plugging in an extra USB device, and bring them back from frozen by unplugging, I think the evidence is pretty strong for the insubstantial PSU theory. I've thoroughly Furmark'd the thing and played through all of Witcher 2 so I think it's okay.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2011

Noone's suggested a possibly faulty GPU? I'd at least consider RTMing the card if you're in the warranty period for it.

It's definitely possible that the GPU is drawing more than it should and causing the PSU to poop out, but all signs point to not enough power coming out of the PSU. The specs on the video card indicate a minimum PSU rated at 450W with 24A coming off of the +12V rail. Given that things start working when everything else is powered down, the PSU is the likely culprit. The PSU calculator indicates this system needs 450W to run, and with age to the capacitors, probably more.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:45 PM on June 20, 2011

Ok, so it seems it is either the PSU or the GPU is at fault. I would definitely say 450w is underpowered for the GTX 560. I've found that the recommendations at Hardware-Revolution are almost always spot on. Here's an article with PSU recommendations. The recommendations are at the end, but the whole article is worth reading.
posted by lizarrd at 9:46 PM on June 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I've made my order. New PSU tomorrow!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:44 AM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: Update: new PSU (600W OCZ StealthXstream 2) arrived about an hour ago. It's happily sat in my PC -- and I took the opportunity to actually engage in some cable and airflow management, which was a novelty as before the inside of case looked like an explosion in a power station) -- and the problem games are running perfectly with the CPU overclocked again.

So yes: problem: PSU not beefy enough.

This one actually came with two PCI express power connectors, which I suppose is sort of a clue since my old one didn't.

Thanks to all :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:01 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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