What's a Good Resource for Troubleshooting PC Video/Temperature Problems
August 8, 2017 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I have a self-built PC (Win7, AMD A10-7850K Kaveri / Radeon-7, Gigabyte mobo) that had been working reasonably well, but started acting up (reboots, powering off with no warning, etc). Usually, it would recover OK, but (predictably) one of the reboots screwed up Windows, and that escalated into a mess.

I managed to get things booting again, refreshed hard disks, etc., but it was really difficult to find recent troubleshooting information -- there's a ton of content pharms that just repost Q/A threads, and they cruft up Google results so you can't find anything.

In the course of repairing the machine, I had a lot of freak reboots and apparent video-related crashes (the machine would hang while making or restoring a backup, with graphic artifacts). I suspect either heat or Radeon video drivers, but don't really have a way to figure out for sure. It's probably in the realm of overclockers, hardcore gamers and other PC tweakers.

I'd like to find a community where those kinds of questions would reach competent people. Is there anything better than StackOverflow (maybe the SuperUser forum)?
posted by spacewrench to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Reddit's /r/buildapc might be worth a shot.
posted by lozierj at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2017

If you haven't already, remove your CPU heatsink, clean the thermal grease, reapply, and reseat it. Most of what you're doing is not graphics intensive and would not cause a gaphics card to overheat, but if your CPU overheats, you would see this kind of behavior. Depending on the age of the build, the thermal paste may be past it's prime. Make sure the CPU heatsink is seated correctly as well. I had a similar issue years ago, and it was because one of the heatsink hold-downs had broken.
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:47 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

In addition to the above, this could be:
* Display (or other) drivers. The display driver is easy to update, so try that first.
* Your GPU heatsink, which might need to be reseated with new heatsink paste or has a non-functioning fan.
* Other fans (CPU fan in particular) that are gummed up with crud.
* A power supply issue
* A failing hard drive. Scan your hard drive with Checkdisk to see if that's an issue.

If you're getting constant problems, reboot into Safe Mode. Since Safe Mode only loads basic drivers, whether you see problems there or not will tell you if Windows drivers are the issue or if you have some sort of a hardware problem.

How To Geek is generally a good source for how to accomplish tech tasks.
posted by cnc at 1:56 PM on August 8, 2017

Try taking out your video card altogether and try booting with just the onboard video and troubleshoot from there.
posted by TomFoolery at 2:34 PM on August 8, 2017

Thanks, everyone! I don't have a separate graphics card (the R7 is built into the CPU). I suspected an underperforming heat sink, so I'd replaced it with a closed-system water block, but that didn't make a difference. And weirdly, it was in Safe Mode (or boot-from-recovery-CD-and-restore-system-image) when I had the most crashes. Now that the disk is recovered and I'm booting the system normally, it's working harder and hasn't crashed yet.

The AMD drivers seem to install a bunch of other crap (which is suspicious), plus the latest version of the driver won't install at all, with no Googleable error message. I don't know whether it's the fact that Win7 is obsolete, or AMD software sucks, or there's a hardware problem with my machine.

Anyway, I've got some new things to try, and I've ordered a lower-end AMD CPU to see whether it's something related to the high-end chip or the video drivers.
posted by spacewrench at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2017

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