Anybody have any software recommendations to verify hardware integrity?
January 5, 2004 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I built a computer for a friend and he tells me that it hangs and freezes out of nowhere (XP Professional SP1). Anybody have any software recommendations to verify hardware integrity?
posted by Keyser Soze to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
I've never used it, but I always hear about SiSoft Sandra.

Here's a list of others.

BTW, this is why I've given up building computers... as cheap as they are now, the money you can save is not worth the potential grief, IMHO. (I recognize that there are some specific uses/situations for which it makes sense, plus some people just enjoy it, but in general I believe I'm right.)
posted by pmurray63 at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2004

I don't know of any software packages that could check for it, but it sounds to me like the behavior I've seen when my system memory was bad (there was one time my video card caused freeze-ups too). Have the person experiment by removing one of the DIMMs and seeing if the freezes, then if nothing, swap out the video card for another.
posted by mathowie at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2004

Response by poster: 2.4C Pentium 4
1GB Corsair Dual channel DDR400
2x 80GB Seagate SATA in RAID 0
ATI Radeon 9600Pro
I875P Gigabyte Motherboard

All great parts, I don't know why it should be buggy. I've tried Prime95 and Sisoft Sandra.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2004

Yes, check the RAM.
posted by sudama at 1:18 PM on January 5, 2004

I had that problem for a while when my CPU fan started dying. Replaced it, and now it works great. I'd maybe look into that.

Also, the RAM thing would make sense too...
posted by graventy at 1:57 PM on January 5, 2004

How and when does it hang? The most likely reason is the memory, the second most likely reason excessive heat since it's got a relatively lot of kit. Are the HDs adequately ventilated?
As fas as programs go, I have heard nothing but good of Memtest86, a memory testing application for linux.
posted by lazy-ville at 2:14 PM on January 5, 2004

Ditto on checking the RAM. And have you ruled out a software issue? Not trying to start a snarky Microsoft discussion, just wondering. Here's a possibly relevant MS Knowledge Base article.

Maybe boot off a Knoppix disc, run for a while that way and see what happens?

But I'm getting the feeling that your abilities are beyond mine, anyway, so I'll just sit back and read from here on...
posted by pmurray63 at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2004

Memtest86 can be used regardless of your operating system (it's a bootable floppy/cd that is self supporting).
posted by holloway at 2:23 PM on January 5, 2004

Response by poster: Heat doesnt appear to be a factor. It uses a pure copper CPU cooler (Zalman) running 35 Celsius, with 3 fans running through the case. The hard drives are not directly cooled, but they are not hot to the touch.

Playing video games causes it to happen primarily, though i've checked the GPU fan and drivers. It is using the latest ATi catalyst drivers with Direct X 9.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:18 PM on January 5, 2004

Running the torture test of Prime95 for 12-24 hours is an excellent test of your motherboard, cpu, and memory. I'd also run memtest86 for a few hours. To test the video card, run 3dmark ( for a few hours (tell it to loop endlessly). This is probably a stupid question, but have you updated the bios to the latest version?
posted by reishus at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2004

If the memory checks out OK (it might, but don't count on it) you might want to look into the power supply -- or the quality of power where the system is installed. You don't mention a brand name power supply, perhaps only by omission, but PS problems can and will cause instability.

If the PSU and memory both look good, and the installation's line power isn't iffy, consider swapping the motherboard. It could be defective, especially if it was a Fry's purchase (where known-bad hardware is routinely put back on the shelves after being returned, and sometimes not labelled as returned/refurbished/used).
posted by majick at 5:41 PM on January 5, 2004

Response by poster: 400watt Enermax, came with the case.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:11 PM on January 5, 2004

Test your seagate drives out.

Enermax makes good power supplies. 400 Watts is plenty.

Also, I see you have DDR400 RAM. Much of this stuff is not all that good (they started making it before the specs were fully ratified) and it could be your problem.

Try stepping down to DDR333 RAM. The machine will run about 0.5% slower, and will be more stable (and cheaper).

Who makes the chipset for your serial ATA card? Download new drivers and install them for sure.

Don't worry about CPU temperature with a P4. P4s will slow down to half their speed (or slower) when they heat up, so it's not a problem (although if it isn't heatsinked all that well it can certainly suck).

posted by shepd at 10:56 PM on January 5, 2004

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