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Windows 7: Need expert for difficult computer problem - random crash/lockups

13 Jul 2012   #1

Win 7
 
 
Need expert for difficult computer problem - random crash/lockups

I've been building PCs for my personal use for almost 20 years, and my latest HTPC I built about 8 months ago. It's fairly basic, a Gigabyte motherboard with 8GB RAM (2 sticks), a Sandy Bridge i3, a BD drive, and a RAID card with 3 attached HDs in a case with an Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU. It ran brilliantly for about 6 months and nothing has been changed with the hardware.

Starting about 2 months ago I began experiencing random lockups. Felt like it was something I'd installed since the hardware was pretty new and had been stable with no changes, but I've since reinstalled Windows from scratch multiple times, run memory tests, sfc /scannow, etc. and I get no obvious errors, but the machine is still locking up. Here are the symptoms:

- Lockup can happen minutes or hours after boot, but often takes many hours up to a couple of days
- Happens whether I am using it (say watching a movie) or when it is idle
- Usually screen is completely black when I try to access it (and it doesn't respond to network ping or other connection attempts), but sometimes the screen is showing but garbled up
- Requires a reboot to fix
- Often, but not always, the date in Windows after such a reboot reflects current day date, but year showing is now 2000 (and enabling or disabling Internet time has not helped address this behavior)

Anyway, the inconsistent period of the lockups, the black vs. garbled screen, and the inconsistent date issue have me completely puzzled. i'd think if it was the CMOS battery then whatever is screwing with the date would send it to 1/1/2000 and i'd get some CMOS alert in the BIOS at start, and if it was the CPU or PSU the date would be a non-issue. So still leaning towards the battery or the mobo, but wanted to see what the experts here might recommend before I start RMAing everything. THANKS much for your help!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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13 Jul 2012   #2

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

Are you monitoring the temps on your CPU cores to make sure the CPU is not overheating?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #3

Win 7
 
 

Yes, and it sits about 48-49 when not under load, and usually gets up to around 60 C when under loads like watching a movie and playing music simultaneously.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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13 Jul 2012   #4

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

What about your graphics card temps?

If you haven't already done so, you'll want to configure your computer to generate a memory dump when it freezes/crashes so that it can be analyzed:

Dump Files - Configure Windows to Create on BSOD

Also, you might want to try running a system health report:

System Health Report - Vista Forums

It could very well be a corrupt driver, which can be verified checked by running "sfc /scannow" from an elevated command prompt. When you reinstall the OS, you must load the proper drivers from either the manufacturer's website or use Windows Update to get them. Sometimes, one or the other will cause an issue.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #5

Win 7
 
 

I am using the integrated video only, and the sensor temps all appear fine. I have run sfc /scannow from an elevated prompt repeatedly and it has never turned up an issue. It is non actually going to a BSOD or crashing in that sense, more of a lockup with or without a blank screen, and so I've got it configured to capture a dump but it doesn't generate one. i forgot to mention I've checked all the event viewer logs and no strangeness there, either. I ran the perform as instructed in the link you sent me but it shows no flags other than the fact I have UAC disabled and I don't auto-check for windows update (both intentional, and my windows updates are up to date).

This is all making me believe more and more it isn't software, but hardware. Agree? Ever seen a system clock do this kind of behavior?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #6

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

When you reloaded Windows, where did you get all of the drivers for your system? What software do you have loaded on your system? It's not advised to disable UAC as there are rarely reasons to do so that offset the risk added in doing that.

It really could be either hardware or software related. How have you run your memory tests and what have you used to test it? Does your PC get proper ventilation?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by vettejock99 View Post
This is all making me believe more and more it isn't software, but hardware. Agree? Ever seen a system clock do this kind of behavior?
I agree.

These symptoms are commonly caused by defective RAM. Download OCCT from the following link and try running some RAM tests.

Download

I also recommend testing each stick individually, meaning take one stick out of your machine while your testing it, then repeat the process on the next stick
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #8

XP / Win7 x64 Pro
 
 

That software doesn't test memory from the description on the site and what their screenshots show.

Memtest86+ is pretty much the defacto standard for testing memory. The sticks don't initially need to be stress tested separately. You'd only need/want to do that after errors were found or if you were trying to test them by just using the system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #9

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

I had a very similar problem 6 months ago and it turned out to be a dodgy memory module! Memtest should locate it but perhaps as you have just two modules, how about taking one out and seeing if it happens then swop over modules. Just a thought!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2012   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FliGi7 View Post
That software doesn't test memory from the description on the site and what their screenshots show.
Incorrect. Using the CPU Linpack test you can test the RAM.

I recommend this software from experience as it was the only program to pick up on faulty RAM that I had in the past

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by FliGi7 View Post
Memtest86+ is pretty much the defacto standard for testing memory. The sticks don't initially need to be stress tested separately. You'd only need/want to do that after errors were found or if you were trying to test them by just using the system.
I recommend things that I have personally seen work, "defacto" or not. I'm not sure how you could ever recommend not testing the sticks individually especially with the large amount of RAM the OP has.

The reasons for it are plentiful. You can determine whether or not both sticks are defective or just one. You can also make sure you are testing the specific stick where as running tests with both sticks inserted doesn't necessarily utilize enough RAM to test both sticks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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