Thanks for looking!
I've not overclocked. I haven't installed hardware (it's a laptop, so i don't usually mess with things like that)
I did do the memory test that's suggested when it restarts after a failed boot, there were 3 options (quick test and more comprehensive ones) - i did the middle one with 2 passes and it said everything was fine. i did the more comprehensive one but got tired of waiting for the second pass and cleared out of it, but i will try that again if you think it'll help.
it doesn't seem to get too hot, not nearly as much as computers i've owned in the past, plus i've had a chill mat under it at all times (one with beads that turn to gel when they get too hot) and there's always beads, so not hot enough to turn it to gel, if that makes any sense. i'm not sure how to check how hot it gets other than feeling it, though.
hard drive (per device manager) says "st9500325as" - seagate 500 gb (per google)
thanks again for the reply.