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Windows 7: Freezes after several minutes in 3D games [*.exe stopped working]

04 Feb 2013   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Freezes after several minutes in 3D games [*.exe stopped working]

Hello, everyone.
I have got a small problem. I checked various forums and other sources of information, and though I found many description of similar problems, they all are a bit different from my case and no solution provided there worked for me.

Problem Description

My problem is that the games I try to play always freeze after a short amount of time (5-15 minutes). When I switch to desktop via Ctrl+Alt+Del or Alt+Tab, a message '[insert the game main executable] has stopped'. Also, a 'Failed to start game (app already running)' message is usually displayed by Steam client. There are no problems with launching the games. I also noticed that Reliability Monitor often refers '0a9e' code (sometimes in 'Additional Information', sometimes also as 'StackHash_0a9e' in 'Fault Module Name'.

When I restart the game immediately, it crashes after even shorter amount of time. If restarted three or four times in a row, it locks up with screeching sound, sometimes with a scrambled screen. This is the only symptom, there are neither display issues nor any kind of lagging in the game itself.

Given the rather tale-telling symptoms, my first suspicion was overheating. But it wasn't the case (see below, 'General Notes' section). I also excluded the possibility of power insufficiency - in such case it would be a forced reboot/system failure instead of clean single application crash.

Then I tested by memory with MemTestx86 4.0.1 run from boot disk (comprehensive test, several iterations, 5h testing) - no errors were indicated.

I have tried several games (all in 1680x1050 with full bells and whistles - this configuration is above and beyond requirements for almost all contemporary games), namely: "Sleeping Dogs", "Just Cause 2", "Borderlands 2", "Deus Ex: Human Revolution", "Stranglehold". Same effect. It makes little difference if I actively play them or leave it idling.

Tech Specs:
ASUS F2A85-V PRO Mainboard
AMD APU A8-5600K X4
Sapphire HD 7850 DDR5 2048 MB RAM
2xKingston DDR3 1866 MHz memory 4GB (8GB Total)
OCZ StealthXStream 2 600 W PSU
1 TB WD HDD (~850 GB free)

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
DirectX 11 (installed with Win7)
.Net Framework 4.0 (also, see below)
C++ 2005, 2008, 2010 [Steam games install 2005 by default, regardless of newer versions present]

Computer is brand new, I'm using it for few days.

General Notes

Neither CPU nor GPU is or ever was overclocked. I tried to run the game using AMD Overdive in Catalyst Control Center to underclock GPU (770/1000 MHz core/memory versus native 860/1200). No difference. Definitely not an overheating issue - GPU temperature does not exceed 43 degrees Celsius, in the FurMark Burn Tool in stayed at 55 degrees after an hour of very heavy load. CPU temprature also stays normal (23-25 degrees C).

The funny thing is, I was able to play yesterday for several hours (switching games, turning them on and off, without rebooting the system) with no problems at all (what makes me the more certain that this is not a hardware issue).
Prior to playing I deinstalled .Net Framework 4.0 to replace it with 3.5, but wasn't able to do the latter (the installer starts, unpacks temp files and ceases to work without any message - same case for both the net downloader and offline installer). Strange. But the games ran well. Today the problem returned.

It is also not the problem of Steam platform. I tested it by installing non-Steam games ("Stranglehold", a 2008 title. It crashed in the identical manner, after comparable amount of time (~15 minutes). In my opinion this makes even less possible that problem is caused by overload/overheating.

Other applications (Microsoft Office, Steam, SDL Trados, Winamp, Media Player, mplayer, Opera, OS itself, Diagnostic tools) work smoothly with no problems.

Remediation Attempts Taken

This is the list of the ideas I found in various places:

1. Format and reinstall. As little sense as this advice makes, I tried it. It was a new system with few apps on it, so no harm done. Alas, problem persists.
2. Running as administrator/Setting the compatibility mode to XP/Vista. Some of the games require Win 7 to run and my only user account is an Administrator account (and this is a general solution for apps that won't start at all which is not the case), but I dit it. Problem persists.
3. Turn Stereo Mix on in Control Panel/Sound Recording. Problem persists.
4. Backroll to ealier versions of Catalyst. Tried all up to and including 12.6. Problem persists.
5. Disable firewall. Disabled it. Problem persists.
6. Validate the integrity of Steam cache files. Did it. Problem persists.
7. Re-download games. Redownloaded. Problem persists.
8. Disable Realtek sound control application. I killed the process and uninstalled the driver. Problem persists.
9. Run Steam from C:\ volume. Tried on C:\ and D:\, no difference. Problem persists.
10. Change the sampling rate in Sound properties. Tried several settings. Problem persists.
11. Uninstall C++. Uninstalled all instances. Problem persists.
12. Disable Steam overlay in Steam/Settings/In-Game. Problem persists.
13. Disable DEP for the game executables. Did it. Problem persists.

For brevity sake, I haven't included any failure reports or additional information (that would be a lot of data), but I will provide it if necessary, if we'll narrow the problem down.

Thank you in advance for any help or advice.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Feb 2013   #2
Erick Aguilar

Windows 7 professional X64

How did you perform the Format and Reinstall?
Some people think it's as simple as reinstalling windows, but a CLEAN installation is best.

Did you build the computer yourself? I can't see anybody in their senses building/selling a machine with an APU paired with a 7850. I wouldn't trust a computer that was sold like that.. shows so much from the builder. I mean, it's possible, but it will cause troubles if you do not know what you are doing.

APU's are really moody with discrete graphic cards.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Feb 2013   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1

Ad 1. I performed a clean reinstall, as usual - cleaning partitions, formatting them and installing the system completely from scratch. I think it is little sense in doing anything else if one suspects fault in the system itself.

Ad 2. Yes, I 'built' the computer myself. Didn't know that APUs are so capricious though. The problem is that I managed to play then and later for many hour straight as if everything was all right. I wonder if there are system components or upgrades that cause problems with this particular configuration.
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 Freezes after several minutes in 3D games [*.exe stopped working]

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