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Windows 7: Computer shuts down randomly and graphics mangled inconsistently

12 Jan 2015   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Computer shuts down randomly and graphics mangled inconsistently

Hello all --

I'm stumped! Any help is very much appreciated.

There are two main issues that I have observed. The main issue is that, while using the computer it will periodically slow to a crawl and then completely freeze (goes from great to dead frozen over the course of less than 5-10 seconds). Noticed it while streaming video (Hulu Desktop) and while playing recorded TV video (Windows Media Center). Only recourse is to force reboot.

The other issue, which started manifesting itself at the same, is that sometimes the graphics display to the screen (a television over HDMI) has numerous artifacts...looks like a grid of tiny white dots superimposed on the image, and the resolution is lower than usual and distorted (say, 800x600 on my widescreen TV, or something like that). Interestingly, the mangled display is there from the very first screen (the motherboard splash screen), and is there throughout the boot process. Typically from that point, the only way to get to a desktop is to go in Safe Mode.

Recent Changes:
For the most part, none. Problems started right after I moved, and the only change there was the electric outlet (obviously) and I used a different power strip (plugged the computer power cord into a power strip that I had previously used for a different computer, but that power strip was new to this computer).

Since the problem has started, as part of my troubleshooting, I have swapped out one of the two hard disks (the one that I use for C: ) and re-installed Windows on that drive. For the most part, the problem didn't manifest itself during the entire installation process, although at one point the monitor said no signal for 10 minutes and I ended up hitting reboot. The rest of the installation happened without incident. Then, within 20 minutes of successfully booting up the first time and soon after setting up Windows Median Center, the mouse got slow, and then the whole computer froze. (As in, no visible response to keyboard or mouse input.) I ended up cold-rebooting, and haven't been able to get back to the desktop in anything but Safe Mode since.

I have also swapped out the HDMI cable, with no effect.

I built the computer myself about 6 years ago (late 2008) and did a hardware upgrade about 4 years ago. There has been no recent change to the hardware or the software, other than as described above. It had been working well (reliably) until I moved; when I set it up in the new place, that's when I started noticing issues. I transported the computer in the car, not the moving truck, to ensure that it would be handled gently. I have opened the case up and not noticed any loose connections, etc.

Intel E8500 processor
Gigabyte motherboard (GA-EP45-UD3P P45 775 R)
MSI graphics card (MSI N9800GT 512M)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

What I've tried:
I thought maybe it was a power supply issue. I've changed the power strip back to the original one, but the problem still exists. I suppose it's possible that the power supply itself is a problem, but like I said, I hadn't made any hardware changes in years when the problem started.

I thought maybe the hard drive was failing, but swapping out the hard drive for a brand new one didn't fix the issue.

I thought that maybe it's a graphics card issue, but because the problem is intermittent (sometimes I get perfect resolution, and no bitty marks), that seems to me a little unlikely. I have swapped out the HDMI cable to a known good one, and that didn't make a difference.

Like I said, not really sure where to go from here. Any help is greatly, greatly appreciated!

Best wishes,

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jan 2015   #2
Microsoft MVP


Compare the install you did with the perfect install compiled in Clean Reinstall Windows 7
especially how drivers are handled in a driver-complete OS. You may want to do it over if it varies much.

Otherwise work through the Troubleshooting Steps for Windows 7.

Have you updated the display adapter, reinstalled any video card to make sure it's seated correctly? I'd clean out the existing driver with Driver Sweeper to install the one Windows Update provides first, then the latest from maker's Support Downloads webpage.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jan 2015   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Thanks for the quick response and the helpful links, gregrocker. I did a clean install of Windows using an .iso but didn't account for options to slipstream latest/greatest drivers, etc. Will investigate that, and check things like the seating of the graphics card, etc. Other suggestions, such as recent updates to the driver adapter etc. would presumably not be issues on a clean Windows install, yes? Will update this thread after a few more days of troubleshooting using these links and will be in touch. Thanks again!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Jan 2015   #4
Microsoft MVP


Just make sure you follow the steps, tools and methods in the tutorial to install and maintain the install. Over a million consumers have followed it without a single complaint.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Computer shuts down randomly and graphics mangled inconsistently

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