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Windows 7: Utterly confused(games freezing)

18 Feb 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Utterly confused(games freezing)

I installed a fresh copy of windows 7 64 bit 2 months ago on my brand new custom built PC and have been experiencing freezing issues in games.

The game will freeze for a few seconds the screen will flash and continue like normal or crash to desktop. Ill get a message in the taskbar tray "ati drivers have stopped responding but have recovered".

The thing that has me really confused is i have 4 games that don't do this at all.

Titan quest
Counter strike source

Ninty percent of the time it will do it in the first 2 mins of booting up the game if it does it at all. Here are the games that experience the issue.

Mass effect 1 and 2
Bioshock 2
Sims 3
Dragon age origins
Fallout 3

The freeze/crash seems to be completely random(if it doesn't do it at boot up). Sometimes i can play these 6 games for hours with no problems.

I have tired 9.6,9.10,9.12,10.1 and 10.2 cat drivers. Im pretty sure i have the newest drivers for all the main components(audio,chipset, bios etc). My CPU is overclocked by 20 percent. My video card is not overclocked. Ive tried doing a clean boot with msconfig and uninstalling catalyst control center.

Anyone have any idea why those 4 games give me no problems?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

Please read the following info about TDR's below and see if you can diagnose your system's issue(s).
But right off I notice that you are using a 500W power supply which could be cutting it pretty fine. You should check to see what the minimum recommended power supply is for that video card, or for the entire system and use one that is 1.5 times as big (overhead, as others have called it). The power supply is one of the most likely suspects in random TDR occurrences. The other common one for your symptoms is poor cooling. Check your temps.

"Display driver xxxxx stopped responding and was recovered"

Timeout Detection & Recovery (TDR) = "Display Driver Stopped Responding and was Recovered" is a useful feature that started in Vista and is also in W7 that allows the OS to try and recover from a video timeout so that the system does not crash to a bluescreen. Symptoms included a screen flash with the TDR message appearing one or more times or the screen blinking out to black. If the system cannot recover it will crash. The issue is that the video card is not responding as expected. The solution is in the: why?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to TDR errors. But the problem is usually found in the local environment (your computer). Finding the cause is a matter of checking every possible cause and uncovering the culprit through a simple process of elimination. By methodically running down a checklist of diagnostic procedures you should be able to find the cause and can correct it.

There are numerous reports of hardware solutions to TDR's. The most common are:
  • Poor Cooling
  • Problems with the power supply
  • Overclocking Issues
  • Bad System memory or incorrect memory timings
  • Defective PC Components

The order you do the diagnostics is not all that important. My personal strategy is to do the cheap & easy stuff first, the cheap & harder stuff next, and then the stuff that costs last. But whatever order you do it in you need to check or confirm the following:

Poorly written software and games will cause TDRs. But if this were the case it would affect lots of people, not just a few.
You could also be asking too much of your video card. Check to see if your video card is tested and recommended for the game/program.
Check the game's website & forums for patches and tips.
See if other people in the forums are having the same problem and if they were able to solve it and how.

It helps if you can isolate the actions that trigger the TDR. Most often it will be an application using 3D graphics. But if the incidents occur constantly it would point more towards defective hardware. If it happens more specifically (just when running Game X) it points towards overheating, settings, software, or driver issues.

You need to eliminate the possibility that your computer has a global problem. You can use a program like Prime95 to stress test your system. Free Software - GIMPS
You can run the "Stress Test" for a few hours or overnight. This will not tell you what the problem is, but it is helpful to uncover any issues your system has with instability and cooling.

Running a video intensive game for hours can generate some serious heat and overheating will cause errors. You can check your temps by looking at your BIOS readings or use a free program like Speedfan SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer .
A real easy test is to just pull the side panel(s) off your case and see if the problem goes away or gets better. If it does then the issue is definitely overheating. If you are overheating you need to look at installing some cooling upgrades. You want to look at ventilating the case (more or bigger fans), Upgrade your case to a larger gaming case (lots of fans, water-cooling), etc.
There are free utilities like BurninTest PassMark BurnInTest software - PC Reliability and Load Testing that you can use to test your system's cooling capability. Caution is recommended using these types of programs.

Bad drivers happen and they can get corrupted. Completely uninstall all video software and the drivers. (Some people say to run a cleaner program from safe mode, some say this is unnecessary).
Let Windows 7 install it's own WDDM 1.1 driver. Check for the video problems using the generic Windows driver.
Install the latest drivers for your card. Or try older drivers. Always completely remove the old stuff every time you install or re-install drivers.
See This Tutorial: Installing and updating drivers in 7

Look in Device Manager and make sure there are no problem devices (yellow ! icon). Correct these by loading the correct drivers or disable the problem device and see if the video problem goes away.

Reseat video card and memory modules. Make sure the contacts are clean. Check all the electrical connections.

In BIOS, check the listed voltages against the manufacturer recommended specs. Reset the voltages to factory defaults and see if the video problems disappear.

Memory errors can cause video problems. Run a program like Memtest for at least 3 passes to see if there are any memory errors. Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool

Overclocking can be a trial and error process. The clocks you set or change for CPU, Memory, or GPU could be unstable. Eliminate this as a possibility by resetting the clocks to their defaults to see if that clears the video problems.

Check for and install an updated BIOS, particularly if it says the newer BIOS corrects memory errors or bug fixes. You could also try loading the BIOS defaults.
While you are there, check the motherboard manufacturers forums to see if others are having issues with the same board.

You need to know that your power supply is delivering sufficient power. Power supply problems are the most common cause of video problems using high end cards.
Check the power supply's amperage ratings. Be sure it has the ample amperage for your card and the rest of the system.
Test the supply with multimeter to measure for a steady 12v to the card's power connectors. (The only true way to test a power supply would be to use the very expensive diagnostic equipment used in labs). But for us regular folks: I tested my power supply by hooking up my multimeter to the PCI-E connectors that I was using to power my video card (I used a spare pair from the power supply to run the card while I was testing). I then observed the meter while I used the computer, first watching the voltage, then the amps, to see if there was any drop-off or erratic behavior while booting or using the computer. My readings were rock solid. So I declared my power supply good.
Otherwise you need to replace the supply to eliminate this possibility. Or borrow one from another computer.

I suspect that a video card must perform flawlessly to operate in a Windows 7 environment and run the most recent games. If you tried all the above diagnostics and no problems were found then that leaves you with only one possibility: a defective video card. Some brands have the problem more consistently than others. You could check their forums for clues.
You could try your card in another computer running W7 to see if the problem goes along with the card.
You could try a different card in your computer. I bought an inexpensive card to use. My TDR's disappeared using a "lesser" card. Or borrow a card from another computer.
Otherwise RMA or replace the card.

TDR complaints have come from PC owners running virtually every PC configuration. They occur regardless of which video engine, manufacturer, driver, or system used. They are too numerous to write off as a random problem, but at the same time if people are getting their systems to run correctly using the same hardware and software that you are then it follows that your problem must be solvable.

More Info Here:
Timeout Detection and Recovery of GPUs through WDDM
NVIDIA Statement on TDR Errors - NVIDIA Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I would assume i would have the issue in all my games if it was a hardware problem. Ive checked all my components with software to check temps and everything seems to be ok there(58c idle 70c load for my GPU).

I have done a memory test with memtest86 and it passed with no errors.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

18 Feb 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

What can I tell you? I know exactly where you're coming from because I would not believe I could have a video card problem because I had be using it for 9 months in XP playing games without any problems. I spent weeks chasing my tail. It was the video card.
This is a very common issue on this forum. Just go down the list and eliminate every possible cause till you find it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2010   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

@ TVeblen :

Nice post!

@ Evilclive :

1. Try setting your CPU overclock to default. If I'm not mistaken, a CPU oc will also oc your memory.
2. Check your PSU. It could be insufficient.
3. Swap your VGA with another one OR try it on another machine.

Good luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2010   #6

Windows10 Pro - 64Bit vs.10547

- check your HDD and DVD/CD connectors..
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2010   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x86-64

Try the troubleshooting guide in my sig too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2010   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

As mentioned, the PSU could be the culprit.

However,from my experience the display driver failing to respond is usually a driver issue or unstable OC.

First thing i would do if i were you:

Reset the OC to default.
reboot to bios and choose the option "Reset All to optimized Defaults"
Disbale all options now you do not need ; onboard sound,video, Floppy Drive ... IDE or AHCI mode etc that applies to your set up.

Now boot back to Windows & Try again and see if the issue persists.
If it goes away, there may be a slight instabilty youll need to isolate.
No stress test is 100% accurate. Although rare, I have seen them pass Prime & IBT yet have issues gaming.

Next (while at default clocks):
Uninstall all ATI software & drivers.
Run Driver Sweeper and clean everything left behind
reboot and install a fresh copy of CAT 10.2

if this solves the problem, you may need try and locate a possible OC instability or the PSU is having issues while OC'd
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2010   #9


It's almost certain to be a power supply issue. I've seen similar problems before, so I checked the specs on your graphics card and your PSU. Visiontek recommends a minimum of 500w with at least 75w to the PCIx connector. While you do meet the minimum total wattage, in combination with the additional power consumption from overclocking, there's probably not enough power getting to your GPU under heavy system load with some of your games, and you are lucky the worst that's happened is a crash to the desktop. Try one of the PSUs that's been tested for that graphics card.. and add 50% to the recommended minimum, especially if you're going to be OCing your CPU.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Feb 2010   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Yea really pushing it close, especially if OCd likely just asking to much of the PSU.

Which is why Im thinking it may improve at default speeds.
Might still be close is power demands, but still should help for now.
20% OC will eat more power than you think.

Check out these Corsairs: - CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Power Supplies

These are excellent PSUs, 650W with a single 52A rail will be more than enough juice, even Oced with the GPU OCd.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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