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Windows 7: PC crashes to desktop during games

31 Dec 2015   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
PC crashes to desktop during games

Hi all, within the past week or two I've been faced with a recurring issue that's been disrupting my gaming experience.

Some context:

I built my current PC about 4 months ago, all parts are brand new except for my GPU which is a little over 2 years old, however was not used until I installed it to this PC. Specs are as follows -

GPU: EVGA GTX 660 2048MB GDDR5 Graphics Card
CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 CPU @ 3.20GHz
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) Dual Channel
Motherboard: MSI Z97 PC Mate LGA1150 Intel Z97 Chipset DDR3 CrossFire SATA3&] USB3.0 A&GbE ATX Motherboard
Power Supply: EVGA 500 B1 80+ BRONZE, 500W Continuous Power
Storage Device 1: Samsung 850 EVO SATA III Internal SSD 250 GB
Storage Device 2: Seagate 1TB Desktop HDD SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (ST1000DM003)
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

Note: I've used the SSD as my main storage device up until a few days ago when I installed the Hard Drive. The OS is installed on my SSD.

What is happening:

It seems this problem has been happening in different variations, they are very similar but I will describe all 4 I have encountered.


Within the past week or two, I've started playing Battlefield 3 again. Before this I have played considerably less demanding games, namely League of Legends and Minecraft. I am able to run these on maximum settings no problem, with framerate in the hundreds. However, in the case of Battlefield 3, after a bit of time playing the game in one session, the screen freezes, sound repeats, then goes black. It stays like this for a few seconds before I am at my desktop, Battlefield minimized to tray, and am prompted with this error message-

If I try to click on the Battlefield 3 icon, it doesn't open up and the only way I can close the application is manually through Task Manager.

It seems to happen anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour into one Battlefield session.


I also recently purchased the new Metal Gear Solid, only to find this issue is also being replicated on this game as well, but slightly different. Similarly with Battlefield, after a bit of time playing the game (seems to be anywhere from 15-30 minutes in this case), the screen freezes, sound glitches, screen goes black, and after a few seconds I arrive at desktop screen with the game minimized to tray, except no error message, and weirdly, the background ambient sounds keep playing, but nothing else. Same with Battlefield, MGS doesnt open when I click the icon and can only be closed manually through Task Manager by closing the application. However after closing the application the sound was still playing, and I managed to stop it by closing the actual process.


This one happened for the first time earlier today when playing MGS. Same as before, after a bit of time into the playing session is when I start experiencing the problem. Except this time, the screen froze at a more graphically intense moment, as if it were about to freeze and crash to desktop, except this time it didn't crash, it froze for a second and then framerate plummeted to something around 10 fps (not sure but it was really low) and remained that way for a few minutes before it eventually froze for a few seconds, and crashed to desktop the same way as before.


This was the most recent instance of the issue I have experienced. This time back on Battlefield 3. Same as before, a bit of time into the playing session and it does the same thing, except when it freezes, it stays frozen at the last frame for nearly 10 seconds. During this time I tried pressing the caps lock key to see if the light flickered on the keyboard, and it did not turn on. At first it seemed to be a whole system crash, as indicated by the caps lock light test, where I'd have to manually restart the PC to fix it, however it eventually unfroze for a second before going black screen, and I was only able to escape it by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del. This time, my cursor disappeared, and the whole computer was lagging heavily, it would freeze for around 4 seconds before my mouse movement was registered, or keyboard input was registered, I could tell the mouse was still "there" somehow, because when I moved it around on the desktop screen, I could see the outline of applications lighting up indicating my mouse was hovering over it, however was not appearing. Aside from this, the most important piece of information from this is that my computer froze every 4 seconds before it became responsive to for half a second, before freezing for 4 seconds again. In this instance of the crash I received no DirectX error, oddly. The only way I could get the immense lag to stop was to manually restart the computer.

In previous instances of this issue, I was not too alarmed, however in this case I became concerned enough to write this post since my whole PC nearly crashed as a result of this, and I got heavy PC lag. As weird as it may sound, it's almost as if the issue is evolving.

What I've tried so far:

After the first encounter with this issue, I talked to some of my computer/tech savvy friends and I've tried a few of their suggestions offered to me. These include:

  • Updating to the latest version of DirectX
  • Updating to the latest NVIDIA Graphics Card driver
  • Making sure GPU was set to default clock speed
  • Disabling "Origin in game" option in Origin client
  • Closing NVIDIA Geforce Experience while playing
  • System scans, for malware etc.
  • Error-checking my SSD
  • Monitor temperatures for anything unusual (will post logs if requested)
  • Swapping the RAM sticks into opposite slots
  • Dusting out PC (there was hardly any in the first place)
  • Removing GPU, and making sure it is placed securely in, as well as power connections

I've tried all of these, but to no avail. None of these seemed to have any significant effect on the problem.

Precursors to this issue:

I've closely evaluated what happens before and after this issue takes place. One thing I've noticed that occurs every time just before the game freezes is- The sounds glitches, it sort of repeats/loops and it seems as if the system lags slightly, although nothing noticeable, it's just the sound that makes a very apparent and audible glitched repeating noise, I dont have any examples of it but it sounds exactly like if you were to roll your R's flawlessly. This happens every time without fail, whenever I hear this, I know it's bound to crash soon.

Additional Notes (Important):

The sound glitching/repeating issue has been occurring outside of games since I started using the computer. It seems to happen most frequently whenever I first start up my computer and I open up all the usual applications such as skype, chrome, league client etc.

One example I can give is- I'm listening to music on youtube in one tab on chrome, I open up another tab and load up a website and the sound glitches/repeats for only under a second but it's definitely apparent. This happens when loading anything from another application, tab, document, etc. However it seems to stop happening after about an hour of the computer being turned on.


This is about all I can think to add to the post as of now, if I can think of any other important details I will add it later. Thank you for taking the time to read and assist me with my issue, it is very much appreciated.

Additionally, let me know if there is a more appropriate forum section for this question.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Dec 2015   #2
Mellon Head

Win 7 Pro x64/Win 10 Pro x64 dual boot

Wow. Thanks for a thorough and detailed description of the problem.

I don't know if this would actually help, because to be honest, the audio glitching outside of games is confusing me.

However, what you describe with the gaming issue is similar to what was happening to me last year when gaming. The audio would stutter and the screen would go black. For me, it turned out to be a heat issue with my GPU. The fans weren't spinning fast enough when the card was under load and the GPU would overheat, causing the same problem you are having. It was caused by the Radeon driver's automatic fan speed function not working properly. When I set the GPU's fans manually to about 65%, no more problem. Perhaps the Nvidia software isn't adjusting the fan speed like it should. That would account for the gaming issues, at least.

Now, you said that the GPU temp wasn't out of the ordinary, I believe, but just so others can see and help, what was the peak GPU temp?

Have you done a memory test? Memtest86+ is a good tool to use to test your RAM. Let it run overnight for at least eight passes, and see if that finds any issues. You can get it from here:

Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool

I wish I could be more help, but perhaps another member will see this and be able to recommend a fix for you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2016   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

This could also be a problem caused by insufficient power.

Your 500W supply should be large enough to run the components listed above and the GTX660, but with very little overhead. If there is any degradation of power output from the supply due to capacitor aging or to manufacturing defect then you will show symptoms immediately. (A larger supply can continue to function normally even with reduced output).

When a graphics card calls for power to perform certain tasks and can not get it, it will cut out that process in order to protect itself from permanent damage. These cut-outs can produce all sorts of strange behaviors.
The sound glitch is common because these newer cards run HDMI and use their own sound drivers.

So test the items Mellon Head mentioned first. Also try running the PC with the sides removed and maybe even a small house fan blowing air into the case - and see if that makes any difference (assuming a heat problem - also a common cause).

But if you don't find anything there then start looking at that power supply. If you can borrow someone's PS to test with (preferably larger than yours) that would be ideal.

Another possibility is a defective graphics card.
When a card is defective and just crashes and doesn't work, well that is easy to diagnose.
But when they work - but..... that is always very hard to track down.
If you can test with another graphics card you can confirm or eliminate this as a possibility much faster and easier.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Jan 2016   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Pardon me for the late response. Anyways, it seems this issue is indeed evolving. Earlier today I was playing league of legends and for the first time, I found myself faced with this error on this game as well. Except this time, my computer blue screened and restarted. Here are the error reports and whatnot, and any other information I found that could be of use -
^This one was from the error message that pops up once the computer restarted and arrived at desktop.
^I found a lot of these in the application part of event view around the times that I encountered the crashes to desktop.

Also, I apologize but I do not have logs from when any of the crashes to desktop occurred, however I do not recall ever seeing the GPU peak anywhere above 60 at all. I might be wrong but based on what I've seen so far, this is what I've come to believe. I will try the memtest at some point here, and I'll get back to you with the results.

I am at my wit's end here with what to do and I really hope you can solve this issue for me because at this point I don't know what else to do. Thank you for your responses.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

For Blue screen diagnosis go to the dedicated forum here (BSOD HElp and Support) and follow these instructions:
Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) Posting Instructions

Can you borrow a power supply to test with?

Can you borrow a graphics card to test with?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #6

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

Do you have your system hooked up to a ups back up battery ?
Just how many items are connected to the same outlet ?

I was reading some stuff about the hdd used it was split mostly bad reviews but one mentioning the above inquiries
Power failure can happen for many reasons = not always the psu's fault but using a Bronzed series psu isn't always a good idea usually people will suggest a gold series minimum or platinum for best results

But it does start with the electrical outlet is it a real grounded outlet or modified from old wiring 2 wire/ real 3 wire ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Hi there, I just concluded my Memtest86 and the results showed no errors with both modules inserted at the same time.

@TVeblen I do not have another power supply to test with, but I do have another GPU, NVIDIA GTX 645 that came with my other Alienware PC, that can be used to test if absolutely necessary. Also I'll be sure to get a post up on that forum section here soon. Thanks for the information.

@ThrashZone Thank you for your reply. My system is not hooked up to a backup UPS battery of any sort. It is connected to the wall outlet. Although, I have an extension cord type thing with multiple outlets (im not sure what it's called) hooked up to the same outlet for my monitor and other electronics. Here's pictures of my setup/outlet configuration and what not -

Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
3rd one is under my desk.

And yes, they're grounded outlets.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1

Power Strip is the word you were looking for == Normally there would be nothing wrong with the way you have them hooked up. The Power Strip appears to be of the $10 variety. They do not do very much and could cause the problem you are having. Try plugging everything else into a different outlet and plug your monitor directly into the wall. You can test the PC that way and see if you still have the problem. If you don't have the problem, it may be time for a more expensive power strip.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #9

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

Hi and thanks,
Surge protectors are good and all but here in the u.s.a. we also need ups back up batteries mostly because here the power is not as stable as one would hope for :)
ups's have other good features like keeping a steady current insuring these psu's get what they ask for
Not to mention if the power goes completely out they give you time to shut down properly.

The power going out isn't the damaging part it's the quick or power coming back on that is the damaging part
Something I always add to an expensive object like computers/ lcd t.v.s/...

I take it you've taken a face plate off an outlet and confirmed 2 wires and 1 ground wire exist and are all connected to the outlet
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2016   #10

Desk1 7 Home Prem / Desk2 10 Pro / Main lap Asus ROG 10 Pro 2 laptop Toshiba 7 Pro Asus P2520 7 & 10

Ok mate now just my two cents worth
1. I would be running a memtest for one thing RAM - Test with Memtest86+ (see pics for detail) but please remember no less than 8 passes otherwise the results will be useless - unless the errors come up fairly quickly.

2. Before that please follow this and post back what you find a pic would be good

Using HW Info
You can test the volts on the PSU with HW Info
HWiNFO, HWiNFO32/64 - Download <download the right bit version and close the right hand window select Sensorsand scroll down to the power section where you will see what the volts aredoing see my pic. Now the section you want will be labelled - fpr example Asusboards usually have "Nuvoton" and Gigabyte boards "ITE" inany case the section you want will have Vbatt or VBAT in it (dead give away)
The original right hand window shows the machine running and is handy for thatbut for looking at the components in some detail close it and use the main lefthand side panel
Open each small square with + in it on the section the components are in andthen click on the individual component/s (it will highlight in blue) - in theright hand side will appear all sorts of details including brands speeds andother essential info that particular device. See pic for example.

Just one last thing you can of course see if the PSU has sufficient capabilities using this calculator eXtreme Power Supply Calculator

Attached Thumbnails
PC crashes to desktop during games-mem2.png   PC crashes to desktop during games-hw-info-desktop-psu.png  
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 PC crashes to desktop during games

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