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  1. Member p_l's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2002
    Location: Montreal, Canada
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    Just starting yesterday, on my "good" computer (see specs under my avatar), about an hour after booting up normally, all of a sudden everything freezes.
    • The mouse doesn't move.
    • The keyboard doesn't respond. Not even CTRL+ALT+DEL work.
    • The screen just freezes in the middle of what I was doing. (e.g., clock gadget second hand stops, CPU Monitor gadget freezes, Notification Area [System Tray] animations just freeze, etc.)
    • No HDD activity light on front of case.
    • Fans are still spinning normally.
    Only a hard reboot brings the computer back to life. It does ask me if I want to restart Windows normally or go into Safe mode, etc. Selecting Restart Windows Normally brings it back to a normal boot and I'm back up and running again normally again for about about an hour (everything works fine - no lag or anything- and CPU Core Temp Monitor Gadget reads normal: in the high 30s Celsius), when all of a sudden it happens again.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by p_l; 19th Apr 2012 at 14:55.
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  2. Renegade gll99's Avatar
    Join Date: May 2002
    Location: Canadian Tundra
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    In my experience a common cause of the computer locking up while idle or low activity is a faulty psu. There may be multiple fans in the case or on the psu so put your hand near the back of the case where the power supply fan(s) blow out. If it's a dual fan unit then check both. If it blows warm at all then the PSU is overheating even though the cpu may show a normal range temp before it locks. If no air blows or the top of the case above the power supply is hot or even warm to the touch the fan is stuck so replace the psu.

    Check that first before looking for other things such as driver conflicts. Although the fact that it happens in safe mode minimizes the chances that it's a driver problem. After that you may need to look at each piece of hardware starting with the ram, video card etc... I'd look at the video card next especially if it has a fan on it that may have jammed and the ram after that. I'm still betting its the psu though.
    There's not much to do but then I can't do much anyway.
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  3. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    Location: canada
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    It could also be bad ram doing that,do a memtest.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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  4. Member hech54's Avatar
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    Location: Yank in Europe
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    Personally I'd blame the add-on "gadgets" first.
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  5. Member lacywest's Avatar
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    Location: California
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    Swapping parts or taking out each part one by one and see what happens when each time a part is removed. Unplug each USB device one at a time.

    I see you have lots of ram too ... try using just one stick and see what happens. Check each stick of ram ... one at a time.

    I had ... last year ... a Panasonic PATA DVD Burner ... had it for several years ... causing my PC to not boot/post properly ... disconnected the PATA cable and the PC started ... reconnected it and the PC again would not startup properly ... strange ... never thought that would happen.
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  6. Member AlanHK's Avatar
    Join Date: Apr 2006
    Location: Hong Kong
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    Yes, could be power supply. I had something like that, took it to a shop and the tech checked it and the voltages were too low, though the fans were spinning and lights were on. Not expensive to replace that, especially when I thought it was the motherboard that was kaput..

    Another recent problem was due to cabling for the hard disk. It would boot up and be fine for 5 minutes, then just stop dead.
    I had just replaced the hard disk cable (UDMA) and had put the one hard disk on the middle, instead of end, connector. That was a mistake.
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  7. Renegade gll99's Avatar
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    Location: Canadian Tundra
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    The reason I suspect the psu first is that device wiring issues mostly cause boot up issues, missing drives or addon devices after the OS loads and for many other problems you'll get the blue screen of death or some other good old message from windows that it stopped to protect your system.

    Since your issue is that your computer just locks up everything even in safe mode then it's either heat related caused by a stuck fan on either the psu or the video card (or any other fan equipped card) or it's low power related because of a bad or underpowered psu for your hardware configuration. So if you have added hardware recently ie new internal hdd, pcie video card, your Hauppauge capture card then suspect that your psu may be underpowered.

    I'm not saying it can't be a ram problem but for me any issues I've had usually produced a visible error or the ram just failed to be recognized at boot-up. Driver conflicts rarely occur in safe mode and also commonly produce a visible error. They don't usually just lock up the keyboard and mouse ports with no kill message at all.

    In person it's a simple process of step by step elimination and takes a short time to fix.
    There's not much to do but then I can't do much anyway.
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  8. Not having much luck with computers! Try using one of your Linux live CD's to see if it will do the same; that way you can quickly rule out anything on the software side. Do you live in the burbs or closer to the more polluted parts of town? I've seen a computer acting strangely and crashing like that before. When I opened it, the board was covered with a thin layer of soot; I cleaned it up with contact cleaner and everything went back to normal (that PC had lots of fans). I guess the soot was causing some kind of capacitance effect.
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  9. Member ranchhand's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2005
    Location: USA-midwest
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    Every time someone has an unknown freeze or crash, at least one person posts suggesting a bad power supply, and then the discussion ensues on how to tell if it is. There is nothing wrong with that and a faulty PS is always one of the usual suspects. However, a bad PS is impossible to discern unless a full swap is made with a different one, and what if that one is bad? My suggestion is to get a PS tester, they are dirt cheap and can save hours of head-scratching. I have two, and I test every PS that comes through with both and I guarantee that it has saved me a lot of aggravation. Most of them have an LED readout of the voltage for the main plug and also the other leads from the PS. I tend to favor the Apevia tester but there are plenty of good ones out there. If you work with units fairly often they are a huge help.
    Link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=-1&...ster&x=21&y=11
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  10. Check your power settings e.g. sleep mode, hibernation. etc.
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  11. Member turk690's Avatar
    Join Date: Jul 2003
    Location: ON, Canada
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    Apart from the PSU, I'd also make a visual inspection of the mainboard. I'll check to see if any capacitors have bulged (if they are, they have to be replaced, or the main board is better tossed out). Then I'll check the CPU fan and heatsink even though the temperature seems OK; dried-out heatsink compound, or a loose or broken (oh so fragile) heatsink mounting pin can work these wonders. It's also possible a weak or dead battery (3V coin) on the mainboard is randomly changing BIOS values every time a reboot is done.
    Stop feeling suicidal just because he unfriended you on fezbuk.
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  12. To add some spice to this soup: On two occasions I have had a bad graphics card cause the same issue. On two laptops I have had bad RAM cause this. Never had a PSU cause this problem, they usually just die or I had one catch fire.

    Best way to diagnose is try one thing at a time. Memtest is free and works pretty well, PSU testers are about $20. I couldn't figure out how to test the graphics card so I swapped it out with another one after scratching my head a while. Linux Live CD is a great idea too.

    Happy hunting.

    --dES
    "You can observe a lot by watching." - Yogi Bera
    http://www.areturningadultstudent.com
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  13. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    Location: canada
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    Originally Posted by hech54 View Post
    Personally I'd blame the add-on "gadgets" first.
    Gadgets is a part of vista desktop feature,not an addon.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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  14. Member p_l's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2002
    Location: Montreal, Canada
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    And the answer is...
































    the video card!

    At first I was thinking PSU, since I just upgraded from the stock 350W PSU to a Coolermaster 500W PSU, because I'm running over 10 TB of drives, a Blu-ray burner, TV card, etc. Thinking horses before zebras, I put the old PSU back in. Dead as a doornail. I'd like to get one of those power supply testers ranchhand recommends.

    Then, when I put the new one back in, now I was getting BSODs at every boot. Just to complicate things, I kind of lost track of which SATA plug went where into the motherboard, so I messed up my boot order, I think. Next time I should note these things down. There's also a floppy plug coming out of the PSU that goes to the multi-card reader that I may also have stuck in wrong. I did check the RAM and inspected for bad capacitors, but that seems OK.

    For its many virtues, my good ol' HTPC HP m9340f (see it here) came with a defective graphics card, which HP was finally browbeaten into recalling, maybe about a year later. However, the identical-except-for-a-quieter-blue-GPU-fan-cover replacement also got some complaints, and I guess my time had come. Furthermore, it really is a bit cozy in there - the case configuration and messy cable management don't provide for ideal air flow.




    I was getting close to taking it into a shop out of desperation, and I backed up all my files overnight. But like most people, I suppose, I'd really rather not hand over my machine to a stranger. I'm sure most of them are honest, but a computer does have an incredible amount of personal info, in many cases. You never know.

    Anyway, thanks to suggestions here (thanks, gll99 & Des), as a last ditch I decided to swap video cards with one of the kids' computers, their HTPC, to their mild ire, and with that card, plus a little luck in plugging all six SATA cables back into the motherboard in some kind of winning order, the machine booted up fine and has been running hunky-dory since this afternoon. I just hope I don't jinx it by hitting the Submit Reply button.

    Again, thanks to everyone who helped out. This has been a great educational experience.
    Last edited by p_l; 19th Apr 2012 at 17:30.
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  15. Member lacywest's Avatar
    Join Date: Aug 2001
    Location: California
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    Hey come on ... ... give me some credit too ... I also said ... swap out your stuff ... I've got several video cards laying around ready and waiting to be installed in PCs to be built.

    Changing the video card would have been easy for me to do ... I see up above I did not say in definite words to swap out the video card too but ... I'm sure you got the hint ...
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  16. Glad it worked out. I can imagine the sigh of relief when it finally booted and stayed operational.

    I've also had monitors that go bad cause BSOD errors.
    Personally I never remember having any of these problems before computers... 8)

    --dES
    "You can observe a lot by watching." - Yogi Bera
    http://www.areturningadultstudent.com
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  17. Member p_l's Avatar
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    Location: Montreal, Canada
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    Originally Posted by lacywest View Post
    Hey come on ... ... give me some credit too ...




    Yup, sigh of relief. Still going steady this morning since yesterday afternoon.

    Here's the odd thing. I put my old video card into the kids' HTPC, a Dell Vostro 200 dual core (it is a bit roomier in there), and it works fine. Go figure.

    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by p_l; 19th Apr 2012 at 10:22. Reason: "HTPC computer" is a pleonasm.
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  18. Member MOVIEGEEK's Avatar
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    Location: CA,USA
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    Sometimes the videocard contacts get dirty or don't seat properly, overclocking a GPU can also cause the screen to freeze. Maybe your case doesn't have the airflow your kids case has and it overheated, I like to use GPUZ to check on my videocard:

    http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/
    Last edited by MOVIEGEEK; 19th Apr 2012 at 10:41.
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  19. Member
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    Location: United States
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    Another possibility is that the (faulty) video card power draw was too high for the power supply
    when running it in a box with all those other components - stressing the entire system.
    Perhaps by switching it into the kids PC, more power was available to it, and some to spare.
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  20. Member p_l's Avatar
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    Location: Montreal, Canada
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    I ordered an identical one to the one I took out and will try it out as soon as the awesome box arrives.

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  21. Member lacywest's Avatar
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    Location: California
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    I use CPU-Z ... GPU-Z.0.5.9 and ... Hardware Monitor Pro 1.08

    Here is how my system is behaving right now at 3AM ... April 20 2012
    The fan spinning at 6K is a little 50MM fan glued to my video card ... the fan inside my 9500GT just didn't make me happy ... now ... I'm happy

    I do run my Nvidia 9500GT video card ... overclocked sometimes ... especially if playing games like Crysis 2. The Nvidia Perfomance feature wont detect the overclocking limits within WIN 7 but it will in WIN XP ... so I use the settings it recommends in WIN XP and do a manual overclock in WIN 7.

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    Last edited by lacywest; 20th Apr 2012 at 06:12.
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  22. I can think of a few reasons why the video card would suddenly start to act up on a couple year old PC, heatsink was moved/rocked, compound is old (migration) or change of season. But if the computer isn't that old I would go with Davexnet, there's probably too much of a power draw with that card and all the rest of the hardware.

    Just add-up the Amps for each voltage values and make sure you don't exceed the ratings on the power supply label (best not to exceed 75% of the value). You'll find that info written on the drives label, but you'll have to get the specs for the video card, CPU and memory from the manufacturer (if I'm not mistaken, that CPU draws 29 A on 3.3 V).

    On a side note, check out Canada Computers in Laval, get Toronto prices on your hardware.
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  23. Member
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    Location: United States
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    Your "running an hour, then failure" scenario is indicative of a heat/airflow problem. Since you were monitoring the CPU temps, I first suspected that the memory was slowly heating up and freezing the system, but seeing that airflow over the GPU was restricted gives you that "Duh!" feeling.

    You might want to invest in a program that can show the temps of all devices that report them (such as your HDs, CPU and video GPU). It really helps when troubleshooting.
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  24. Member MOVIEGEEK's Avatar
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    After looking at your cases the problem is definately overheating. Buying another videocard won't solve the problem, buying a new case will. At the very least remove the PCI card and cover above it, it should allow enough cool air to enter.
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    Last edited by MOVIEGEEK; 20th Apr 2012 at 16:37.
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  25. Member p_l's Avatar
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    Location: Montreal, Canada
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    The PCI card above the video card is a small card for the built-in internal wireless n, and as you can see, above that is the Hauppauge TV card. I can't really remove those. The new power supply I put in a couple of weeks ago not only provides more juice (500w compared to the OEM 350w), but it has a sleeve bearing 120mm fan, moving much more air than its predecessor.






    I just tried out a GPU Meter Gadget,



    and it shows a pretty steady 53 to 56 C, similar to the example. In other words, as Majel Barrett says...
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  26. Member lacywest's Avatar
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    Something to think about ... get a sheet metal hole saw ... the one I have cuts a perfect hole for a 80mm fan. Dont try a hole saw designed for wood ... it will be a waste of time and will leave you frustated.

    The one I have is actually 2.5 inches or 70mm ... that's the size of the hole after done. Has a normal 1/4 inch drill bit in the center for getting the hole centered where you want it to be located.

    And then cut a hole in the side panel and place a fan there to either blow out or blow air in. I do this all the time.
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  27. Member
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    Originally Posted by p_l View Post
    ...and it shows a pretty steady 53 to 56 C, similar to the example.
    Isn't 53 to 56 C a little on the hot side? lacywest has a similar card that is running at ~36 C, or about 20 C less than you. What does it run with the cover off and adequate air flowing over the heatsink?
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  28. Member lacywest's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SLK001 View Post
    Originally Posted by p_l View Post
    ...and it shows a pretty steady 53 to 56 C, similar to the example.
    Isn't 53 to 56 C a little on the hot side? lacywest has a similar card that is running at ~36 C, or about 20 C less than you. What does it run with the cover off and adequate air flowing over the heatsink?
    I did a search on the Internet and it seems the ... GeForce GT 330M ... is a mobile video card ... integrated in laptops ... duh ??

    Did I miss something up above in the other posts ... I shall look again ...

    I looked at your profile specs ... and your indicating that this is your video card ... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121365

    But your ... gadgets thingy is showing you have a nvidia GeForce video card ... so what's really going on ??
    Last edited by lacywest; 21st Apr 2012 at 06:53.
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  29. Member p_l's Avatar
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    Yup, you're right that this is the card that's in there now.




    The GPU Meter image above is the example from the site you can get the gadget from (I also made it a clickable link to there). Here's a screenshot of my actual GPU Meter:



    As I mentioned, the temperature range (pretty much the same with the case's side cover on or off) is quite similar to the example, and most of the googling I've done for safe GPU temperature ranges seems to indicate that it's perfectly acceptable. I'm not a gamer; this is essentially strictly HTPC use.

    Also, and maybe this wasn't apparent from the pictures of the computer case I posted above, there's a rear fan located directly below the video card.

    Last edited by p_l; 21st Apr 2012 at 13:20.
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  30. Member lacywest's Avatar
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    It's Saturday and it's 5:20 PM and very warm today ... somewhere in the 90s

    here is what my PC is doing now ... in my garage ... it's very warm in here ... I wearing shorts and no shirt. Looking at the spin speed of the CPU fan ... whoa !! ... no it is not spinning that fast ... it's actually around ... 4400 RPM ... 4 pin 90mm fan
    DVD Rebuilder is running in the background and CPU is getting nice and warm.

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    Last edited by lacywest; 21st Apr 2012 at 20:27.
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