Back to the freezing question

Discussion in 'Hardware Discussion & Support' started by IEMC, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    I've been having this freezing thing (completely random, happens at any times, from surfing the net, to playing games, to letting the computer sit idle, it's simply random) happen for quite some time now, so I'm narrowing it down, and I've been suspecting the PSU to be the culprit, but I can't just up and replace it without being sure.

    So far I know (for a fact, as it's either new or has been replaced) it's not the:
    - Hard drive
    - Video card
    - CD/RW drive
    - DONT THINK it's software, as it freezes anywhere during the time the computer's on. Possibly bad BIOS?

    Something else that's questionable is the memory, but since Xmas I've gotten a new stick which I haven't tried using on it's own to see if it's the old one, but it passed memory tests, so I don't know.

    One thing I noticed is that the computer likes to freeze when there's high use of the CD drive or the hard drive. When I got the HDD for Xmas, when installing XP, it froze an average of 8 times an hour (it's the most annoying thing you'll ever have to do). I think it also has a higher percent chance of freezing when running disk cleanup, too, but I have yet to see a definite pattern.
    Another time of freezing is during games, but it's not as often as you think. I could go days with perfect gaming, and there's no problems, but other days it could freeze after about 10 - 20 minutes, I restart my computer, go back to the game, and then can play for 3 hours without any problems.

    Because of this, I was thinking a possible motherboard issue, but like the PSU, I can't just go and buy one without money, or knowing it is in fact the problem.

    It can't be a heat issue, or at least as far as I know. I have many case fans:
    2 in the back as exhausts
    1 in the front which goes over the hard drive
    1 suspended fan inside blowing on the north bridge heat sink (I think it's the north bridge, it's by the RAM slots / CPU) along with part of the RAM slots

    CPU is at an average of 20 - 25 degrees celcius when idle / mild use, then it goes to as high as 38 degrees celcius when under high stress tests.

    I've done many stress tests:
    - Everest stress test, which maxed out memory, CPU, and hard drive loads. Did this for 20 - 30 mins one day, there were no freezings or any strange temperatures or, AFAIK, voltages (according to BIOS readings, anyways).
    - Also used nVidia's Ntune stress test for about 20 mins, and it had the same results as the Everest stress test.

    Now, about the PSU. It's not the most expensive PSU, nor the greatest name brand, but it gets the job done. I borrowed a multi-reader from the school Friday to test PSU voltages. These are the results under heavy load:
    - 12v is at 12.28-.29V average. (at molex without anything attached)
    - 3v is at 3.43V average. (at the motherboard)
    - 5v is at 5.28-.29 average. (at molex without attached hardware)

    The only voltage that raises eyebrows is the 5v, but that's for you to decide.

    What I'd really like to do is attach the multi-reader, and set it on my desk. Then go into a game and simply wait (if it ever, it's so random sometimes it never, happens) until it freezes, then see if there was a significant jump.

    One last thing I tried was attaching a second PSU to the computer to handle all of my fans / the CD drive. It made no difference with or without the load taken off the PSU, the computer still froze as often, or as little, as before.

    Could I please get some advice / suggestions / ideas / possible solutions?
    Some things to note:
    -Don't have much money, no scratch that, I'm basically broke, so low cost ideas, please.
    -Don't have friends who I could just borrow parts from, so I think that's out of the picture.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Bump and a question.

    Can heat cause voltage fluxes / any other power fluxes?

    Another heat issue is in the PSU. The fan on it isn't, or as it looks, going as fast as it could / should be. AFAIK, the fan is one that goes as fast depending on the temperature, so I was wondering how I could disable that and make it go at full speed constantly. I always thought I could do this by simply opening the PSU and cutting that third wire attached to the fan, or something.

    Anyone know if that would work / another idea? Hard wiring the fan is always an option, if possible. I have a solder in hand if needed.
     
  3. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Wow I'm kinda disappointed no ones even tried making any response yet.
     
  4. mkk

    mkk Well-Known Member

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    I can't offer a likely solution, but I'll do what I can. If the powersupply runs very hot it can start to behave irregularly, but some voltage variation is pretty normal. Your case seems to have a good enough airflow so as long as the PSU fan pushes some air our it's probably fine. I wouldn't like that +5V reading either, but it's not at a directly dangerous value. I have no idea if that brand/model of PSU is generally reliable, but a relatively poor product could be a reason.

    Typically a powersupply fan uses only two wires and cannot be changed out straight off to another chassis fan. Sometimes they're even fixed by soldering and not socketed. You could use a fan that gets its power from within the case, if the wires can be made to exit the PSU without getting in the way of the fan blades. But I'd generally very much recommend against tampering with the inside of any PSU.

    Have a look at the data cables of the harddrive/DVD and replace them if you have a spare lying around.
     
  5. Zelig

    Zelig Well-Known Member

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    By freeze, you mean a hard lock, requiring the use of the reset button?

    By freezes anytime the computer is on, you're referring to use outside of Windows even? While dn the BIOS, or booted into linux?

    When you say the memory has passed tests, what tests are you referring to specifically, memtest for 8+ hours?

    Good job troubleshooting so far, the memory and PSU would have been one of my first guesses as well, maybe a faulty motherboard after that.
     
  6. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    The fan pushes air out, just not significant amounts. I read the guide on replacing fans in PSUs and it seems like it's something I could feasibly do, but I'll read up on it some more / possibly examine the PSU before an attempt.

    The hard drive is on a SATA with a new cable which I received from Xmas. This replaced my old IDE drive, and I don't even have the CD drive connected, anyways. The problem has been happening since about 4 months after I first built it, so I really don't think it could be the cables.

    I think with the old drive, it was one of my first guesses as to a fix, anyhow.

    It's a hard lock, frozen in time, so the reset switch has to be used, yes.

    it freezes during Windows, during boot, in BIOS, etc, so yah, outside of Windows, too.

    As for memtest: I think it got passed a few passes before the computer actually froze during the testing. It's kinda weird, though. The computer froze, which was obvious because the test sat in the same spot for several hours, but this little spinning text thing was still going, as if it wasn't frozen. I want to do another test sometime soon, but I can't at night, as this computer is the very loud when on. Maybe I could run it when I went to school, or something.

    I may just do that tomorrow.
     
  7. cozumel

    cozumel I'm dangerous but cute...

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    Have you got any external devices plugged in that could be causing a problem?
     
  8. Dyre Straits

    Dyre Straits 10 Grandkids -2 Great-grandsons

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    I'd try running the MemTest again with one stick at a time. The fact that it locked up during MemTest isn't a good sign. Were there any errors at all generated? And, that little spinning 'icon' will often continue working even if MemTest has locked up. I've had it happen myself.

    But, as mentioned above, it could very well be a PSU problem and a loss of power at random times. But, at the moment, my bet would be one of the sticks of RAM.

    Good luck!
     
  9. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    The only things attached to my computer:

    - USB mouse
    - Keyboard in it's respected slot
    - 5.1 Surround on the onboard sound-card

    Also have a fan controller, controls 3 case fans. Has 2 cold-cathodes attached to it, but they're currently unplugged.

    Alright. This was my first thought, too. I'll do this tomorrow, if I have time.
    And no, no errors at all.
     
  10. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Didn't get to do it today, will do it tomorrow.
     
  11. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Man that sucked. I was gonna do it this morning before school, but last night before bed I went to get my floppy disk to put memtest on and I couldn't find my floppy cable. Didn't wanna stay up all night looking for it, so it's delayed yet again.

    Will do tomorrow, if I can find my cable. I would use my CD drive as the boot for memtest, but constantly using my CD drive, from what I've seen, is one of those things that increases freezing chances.

    Also: Now accepting donations towards a new PSU or even a new / used PSU. :D Just to get the problem fixed or a variable out of the way, of course. Will pay for shipping <3
     
  12. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Alright, did all the memtests. Last night (however loud my computer was) I ran the memtest on my original stick of RAM for 8+ hours, no errors. Before school, did my second, new, stick for 8+ hours with no errors.

    So, another variable knocked out: It's not the memory.

    Left with 2 things: The PSU or the motherboard. I'm thinking it's the PSU, myself, and can be related to varying voltages due to heat issues.

    Any suggestions as to what to do now?

    I would buy a PSU if I had enough money, but as of right now I still have little to none. Still taking donations, though. :>
     
  13. Dyre Straits

    Dyre Straits 10 Grandkids -2 Great-grandsons

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    If you think there may be heat issues. try running with the side cover off and a small desk fan blowing into the case.

    Make sure the inside is cleaned up of any dust, too. A can of compressed air works wonders. Check for dirt/dust on the fans and that the fans all are working freely. If you feel any resistance when you turn them with your finger, they may not be spinning a full speed. AND, that could be a source of the excess noise.
     
  14. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    I clean my case out monthly, and cleaned it a little out last night. It's pretty clean.

    I have a fan controller with the case fans on them, I've seen my fans running slow, and these are definitely running at full speed.

    And of course the fans are the excess noise, I have a total of 6 case fans, no doubt about where the noise is coming from.

    The only cooling area in my case I know feels warm is the PSU itself. The fan in it is garbage and I can tell it isn't running as fast as it should / could be. I'm thinking about buying a new 120 mm fan and replacing it myself, or simply opening the PSU to see if it's a bad connection or something else I can do to make it run better.
     
  15. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Ok, made a little diagram in paint. I have photoshop but can't be bothered with such overkill.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Can anyone think of a better way for my fans to be?

    Only thing I don't like is not having a fan in the top of my case in the front to bring airflow through there. If I really wanted to, I could buy 2 80mm fans and stick them side by side, but they'd have to be rigged up as I don't have actual slots for fans there.

    I still doubt it's general case cooling problems, though. I'm still sure it's the PSU, just wish there was a way I could test it. Same thing with the motherboard, too.
     
  16. kn00tcn

    kn00tcn New Member

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    back when i had a generic 420w psu, or rather, when it was literally about to die, my oldest ide drive, a maxtor, randomly shut off & on during windows, like you hear the tone get lower & back up as if i shut it off & on really fast

    so...... hah i guess psu or the ide/sata controllers on the mobo

    oh, is the north/southbridge too hot?
     
  17. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Nothing (except the PSU, which is more warm than hot) is getting hot with my current fan set up.

    My problem isn't like yours, where something sounds / looks like it switches off then comes back on.

    I wish this was easier than it is :/
     
  18. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    Big day for computer stuff for me.

    First I took about 6 hours to add a window mod to my case. The thing is frickin sweet, will provide pics in the future.

    Then I re-arranged my case wires, as they were going every which way and getting in the way. Tidied them up with some zip ties.

    Next, I cracked open my PSU and found the fan is removable, having this 2 pronged kinda plug. Do they sell fans like that? It resembles a motherboard-attaching case fan, except only 2 prongs.
    There was a lot of dust in the PSU, too, so I cleaned it out.

    Also, I plan to add a door fan replacing the fan I have on Construx in the middle of my case.

    None of this stuff is really related to the issue except for the PSU fan/dust thing, just wanted to share.

    Also, any more ideas as to the problem?
    So far, it's not the:
    - memory
    - Video card
    - heating issue
    - IDE controller (nothing's attached to it, but still freezes)
    - SATA controller (happened before I started using SATA)
    - Hard drive (it's new, happened with old, as well)

    Possible problems:
    - PSU (my number one thought on cause)
    - Motherboard (I really dont think so, but you never know / can't really test)
    - CPU? (just a thought)

    I'm gonna start looking for a job, as I finally realize I need one.
     
  19. IEMC

    IEMC Neighborhood screw up.

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    So far so good as far as after me cleaning out my PSU from dust. I haven't had a freeze yet, but it's only been a day, so only time will tell.

    I used to get at least 1 - 2 freezes after a few hours of use when just browsing the internet. So far nothing.

    Can dust in PSUs cause problems like this? I mean, there wasn't TONS of it, but there was enough in there to have to clean it.
     
  20. kris23

    kris23 Going Insane.....

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    a crappy PSU in general can cause trouble like that. happened to me and got a 600w single rail PSU
     

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