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Need PC help

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This isn't directly related to CM, but this is preventing me getting the fullest enjoyment from CM, and I know there are some real gearhheads out there.

I recently built my own PC using the following brand-new parts:

Asus P4S8X motherboard

P4 2.4Ghz

512MB RAM (PC2700)

Maxtor 80GB ATA133 hard drive

MSI Ti4200 GF4 card

Creative Audigy

WinXP Home

Upon completion and for the first few days the system ran fine. Then it began to randomly reboot. I cannot detect a pattern of any sort: sometimes it restarts once during a full day's operation, sometimes every 20 minutes; it restarts while I'm web surfing, using a home-office program, listening to music CDs, playing CMBO/Jutland/Diablo2; sometimes it runs for hours and then restarts, sometimes it restarts 30 seconds after I turn it on. It exhibited this problem in the apartment I recently moved out of, at friends' houses, and at my new place. The problem became progressively worse and eventually the system wouldn't even run a single loop of system tests (3DMark or PCMark).

Additionally, if I open the Display properties and attempt to access any of the MSI utilities (overclock, info, etc) I get a "cannot run .dll as app" error, after which the MSI utilities vanish until next reboot. I don't ever need to use the MSI utilities and tried to uninstall them, but can't find either an MSI uninstaller and the Windows add/remove programs doesn't list them. I want them off my system, whether or not they're actually causing a problem.

I worked on it but was hampered because I have no home 'net connection. A few days ago I took it to my brother-in-law's house (he has a great deal more experience with this than I) and he made quite a few changes, some of which were:

update video & sound drivers (using NVIDIA drivers rather than MSI ones)

disable the motherboard's onboard AC97 sound, Firewire controller, secondary USB controller, and serial ports

lower AGP aperture to 2X

uninstall/disable the mobo's built-in support for IDE RAID drive interface.

After each test we'd put the system through one full cycle of 3DMark, and each time it would run the tests and deliver a slightly better score than the previous try.

At the end of our changes I set the system to loop 3DMark while we all ate dinner, and it crunched along for 2 hours without a hitch. Then I played Diablo2 for an hour and it worked fine, so I took it home.

After two days of flawless operation, it suddenly rebooted itself. It only did it once in that evening's gaming session, but it's still clearly got gremlins.

With no 'net access I know there are no bad downloads etc causing problems, and am desperate to figure out WTF is wrong. I spent $1200 on the parts at a time when I really didn't have $1200 to spend (especially now that I've been put on the hook for this year's donation to my sisters' college fund :-(

Any help out there? I'll answer specific questions about software versions, BIOS settings, etc but am only online during business hours.


[ December 10, 2002, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: Doug Beman ]

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Things I would do:

1. Reseat the memory...perhaps a loose connection.

2. See if the fan on the video card is spinning.

3. See if the internal temperature is getting too hot.

Eliminate the easy thigns first, then move on to the harder to troubleshoot possibilities.


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Do what rune says.

Also, are you running the Asus probe program that came on the CD with the motherboard? It is a very good temperature & fan monitor that will power down the machine if it goes past threshold. If you are running it, start a history graph so you can see what happens after the reboot. If you are not running it, install it and look at it to see if temperature is shooting too high or fans are failing.

I would also run a memory test program to see if the RAM is bad.

Lastly, I would look at the system event log (right click on My computer, choose manage, then look at logs and alerts). See what warnings and errors you are getting.

Lastly, if nothing is making sense and you have not yet moved all your data over or can back it up I would advise a clean windows reinstall (with disk format). Sometimes it will install successfully but uncleanly leading to wierd stability issues.


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Pig of a problem.

It sounds like your friend did a good job trying to stabilise your system.

I'd agree with everything in the above posts - especially check the event log for errors that cause the reboot.

I (and others) have experienced what became known as "spontaneous reboot" of XP with nothing appearing in the error log.

These just eventually "went away" for me, maybe as a result of applying a lot of MS XP service fixes.

If all else fails, I'd suggest looking around an XP newsgroup.

Regards, Len

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I'd guess that this may be a hardware problem with the motherboard or power supply. However I suggest following the advice above first.

Make note of when the reboot occurs so you can compare it to the log entries (OS or hardware monitoring). If nothing seems to correspond to the time of the reboot, then a hardware problem may be likely.

P4's (and the better motherboards) have been designed to slowdown their CPU clock speed if they're overheating. It's possible that if the heat build up is excessive they may just power off or reboot. However I'd expect that you would have a similar problem real quick if you just experience a reboot (the heat won't dissipate that quickly).

It's possible that there is some intermittent power circuitry on the motherboard or in the power supply that is cutting out supplying the 3.3V or some other CPU or bus related voltage. The highest likelihood here may be the motherboard, but it may be easier to replace the power supply first (with a high quality model).

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