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zircon

Regular system hangs in Windows XP. :(

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Damn!

One thing to try, if you haven't yet, is to run the system with only the bare essentials: motherboard, RAM, CPU, and video. If it still freezes up with just those installed, then you know it has to be one of those. If it runs fine, then add your hardware one by one until the hang returns. Hopefully this will help.

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OK, still having the freezing problem... it's completely random. A week went by with no issues, then I got it a couple times in the span of a few days. Also happens on my XP64 partition which I haven't touched in over 4 months (until today) so it definitely seems like a hardware issue. I really don't want to mess with the computer myself past what I've already done... it's so tightly wired that removing anything is a huge pain.

Tomorrow I'm going to take it to Micro Center and ask if they could run some diagnostics on the processor and PSU. This should cover it, right?

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OK, not taking it to Micro Center since they said it could take 3-5 days... I can't afford to lose that much work time. However, I did find something interesting. I ran tons of Prime95 tests earlier designed to heavily stress FPU, heat and power consumption. I ran three sets of tests. The first two had errors on all cores. The third time, everything seemed to be going well, then my computer simply shut off. I wish I had been running a temperature monitor since (I'm assuming) that could have been due to the PSU OR the proc temp being too high... I really don't know which.

However, when I rebooted, the light on my firebox seemed to be blinking. I've never seen it do that so I don't know why it would. The Firebox is firewire-powered. Could this be a power problem?

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This is really starting to sound like a PSU issue. Is there a way you could get ahold of another PSU to temporarily replace yours to see if it might be the problem?

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No, there's no way I can get a temp replacement unless I buy one. This sucks. Also;

Sorry to double post, but an addendum...

I got another hang recently, then when the system booted, before I got into XP, I got a BSOD with the error "An attempt was made to write to read-only memory" listing a Symantec antivirus driver (.sys) as the cause. I restarted. 20 mins later I get an error while opening Winamp, IRQL_Less_or_not_Equal, which I have come to associate with RAM problems.

Now I'm REALLY confused. Could a bad PSU really cause all these problems?

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A bad PSU will definitely cause havoc on your system, especially if it's putting out improper voltage, which could explain why your cores are reporting errors. It's too bad you don't have another PSU lying around, for that would definitely help in diagnosing your issue. Because you said your other partition exhibits the same freeze, I'm quite confident it's a hardware issue. I just thought of another caveat that causes my mom's old computer to reboot: is there anything that would cause a brief voltage drop throughout your apartment? I ask because whenever the central AC activated in my mom's house, her old computer rebooted every time, thanks to its mediocre PSU.

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Ok, paid $43 in cab fare to get to and from Micro Center. Here's what happened.

1. My computer wasn't booting and I was getting BSODs out the wazoo. They reset the CMOS (I think?) which fixed that problem.

2. They ran extensive tests on the computer, from processor and RAM tests, to power supply (via multimeter, to check voltages), FPU/stress via Prime95, and motherboard tests (controllers and so forth.) They found NO problems of any kind. The machine was operating for over 3 hours... not a single error of any kind, not even in Prime95. When I did that at home, I got a number of errors.

3. Since I already know the problem isn't software (as hangs were occuring on XP64) we decided that it really could only possibly be two things... graphics card (we didn't run any GPU stress tests specifically) or the power from the apartment. To rule out the latter, I've purchased a battery backup with enough juice to regulate any dips in the power. To test the former, I'm going to get 3dmark or something similar and run some intense tests.

If these don't solve the problem... I'm completely out of ideas.

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Sweet! System hung today. So, I'm exactly back to square 1, minus over $280 (cost of cab fare, diagnostics at Micro Center, new battery backup etc.)

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Have you killed anybody or done any otherwise heinous deeds lately? I think somebody up there might hate you.

It really does sound like a power problem though. Does the battery backup protect against surges as well as dips?

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APC is nice, I got myself one a while back and haven't worried about brown outs, spikes or black outs since, a good investment for any decent computer system.

You seem to be left with two options, you can beat up someone and take their PSU, perhaps not the best option, or find yourself a store with a 30 day return policy and decent PSU. You have gone out of your way to avoid replacing the PSU and if it is the PSU, all your left with is picking up a new one and hoping that it either crashes within 30days so you can return it or you fix the problem by picking up a new one.

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Well the thing is, they tested the PSU with a multimeter and everything and came up with no problems... the voltage was perfect.

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At this point I'm doubtful but have you explored the possibility that your graphics card is having troubles?

I have to imagine your motherboard is a rather expensive one and I don't know if it has an on-board video card that you can try out to see if the graphics card is the issue... If you have an old graphics card lying around somewhere, you could give it a try.

Oh, and is your current graphics card a PCI-E one? Don't they need a separate power source? I have no idea about PCI-E cards (never had a desktop with a mobo that included it), but ... well, your PSU was tested by a volt/multimeter. But my point is, if it's a PCI-E card, maybe you should try like an AGP or PCI card too, but I don't know.

And I'm sure with a professional installation and with diagnostics this wouldn't be an issue, but... your PSU has enough wattage for everything you got going on, right?

I concur with whomever suggested to run your computer in a bare-minimum fashion - especially if you want to save money by staying home and not buying additional compnents. Take out PCI cards, disk drives, whatever and see how your computer works like that.

Or it could be some motherboard issue. Hell, there's so much going on in a computer IMO which makes pinpointing a problem difficult.

...and a laptop can be ran on AC power almost exactly like a desktop... if you take out the battery ;) (not while on of course)

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Well the thing is, they tested the PSU with a multimeter and everything and came up with no problems... the voltage was perfect.

I was going to address that in my post, but got lazy...turns out I am going to do it anyways...

The multimeter will only address a very short time and a very specific condition(no load). I would put money on the cause being as intermittent as the effect it has on your system. If its a load problem, something like the PSU being unable to handle a sudden load or sustained heavy load, then the multimeter is completely useless. If its a problem with the PSU maintaining a constant output, then the multimeter could be used if you want to sit and watch it for a while...hence the 30 day return policy suggestion.

When most hardware/software fails, it is reproducible, power problems on the other hand are a bitch to deal with. If its not completely dead, then its going to screw you around and probably damage other pieces of hardware in the process.

Hell, there's so much going on in a computer IMO which makes pinpointing a problem difficult.

...and a laptop can be ran on AC power almost exactly like a desktop... if you take out the battery ;)

I'd also like to address these two points. First, the vast majority of undesired events on a computer are caused by a limited number of problems, if you have enough information on the problem, like an error message, its generally pretty easy to find the cause. Second, laptop batteries are stupid, they are very picky about how they are dealt with and doing as you suggest can cause them damage.

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I'd also like to address these two points. First, the vast majority of undesired events on a computer are caused by a limited number of problems, if you have enough information on the problem, like an error message, its generally pretty easy to find the cause. Second, laptop batteries are stupid, they are very picky about how they are dealt with and doing as you suggest can cause them damage.

First point: generally I agree with you.

Second point: I didn't recommend that one take out the battery while a laptop is ON, rather while it is off... lol.

And, if the voltage is tested while the computer is on and doing stuff with Prime95, as suggested here (first google result for "multimeter testing psu"), wouldn't that catch voltage issues - too low/too high?

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Second point: I didn't recommend that one take out the battery while a laptop is ON, rather while it is off... lol.

I didn't mean take it out well running either, laptop batteries are designed to be connected all the time with either a charge being applied or drawn from them. A battery that has gone through several charge cycles only to be left disconnected for extended periods will have issues. The batteries are way to picky at the moment and I really think they need to be fixed.

And, if the voltage is tested while the computer is on and doing stuff with Prime95, as suggested here (first google result for "multimeter testing psu"), wouldn't that catch voltage issues - too low/too high?

As intermittent as zircons problem is, I doubt it.

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On a whim I called ASUS today to ask about possible compatibility issues between the P5N-E SLI (my mobo) and the Q9450. You want to know what's awesome? According to them, the Q9450 isn't even on the supported processors list for that mobo. Evidently, even with a BIOS update, the board only supports 45nm duals, not 45nm quads. 65nm quads are OK.

Now, if this were actually the case, wouldn't the computer you know.. not post? Shouldn't the problem be way worse if the processor isn't compatible? I've never had this issue before so I honestly don't know. I may have to invest into a Q6600 instead... but damn, I've already wasted so much money on this. It would be good to know how much truth there is to what ASUS says.

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The saga seems to have come to an end. Micro Center agreed to switch out my MOBO for a newer one that is compatible with the Q9450 out of the box. Not only does everything appear to be working, but I got a gigabit NIC out of it, more USB ports, and up to 16gb of supported RAM. Oh yeah, and my temperatures? Way lower now! :D

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They did it for free because they fucked up before. Also, installing a mobo is annoying, time-consuming work that requires a level of manual dexterity I do not possess.

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They did it for free because they fucked up before. Also, installing a mobo is annoying, time-consuming work that requires a level of manual dexterity I do not possess.

I thought you played piano? What happened to that dexterity? I have sausage fingers and I have no problem dealing with motherboards. The only part you need to really be careful for is installing the CPU and making sure not to bend any pins, which isn't hard to do if you're patient and you follow the directions. After that it's smooth sailing.

However, dealing with Micro Center on the other hand has its perks, because if they fuck it up you get a new one!

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Well, you have to unscrew ALL the shit in the case, remove EVERY connection, reseat it delicately, put it all back in. There's very little space when all the fans, drives and enclosures are fastened. I had a hard enough time just putting in new RAM.

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Is it micro-ATX or something? Based on my personal experience, they're a little harder to work with due to their size, especially if you have a tiny micro-ATX tower. They also tend to have more problems (especially with overheating, which might explain that).

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Well, you have to unscrew ALL the shit in the case, remove EVERY connection, reseat it delicately, put it all back in. There's very little space when all the fans, drives and enclosures are fastened. I had a hard enough time just putting in new RAM.

i just saw this...since i own a p5n-e i probably could have pointed out the issue right off the bat. too bad i didn't see this before =(

good to hear you're back in black, though, man.

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