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My computer freezes irregularly

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My computer started to freeze at irregular times for 3 weeks now.

Please note that this question change with each things that i try. (For additional details)

What happens

My computer freezes, the video stops. (No graphic glitches, it just stops)
Sounds stops too.
Sometimes, randomly, the screen on my G-15 keyboard flickers and I see characters not at the right places. Usually happens for about 1-2 seconds and a bit before my computer freezes.
I have to keep the power button pressed for 4 seconds to shut my computer down.
I still hear my hard drives and fans working.
Sometimes it works with no problems for a full day, some other times it just keeps freezing each time I restart my computer and I have to leave it for the rest of the day.
Sometimes my mouse freezes for a fraction of a second (Like 0.01 to 0.2 seconds) quite randomly, usually before it freezes.
No errors spotted by the "Action center" unlike when I had problems with my last video card on this system (Driver errors).
My G-15 LCD screen also freezes.
Sometimes my G-15 LCD screen flickers and characters gets carried around temporary under heavy load.
Now, most of the times, the BIOS hard disks boot order gets reversed for some reason and I have to put it to the right one and save each times I boot. (Might be unrelated, not sure, but it first started yesterday)
What I did so far

I have had similar problems in the past and I had changed my hard drive (It was faulty), so I tested my software RAID-0 array and it was faulty so I changed it. (I reinstalled Windows 7 with this part). I also tested with unplugging my secondary hard drive.
My CPU was running at about 100 degree Celsius, I removed the dust between the fans and the heat sink and it's now between 45-55.
I ran a CPU stress-test and it didn't froze during the tests (using Prime95 on all cores)
Ran a memory test (using memtest86+) for a single pass and there were no errors.
Ran a GPU stress test with ati-tools and furmark and it didn't froze during the tests. (No artefacts either)
I had troubles with my graphic card when I got it, but I think that it got fixed with a driver update.
I checked the voltages in my BIOS setup and they all seemed ok (±0.2 I think).
I have run on the computer without problems with Fedora 15 on an external hard drive (apart that it couldn't load Gnome 3 and was reverting to Gnome 2, didn't want to install drivers since I use it on multiple computers) I used it to back up my files from the raid array to my 1TB hard drive for the reinstallation of Windows. (So the crashes only happened on Windows) [The external hard drive is plugged directly on a SATA port]
I contacted EVGA (My graphic card vendor) and pointed them on this question, I'm looking for an answer.
Ran sensors on Fedora 15 and got this output:
Ran 6 short different CPU stress test on Fedora 15 (Haven't found any complete stress testers for Linux) and it didn't crash.
Changed the thermal paste to some Artic Silver 5 for my CPU and stress tested the CPU, temperature was at 50 idle, then 64 highest and slowly went down to 62 during the test.
Ran some stress testing with a temporary graphic card and it went ok.
Ran furmark stress test with my original graphic card and it froze again. GPU had a temp of 74C, a CPU temp of 58C and a mobo temp of 40C or 45C (Dunno which one it is from SpeedFan).
Ran a furmark stress test and a CPU stress test at the same time, results:
I have been using my computer without stressing it for about 2 hours now and no crashes yet. I also have disabled the AMD Cool'n'quiet function on the BIOS for a more regular power to the CPU. When I ran Furmark without C'n'q my computer didn't freeze but I had a "Driver Kernel Error" that have recovered (And Furmark crashed) all that while running a CPU stress test. The computer eventually froze without me being at it, but this time my screen just went on sleep and I couldn't wake it.
Using the stability tester in nTune my computer froze again (In the same manner as before). I noticed that Speedfan gives me a -12V of -16.97V and a -5V of -8.78V.
I have swapped my G-15 with another basic USB keyboard (HP) and I have run furmark for about 10 minutes with a CPU stability test running each 60 seconds for 30 seconds and my computer haven't crashed yet.
Ran some more extended tests without my G-15 and it freeze like it usually do.
Removed the nForce Hard disk controller.
Disabled command queuing in the NVIDIA nForce SATA Controller for both port 0 and port 1 (Errors from the logs)
Used CPUID HwMonitor, here are the voltages:
Changed some configurations in the motherboard BIOS: Disabled PEG Link Mode, Changed AI Tuning to Standard, Disabled the 1394 Controller, Disabled HD Audio, Disabled JMicron RAID controller and Disabled SATA Raid.
"A little hope", my computer frozen while watching a youtube video, but not from GPU and CPU 10 hours straight test.
I have put my BIOS back to defaults and: Disabled PEG Link Mode, Disabled HD Audio, Disabled JMicron RAID Controler, Disabled Serial Port Address, Disabled Parallel Port Address and Disabled Onboard 1394 Controller.
I changed the SATA cable for the 750GB hard drive and I also changed the slots at which they were plugged (1->2, 2->3, 3->4).
Changed the power saving feature of my graphic card from "Adaptive" to "Maximum performance".
Ran ECGA OC Scanner and got no freeze and no artifacts
I installed the Logitech drivers for my G-15 keyboard and my G-500 mouse and it restarted to freeze.
I removed the Logitech drivers for my G-15 keyboard and my G-500 mouse and it still freeze.
After changing everything except the hard drives, graphic card and power supply my computer is running very fine and I haven't run into any problems (This is with the exact same install of Windows that I had problems with my old motherboard). After removing my motherboard I have found some cambered capacitors (2) which might be the source of the problems. Since it almost clearly was a motherboard problem caused by these capacitors I am going to accept the answer that is the most related to this solution.
When it happens

When I play video games (Mostly)
When I play flash games (Second most)
When I'm looking at my desktop background (It rarely happens when I have a window open, but it does, sometimes)
When my Graphic card and my CPU are stressed.
Sometimes when my Graphic card is stressed.
Sometimes when my CPU is stressed.

Windows Seven x64 Home Premium
Motherboard: M2N-SLI Deluxe
Graphic card: EVGA GTX 570 (The non-oc one) [nVidia driver version 275.33 from EVGA's website]
CPU: AMD Phenom 9950 x2 @ 2.6GHz
Memory: Kingston 4x2GB Dual Channel (Pretty basic memory sticks)
Hard drives: Was 2x250GB (Western digital caviar) in raid-0 + 1TB (WD caviar black), I replaced the raid array with a 750GB (WD caviar black) [Yes I removed the array from the raid configurations]
750W Power supply
No overclocking. Ever.
There have been some power-downs like 4-5 weeks ago, but the problem didn't start immediately after. (I wasn't home, so my computer got shut-down)
Event logs (Warnings, errors and critical errors) for the last 24 hours:
I would like to thank everyone who have been participating, it's really nice to see that much people ready to help others. There was many great answers that might help other people with similar problems in the future (at least I hope so).

In this situation, how can I successfully pin-point the current hardware problem? (If it's a hardware problem)

asked Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
I experienced something extremely similiar - sporadic crashes; tested all my hardware; new hard disk + mobo. I'm sure it's not relevant, but on the off chance: have you checked the event logs for an event ID 11 error. In my case, I kept getting tens of thousands of these (The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort2.. Turns out I had a faulty CDROM that was causing some kind of ridiculous conflict. Changing the CDROM drive and the SATA port it was on remedied the problems instantly. You mentioned the action centre, but not the logs. If it helps, it helps!

7 Answers

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Best answer

I had the same issue. Prepared for the worst I plugged a USB HDD into one of the USB ports at the back of the unit to perform a system image and since doing that I haven't had any more freeze crashes.

I have other USB devices but they are attached to hubs. I think there is a problem with hubs being attached when no USB device is attached directly to a USB port. This is the second issue of this type I have had since running Win 7 64. The other time I had these obnoxious random freezes occurred only when I had a firewire compact flash card reader attached to the firewire port on the front of the unit. Random freezes sometimes within 2-5 minutes or sometimes after two days. Both down to external devices being attached to the computer. No errors in device manager - no errors in event logs.

answered Sep 13, 2012 by anonymous  
selected Jul 2, 2013 by sarwana
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I have a laptop with windows 7 x64 ultimate that suffers of the same random crashes. I have noticed they happen mostly at home, when my G15 keyboard is plugged in. I do not remember to encounter those crashes when I use the laptop keyboard.

The G15 draws a lot of power on the USB plug. Maybe it has something to do with it ?

answered Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
I dunno if it would make a difference big enough to freeze my computer and I think that if it would be that problem then the motherboard's MESFETs are probably going wrong. I've started looking at this.
Well, it seems to be working so far o.O. I still need to do some more testing but it would be a kind-of-amazing solution to this problem. On the other hand, I like my G-15 very much and the problems started at a random time, I've been having this setup for like 6 months with 5 of them without problems (Graphic card swap).
I like my G15 too. I don't want to scrap it either; so one other solution would be to plug the keyboard on a powered USB hub
Mm, seems to have crashed with another USB keyboard :| So it at least isolate the problem to power-based stuff like Power supply and motherboard.
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Using the stability tester in nTune my computer freezed again (In the same manner as before). I notived that Speedfan gives me a -12V of -16.97V and a -5V of -8.78V.

Replace the power supply. These voltages are far out of spec and could be the cause of your problem.

Edit: The negative rails are rarely used today; however, the HWMonitor temperature is too high for temperature sensor 2 if the system is not under load. This could be a problem with the cooling system, motherboard, or power supply.

answered Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
Is there an alternate software that I could use to check these values?
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i'll stop on this

I have to keep the power button pressed for 4 seconds to shut my computer down.

and I can tell it's a power supply issue. To avoid having to leave it for rest to get up again, turn it off, unplug the screen and the power cord and hold the power button for ~15 seconds.

this will discharge any component holding some electric charge.

see if you can get a replacement and you may also check for faulty capacitors

answered Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
Why? 4 seconds is the standard time to turn off the power, and this option is set in BIOS. Are you telling me that your computer never freezed and you never had to push the power button for 4 seconds to toggle the power? Or are you doing the same by plugging the power cord back and forth?
sorry i wasn't very clear, what Im trying to say is : when the computer is already off, unplug it then hold the power button. I know this may don't have sens, but indeed, I'm just sharing my experience.
Now I got your idea
So basically it would end up freezing because there is some electric charge holded somewhere and I would need to discharge the components each times before boots for my computer to work? (I mean, that would pin-point a motherboard or a power supply problem depending on the capacitors on the motherboard)
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What video card chipset (brand name doesn't matter)? I've seen these problems with Radeon HD 4xxx and 5xxx series, when they bounce in and out of powersaving mode (that is, the GPU clock speed changes). Youtube in full-screen was the surest way to trigger the problem.

There are some hacks to disable PowerPlay (the clockspeed changing), involving creating an overclocking profile using Catalyst Control Center and then editing all the clock settings to be the same (no actual overclocking is necessary, but the "overclocking" mode has to be enabled for you to override the default power profiles).

One consequence of the involvement of power saving, is that GPU stress tests won't trigger the problem, since they keep the GPU busy and running at its fastest clock rate.

You mentioned ati-tools, so I think this is the most likely culprit.

I don't notice any mention of updating your video card drivers. The newest ones seem to be quite a bit better in this regard (or maybe they continue using the powerplay-neutering profile configured with the earlier version). In any case, upgrading to the latest Catalyst drivers is worth a try.

answered Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
My graphic card is a GTX 570. I'm gonna try the equivalent for this card and I'll see
You should add that to the Specs section of the question, since it's potentially important
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Jesus Christ! 100 deg C is WAY too hot! It's possible that your processor has already incurred some damage. But in the interest of being optimistic, I'd say to run memtest86 for another 2 passes to be sure it's not the memory. Are you sure the timings and speeds are being detected correctly?

Did you check your motherboard for bad/puffy capacitors? If it's not your mobo, then your PSU is either crapping out on you, or is insufficient to power your hardware. That sounds like the most likely cause to me.

Use CoreTemp to measure CPU temps, since it's one of the most accurate programs around. Don't use ATI Tool, as it's incompatible with Windows 7. Try RivaTuner instead.

answered Sep 12, 2012 by anonymous  
With CoreTemp I get an average of 50 degree celsius in idle for the CPU #0 (Only CPU shown).
It was the motherboard. Thanks for pointing it out. I found out about it when I removed my graphic card, they were hidden underneath it.
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Make sure you were using latest memtest86+ vesrion. I had memory problems with my PC and dig out some old recovery CD with memtest. It runned fine, kinda slow but found no errors. After some more research I was almost sure it was memmory so I downloaded newest version and burned it on my working laptop. It runned much faster and this time found memmory errors.

answered Sep 13, 2012 by anonymous