Argh! - PC Reboots Continuously

Hey Guys:

So I have what seems to be a fairly nasty technical problem. Prior to this evening my machine was running fine and I made NO hardware or software changes that I know of. After a crash tonight (when exiting Everquest) I rebooted and when the PC came up it began a pattern that has repeated all evening:

The machine turns on, and boots normally past BIOS, through Windows XP loading, and I actually get a desktop with control of the mouse and everything. The little Windows tone plays and everything seems absolutely fine. Then about 3 to 5 seconds after the desktop comes up, my speakers make a squelching noise (not too loud but not real low either) then the computer reboots. Actually it seems like it turns off as if I had hit reset, then boots all the way back up. It does this continuously unless I turn it off with the hard reset switch. The one thing I notice right before it turns itself off is that in lower task bar an unknown icon comes up and it says “unknown device found”.

I tried booting in safe mode and it does come up fine, but it says “new hardware detected” and informs me I have a new device, a “multimedia audio controller” (and note I have not made ANY hardware changes to the machine). It then searches for the driver for minutes and fails to find it. I tried going into Device Manager and both disabling and uninstalling this multimedia audio controller with no luck. No matter what I do in safe mode when I try to reboot in normal mode I get the same cycling-reboot pattern. I also tried restoring my Windows settings from 2 days ago (when everything was fine) with no luck.

I am now at the limit of my layman’s knowlegdge. Does anyone have any idea whats going on? Is this some bizarre hardware thing like maybe a built in audio on my motherboard that got switched on somehow, or is this a virus or other bizarro software thing? Any help?

My machine is a P4 2.66 gig with 512 megs of RAM and Windows XP Home. Unfortanately as I sit here on my work machine I realize the type of motherboard I have may be relevant but I don’t recall the brand. IIRC it was a major brand like ABIT or ASUS. The machine itself was built by Nexcom here in LA, and has run trouble free for the last six months. For what it’s worth I am running a router with a firewall turned on and have never had virus trouble in the past. My internet connection is SBC-Yahoo (Pacbell) DSL.

I’d appreciate any help, links to useful sites. I’d really like to know if this is just a software thing or if some hardware wire got crossed. Plus of course any ideas on how to fix it. Right now my machine is totally unusable.

Thanks,

Dan

Try booting with the soundcard physically removed. If you have onboard audio, I would recommend disabling it in the BIOS.

OK I rebooted and accessed the BIOS and disabled the onboard sound card. The machine then booted and ran quite nicely but it said my sound card was not installed and I got no audio. I then removed my Soundblaster Audigy card and rebooted only to get the very same message. I tried turning the inboard sound back on only to get the “multimedia audio controller” message saying I had new hardware and needed a driver (which was not found). I’m going to disable the onboard audio again.

My question is, is my Soundblaster Card evil and defunct now? Do I just need to buy a new sound card? Or is this some deeper motherboard problem?

The great news is, other than sound, my machine is running fine again. BTW when I opened the case I looked around and nothing seemed out of the ordinary - no gummed up dusty bits, no melted bits. Of course I’m not very technical and might not detect a fried circuit board until it electrocuted me :).

Dan

PS thanks a ton for the help

If something blew you’d more than likely smell it before you saw it…

could be a virus… could be crappy drivers too… aren’t creative known for crappy drivers?

Have you checked to see of the CPU cooling fan is working properly? Also, even if it seems to be spinning, you might take some canned air and blow the dust out. I encountered a similar problem in a friend’s PC that was the result of overheating due to dust clogging the CPU cooler.

It sounds like you started out with both onboard audio and your soundcard installed and enabled. This isn’t supposed to be possible.

Second, it sounds like the Everquest crash, or how your system handled it, really screwed something up. If the game crashed because of heat issues, then the crash could have just been a symptom of that. So in addition to what Loyd recommends, I would also inspect your case fans, video card fans, and make sure there isn’t an electrical short anywhere.

Sure it is. There’s nothing magic about 2 sound cards in a system, you’d just have to fiddle with Windows to get the sound to come out the right ports.

Second, it sounds like the Everquest crash, or how your system handled it, really screwed something up. If the game crashed because of heat issues, then the crash could have just been a symptom of that. So in addition to what Loyd recommends, I would also inspect your case fans, video card fans, and make sure there isn’t an electrical short anywhere.

Excellent plan.

OK, sound card is out and PC is running fine. I did do some maintenance and found a bunch of spyware on my machine (probably stuff that got on board before I got my router) and I used Spybot to remove it all. I am getting a clean bill of health now from Spybot. I also used a virus checker and my scan came up clean, no virii at all.

I checked the hardware and saw no obvious sign of problems: no burnt out or melted stuff, and as far as I’ve noticed my machine has never run hot. All the fans appear to be working both the case fans and card fans. None of the cards felt hot to the touch. There was some dust inside but no major buildups. I cleared that out and things look normal.

I looked at the audigy card it looks perfectly normal, no burning, melting, dust clouds etc.

So thanks for all the help, the system seems OK now but I have no sound. As far as I can tell there are no other problems with my system now.

Question 1 - how do I determine if my Audigy card is usable now? I did try reinstalling it earlier and it was still causing problems. I don’t have a second machine running to test it in, so how do I see if the card itelf is functional?

Question 2 - should I just go buy a new soundcard and if so, what is recommended? I am a not big sound afficionado so a serviceable level of sound for gaming is fine.

Dan

My friends has had what sounds like the exact same problem, and as usual looks to me to fix it. So thank you for this thread.

You have to be careful with creative drivers, as they have done such wonderful things in the past as release new drivers that are not compatible with critical XP service packs. Also, they have a tendency not to clean install/uninstall, and conflict with one another when that happens. I am pretty sure your driver configuration got jammed up in the crash; I would look for the latest stable drivers from creative (ie look in their forum before installing to ensure that it is not one of those “Oh by the way this won’t work with anything other than the original XP”). Make sure to uninstall whatever is there first, restart, and then reinstall the new drivers.

There is always the radical option of reinstalling windows…but that is usually more trouble than it’s worth.

I seriously doubt it is a hardware problem.

If you get fed up, I would say the hell with it and invest in a new card that is of an older generation; unless you have some superfine speakers, I seriously doubt you’d be able to tell the difference between a dirt cheap sound blaster Platinum 5.1 and an Audigy, and the former have been much kinder to me driver-wise in all of my setups.

Turtle Beach Santa Cruz – the card you buy when you realize that you don’t have to buy Creative Labs shit.

Amen.

My TBSC is the best soundcard I’ve ever owned. I’m using the beta XP drivers and it runs flawlessly, for every use, in every application. How Creative ever maintained their defacto standard status for gaming soundcards is beyond me, since the driver support is absolutely horrific.

That’s what I did when I got fed up with the SBLive and VIA not playing well together. I grabbed an old TB card I had lying around and all was happy again.

I’m not a big sound guy, so on my current rig, I just went with onboard audio. Sounds good enough to my ears. If the Audigy really is burnt out, why not try using the onboard audio before shelling out for another sound card? Grab the latests drivers from the website for your mobo and you should be good to go.

Actually when I set my onboard sound to “auto” instead of to “disabled”, thats when I get the endless rebooting. I also get the endless rebooting when I install the soundblaster card. I will probably try a turtle beach card later in the week.

Dan

This happens even after you removed the Audigy?

So I decided to give up on the Soundblaster card and went to the store to buy a new one. CompUSA had a deal on Turtle Beach Santa Cruz cards - only $40, no rebate crap or anything just $40 on the shelf. SO… I go to the store, get the card and go to the check out line. Its a good size CompUsa and they have only 1 clerk operating the check out and she’s working the customer service counter - there are 3 people ahead of me in line and shes slogging through some laborious return procedure. I wait a couple minutes then ask the guy near me if hes in line “Yeah, I’ve been waiting 10 minutes” he says. I looke around and see a clerk at the upgrade desk. I head over (theres a cash register at his station) but he says I have to go to the front desk. I head back. No movement in the line. Now I’m getting cranky. I search the store and find one clerk in the PDA dept. I ask him for help, he tells me to go to the front desk. I go back, no movement in the line. The clerk is STILL dealing with the same guy on some weird return crap. There are now about 5 people in line and the clerk is totally oblivious. I search the store again, now looking for a manager. No luck, the blind are managing the blind. What really gets me is that this is not the first time this has happened to me at this store - there’s always a line and never any clerks :(. Bleah.

So I left and bought a POS cheapo Phillips card at Frys for $20. You can always trust Frys to sell you the cheapest possible crappy alternative :0. The good news is, the POS card is working fine and actually sounds pretty good. So Screw Comp USA. Bastards.

Dan

(The sad truth is, that Turtle Beach card is such a good deal I’m really tempted to go back tomorrow and buy one anyhow – I know, I’m a sheep :( )

The Gone Gold folks have had some luck price-matching the CompUSA price at Circuit City, which has an additional $30 rebate on the Turtle Beach card this week. Only good 'til then end of the week (9/30) though.

  • Alan

I ended up buying a crappy Phillips card for the low low price of $20, but sadly it ended up being a piece of junk. It worked fine for most of the last month but had a weird habit of cutting out (it had “3D positional sound” which never seemed to work right). I couldnt find a good updated driver for it. I recently decided to mess around with Freelancer again and the soundcard just sucked with that game - no voice, unreliable sound, lots of fuzzy noise.

I decided to experiment with my Sound Blaster Audigy. It had some extra cables plugged into the main-card-board and another doodad that had some extra ports on it (for extra speakers? I dunno). So I removed all that stuff and just re-installed the plain vanilla SB card. I also downloaded the “stripped” Windows XP driver without any of that Creative Mixer crapola.

I’ve been running the new, lean SB setup tonight and it works great. No problems at all, either with sound performance or with rebooting. Full stereo, full voice, all good. I guess it was all that extra connection stuff that was the problem. Or maybe the crappy driver version. Or maybe all that unneeded Creative addon software.

Anyway, I’m happy again :0.

Dan

I blame the Creative software. I’m no audiophile, but I’ve never had a good experiance with it. Mostly I just end up in your shoes: uninstalling it to discover all my troubles have gone away. Too bad you need creative drivers to run creative products or you could just do away with all creative software.