Help! Games crash my new machine

I have a brand new machine, and so far 2/3 of games I try to run crash the machine.

The crash is very unusual. For both Bioshock and The Witcher, the game starts up, I get the cinematic movie, I get the options screen (load game, new game etc). I can slect new game, but when the load screen is finished, my monitor blacks out and I have to power down the computer. The only thing I have successfully run is Firefox and Civ4.

System: brand new Windows XP with quad processor, one Nvidia 9800 GX2 card.

Updates: I have the latest Service Pack (SP3) for Windows XP; I have the latest drivers from Nvidia; I have the latest patches for both games; I installed the monitor drivers for my Samsung 24" monitor.

Any help appreciated!!!

I actually have a similar problem on my machine, but do not have the time, energy, money, or really the desire right now to work on it much. My suspicions are either a bad video card or some faulty RAM.

I had this problem with a Microstar motherboard. The whole series had a voltage problem that caused a problem trying to use 2 gigs of ram (in two 1-gig sticks) that only displayed itself when running most 3D games. As I recall, it was Direct3D games that had a problem, but OpenGL was fine). Eventually they released a new mobo driver that fixed that (although mine decided to die soon thereafter when exposed to a DVD burner).

If it’s the voltage problem mentioned above, try adjusting the voltage by tiny amounts in the BIOS. Read up at a
decent hardware site first, though, so you know how much is the safe maximum.

Try to induce crashing by running (n) copies of Prime95 in small torture test mode, where (n) is the number of CPUs you have.

Then go to MemTest86, I recommend the bootable CD version.

After that, if all those pass, use RTHDRIBL to stress the video card for an hour or so. Or you could loop 3DMark.

I had this nearly exact issue when I recently loaded up a new Vista machine. In my case it ended up being my ram, which said it was rated for the faster speed on my system (DDR2 1066) but gave me all kinds of strange issues, usually ending in the black screen and lockup.

The very FIRST thing I would recommend is testing your RAM to determine if you have bad mobo slots first with memtest. If you don’t seem to have an issue with a particular slot, try a different memory brand.

My original specs:
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L mobo
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) SDRAM

My current specs:
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L mobo
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Corsair Dominator DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) SDRAM

Vista has a memory tester tool, too: