Short version: My new PC with Vista 64-bit crashes regularly when running games. I’ve tried many things to stop the crashes, no success. Hardware or software? Help!
Long version: I recently got a new PC to better take advantage of all the whizzy new games coming out. I picked out the parts and then had a local shop assemble it. Picked it up, brought it home and, not surprisingly, many of the drivers were out of date. Updated everything, installed a few games and…the crashing began. Sometimes it’s just a game crash, sometimes it’s a BSOD, sometimes it’s a lockup with no error message at all. I have had three consecutive days without a crash since I brought the system home about a month ago. Every other day has seen one or more crashes.
I’ll list what I have, what (general) errors I’ve gotten, what I’ve done and then see if anyone might offer advice on how to get a functional, stable system running.
• Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Dual Core Processor LGA775 Conroe 3.0GHZ 1333FSB 4MB Retail
• ASUS P5N-E SLI Nforce 650I SLI LGA775 Conroe ATX 2PCI-E16 1PCI-E1 2PCI SATA2 Sound GBLAN Motherboard
• Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2GB 2X1GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL 5-5-5-18 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory
• EVGA E-GEFORCE 8800GTX 575MHZ 768MB 1.8GHZ GDDR3 Dual DVI-I HDTV Out HDCP DIRECTX10 Video Card
• Antec P180 ATX Advanced Mid Tower Aluminum Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 6X3.5INT No PS W/ USB & Audio Ports
• Silverstone Strider ST60F 600W ATX12V 24PIN Modular Power Supply W/120MM Fan Active PFC
• Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
• Samsung SH-S183A Black SATA DVD+RW 18X8X16 DVD-RW 18X6X16 DL 8X INT DVD Writer OEM W/ SW
• Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition 64BIT DVD OEM
• Saitek Eclipse Keyboard Black USB W/ 104 Silver Key & Red LED Key Illumination
• Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse 5 Button 1800DPI Infrared Optical USB
• Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Audio 24BIT Sound Card 7.1 PCI OEM
The errors have happened mainly in games but I have also had a BSOD when viewing a Divx file and have had three other BSODs at the desktop, one while doing nothing in particular, another when copying files from a Steam backup DVD and a third when I tried running the CrucialScan program that examines the hardware on your PC. The errors have been as follows:
- numerous Timeout Detection and Recovery (TDR) errors. The system may or may not be stable after a TDR when the app (usually a game) is shut down.
- BSODs when playing games ranging from SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION to IRQ_LESS_OR_EQUAL among others or referencing nvlddmkm.sys
- complete lockups with no error messages where the screen freezes, keyboard no longer responds, reboot is necessary
What I have done:
- updated video drivers (tested 5 or 6 sets dating back to July, currently using the 163.75 64-bit Vista drivers)
- updated sound drivers for both onboard audio and X-Fi
- updated motherboard drivers to current version
- updated the BIOS to the current version
- applied all applicable hotfixes and Windows updates
- disabled onboard sound (in BIOS) then, alternately, disabled the X-Fi sound card (in Device Manager)
- disabled the parallel and serial ports in the BIOS
- manually set the ram timing in the BIOS to match the 5-5-5-18 spec
- set power management in Vista to Performance so the system does not attempt to power down/sleep on its own
- monitored temperatures on the system and video card to make sure they are within spec; the 8800 is usually at 76-78C after a game has been running for awhile
- scanned multiple times for viruses and spyware (system is clean)
- run memtest; this detected errors in the ram and after one week in the shop (don’t ask) the ram was replaced. New ram tests ok
- swapped out the Corsair ram, tested with Crucial Ballistix ram (2 1GB modules, PC6400), manually set to 4-4-4-12 as well as set to Auto
I’ve also done the usual disk defrag, checked for disk errors and the system comes up clean. I’ve combed over numerous forums and sites but so far the answers have been few, the complaints many. There is a general consensus that Nvidia has problems with its Vista drivers and perhaps especially the 64-bit drivers. Others have pointed fingers at the common scapegoat of Creative or noted problems with Asus motherboards.
In the end, the pattern is roughly the same. I will load up a game, start playing and anywhere from a few minutes to sometimes a few hours in, the game will crash. Interestingly, the last four crashes have been the same – complete lockups, rather than BSODs or TDRs. Airflow in and around the case is good, it never seems to run excessively hot and the crashes can occur shortly after a cold boot (I turn the PC off at night).
A lot of the crashes point toward video as the culprit but the cause of a BSOD can come from so many sources, it’s hard to say definitively what the root cause might be.
So after dinking around for weeks trying to get this system stable, I have reached the end of the line as far as what I can think to try next. My hunch is one or more components just don’t get along, whether it’s with Vista 64 specifically or just in general.
I was thinking of dumping the Asus motherboard in favor of another but I’m willing to try other things first if they seem more likely to fix this. Any and all help is appreciated.