Weird system problem with shooters

This is bugging me to no end. My system, out of the blue, has started freezing when playing 3D shooters. Only. All day it hums along doing Office stuff. Works perfectly on 2D games. Doesn’t lock up at all on Neverwinter Nights. But play PlanetSide, Galaxies, Wolfenstein, Jedi Outcast, Black Hawk Down, it always freezes. Hard lock, have to reboot, usually about five minutes into the game, sometimes sooner, sometimes a tad later.

I’ve tested two different video cards, no change. Tested the RAM, is fine, even tried it with one stick, the other stick, as well as both sticks. Updated my nForce2 drivers to the latest (this week) version. Latest video (Ti4200) drivers. No change.

Terribly frustrating. It seems only 3D shooters cause it to hardlock, but it hardlocks inevitably when playing them. Any ideas what it could be?

Could it be heat? Maybe something is starting to go in your card and the added stress of the 3D heats it up to a hardlock?

Just pulling that out o’ my ass, though.

Heat? Video drivers? Sound drivers?

The shooters are pushing your system much harder than NWN, There’s a usual suspects list with problems like this, in order of liklihood:
-Bad RAM

Sounds like you did the first two (you hit all the drivers? how did you test the RAM, exactly? memtest?), so maybe the last is the problem? What are your temps like? Does the problem go away if you take the cover of your case off?

I had a similar problem that turned out to be my video card overheating. Thought they were designed to avoid that, thanks nvidia.

And, no slight to the folks here at qt3, but I think you’ll get better troubleshooting advice by asking
your question here

It’s a new system (new as of January), the video card has an OTES thermal exhaust system and there are three big system fans; I’m also running (as I’m testing) with the case side open and a big house fan cooling my (airconditioned) office. Heat is possible, but the system is on all day and doesn’t fry until a shooter is running. Then again, shooters naturally stress the system more than Word, and stress I’m guessing could equal heat.

All drivers/BIOS updated to new. Haven’t changed the NVIDIA video drivers in a while, because, well, there haven’t been any new ones in a while. New nForce2 drivers and bios for the A7NXD mobo I also have.

Install Motherboard Monitor and run the prime95 torture test and then watch the cpu temp and see how high it gets. Also try looping quake3 demos and put MBM in logging mode in the background or run q3 windowed and watch the system temps.

– Xaroc

Don’t own Q3, actually. Where would I get those other programs? I’ve been monitoring the temps with my ASUS Probe utility, and the highest it’s recorded (as or right before a lockup) was 57 C, which isn’t that hot.

I ran memtest on the RAM, it was fine. New drivers all around. I just added a third fan (I was running with two exhaust but no intake) and air flow and temps are better; I’m set up upstairs where it’s much cooler than my sweatbox office nook. So far no problems (other than the usual SWG ctd, :x ) and temps are cooler. I’m thinking it’s the place I had the machine–in a very confining “hutch” like computer desk, in the airless nook that is my office, that might have been doing it. High ambient temps, no air flow, no room behind the vents in the back of the PC, summer–maybe that all added up to heat spikes?

But I wish I had a way to monitor the temp when the system freezes.

<wumpus> Do people not know how to use google? </wumpus> ;)

Motherboard monitor:


When you install prime95 it asks if you are helping or stress testing, make sure to answer the latter.

– Xaroc

Thanks. I had already googled Motherboard Monitor, actually, and forgot the name of the other. Thanks.

Is it an AMD CPU? This happens on my one system, heat related. Ignored it - system shut down a few times because of heat i think now the cpu is just goofy all the time.


Yes, Athlon 2700+ XP. I ran prime95 and BOOM, failed immediately, with alleged hardware error. Motherboard Monitor and Asus Probe return temps well within operating limits. My conclusion: bad CPU, either defective or excessive heat over time.

I am taking it to the shop that sold me the CPU tomorrow and they are going to get me a new CPU. But they have to RMA it etc. and God knows how long I’ll be without my main system. My laptop can do my work (vital) but only low-end games (distressing but not fatal).

goofy double post

The RMA from AMD shouldn’t take very long (about a week, depending on how the shop sends the processor to AMD), but be sure to take them the OEM fan that has the serial number. Believe it or not, AMD doesn’t even track processor serial numbers for RMA’s from resellers; they just track the fan serial number.

Thanks for the advice. I’m wondering if my CPU (and my wife’s, same system specs) need upgraded cooling? Prime95 fails on her machine too, and it has the same cooling and setup as mine does (before I put the third fan in at least). I know some CPU cooling setups are approved by AMD and some aren’t, supposedly. I have no idea whether the one on my machine is good enoug.

This may be the last time I don’t build my own freakin’ machine, unless I win the lottery and can buy a hugely expensive one from some guru.

This makes very good sense. Run Motherboard monitor, put it in logging mode, put it in the airtight hutch, and after it crashes, go back and look at the temp.

Looking at the MoboMonitor readout of the diode (core) temp, it’s freakin’ 67-68C; the temp read by the ASUS Probe is 47-50C, but that’s not at the CPU core AFAIK.

Seems to indicate to me that the “stock” cooling for the CPU isn’t up to snuff. Most stuff I’ve read indicates that 50C at load is considered acceptable, not great, and serious users like it cooler still for heavy-duty use. I’m no overclocking whizkid, but I do like the idea of cooler running.

There is a plethora of CPU cooling gear, ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars for externally-powered cooling monsters. I’m thinking something in the $25-30 range, a fan/heat sink combo that would A) be easy to install, relatively, and B) deliver significantly better cooling. Any ideas?

EDIT: Just ran the Prime95 again and this time actually watched the core temp. Boom–shot up to 74 and died, as the test was failing. I’m pretty convinced now that there is a problem cooling the CPU. The only issue is, is the CPU itself damaged, or would cooling it better be fine? I’m going to try to get a new CPU anyhow, but I’m thinking I should insure they put in a much better cooler, even if I have to buy it myself.

For the cheap try:
Thermalright SK-7 $16 + shipping
(athlon 2400 xp runs about 110 F, ystech variable fan on full)

For the best cooling try:
Thermalright SLK-800 $29
(athlon 2400 xp runs about 98 F, panaflow mentioned below)

For a very high performance Quiet Fan I like:
Panaflo 80mm $10 (with connector)
Make sure you get it with 3 or 4 pin connector for an extra $2

And some arctic silver III $5

The only drawback of panaflo is that they are industrial fans so they don’t have rpm sensors on them.

I think my son’s xp1800 runs somewhere in the mid 50s under load which is ok. My P4 runs around the same maybe a bit more (but under 60) because I have my HSF running at the lowest setting. 74 is definitely way too high. I would suggest looking at the user reviews at newegg then crosschecking them by doing google searches for reviews.

One last thought: it may also be the heat conducting paste or tape used by the people who put together your PC, if it is not done properly you won’t get the full benefit of the heatsink/fan.

– Xaroc

I’ll second the recommendation for the Thermalright SK-800. I have one on my Athlon (Barton) 2500, and it works great. Remember that fans are sold seperately, though, so add another $5-$10 to the price. The upside is that you can put a quiet 80mm fan on there and have a nearly silent CPU.

In my experience, once the CPU is heat damaged, you shouldn’t trust it again. Weird problems just seem to pop up, even if you keep it cool.

I’ve got an XP2200+ cooled by an Alpha with a Panaflo L1A on top, and my CPU temp never gets over 40C. Got the Alpha from SVC, who IMO is a very good retailer.