Another Weird Computer Issue

So my son's computer uses a Gigabyte K8NS Pro with an AMD 3200+ single core and 2GB RAM. Lately I've done a few things and it's become unstable.

First off, it was having trouble rebooting - I think the two BIOSes had gotten out of sync, and one would not boot. So I flashed the latest BIOS on, successfully, using the Gigabyte tool to do it.

I also got rid of some unused programs. The only one that was not a game was the Creative Media Center.

I changed WoW resolution from 1024 to 1280.

Last, I gently vacuumed a lot of dust out of the system.

So since these things were done, the system has begun to shut down spontaneously under load (and once when nothing much was going on, although there may have been a virus scan running.) It will either lock up with colored bars on the screen, or go blank with a clicking sound coming from the speakers, or suddenly report "no signal" on the screen. This usually happens playing a graphically demanding video game, but twice it's been just idle or browsing the web.

Also, the DVD drive is seen at boot time, detects accurately in the CMOS setup screen, it's driver loads correctly as reported by Device Manager. However, it's icon never shows up in My Computer, and the system insists that it can't see the drive. It has power and loads and spins discs.

Any ideas? This would be the third upgrade in 6 months, this is getting damned expensive. And for the record, I had more trouble with two Gigabyte mobos than with the dozen or so ASUS's I've purchased over the years. Caveat emptor.

Have you checked out all your idle/load temperatures? From your description it sounds like any number of things could be overheating. The lockups normally occuring during a game makes me lean a little more towards the videocard.

And just for the sake of being thorough, do you have another power supply you can try?

The last time I had a system suddenly break into random shutdowns, reboots, and lockups like that it was a power issue. I'll grant you this was a long time ago though. That was in a 700mhz Athlon rig I had in high school and the power supply was a super cheap deer brand 250watt job that was probably never worth the metal it was encased in.

Yeah, it could be the ps. But then again, the system's about two years old, I think. Maybe 18 months. Should not be an issue yet, but the other Gigabyte system I had was also unreliable, and the first two mobos I had from them had to be replaced, soooo...

I'll check the ps. But I suspect it's good. BTW, all the case fans work and the airflow is slightly warm, no more. I'm more worried about the i/o controller chip, since that's what went on two of the others, but that's a teardown to diagnose. Thanks for the ideas.

No additional failures in the last day or so. I'm off to Best Buy to pick up a dvd drive and check for Wiis.

So, the new DVD drive has exactly the same issue; it's not the drive. (Now the old one can safely go into my wife's computer, I guess.) I replaced the drive and the cable. I had uninstalled the previous drive and it's driver. This is definitely weird.

A further issue is that upon booting after the swap, the system didn't present a signal to the LCD. I had to jostle the connector (which was securely screwed in) to get the system to display, whereupon it had gone all the way to the Windows login screen.

The one thing I discovered is that there was a lot more dust than was obvious at first. In particular, the cpu cooler had a lot, the video blower had a lot in it and the gold colored vent cover over the i/o chip was completely clogged, about a quarter inch think. That can't be good. I'm gonna do a major check on each of my systems tonight with some canned air and a bad attitude.

Robear wrote:

This usually happens playing a graphically demanding video game, but twice it's been just idle or browsing the web.

After my most recent upgrade I kept experiencing the same type of random reboots - didn't even matter whether I was running a 3D game or not, just like yours.

Finally after trying a few troubleshooting steps one by one, I got pretty pissed and did everything that I could do without jeopardizing performance - AT ONCE. It fixed the problem. I used to have a reboot at least every 3 days, now (knock on wood) it's been going for 4 months or so without a single incident of the kind.

What I did specifically was:

1) Move the 750gb IDE drive from being a slave on primary IDE to master on secondary IDE (had to disconnect CD-ROM drive and use a USB-enclosed one I had lying around).

2) Disable all the suspicious new BIOS features in the CPU section which mention saving power and other cryptic things in that section that didn't NEED to be enabled.

3) Forced my AGP card's speed to 4x instead of 8x, and forced Fast Writes OFF.

The things I know for certain DID NOT have anything to do with the problem:

* Dual-core being enabled
* Onboard audio settings
* Wireless USB LAN dongle
* Power supply (I changed it, no effect)

This fixed my dvd drive problem. Regedit about halfway down the page. Amazing.

So far, it's been stable for two days. I think the overheating i/o chip may have been culprit, along with a video card knocked askew as I cleaned today. I'll let you know in a few more days.

The cd fix is gold, however.