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possibly motherboard issue


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#1 millipede

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 10:51 AM

You suggested I try to make sure the main issue is in the title. I don't really know for sure though
I'm working on a friend's computer for him. I've helped him fix a few things and get it running for him a handful of times over the past few years. I've been stumped on this one ever since he first told me what was going on.

When listening to music or watching a video, it lags. Now when I say lags, I don't mean that it has to buffer and stops while it is doing so. I mean, things slow down and break up WHILE they are playing. So far I have only heard crackling and pausing but he told me it has even sounded like a record player you play on a slower speed. When this happens it seems like the computer is working harder than it should.
I have been leaning towards hardware issues all along but there's still at least one software issue I will have to attempt to check out today.

Specs...
Gateway 564GE 3.2Ghz 1Gb DDR Windows XP, currently SP3 200gb HD with LOTS of free space Avast free, fully updated
Let me know if you need more details than that.

What I've done so far:
I started out trying to stick in an old graphics card of mine. After only being able to get into safe mode I have realized (duh) that I need to install the drivers before I try to just boot to that card. It kept locking up during normal boots and I could do nothing about it.
Back to onboard, so far
Run scans with malwarebytes (1 trojan found and removed)
CCleaner run, cleaned up junk files like I always do for him, though I was certain this was not an issue. Ran the registry cleaner as well.
Updated to SP3, not sure why I haven't done that for him in the past.
Ran all windows updates needed after that.
Updated the display AND audio drivers
As far as software goes it looks like everything is in order... well, except the following.

I do not believe these to be causing a problem but they are issues I should try to address.
JAWS is a reading program. He's blind, it allows him to use a computer. He has like 3 versions installed. Two of them he wants but, I'm not sure if that will cause any problems. Basically there's an older version that he likes better than the newer one. I wish there was a better program out there that was free and he could learn easily... but he's been using JAWS for years.

Also, there may be TINY traces of AVG left(I saw options for avg files somewhere but it is NOT running I'm certain of that, just traces left behind)
There's also traces of symantec. He had Norton on there a few years back. I noticed symantec in control panel and tried to remove it using add/remove programs. It said it removed it but it still shows up in control panel. Also don't think this one is a problem but should try to fix it anyway.

So far I am still stumped.
Why I don't believe those software issues are causing the current problem? They've been there for a long time and this issue sort of came out of nowhere for him. According to what he's told me, nothing had been changed. There's no one moment where he can say "I did this, and then it started".

Today I plan on poking around those software possibilities and maybe attempting to install that graphics card again.

Any thoughts on it? Like I said, I'm leaning towards a hardware problem but, I am uncertain of how to go about diagnosing that... I mean, I want to be absolutely certain of such an issue before I tell him I need to replace a part or anything like that. I don't remember exactly when it was, likely a couple years ago when it was still under warranty but, the motherboard has been replaced on this thing in the past.
I hope you guys can help. Thanks for looking.

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#2 caperdog

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:27 AM

since the computer starts, the main components are working. i would start by cleaning the machine, especially the cpu heatsink and fan. make sure all fans are working to eliminate any overheating issues.
next would be harddrive manufacturers diagnostic software to test drive and memtest to test ram.

#3 millipede

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:35 AM

Thanks. I was about to edit the post as I thought of a couple more things...
I saw you guys have a hard drive diagnosis page with links, I will go check that out.

I just loaded the computer and it was crackling a little during the start sounds.
One thing I forgot about... The desktop image/wallpaper looks beautiful... but the first thing I noticed at his place was the icons in the tray. They looked bad. Not as crisp as they should look. Didn't notice right away but later noticed the whole task bar is a little off and the colors for the desktop icons aren't quite how they should look. I played around with display settings and everything seems to be in order. So far I can't explain why the icons and such aren't looking as good as they should.

I had given it a good cleaning the last time I was there, only a few weeks before. I'm certain that's not causing a problem.

I'll check what diagnosis tools I can

Edit: Normally when i'm messing with it I turn JAWS off as I can't stand listening to something reading everything I'm opening. But I just let it run and when it had a lot to read, it would slow down. The actual slow down was a little hard to tell as it talks fast but, you could hear the voice getting deeper and deeper and deeper as it talked... then it would go back to normal until it had a lot to read again...

Edited by millipede, 26 February 2011 - 11:53 AM.


#4 caperdog

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 01:50 PM

you can check task manager, performance tab to see if it is max-ing out the cpu. if video is off, see if fan on video card is working (if it has one).
video card issues can cause lots of other problems.

#5 millipede

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 02:03 PM

I had been monitoring task manager and everything seems normal there.
It just has onboard graphics. I was leaning towards the possibility of that being a problem. You know, I haven't actually watched a video myself on it. So far I have heard the audio issues though. Overall it seems slower than it should be. Startup, though I haven't timed it, seems to take longer than it should. I have the minimum loading, no excess or unnecessary programs are starting up.
anyway, at some point I plan on trying to install a spare video card to see if that helps with anything.

I might try to find an older version of Everest later to check a few other things such as cpu temperatures and such.

At the moment I have to wait. Running the Western Digital software to check the hard drive. Quick test passed... running the next test which will take quite a few hours. Started out showing hundreds of hours... is down to about 15 hours... for the most part the seconds are going by a little quicker than actual seconds so it will likely be less than 15 hours... a long time just the same though. We'll see if it finds anything...
Open to hearing other thoughts while I wait though.

Thanks :)

#6 MrBruce1959

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 02:11 PM

Hello I am adding a link to the support pages for this computer.

http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/5273/5273nv.shtml

Here is the motherboard that is installed in this tower.

http://support.gateway.com/s/MOTHERBD/Intel2/103390/103390nv.shtml

This is the specifications.

http://support.gateway.com/s/MOTHERBD/Intel2/102007/102007sp33.shtml

Here is some information on memory the motherboard supports.

Four DDR SDRAM Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) sockets
Support for DDR 400 MHz and DDR 333 MHz DIMMs
Support for up to 4 GB of system memory

You only have 1GB in this system, it supports up to 4 GB.

I suggest a memory upgrade to at least 3 GB.

Bruce.
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#7 millipede

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 02:29 PM

Thanks, I'll browse those links. The driver updates I did last night for the video and sound, I got from gateway.

DDR memory isn't super cheap these days. Though just looking at Amazon.com, it could be worse. Unless there's something wrong with the current memory, I am certain that upgrading the memory would not solve the issues at hand. I'm not sure he would want to spend any money and, I wouldn't want to put money in until I am certain it would help it. If there's some other hardware issue going on that either doesn't go away or manages to get worse, if it gets bad enough and costs to much to replace parts, he may just choose to buy a new pc or something. So until I know what the current issue is, I wont be spending any money on the pc for him. I have a couple old pcs laying around that might have compatible memory in them. My last pc I haven't gotten all my data off it yet so I need to keep that in tact... but I might have another one with memory in it. If compatible, I will see what it does to put it in his... after this drive test finishes.
Thanks for the support guys.

#8 computerxpds

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 02:41 PM

Bruce isn't saying that the memory that is in there now is the issue he is saying that the amount of memory (1GB) is very small for what is considered average for todays desktops, IE i have 8GB in mine but thats because I am a PC gamer, I bet you cannot play a youtube video on that desktop with out it being choppy and skiping a lot both because of the inadiquate ram and the onboard video chip. Now the crackling in the audio sounds like an issue with the onboard sound controller, it might be going bad I know I had a mobo that had onboard audio and after about 6 months the audio just quit working, now if its that then there isn't anything to do but buy a separate audio card (expensive) or get a new mobo (not really worth it) or buy a new computer.

Edited by computerxpds, 26 February 2011 - 02:42 PM.

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#9 millipede

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 03:10 PM

I can't always tell how to take people, and people don't always take me the right way... communications difficulties...

Anyway, thanks for clarifying. What I was getting at though was that, other than what I might be able to find here, I can't even think about upgrading something until I have some other things figured out.
I'll dig through my computer tote... I doubt I have a soundcard anywhere but it doesn't hurt to check... Actually, I might have on in a pc laying around... we'll see.
It was so weird listening to his reading programs as they rambled on about everything that opened, and the voice was getting deeper and deeper because it was getting slower. Something that affects it is lagging... what, I'm not sure.

I'm starting to wish I didn't start that hard drive diagnostic thing... still has like 14 hours on it but I want to try other things.
Oh well. He's not in a rush. He actually has a laptop as well... but he likes having this too.

#10 computerxpds

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 03:25 PM

It's no problem I just wanted to clarify. Any way when the hard drive test is done please post back here so that we may continue to troubleshoot for you. :)
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#11 millipede

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 10:00 AM

well, all those hours later, test passed. Finished at like 4 AM I believe. Had to leave it on all night.

I'm going out in a bit but will be working on this again later.

I just watched a couple videos on youtube with it. No problem at all. My last computer, as of just a couple weeks ago, had the same memory and a 2.53Ghz processor, and I had no problems with things like youtube either. Running XP with as little starting up as possible, 1GB is enough for normal things, including youtube. I even watched movies on hulu with mine.
At any rate... youtube seemed normal to me.

Sound breaks up now and then with his reading program and if a few things are going at once. I didn't get it to crackle watching youtube though, which I thought was weird.
The sounds breaks up just a little during startup.
The icons in the tray and taskbar,and the start button, are all still off to me. They really should look better than they do. But I looked at as many settings as I could find... Not sure what I'm missing there.

When I get back later, unless someone has suggestions of other things to do first, I'll start with the sound card(I did find one in another computer, and it's compatible.), then maybe the graphics card I have, and somewhere, I do have a stick of ram.
Oh, and I'm going to uninstall ALL his reading programs. He has 4 versions installed. I'm going to clean them all up and just put one back on.
I guess one of the earlier versions would do something specific that he liked and the newer versions didn't. And he just didn't know about uninstalling things.

We'll see if any of that does anything.

#12 millipede

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 07:44 PM

My brain is fried......
Bad enough I can't figure out the sound issue or the system tray icons but, somehow his JAWS(reading) program is messed up.
It's something we'll have to contact the distributor about. He has 4 versions of it installed. It has always worked for him. I don't know if it was when I installed SP3, thought I thought it was already doing this before that to me, but since I've had it, the silly program is in 40 minute demo mode. Basically I can't get any of all 4 versions to work without putting the authorization code in. I'll have to get that straightened out later but, it's kind of odd that it even happened. Shouldn't have.

Anyway... I put in a sound card. Not a new one. The sound really isn't any different. Might not even be as good, hard to tell for sure. At any rate, it didn't resolve the sound issue. JAWS, while running, was still slowing down, getting deeper, and still crackled a bit.

Maybe tonight if I feel up to it, I plan on trying out that graphics card I mentioned. Now, that will only help, as far as I can tell, if the problem is the onboard graphics.
I mean... I've googled and googled the system tray icons issue and I can't figure it out. I've tried a few things people suggested, such as changing the font size for active whatever it was...(brain fried and bad memory) I can't find any logical reason to why those icons aren't looking like they should. Everything in display is set as it should be as far as I can tell. Nothing has been changed that I know of.

anyway... as soon as I get to messing with the graphics card I'll update as to how that goes.
In the meant time, if you think of anything else feel free to mention it. :)
Thanks.

#13 MrBruce1959

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 12:06 AM

I think you might make out a bit better with system performance if you were add at least another 1 GB of RAM.

When I had Windows XP on this computer, things ran okay as long as I did not multi-task too many things at one time. I had 1 GB of RAM and Windows XP SP3, there were programs I ran that lagged out or displayed frequent wait states, when I added one more stick of 1 GB, my system ran a lot smoother and executed commands and tasks much quicker.

For what it is worth, I now run 3 GB, except I am now using Windows 7.

A program that has a speech processor recognition built into it, that is capable of reading text from a text document uses a lot of resources.
Having another program running at the same time, it does not take long for that 1 GB to get used up and then the page file on the hard drive has to come into play, this requires more time consuming read/write accesses to the SLOWER hard drive's swap file.

This is where the lag in the system becomes more noticeable.

So the addition of additional RAM can take this burden off of the hard drive, which is the slowest means of memory.

Bruce.

EDIT: sorry my eyes are going buggy here, had to edit this thing 3 times for it to make sense.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 28 February 2011 - 12:18 AM.

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#14 millipede

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 12:28 AM

no doubt things would be better. And that all makes sense. But I do believe something odd is going on that is not entirely related to that. He's been running the system like that for years and, all the times I've worked on it for him, he wasn't really using as much ram as you might expect...(now MY new pc with 4GB of ram, seems to use 1GB without anything else going on... guess windows 7 just uses more???)
We've got thunderstorms nearby, I'll be messing with his pc more in the morning... Got the drivers for the graphics card downloaded... got onboard display disabled... in the morning I will do my best to get the graphics card setup... We'll see if that helps anything.

I also have a stick of ram laying around here somewhere. I think it's 1GB but it may only be 512mb... I bought it for an old(2 computers ago now) pc that I intended to straighten out and sell... but the stick never made it in. I believe it's right next to my desk but that area is a bit cluttered. Just have to clean and find it. :)
Anyway... I don't think I'll be able to talk him into purchasing more ram... so the best I can do is try out that one stick for him and see if it helps any. A 50% increase would be better than nothing.

Thanks again for the help so far.

Edit: I should note that the graphics/icons issue, and other issues, are present even when JAWS is turned off.

Edited by millipede, 28 February 2011 - 12:29 AM.


#15 MrBruce1959

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 12:59 AM

I would even try that 512 MB, it's better than nothing.

Just remember that the minimum requirement for Windows XP is 1 GB, but the recommendation is 2 GB.

Not only do you have a text to voice program running, I am sure there are other programs using system resources at the same time, such as anti-virus, system processes and the fact that the program has to read what ever the text file is, which all have to be executed at the same time.

To be executed means, those have to be pulled from the hard drive into the Random Access Memory, to be executed and processed by the processor, then sent to the sound processor chip.

Bruce.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 28 February 2011 - 01:00 AM.

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