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Desktop PC keeps stuttering/hiccuping/pseudo-freezing...


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#1 Silverfyre

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:05 PM

I have a desktop PC that I built approximately a year ago. The specs are as follows:

MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz CPU
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA II 3.0Gb/s (just installed to replace previous drive, explained below)
CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-750HX 750W power supply
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD5870 2GB (can't find exact model number)
ASUS Black SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model DVD-E818A6T/BLK/B/G
ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner
Linksys WMP300N 32-bit PCI Interface High-speed Wireless-N Wireless Adapter (definitely not causing the problem, as it persists even without this card installed.)
Windows XP Professional 64-bit SP2 (AND I've installed all Windows Updates I could find. About a couple hundred so far.)


My current problem has begun recently. I've had SIMILAR symptoms before, back shortly after building the system, but they simply vanished for entire months at a time. And if they turned up again, they'd just go away again without any real reason (some troubleshooting step would SEEM to eliminate the problem, but since it returned months later, and the same step did not change anything this time around, it apparently was a coincidence.)

My entire system (graphics, audio, GUI) will "stutter," for lack of a better word. The timing of the actual stutters is pretty random, but it doesn't seem to be dependent upon any specific type of activity or program usage. USUALLY it's for only a couple of seconds, but, sometimes it can last 20 or 30 seconds, which is long enough that I've assumed it was completely frozen on a few of those occasions and simply manually rebooted it (but I've seen it "freeze" for 30+ seconds, then come back out of it completely fine). It's been doing it now for about 2 weeks, and I can't find a pattern to it at all. It seems to at least be consistent in that it never goes for more than about 20 minutes without doing it. It won't run smoothly for a full day or anything before hiccuping again.

The reason I'm posting in the "Internal Hardware" section is that I'm almost CERTAIN now that the source of the problem isn't at all software-related, as I've already reformatted the hard drive I was running on, then (when the problem didn't go away) run a diagnostic on said hard drive (using the Western Digital diagnostic tools, as it was a Western Digital hard drive) and found it to contain irreparable bad sectors. Everything would still boot, and the computer was still usable, but I figured that the hard drive failing the diagnostics SURELY meant that my problem must be stemming from the bad hard drive. And yet, I just installed a new one yesterday, formatted it, re-installed Windows, and re-installed all my latest versions of drivers for all my hardware.

Everything SEEMS to run GLORIOUSLY, save for the random system stuttering.

I will try to list all of the things I've attempted so far that haven't had any effect:
-cleaned all the dust out of the inside of the case (without shocking things, btw)
-cleaned memory contacts and reseated RAM sticks.
-swapped hard drive SATA cable to a different SATA port
-fully updated the BIOS to the latest version, as well as attempted to run on BIOS failsafe defaults
-uninstalled the wireless card
-various software scans, registry cleans, etc that are irrelevant because the probably persists immediately after a hard drive format

So, I realize that replacing every other hardware component in the system would MOST LIKELY end my woes, but it would also leave an unnecessary and gaping wound in my bank account. So, if anyone has any expertise that could help me possibly just replace the item at fault, I would be EXTRAORDINARILY appreciative.

(I cannot actually rule out software being the source of the problem. However, if it is, I haven't the slightest clue what it would be that could possibly be causing this. Windows... system drivers, that's ALL that's on the hard drive now, besides Avast antivirus to keep the virii at bay.)

Edited by Silverfyre, 14 April 2011 - 09:18 PM.


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#2 iqchicken

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 01:09 AM

Immediately, upon reading your post I thought it must be your processor or just plain old overheating. You've said that you cleaned the computer out which most certainly would have helped those issues but perhaps not solved them entirely. What is the ambient temp in the room itself?

I would also take a gander at the event viewer (windows key + R > eventvwr > enter) to see what is running or 'breaking' during these seizures and also I'm curious how it behaves in safe mode. If it still happens in safe mode you can bet its probably hardware related.

System:

-Windows 10 pro 64 bit

-HDD (WD10EZEX)

-MSI B75MA-P45 (MS-7798)

-Socket 1155 LGA

-AMD Radeon HD 7700

-2 STICKS OF 16GB DDR 3 RAM (G.Skill F3-10666CL9-8GBNT)

-K120 Logitech Keyboard

-Centrophorus M601 Mouse


#3 Silverfyre

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 12:33 PM

Well, the update today is that it SEEMS to be no longer doing it.

My girlfriend ran a MalwareBytes scan yesterday while I was at work, just for kicks, and it found a single threat, then eliminated it. The stuttering has not occurred since then.

Of course, I can only ASSUME that part of the problem before was the old hard drive, as it was confirmed that it was bad, despite its booting fine and working, for the most part. We ran oodles of virus scans, malware scans, and registry scans before and the problem always persisted, so it must've been a coincidence that something on the flash drive to which I saved all my driver installation packages before installing the new hard drive and putting Windows on it must've had a bit of malware on it? OR, I just HAPPENED to get something on there within the first hour of use after Windows was installed. *shrug*. It's highly unlikely, but I cannot claim it's impossible.

I'm thinking that maybe whatever malware that was was causing the small stutters, and the 30+ second freezes were probably the result of the bad hard drive, as the only symptom encountered since the installation of the new one was minor stuttering.

But, for the record, I WILL say that it's all but impossible for it to be at all related to overheating. I have an Antec 900 II case, with a 200mm top-mounted fan and a RIDICULOUS CPU heatsink. My processor temp displays on my motherboard, through my clear side-panel, and even while playing Fallout: New Vegas on ridiculously high settings, that number never climbs above 31 or 32 degrees Celcius.

I'll just keep an eye on it. If I don't see it happen anymore, I'll just assume it was malware that got on there REALLY early.


Oh! Event viewer... throughout the troubleshooting process, for the past couple of weeks, I kept seeing "atapi" system errors. They'd always be in groups of 4 or 6, and they'd occur about every minute or so. They basically stated that the device on IDE port 0 or 1 or 2 or something did not respond within the timeout period. I'm paraphrasing, but that's almost the exact error.

Well, I STILL get the atapi errors now, and it seems Windows is only choosing to recognize ONE of my disc drives at a time now. I don't know if this is related to the stuttering problem or not. It might've been only recognizing one of them for a little while now, and I was just too focused on figuring out the stuttering problem to notice. But, the weird thing is, yesterday, it would ONLY recognize the DVD-RW drive, which was used for hours to play an audio CD and performed quite admirably. But, I tried to put a game disc into the other drive to install it, and that's when I noticed that ONLY the DVD-RW drive was showing up in "My Computer." So, I shut the computer down and replaced the SATA cables to both optical drives (just in case... I figured I might as well replace both while I was in there, seeing as how both cables were the same age). Well, NOW only the plain DVD-ROM drive is recognized! They're both recognized in the BIOS. But Windows simply acts like one of them doesn't exist. I even opened it back up and replaced the cable on the DVD-RW drive AGAIN, in case the one I replaced it with was bad, but still only the DVD-ROM drive is recognized.

This could be a different problem entirely, though, like I said. But, I didn't notice it until I (apparently) fixed the stuttering, so, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

There are no other system errors in the event viewer. Only that atapi one, decently frequently.


Oh, I also just thought it was worth mentioning: The stuttering problem DID still occur in safe mode with the old hard drive still in use. But, after putting the new one in, I didn't really get a chance to check to see if safe mode eliminated the issue or not. If it happens again, I'll check safe mode to see if it persists.

Edited by Silverfyre, 15 April 2011 - 12:41 PM.


#4 iqchicken

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 09:09 PM

Sounds good. Knowing that a hard drive had had issues, I would lean toward that being the cause of course. As far as the ATAPI error, you could only know the cause for sure by looking up the exact error code etc. Either way, it sounds like you have the problem taken care of. I'd be curious to see the results if it happens again. Just let us know. :thumbsup:

System:

-Windows 10 pro 64 bit

-HDD (WD10EZEX)

-MSI B75MA-P45 (MS-7798)

-Socket 1155 LGA

-AMD Radeon HD 7700

-2 STICKS OF 16GB DDR 3 RAM (G.Skill F3-10666CL9-8GBNT)

-K120 Logitech Keyboard

-Centrophorus M601 Mouse


#5 Silverfyre

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 03:53 PM

Yeah, I kinda feel bad for taking up your time and the "continuing" problem ending up just being spyware, apparently. I'll figure out the optical drive problem, but that's a different issue, methinks.

I do appreciate the rapid responses and advice, 8D!

The one thing I don't understand, in general, regarding that atapi error, regardless of what's causing it, is that there is no piece of hardware in my system that is attached via IDE cable. My 3 drives are all SATA. Yet, that error refers to a device on an IDE port failing to respond within a timeout period... I'm assuming that that's some sort of software-side configuration that still attributes IDE to drive-handling? *shrug*

I know that's not a problem-pertinent question, really, since my initial problem has been solved. I was just curious, though.

#6 iqchicken

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:37 PM

Sorry for the delay, especially after having been complimented on a quick response. XD I would bet your ide error might have something to do with AHCI (advanced host controller interface) setup/settings. AHCI is an ugly monster that would give you an instant headache probably.. however the bottom line is that it is "automatically working" on systems w/ windows vista and later. Since you said you had XP pro I would assume that AHCI needs to be enabled or turned on on your system. Having done just a smidge of research before posting this I wouldn't want to advise you beyond that point as there are some people who have had major issues simply trying to enable ahci.

If the problem with the ide error is just that an error shows up in the log than personally I would label it "negligible" and just ignore it. If your investigative synapses refuse to relent from firing, however, I would research AHCI and see if you can find away to eliminate the error safely.

System:

-Windows 10 pro 64 bit

-HDD (WD10EZEX)

-MSI B75MA-P45 (MS-7798)

-Socket 1155 LGA

-AMD Radeon HD 7700

-2 STICKS OF 16GB DDR 3 RAM (G.Skill F3-10666CL9-8GBNT)

-K120 Logitech Keyboard

-Centrophorus M601 Mouse


#7 Silverfyre

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 12:54 PM

Ahh, no worries on the delay, haha. It's not as if my last post were "OMG, PROBLEM GOT WORSE, PLEASE HELP! I'M ALSO DROWNING AND ON FIRE!!!"

8)

I just might give that AHCI-enabling a shot. I'm not sure, though. I still have a problem with only one of my drives working, but I'll fix it at some point. Everything else on the PC seems to be in perfect working order now, so I'll probably ignore the atapi errors. If I find out later that they have something to do with the optical drive not working, so be it, 8P.

As much as I deal with these types of computer problems and sort of hafta use my amateur computer knowledge as a lead in an electronic investigation, I'm completely planning on getting an A+ study guide soon. I figure if I study that for a couple months and actually get my certification, I'll be much better equipped to figure out all these strange computer occurrences, haha.




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