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Need help diagnosing system freezes


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#1 plurality

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:18 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping you can provide some assistance to a problem I've been having for a while now. For the last few months my system will hard freeze at random times. Some times it's while watching online videos, others while reading news articles and sometimes at startup. Initially I was running Windows Vista and I took it to a PC repair place where they diagnosed it as a virus infection. They replaced the OS with Windows 7 64bit, which made the machine run a bit better, but it has not corrected the freezing problem. And by freezing, I mean total freeze, no ctrl-alt-del or anything, you have to hard reboot the system every time it happens. Thinking it was still a virus or malware problem I came here and posted in that forum. Here is the link to that thread.

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic470945.html/page__p__2861802__fromsearch__1#entry2861802

From there it was determined that this is not a malware or virus issue, but a hardware problem. I'm hoping someone here can assist with narrowing down the issue so that I can potentially replace the troublesome piece of hardware and get my system back in top order. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks

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#2 dc3

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 12:20 PM

Look in the Event Viewer to see what type of error are appearing at these times.

There is a tutorial that may be of help, you can read it here.

Please post the most prominent error codes that you find at those times and post them back here.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#3 plurality

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:06 PM

Ok, so the most recent freeze was at 10:46 PM today. While I was reading this post. There were no error codes reported in the system log directly before that occured. I will post the errors that appeared when I rebooted at that came up about ten minutes before the freeze. Also, when I powered off and powered back on it wouldn't boot up all the way. I had to turn it off and back on again, and then it made me go into the BIOS settings before it would boot.

Here are the error codes from the event log.

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/17/2012 10:52:03 PM
Event ID: 7000
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The AMD FUEL Service service failed to start due to the following error:
The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="49152">7000</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:52:03.989709500Z" />
<EventRecordID>14442</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="576" ThreadID="580" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">AMD FUEL Service</Data>
<Data Name="param2">%%1053</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/17/2012 10:52:03 PM
Event ID: 7009
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
A timeout was reached (30000 milliseconds) while waiting for the AMD FUEL Service service to connect.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="49152">7009</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:52:03.989709500Z" />
<EventRecordID>14441</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="576" ThreadID="580" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">30000</Data>
<Data Name="param2">AMD FUEL Service</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power
Date: 10/17/2012 10:51:10 PM
Event ID: 41
Task Category: (63)
Level: Critical
Keywords: (2)
User: SYSTEM
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power" Guid="{331C3B3A-2005-44C2-AC5E-77220C37D6B4}" />
<EventID>41</EventID>
<Version>2</Version>
<Level>1</Level>
<Task>63</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8000000000000002</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:51:10.936418200Z" />
<EventRecordID>14392</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="4" ThreadID="8" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security UserID="S-1-5-18" />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="BugcheckCode">0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter1">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter2">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter3">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter4">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="SleepInProgress">false</Data>
<Data Name="PowerButtonTimestamp">0</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: EventLog
Date: 10/17/2012 10:51:19 PM
Event ID: 6008
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The previous system shutdown at 10:46:13 PM on ‎10/‎17/‎2012 was unexpected.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="EventLog" />
<EventID Qualifiers="32768">6008</EventID>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:51:19.000000000Z" />
<EventRecordID>14387</EventRecordID>
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data>10:46:13 PM</Data>
<Data>‎10/‎17/‎2012</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>490</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Binary>DC070A000300110016002E000D00DD01DC070A000400120003002E000D00DD01600900003C000000010000006009000000000000B00400000100000000000000</Binary>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/17/2012 10:39:06 PM
Event ID: 7000
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The AMD FUEL Service service failed to start due to the following error:
The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="49152">7000</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:39:06.255508200Z" />
<EventRecordID>14331</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="584" ThreadID="588" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">AMD FUEL Service</Data>
<Data Name="param2">%%1053</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/17/2012 10:39:06 PM
Event ID: 7009
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
A timeout was reached (30000 milliseconds) while waiting for the AMD FUEL Service service to connect.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="49152">7009</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:39:06.255508200Z" />
<EventRecordID>14330</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="584" ThreadID="588" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">30000</Data>
<Data Name="param2">AMD FUEL Service</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Also, here is the system event right before the freeze.

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/17/2012 10:45:02 PM
Event ID: 7036
Task Category: None
Level: Information
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider service entered the running state.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="16384">7036</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>4</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-18T03:45:02.017817800Z" />
<EventRecordID>14384</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="584" ThreadID="4712" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider</Data>
<Data Name="param2">running</Data>
<Binary>730077007000720076002F0034000000</Binary>
</EventData>
</Event>

I hope this helps.

#4 dc3

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:11 AM

Are you running Norton software?

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#5 plurality

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:42 AM

No, I am not running Norton. I use avast! as my anti-virus. Why, do you think this is a virus problem?

#6 dc3

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 11:15 AM

No, I don't believe this is a virus problem.

The error 7009 came up twice in your log, and when I did a search for information on it one of the things that turned up was a reference to a problem with Symantec which is the company that produces Norton. I was hoping that this was the problem because the alternative is with the Service Control Manager. If service doesn't respond within the defined timeout period the Service Control Manager will generate an event error.

The repair for this involves editing the registry. I don't know what your comfort level is when it comes to this type of procedure, but if you feel up to it you can follow the instructions here.

I should warn you that if you make a serious mistake in editing the Registry it can result in your computer being inoperable. For this reason I would suggest backing up the Registry before making this edit.


How to backup Your Registry with ERUNT
  • Please use the following link and scroll down to ERUNT and download it.
    http://aumha.org/freeware/freeware.php
  • For version with the Installer:
    Use the setup program to install ERUNT on your computer
  • For the zipped version:
    Unzip all the files into a folder of your choice.
Click Erunt.exe to backup your registry to the folder of your choice.

Note: to restore your registry, go to the folder and start ERUNT.exe

Edited by dc3, 18 October 2012 - 02:04 PM.

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#7 plurality

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:32 PM

Ok, I have backed up the registry, and while I have not edited the registry before, I feel confident I can do this correctly provided I have good instruction on what to do. The link you provided for instructions did not appear complete. If you can provide the full link and what I should look for I would appreciate it.

Also, what of the fact that after the last freeze the system wouldn't load up? It didn't even get to the windows loader. I powered off, then on, and while I could hear the fan running, it just sat there with a black screen, not even going through the BIOS. After I powered it off and on again it came up, but made me go through the BIOS settings before it would continue booting.

ANother thing that is odd is how the problem gets progressively worse. When it initially started a few months ago, the system would freeze once a week, or every few days. Later it would get to once a day, and finally when I took it to the shop and they loaded Windows 7 it was freezing all the time and I had the same situation a few times where it wouldn't even load the BIOS. After they loaded Win7, the issue seemed to be resolved as it didn't happen again for a while, but now it has returned, and again seems to be following a similar pattern.

#8 dc3

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:06 PM

Sorry about that, I replaced the link with the proper one. That link to Comodo isn't even in my bookmarks, it's all smoke and mirrors.

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#9 plurality

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:53 PM

Ok, I followed the instructions and increased the timeout to 40000 milliseconds. My system booted up so I don't think I messed up. Haven't had any freezes, but that could just be coincidence. If I get any more I'll post here with nearby event messages.

#10 dc3

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 08:37 AM

I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya.Posted Image

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#11 plurality

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 11:35 AM

Thanks, so far so good...

#12 plurality

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:01 AM

So, it's back again after a few days of no problems. It froze, I powered off and rebooted, and while it was loading Windows (right after I enter the logon password) it froze again.

This time when the BIOS was loading I got this message:

DQS Training failed on previous boot, reverted to slower DRAM speed. Press F2 to resume.

I hit F2 and it goes through load up, takes me to the BIOS setup, which I quit and then loads of fine.

Here are the relevant errors from the event log. (Not much, power was shut off abruptly) and the last message from event log before the freeze.

Log Name: System
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power
Date: 10/22/2012 9:24:46 AM
Event ID: 41
Task Category: (63)
Level: Critical
Keywords: (2)
User: SYSTEM
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power" Guid="{331C3B3A-2005-44C2-AC5E-77220C37D6B4}" />
<EventID>41</EventID>
<Version>2</Version>
<Level>1</Level>
<Task>63</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8000000000000002</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-22T14:24:46.276422300Z" />
<EventRecordID>15757</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="4" ThreadID="8" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security UserID="S-1-5-18" />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="BugcheckCode">0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter1">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter2">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter3">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter4">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="SleepInProgress">false</Data>
<Data Name="PowerButtonTimestamp">0</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power
Date: 10/22/2012 9:20:59 AM
Event ID: 41
Task Category: (63)
Level: Critical
Keywords: (2)
User: SYSTEM
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The system has rebooted without cleanly shutting down first. This error could be caused if the system stopped responding, crashed, or lost power unexpectedly.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Microsoft-Windows-Kernel-Power" Guid="{331C3B3A-2005-44C2-AC5E-77220C37D6B4}" />
<EventID>41</EventID>
<Version>2</Version>
<Level>1</Level>
<Task>63</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8000000000000002</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-22T14:20:59.683621200Z" />
<EventRecordID>15698</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="4" ThreadID="8" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security UserID="S-1-5-18" />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="BugcheckCode">0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter1">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter2">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter3">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="BugcheckParameter4">0x0</Data>
<Data Name="SleepInProgress">false</Data>
<Data Name="PowerButtonTimestamp">0</Data>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: EventLog
Date: 10/22/2012 9:24:56 AM
Event ID: 6008
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The previous system shutdown at 9:21:09 AM on ‎10/‎22/‎2012 was unexpected.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="EventLog" />
<EventID Qualifiers="32768">6008</EventID>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-22T14:24:56.000000000Z" />
<EventRecordID>15752</EventRecordID>
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data>9:21:09 AM</Data>
<Data>‎10/‎22/‎2012</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>22</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Binary>DC070A0001001600090015000900F600DC070A00010016000E0015000900F6003C0000003C000000010000003C00000000000000B0040000010000000E8A0400</Binary>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: EventLog
Date: 10/22/2012 9:21:09 AM
Event ID: 6008
Task Category: None
Level: Error
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The previous system shutdown at 9:19:05 AM on ‎10/‎22/‎2012 was unexpected.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="EventLog" />
<EventID Qualifiers="32768">6008</EventID>
<Level>2</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-22T14:21:09.000000000Z" />
<EventRecordID>15693</EventRecordID>
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data>9:19:05 AM</Data>
<Data>‎10/‎22/‎2012</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>252636</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Data>
</Data>
<Binary>DC070A00010016000900130005007E00DC070A00010016000E00130005007E00600900003C000000010000006009000000000000B004000001000000CBAE0000</Binary>
</EventData>
</Event>

Log Name: System
Source: Service Control Manager
Date: 10/21/2012 9:18:47 AM
Event ID: 7036
Task Category: None
Level: Information
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Owner-PC
Description:
The Application Experience service entered the stopped state.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
<System>
<Provider Name="Service Control Manager" Guid="{555908d1-a6d7-4695-8e1e-26931d2012f4}" EventSourceName="Service Control Manager" />
<EventID Qualifiers="16384">7036</EventID>
<Version>0</Version>
<Level>4</Level>
<Task>0</Task>
<Opcode>0</Opcode>
<Keywords>0x8080000000000000</Keywords>
<TimeCreated SystemTime="2012-10-21T14:18:47.496334200Z" />
<EventRecordID>15583</EventRecordID>
<Correlation />
<Execution ProcessID="576" ThreadID="4552" />
<Channel>System</Channel>
<Computer>Owner-PC</Computer>
<Security />
</System>
<EventData>
<Data Name="param1">Application Experience</Data>
<Data Name="param2">stopped</Data>
<Binary>410065004C006F006F006B00750070005300760063002F0031000000</Binary>
</EventData>
</Event>

#13 dc3

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 10:31 AM

The event code 6008 indicates an unexpected shut down. This is usually related to a hardware problem.

Please download SpeedFan and check your temperatures and voltages and post them back here.

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#14 plurality

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:06 PM

Ok, got that, but is it possible that the me powering off my machine when the system froze generated that error?

Here are the readings from SpeedFan.

Temp1 54C
Temp2 43C
Temp3 -128C
HD0 39C
Core 31C

Vcore1: 1.02V
Vcore2: 1.10V
+3.3V: 2.94V
+5V: 5.05V
+12V: 11.78V
-12V: 0.15V
-5V: -8.48V
+5V: 4.92V
Vbat: 3.3V

Also should note, at times the CPU will inexplicably spool up to where it is using almost 100%, yet there are no programs running that should be causing it the be running like that. I'll pull up Task Manager when this happens to see if there's anything running in the background and nothing stands out, and when this happens the CPU performance will go back down to normal levels.

#15 dc3

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 08:42 AM

I had a family emergency yesterday, sorry I couldn't get back sooner.


When the CPU usage goes that high are you looking at Applications or Processes?

Please download Speccy so that we can get a better understanding of your computer.

The operating system will generate an error log anytime the computer shuts down unexpectedly. But there has to be a cause for this to happen, and these codes provide information to work with to try to resolve this. So far in this case the indications are that this is a hardware problem. The voltages are a little off for what I would want to see, but the voltages that SpeedFan produced can be questionable simply because of the source of reading the rail voltages. If you have a multimeter please follow the directions below to read the rail voltages.



Reading PSU Rail Voltages



Caution: Please read this before continuing.

· Since it will be necessary for your computer to be on during this procedure, you need to be aware that you will be working with live 12Volt DC potentials which if handled improperly may lead to electrical shock.

· There are electronics inside the case that are very susceptible to electrostatic discharges. To protect your computer, touch the metal of the case to discharge yourself of any electrostatic charges before touching any of the components inside.

· If you are not comfortable doing this procedure, then I would suggest that you not use this tutorial. The risks involved are minimal, but are there never the less. Anyone who uses this tutorial will be doing so at their own risk.

There are two devices commonly used to read the rail voltages, a PSU tester, and a multimeter.

The PSU tester is the easiest to use since all that is necessary is to plug the different connectors into the tester and read the results on the LCD display. The problem with most of these is that they only perform a pass/fail test, it will not provide you with actual voltage readings.

There are a variety of multiple meters, this tutorial will address Analog and Digital multimeters. The advantage of these meters is that you will be able to obtain accurate real time voltage readings.

For those of you who wish to know more about multimeters there is an excellent article in Wikipedia.


Analog Multimeter

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An Analog multimeter is a little more complicated to use. Both Analog and Digital multimeters need to be set to the appropriate voltage, but with an Analog multimeter you will need to choose the voltage range, and must read the proper scale.

The Analog multimeter uses a needle display which moves from 0 across the scale until it reaches the voltage being tested. This multimeter has five major linear divisions with multiple scales to read a variety of ranges. An example would be to have three different ranges. The first is graduated in increments of 0 through 5, the second, 0 through 10, and the third, 0 through 25. Each of these ranges are subdivided into divisions that are graduated into tenths. In order to read 12 volts the 0 through 25 range would be the appropriate one.

Because DC voltage has positive and negative potentials this device is polar sensitive, this means that if you reverse the two probes when reading a positive DC voltage it will read as a negative voltage. This is actually necessary to read negative DC voltages. The two probes are differentiated by their color, Black (negative), and Red (positive). To read a positive DC voltage the correct probes must be used with their corresponding potentials, positive to positive, and negative to negative.

With the probes being used normally to read a negative DC voltage the needle moves from the 0 to the left "pegging" the needle. By reversing the probes you can properly read the negative voltages.

Digital Multimeter

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The Digital multimeter (DMM) is much simpler to use. As was mentioned previously, you will need to set the appropriate voltage. One of the advantages is that the DMM has an LCD display with a numeric readout, so there are not any multiple scales to read. Another advantage is that most DMMs are autoranging when reading voltages, this means that you will not need to set the range with these DMMs. A DMM will read both positive and negative DC voltages and display them correctly. When reading a negative voltage a minus sign will appear on the display before the numeric value. This still is a polar sensitive device, so you will still need to use the positive and negative probes with their corresponding potentials.

There are five different DC rail voltages which are color coded. The Black wires are always negative.

Yellow +12VDC

Blue -12VDC

Red +5VDC

White -5VDC

Orange +3.3VDC


There are only three voltages that can be measured easily without disconnecting the 20/24 pin connector from the motherboard, the +12V, +5V, and +3.3V.

The +12V and +5V voltages can be read from a four pin Molex power connector.

Four pin Molex power connector

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The same voltages can be taken from a four pin SATA power connector, but in order to read the +3.3V you will need to read this from a five pin SATA power connector as seen below.

Five pin SATA power connector.

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To read these voltages you will need to insert the Black (-) probe into any of the black sockets, and insert the Red (+) probe in the different colored voltage sockets. To read the voltages from a SATA power connector it is easiest to insert the probes into the back of the connector where the wires enter. Unfortunately the sockets of the modular SATA power connectors are not accessible from the back, so the readings will need to be made from the socket side. Some probes are going to be too large to fit in these sockets, so you may need to insert a piece of wire into the socket of which you want to read the voltage of and place the probe on this for your reading. To reduce the potential of creating a short I would suggest taking the ground potential from another connector so that the two wires will remain physically separated.

Caution: It is very important to make sure that you don't allow the two probes to touch each other when taking the voltage readings. This will cause a short which could damage the PSU or other components.

To get accurate readings of the rail voltages it is important that there be a load on the PSU. In order to do this I would suggest downloading Prime95 for this purpose. This program was designed to be used by overclockers to put a full load on the RAM and CPU to determine the stability of their overclocking. Because of this it will put stress on the CPU and RAM which will create higher than normal temperatures. For this reason I would suggest not running this program any longer than is necessary. I would also suggest that an inspection be made of the interior of the case to make sure that there isn't an accumulation of dust which would impede adequate cooling. Pay special attention to the heat sink and fan assembly on the CPU. If there is a dedicated graphics card with a fan installed on it look at this fan as well.


Readings should not have variances larger than +/- five percent.

Maximum.........Minimum
12.6V...............11.4V
5.25V...............4.75V
3.47V...............3.14V

Edited by dc3, 23 October 2012 - 08:43 AM.

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