O, wise and great masters of the computing world, I pose to thee a conundrum! I have recently been experiencing random screen freezes and occasional blue screens of death. I have thus far been unable to determine the source of the problem. My symptoms, key software, and hardware are listed below.
-Computer freezes at seemingly random points in time; software halts, keyboard and mouse both unresponsive to any input. The computer may run for several days or several hours before crashing.
-It does not seem to matter when I am running high performance games, just browsing the internet, or doing very little at all. The computer can be sitting essentially idle (i.e. no major programs running, just background processes), and it will lock up and require a hard reset (i.e. the computer must be turned off and then back on).
-Occasionally I will receive a blue screen of death. It is only on the screen long enough for me to see that a memory dump is taking place.
-Regardless of the type of crash, upon restart, Windows 7 will tell me that it has recovered from a critical error and is searching for a solution to the problem. This window will remain open practically indefinitely as Windows searches, apparently in vain, for the source of the issue. I have actually let this process run for several hours and it is continuing to search.
-Gaming (and therefore increasing system resource use) does not seem to increase the likelihood of a crash. I can sometimes game for 4-6 hours if I have the time with no problems whatsoever. Other times, the system might crash 20 minutes after starting a game. The only games I currently run are Mass Effect 1, Mass Effect 2, Neverwinter, and The Elder Scrolls Online. I generally run these games on medium to ultra high settings depending on the games (the older games handle ultra high settings at satisfactory framerates of no less than 30 fps).
-Streaming media via Netflix, HBOGO, or YouTube likewise does not seem to increase the likelihood of a crash.
-I leave my computer on the majority of the time (often idle, but I leave certain applications like Teamspeak3 open so my gaming contacts can leave me messages). When the problem first became frequent enough to notice, I might wake up about 25% of the time to find my computer had crashed overnight. This seems to have increased over time to about 50% of the time.
-Windows 7 Premium 64 bit
-OCZ Solid 3 SLD3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC (primarily used as a boot drive for Windows 7 and small applications, currently 10GB free space)
-Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 6Y160P0 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache IDE Ultra ATA133 / ATA-7 3.5" Hard Drive Bare Drive (most games installed to this drive; I store media on an external drive)
(I didn't buy all of this at Newegg, but I find the specifications listed on their site handy for reference, so I linked to them.)
-WinPatrol (no unexpected software has been running)
-AVG Free Edition 2014
(Yes, I realize this is not a superb set of malware prevention software, but I am a long-time computer user. I am particularly diligent about what I download, and where I get it from.)
What I have done so far
-I have tested my memory sticks individually with Memtest86. I let it run overnight. While I found errors on two of the sticks, there were very few (around a dozen); it is my understanding that this is not incredibly unusual. Furthermore, the random freezes/crashes occur even if I remove the two sticks with errors and run on only 4 GB.
-I have run Intel Diagnostic Tool 64bit. This is freely available from their website. This diagnostic says my CPU is free of errors.
Obviously, many of the components in my system are fairly old in terms of technology, I believe the oldest parts are 6-7 years old (not counting the HDD which is over 10 years old and has been used in several systems for various purposes over the years). I acquired the mobo & CPU in May 2012 second-hand from my brother who I know takes meticulous care of his PC. I purchased the GPU in December 2012 and recently upgraded the memory from 3GB to 8GB. According to CPUID HWMonitor, the system can get fairly hot. The CPU cores reach a maximum of around 95 C when running 3D games, but idle temperatures reach a maximum of about 70 C. The housing case dates back to 2001 and doesn't have optimal ventilation.
That is my problem, in as detailed of a way as I can describe it. I welcome any feedback and recommendations on the matter. If I have failed to provide sufficient details in one area or another, please let me know what is needed, and I will do my best to provide what is needed.
Edited by hamluis, 09 August 2014 - 12:11 PM.
Moved from Win 7 to Internal Hardware - Hamluis.