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Computer locking up during games (3-D)

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    After getting the go ahead in my useless post, I guess it's time to finally figure out what the problem might be with my computer this time.  I ended up stumbling across this forum and more importanty this post after a random search in Google.

    It seems as if my problems are extremely similar to Sven's in that while, and seemingly only while, playing 3-D games I tend to constantly experience my computer locking up.  In the time that it has been happening, which has been a long time, the occurances seem random, completely random to me at least.

    The computer essentially just completely locks up and the sound appears to repeat or skip.  The only way to get everything "going again" is for a nice press of the reset button on the case.

    Along with a complete lock up, I always experience what feels like the computer "lagging behind" at some points.  It's rather hard to describe.  Everything's going fine and it suddenly starts to "skip."  The entire system doesn't lock up but everything gets very "jerky" and "skippy."  These are horrible descriptions I know, but it's very much like lag from online games, but experienced offline as well.

    I'm assuming it's from the video card, I never experience this type of "lag" in normal 2-D work.  Sometimes it never locks up at all, but it's easy to say that I experience this lag practically all the time I'm playing a game.

    At first I thought it was inadequate cooling due to a crappy case or issues regarding a rather low-end power supply.  Both of these have been replaced.  Here's the case and here's the power supply.  I did as much research as I could on both.  The power supply, from what I read, is incredibly stable (per Tom's Hardware) with very few fluctuations in it's output.  I love the case, it's massive and in frequently checking the air output temperature in the most untechnical way possible (my good old hand), the air tends to never be hot.  After reinstalling all of my components into the case and hooking up the new power supply, the exact same issues occur so I have to assume that it's neither case cooling or the power supply.

    What's logically left, in my mind, are the processor and video card.  Both the CPU and GPU have the stock HSF.  Being that both stocks suck, it's leading me to think that it's most likely cooling issues with the video card.  The fan's loud sometimes, emitting a sound that can't be normal (just doesn't sound right).  The heatsink for the CPU is littered with dust that really is not coming off very easily.  I'm thinking it's time to just replace both.

    Here's where all of this crap leads.  I'm not confident with myself in dealing with the CPU HSF and even less with the GPU HSF.  I'm sure I can end up doing it successfully, I'm essentially just afraid of losing these parts.

    Neither part is very expensive anymore, but I had gotten the video card (x800Pro) very close to it's release date.  The CPU's an AMD64 3400+ (Socket 754).  Does anyone have any experience in replacing either HSF's?  Any words of wisdom for one fearful to attempt this?  My apologies for the ridiculously long post, but I wanted to make sure I didn't leave anything out.  Sven, if you're still around, what would your advice be?  My thanks in advance, hopefully all of this gets resolved.

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    It seems to me it's your CPU since you said it came "stock" and was "dusty" it's got to be the game taking up all your system resources and CPU. But you also said that it started up fine at the beginning  so it could be your video card. But the video card is fairly new so?? If it's a "next gen" game that would explain the problem. My Guess is the game just overtaking your system. 

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    mikad0 wrote:

    There's your problem right there. My last few Radeons froze and/or crashed any game I tried playing, but it was inconsistent - sometimes they would screw up, sometimes they wouldn't. It turned out, with my last Radeon, that turning down the AGP to 4x instead of 8x prevented much of the problems. This happened with one of my mate's cards as well, same chipset.

    I now have a 6600GT, screw Radeon and their faulty chips.

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    Realllllly, the x800 eh?  I was hoping it would end up being Sven's old problem.

    I would have kept my view towards the CPU being the central issue but the same type of lock up isn't really experienced during non-gaming usage.  I didn't really mean that the stock CPU HSF came dusty.  It's just gotten that way over time, my bad.

    The main issue is that I don't really have the money to go into new parts like the video card.  The issue then comes to whether I risk putting on new HSF's for both the CPU and GPU...

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    ATI chips have gone down hill. I had a X1600 which fecked up my LCD displays, now have a 6800Ultra OC and its runs sweet.

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    If only I could just get my hands on an Nvidia comparable to the x800 to test.  /sigh to being poor.

    What would be an Nvidia card closely comparable to the x800 Pro?  Gotta be AGP, no way I can replace the motherboard as well.

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    Here's my thought process (with comments):

    - PSU (You tried it, and nice replacement by the way)
    - GPU Heat (More cooling?)
    - GPU Fault (Return it)
    - Soundcard fault / overheat (I've had it before - remove the card and try again)
    - Motherboard / Northbridge (Overheat / general fault)
    - Software (Corrupt GFX driver? Sound driver? DirectX?)
    - RAM overheat / fault (Unlikely, wouldn't ONLY occur in 3D games)
    - CPU overheat / fault (Unlikely, wouldn't only occur in 3D games)

    Some of your equipment might be under manufacturer warrantee... Especially if it is less than three years old. Check it out.

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    I'll look into what type of warranties were on these parts, the computer itself is about 2 years old.  How would one go about testing if it's the motherboard in general?  I mean for Sven's issue it was obvious, the entire fan itself had burned off of his GPU's HSF.  None of the lockups are BSODs by the way, if that changes anything.  The lockup occurs with both the onboard soundcard and one in the PCI slot.  Once I get back to college tomorrow I'll be able to actually try some things out.

    Thanks for all the replies so far.

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    This is all assuming that you haven't already tried a fresh install of Windows, if you have, you can ignore my whole post.

    First thing I'd suggest is do a full system virus scan.  I had a very similar problem once and it turned out I'd picked up a virus at a lan.  I hate admitting this, because it's the only virus I've ever gotten, but if it helps you it'll be worth it.

    Second thing I'd suggest is if you have a spare hard drive or partition, try doing a fresh install of Windows and install a game or two to test on that.  That should help either confirm that it is a hardware problem if things still don't work, or might suggest that it's a problem with your windows configuration or some device driver or something if it works fine.

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    Thanks cain but yea, it's happened on every installation of Windows I can through at this thing.

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    sounds mostly like the vpu being a prollem..... x8xx cards run rather hot... my x850 likes to do that as well especially if i forget to add adequate cooling while gaming..... best bet.... try replacing the vpu cooler..... i've linked 3 very good vpu coolers below...

    1) ATI Silencer 5
    2) Zalman VF900CU
    3) Zalman VF700CU

    Also I have to agree you did a great job choosing a replacement PSU.... IT is the most important component in any system....

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    You didn't say which sound card you have, that can also be the troublesome component.

    Depending on how your system is configured, I'd try a couple of other things (but to be honest, I'd bet on the video card or VPU fan).

    One thing to try is to switch around any PCI cards you have (or just pull them out) and see if that helps. For example, if you have a SoundBlaster card, just pull it out of the system and try again. I've even run into the problem with cards that shouldn't have even been in use at the time but for some reason or other, they just freaked out (like USB/Firewire cards).

    It is too bad you can't switch your video card out with a spare to see if it is the culprit, I usually hang on to my older vid card when I trade-up just for this purpose. And opposed to those saying Radeon sucks, I found the opposite to be true, but YMMV.

    I'd also highly recommend [H]ardOCP ( as a site to go visit, especially searching the forums. Chances are pretty high someone else there has had the exact same problems and lots of folks posted useful responses.

    Lastly, if you have dust "caked" on the fans, it is time to replace them. Don't be too afraid of replacing the CPU HSF. The socket that you have for your CPU, if I remember correctly, has the lever/spring retensioning clip on it, so it shouldn't be too hard to install a new one. Hardest part is getting any thermal pad residue off the chip and making sure that either the new one has a thermal pad or pick up some Arctic Silver while you are getting a new HSF.

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    On my old PC I started getting freezes when playing 3D shooters.  I removed the card below the AGP slot and left blanking plate out to see if the GPU was overheating.  This seemed to sort it.

    You could test if it's the GPU over the CPU by setting all the graphics options to something basic so it's not being pushed.  If you get less lockups then its the graphics card.

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    I agree with Manip and Angelfire that it is an overheating issue.

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    I soo much feel your pain! Tongue Out

    I have a nasty Everquest 2 addiction.  I know everyone else loves WoW, but I find the WoW graphics too cartoonish for my tastes, and love EQ2 with the graphics pumped.  But in order to get past constant hanging, I ended up buying an entirely new computer.  I didn't intend for it to turn out that way, but it ended up that way.

    I started out with an AGP Radeon card, forget the number but it was older, an Intel 865PERL motherboard and a standard issue power supply.  I now have an eVGA 7600GT PCIE video card, nVidia SLI motherboard and an antec 600w power supply.  Oh, and I got an extra Gig of ram along the way.  But now I play with all the video settings cranked and it hasn't hung a single time since landed with my current configuration.  I love it.

    I wish you luck, I tried minor upgrades, I went for a geforce 6600 between the radeon and the 7600, and it didn't help- in fact i think it made things worse!  At one point it was hanging routinely on the lowest possible EQ2 settings (extreme performance).  I tried working the "it's overheating" angle, I had the latest bios, video driver, etc.  Sometimes it would hang more often, sometimes less often; but nothing completely worked for me other than throwing lots of money at hardware upgrades, but I'm so glad I did because now I have EQ2 eye candy goodness every night...  If you don't have cash laying around, I wish you the best of luck... you'll need it!!


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