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Old 23-05-2012, 19:48   #1
Shingster
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PC Help Desperately Needed - UPDATE: Motherboard buying advice needed

Sorry about the long story...

On Friday my PC died on me, something had been brewing for just under a week with a couple random incidents of programs failing for no apparent reason, and the odd windows freeze requiring a reset, but on Friday I fired up the PC and that was when the crashing started. Basically Windows 7 (64-bit) would crash and the PC would reset at complete random after windows loaded up, sometimes I'd get to use the computer for up to 40mins, other times it would crash immediate after my windows had fully loaded.

Suspecting a windows issue, I attempted a system restore, but remembered I had no restore points or any other type of windows backup because of tight HD space. All I could do was to run the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool, which told me that "Hardware Problems were Detected" and that was basically it, no other notifications.

Seeing as that didn't offer any solutions, and not knowing a thing about the tool itself and whether that warning is even remotely reliable, I decided to re-install windows clean from scratch.

Well, that never happened, the whole install process was slow and would hang at random points during the install (I formatted the 30gb partition I install windows on each time), usually before the initial "expanding file" and "installing updates" stage.

After wasting my time further repeating the cycle, I start to get the Blue Screen of Death at random points during the install phase, chiefly with this warning:

IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL

But I also have had this warning occur, just at the stage where you choose to Delete/Format a partition:

PFN_LIST_CORRUPT

I had a spare HDD hanging around, so I decided to try doing a clean win7 64bit install on that, exact same issue (blue screen crash). I only attempted once. I also tried my Win7 32-bit disk, again the exact same issue. (I own a retail copy of the Home Premium edition, installed win7 64bit no problems back when I built my PC)

So I decided it was a hardware issue after all, but I have no 2nd PC at hand to test things on, and I really had no clue where to start, so I took the PC in to my local town centre repair store last saturday, after which I received a call today informing me that there were no hardware issues at all with my computer and that they could install win7 themselves for £55.

Naturally I took it back to give it another go myself, but again I'm getting the exact same issues! I just fail to see how this can be a software problem when the damn software crashes before I can even format the partition and install any software!

If anyone has any advice, it would be appreciated. The only option I seem to have left right now is to phone one of those call out PC repair folks (which will probably cost me an arm and a leg, but pretty much everything I do revolves around the PC).

Last edited by Shingster; 04-07-2012 at 15:23.
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Old 23-05-2012, 20:58   #2
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I would check the fan on the cpu,possibly overheating also check your ram,could be a stick going down, make sure the fan is clean and spinning ok.
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Old 23-05-2012, 21:00   #3
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You could try a Linux live disk. But it does sound like a nasty PC hardware problem.

What PC/motherboard do you have fitted.
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Old 23-05-2012, 23:15   #4
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I suspected overheating of the CPU myself, especially as I have a zalman fanmate type controller on it to make it slower/quieter, but the system was crashing while my CPU temp reading software was displaying a temp of just below 60deg. I had a look inside and the CPU & Case fan were working ok.

The motherboard is the Asus P5N32-E Sli Plus, and I have 6GB of RAM (forget which now). I built the PC myself, so no brand there.

Which is the best way to go about checking the RAM? just remove all but one stick and go through each like that?

Last edited by Shingster; 23-05-2012 at 23:15.
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Old 24-05-2012, 06:18   #5
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yes take all the ram out except one stick and work through it one stick at a time,if it runs ok with one stick,swap it out with another until you have tested all of them,if you are certain the cpu fan is good,I would remove it and clean the thermal paste off and renew it,how do the capacitors look on the motherboard,any bulging ?
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Old 24-05-2012, 06:52   #6
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to be honest, sounds like dodgy ram if you are getting a lot of errors at odd times and it won't install windows properly. chances are the computer shop, if they did check the ram, did a quick check.

Get something like memtest86 and do a full ram check.
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Old 24-05-2012, 07:45   #7
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If your struggling you can lend my desktop mate. Have you tried the swapping out the RAM suggestion yet? How are you getting on here without the desktop?
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Old 25-05-2012, 01:51   #8
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Thanks for all the reply folks, very much appreciated! I've not really had the room to get at my PC during the day due to house rennovations, but I've just managed to get inside and pull all but one of my memory sticks, and so far, so good! I've now got windows up & running and posting via my own PC for the first time in a week now!

My memory set up was 6GB DDR2, with 2 x 2GB and 2 x 1GB sticks. The 2GB sticks are newer (about 2yrs I think) and the 1GB sticks are older (forget how old, but over 3yrs I bet), so I'm hoping it's just one of the 1gb sticks that's to fault! EDIT - Just realised I'm using one of the 1GB sticks right now, will have to try changing that!

Again, thanks for the advice everyone!

Last edited by Shingster; 25-05-2012 at 02:10.
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Old 25-05-2012, 04:59   #9
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Hi,

Mix and and match memory I never been a fan of it, people do, I don't due hassle it can cause. Sometimes all works fine but when system is put under load it might crash in some cases http://www.memtest.org/ download this burn on a cd or usb key and see what happens.

Last edited by bigdutch; 25-05-2012 at 05:26.
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Old 25-05-2012, 19:41   #10
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Balls, all was going well until just now. Looks like the problem isn't over, just had the same crash, but it's not happening with the frequency of before. I thought I'd found the problem was one of my 2Gb sticks (seeing as I couldn't install windows with it), and so far been using my other 2GB stick, but now it's not looking good. Look like I'll have to try that memtest program.

Is it possible that more than one of my sticks are faulty? I just find that an amazing coincidence if so tbh.

Last edited by Shingster; 25-05-2012 at 19:48.
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Old 25-05-2012, 19:49   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdutch View Post
Mix and and match memory I never been a fan of it, people do, I don't due hassle it can cause.
But if I'm getting the problem with just one memory stick, then surely it's not the issue here?
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Old 25-05-2012, 20:16   #12
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Well it could be the psu but odds on if you check the voltage values in the bios you'll find they're all fine. Run the memtest86+ program with various combinations of memory.
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Old 25-05-2012, 21:04   #13
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I did a check of the voltages when I first started having the probs, there didn't seem to be any issues there. Just ran memtest on this one 2GB stick, waited through 2 passes and it came up with no errors at all.

It's strange how with this one 2gb stick my system is more stable and only seems to crash after an hour or so!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ian turner View Post
Well it could be the psu but odds on if you check the voltage values in the bios you'll find they're all fine. Run the memtest86+ program with various combinations of memory.
This is going to take me hours to do given the fact I have 4 sticks, 4 ports and little space in the house to get at my PC, so I can only do this literally once or twice a night.
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Old 25-05-2012, 22:08   #14
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Ok here's an update, I have 4 RAM ports: A1+A2 and B1+B2, and 4 Ram sticks (2x2Gb, 2x1GB), I'll call the 2GB sticks x & y. Last night I tried the following:

1GB in A1 = Allowed me to install windows
2GBx in A1 = Crashed upon loading windows
2Gby in A1 = No crash at all until tonight. Ran memorytest on it, no errors

1GB in A2+B2 = Instant crash, crashing in BIOS and then wouldn't even load BIOS.
1GB in A1+B1 = What I have right now, so far no crash (but only been on the computer for a few minutes). EDIT, just had to reboot as my CPU usage maxed out, new symptom? Mem usage was only around 65%.

Last edited by Shingster; 25-05-2012 at 22:20.
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Old 25-05-2012, 22:38   #15
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I seem to be having problems with my CPU now with the 2x1GB installed. I have coretemp installed and that tells me that both my cores are under heavy load (percentages over 70) but my Task Manager is not reporting this heavy load, just low percentages.

EDIT: Left the PC on for a while and somehow the CPU issues worked itself out over time, I'm currently on 2x1GB and so far no crashes (been over an hour since boot). I'll stick with this memory tonight and run a memtest on it tomorrow.

Last edited by Shingster; 26-05-2012 at 00:37.
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Old 26-05-2012, 08:33   #16
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Buy some new memory shing
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Old 26-05-2012, 09:05   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shingster View Post
I seem to be having problems with my CPU now with the 2x1GB installed. I have coretemp installed and that tells me that both my cores are under heavy load (percentages over 70) but my Task Manager is not reporting this heavy load, just low percentages.

EDIT: Left the PC on for a while and somehow the CPU issues worked itself out over time, I'm currently on 2x1GB and so far no crashes (been over an hour since boot). I'll stick with this memory tonight and run a memtest on it tomorrow.
If you've just installed windows then it will do some house keeping. That can load up the CPU.
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Old 26-05-2012, 11:08   #18
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Might be worth changing the timing settings for the ram in the bios or just going for an out and out cmos reset in case of corruption . Mind you you shouldn't be installing two sticks randomly across 4 slots anyway as the manuals tend to indicate what slots should be filled depending on number of sticks and size (possibly same size in a or b even if the ones in a are different to the ones in b and largest ones in a or vice versa). Are the memory sticks identical clock rates or are the newer ones faster ?
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Old 26-05-2012, 12:07   #19
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It sounds like the motherboard is faulty, I've replaced a few of those boards myself due to failure.
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Old 26-05-2012, 16:29   #20
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I ran memtest on the 2x1GB tonight and it found no errors across 2 passes. So far the 2x1Gb setup is stable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ian turner View Post
Might be worth changing the timing settings for the ram in the bios or just going for an out and out cmos reset in case of corruption .
I'll look into doing that, thanks! Might be worth pointing out that about a year ago the BIOS battery started playing up, replaced it and that helped solve some BIOS issues.

Quote:
Mind you you shouldn't be installing two sticks randomly across 4 slots anyway as the manuals tend to indicate what slots should be filled depending on number of sticks and size (possibly same size in a or b even if the ones in a are different to the ones in b and largest ones in a or vice versa). Are the memory sticks identical clock rates or are the newer ones faster ?
The only thing it states in the manual is that for dual-memory configuration then the total in channel A must match the total in channel B, which I've always adhered to. I know the 2x2Gb are the same clock speed and the 2x1GB are the same (bought each couple together), they're all Kingston RAM but I can't remember if the 1GB sticks are the same speed as the 2GB, will have to check that later. Can I check this in the BIOS or Memtest?

Quote:
Originally Posted by farrar View Post
It sounds like the motherboard is faulty, I've replaced a few of those boards myself due to failure.
Do you mean ASUS boards in general or the P5n/passively cooled boards in particular?
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