Blank screen and hard reboot

By RX_Queen
Dec 27, 2011
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  1. Please excuse me if this is in the wrong part of the forum, I'm a PC newb, and really not sure where this belongs. Also, apologies for the length!

    My PC is about 2 and a half years old, and this problem has never occurred before. In fact, it started yesterday and has happened 3 times within that period. It's seriously beginning to worry me in case it may be a hardware issue.

    I've done searches on the symptoms, but this appears to be a problem suffered by old monitors attached to new computers, and not to a system that has been working fine for years.

    Okay, when it's happened I have been playing both Sims 3 and SWTOR. On all 3 occasions it has occurred when I'm relatively inactive. This may not be remotely relevant, but twice it's happened as I was in the cockpit of my ship in SWTOR and just waiting for a crafting cooldown. Suddenly my screen goes blank, and I get an 'out of range' message. This requires a hard reboot, and on rebooting I get a 'microsoft has recovered from an unexpected shutdown', but I am guessing that's because I had to manually shut my PC down.

    I have tried to auto set my monitor thinking it may be due to wonkiness/resolution issues, and it was advised to someone else on another forum, but to no avail. I also checked my event logs and can't find anything pertaining to it. In fact, the only thing I can find is an acknowledgment that Windows was shutdown unexpectantly, but oddly nothing about the error that caused my monitor to blank out.

    My PC was made by Zoostorm, and I have an Intel Q9550 and my graphics card is an ATI HD4870. I do have a slight overheating issue, I think, and the cores of my CPU can reach the 70s. I am looking to purchase a new case, and hopefully a new power unit to go with it, but money is extremely tight at the moment, and so that plan keeps being placed on the backburner.

    I do have a spare graphics card luckily (an Nvidia 9800GT), and I'm wondering if the one I am currently using just can't cut it anymore? Unfortunately I don't have a copy of Windows Vista, so I'm praying it's not needed!

    I'd appreciate any advice on the issue, and thanks for reading!
  2. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    Is the monitor still black or blank?
  3. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Thanks for the reply!

    I think it goes black, and all it shows is an 'out of range' message.
    edit: Sorry, misread. No, the monitor works fine again after a hard-reboot.

    I think I may have a clue now what's causing it, but will have to see if it works. It may not be a hardware issue after all.

    My graphics card drivers were updated twice within the last month. The old drivers were uninstalled and cleaned with DriverSweeper, so I don't think the installation is a problem. I've tried making sure that the monitor refresh rate and resolution is the same as on CCC, but it isn't. I've corrected it twice already, but after every reboot CCC keeps getting the settings wrong. Windows insists my monitor only runs at a 60hz refresh rate, and the resolution is set as 1360x768, but CCC sets it as 75hz and the resolution is set higher. If it is this that's causing the issue, it'll be annoying to keep having to reset the settings, but it's a small price to pay.

    I've had another search thinking it may be a HD4800 series issue that's cropped up with the latest drivers, but I haven't found anything yet. I know it used to be a serious issue some years ago, so I'm guessing it may be a repeat problem?

    I'm hoping I've gotten to the heart of it. I'll post again if it fixes it.
  4. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    I'm posting this in case someone else has the same problem, and maybe they can try this too.

    I'm pleased to report that it appears to be fixed (so far). No blank screens have popped up and no hard-reboots have been needed for the last few days. I also made a preset in CCC so the settings remain the correct ones whenever I reboot.
  5. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Unfortunately the problem doesn't appear to be solved. It simply went away for a few days, but it's back now with a vengeance. I've just been kicked out twice today and once yesterday - all 3 times during SWTOR. I have made sure all resolutions and refresh rates are set the same on my PC, CCC and in-game, and yet it still persists.

    I just don't know where to start fixing this at all... With money being an issue at the moment, I want to make sure if a part needs replacing, I get the correct one.

    It doesn't seem to be a common problem, and searches merely lead to problems that are similar, but the solutions to them have no effect on mine.

    Any ideas at all would be helpful!
  6. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

  7. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Thanks for the reply and suggestion!

    I have Bullguard that's set to constantly check files, and I use Firefox with NoScript and use MyWot and various others addons. I also regularly run Malwarebytes and Spybot to make sure, as I don't trust antivirus suites after having been burned so many times by Norton on my last PC. I'm positive that there are no viruses and haven't had one literally for years as I'm so careful and only ever stick to sites that I trust. I also never download films, games or anything that might contain suspicious files. I'm a little OTT about PC security - possibly annoyingly so.

    I'll check again to make sure, but I'm doubtful it's a virus.
  8. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    It is possible to have too much protection. I use Microsoft Security Essentials and the temp file cleaner I posted here. Did you run it? Too much protection can slow down and cause problems like you are having with your PC

    "I'm positive that there are no viruses and haven't had one literally for years"...

    Spyware has become more damaging than viruses these days
  9. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Thanks again for your reply!

    Yes, I'm aware that you can clog up a PC easily with lots of different programs that are designed to do the same thing, especially if they run at the same time. I've been relatively careful that the only antivirus I have running solidly is Bullguard and its accompanying firewall. All other programs that I have are activated by me and then used for a scan and closed off again.

    Yep, I do check for spyware and am quite paranoid about getting it, but after a check with Spybot (also removed temp files) and Malwarebytes, I can find nothing at all. Bullguard hasn't picked up anything either. I shall run your program now, as I wasn't able to earlier while at work. I'll let you know what happens.

    To be honest, I wish it was a virus - it would cost less to deal with it. I could clean it up and go on with enjoying my PC.

    I have recently wondered if it may be a dying graphics card or a power issue. It's the only other thing I can think of that may be causing the problem. I have gone ahead and purchased a new PSU (XFX 650W XXX Edition Modular '80 Plus Bronze' Power Supply), which is better than my current, and I still have an old 9800gtx that I received years ago that still hasn't been used. I've also picked up some fans that can be attached to the MOBO to clear up any overheating issues I may be having. These things needed to be done anyway. My PSU is getting old and only produces 500w, and my PC does overheat slightly. I'm just hoping it finally clears the problem.

    Edit: Used the cleaner and it did clear an impressive amount of crud off my system. I shall start up SWTOR tonight for a long session and see if it's worked. I shall post results when I get them. Fingers crossed!
  10. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    If Vista is fully updated using Windows Update, and all the service packs are applied, I would strongly suggest that you delete Bullguard and it's firewall. 3rd party firewalls were great for XP but not good for updated Vista or Windows 7. 3rd party firewalls interfere with Windows Defender and other critical Windows protection features. Spybot is old and not necessary. Malwarebytes is becoming outdated too. Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials, but delete the above first. A big clue that the "protection" you use and love wasn't working well, is the fact that the temp file cleaner "did clear an impressive amount of crud off my system"...

    Another thing, now days it's spyware that is more destructive than a virus infection. A favorite hiding place for these nasties are the temp files
  11. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Although I was pleased to see I had recovered space, to be honest I couldn't see anything that leads me to believe there was anything malicious that was removed. However, I very well may be incorrect. I expected to see a breakdown, or log, of what was removed, but none showed. It seemed to mainly remove caches and temporary download files. The program ran so quickly that I got very little information from it overall.

    I am reluctant to solely rely on Microsoft to provide security, as I've had a lot of problems in the past with their firewall. I remember the early days of removing god only knows what from my PC when I really didn't know that you should be careful about clicking on links.

    Bullguard may have to go by the end of month anyway, as renewal price is ridiculous, and I've never been very trustworthy of antiviral suites anyway.

    I shall have a look into Microsoft Security Essentials.
  12. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    "I am reluctant to solely rely on Microsoft to provide security, as I've had a lot of problems in the past with their firewall"...

    "Past" is the key word here. Vista is "past" too. Remember Windows Me after Windows 98SE... Well, Vista was like Me before Windows 7, pretty crappy. The Windows firewall no longer has the issues it once had in the early days of XP, and if Vista is fully updated to Service Pack 2 you should be okay with Microsoft Security Essentials now, and keep those temp files and cashes cleared
  13. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    During the last play session, the monitor is now going into 'Standby' mode, and regularly. I stopped gaming for fear of doing any lasting, real damage.

    Tomorrow, provided it arrives, I shall be changing my PSU, graphics card and adding some fans. I have looked into MSE and it looks fairly promising.
  14. RX_Queen

    RX_Queen TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 37

    Just as an update and to say that this thread can be closed.

    As it turns out I think it was a PSU and graphics card issue. I changed the PSU and received a monitor freeze rather than an 'out of range' message, with the 4870 still in place. I wasn't able to change to the 9800 due to an incorrect cable, but the 4870 finally died within a day, leaving me with the only option to fit in a relatively new 4670 until I can fit the 9800 in. All is working well, I'm happy to report.

    Thanks to Tmagic650 - I shall install MSE sometime very soon. Not having to spend out on another pricey subscription is irresistible.

    And generally sorry if this thread was a pain in the ****. But I got there in the end.
  15. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,233   +234

    Good work RX_Queen,
    I think you'll like MSE, not only because it is free, but it also works well with Windows Defender and the Windows firewall. Other 3rd party security programs open up the possibility of conflicting with these Windows built-in protections. That graphics card might have taken out the power supply

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