My PC randomly shuts off while playing games

By cocijo5000
Apr 29, 2007
Topic Status:
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  1. Hey there. I've had this problem with my Alienware for about three years--and Ive had it for three years. The reason why I haven't been so gung-ho about fixing the issue is because its pretty sporadic. Anyway, my alienware seems to shut down with no warning when I start playing games (ie: WoW) or generally start using my NVidia card.

    AT first I thought it was over heating, but all of my fans are working. I bought a new power supply, cleaned out my computer, and made sure there was no dust around the fans, but still this problem persists. Now, I think its either the power button or the graphic card. (I heard a rumor that the NVidia drivers had a bug that dealt with the temprature of the card.)

    Like I said, my temperatures have all been in the average range. I've also done almost every test known to man for this computer, too. From memory to stress testing it, but it all comes out with flying colors. There are no viruses or malware, and I changed my RAM placement twice, just to make sure. Here are the specs:

    ABIT motherboard (AA8XE
    6800 NVidia Geforce Ultra
    2 gigs of RAM
    120 gig hard drive

    I think thats all you need? So what do you think. Anyway help would be awesome.
  2. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Common problem with Alienware computers, and difficult to track down.
    What memory modules do you have. Are they the same brand? Are any of them Value Ram?
    I would first first consider running a memory test from www.memtest.org. Run it four hours or 7 to 10 passes, which ever takes longer.
    Consider changing your CPU Fan if everything else remains the same.
    The shortcut fix would be to replace the video graphics card to see what happens. It is a decent hard for regular use, but gamers have trouble with it. I cannot think of any reason why it would be the power button.
    What is the brand and rpms of the hard drive?
  3. N3051M

    N3051M Newcomer, in training Posts: 2,800

    have you installed anything recently as in hardware/software? try removing it and see if its much more stable now.

    download everest home (2nd link on my sig) and post a report on your PC overview. Look for abnormalities on your motherboard (burns, capacitor damage, etc) and components, check power cables etc and extension cards are seated properly...

    have you checked for updated drivers etc?
  4. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Alrighty, so I ran the memory test (I used Microsoft Memory Diagnostic) and I replaced my videocard. The test prooved that nothing was wrong with my memory (I let it run for about four hours.) I replaced my GeForce 6800 Ultra with an ATI Radeon, so we'll see if that works.

    I haven't installed anything since I reformatted, save speedfan and WoW.

    I'll post if the problem persists.

    As of right now, though, thank you :) I really hope it was the graphic card!

    ~Cocijo
  5. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Another problem has arisen slightly. Now that my graphic card is working wonders, my CPU over heats. It actually does pretty well until I unleash a game onto my system, which jumps to temperature from 40C to 50-57C, which over heats my CPU and shuts my computer off. That includes under-clocking my PC.

    I'm curious if any of you can recommend a good CPU fan that could help monitor my temperature? I'd like to try and bring down my temperature before I go on vacation (which is in three weeks, so I have time.) Plus, the CPU fan needs to have 4 pins and not 3.

    (as a side note, this problem sort of arose before when I first got my Alienware, but the technician said the fan was a 3-pin when I needed a 4-pin. That was after Alienware made me buy a fan from them even though I was under the warranty, and were expecting me to buy the right fan from them -_-. So I avoided it on principal alone, which now I believe is coming back to bite me in the ***, but w/e.)

    Thanks for your time :)
  6. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Thanks for the update. We still need to know the CPU and Fan now running. Also, does this Alienware have the 80, 120 or 160 mm case fan opening? What sort of thermal paste are you using?
    You certainly would not want to continue running the computer at those temperatures, if correct. Do you have access to an infrared thermal monitor with pistol grip? Or would you consider a digital thermometer that that fits inside an empty bay giving you instant results.
    How about switching to a water cooled system?
    You might want to take a look at Cooler master or the Zalman cpu fans at www.zalmanusa.com or at a number of sites such as www.directron.com...
    A good, large case fan, artic alumina thermal compound, and a temperature monitor might be good additions to the cpu fan upgrade.
    But then my choice would be to sell off the Alienware, and build your own with a Gigabyte motherboard and a new cpu.
  7. CCT

    CCT Newcomer, in training Posts: 3,556

    Well, looking at that mobo and your manual I find that it appears you are running a Pentium 775 which shouldn't have a problem at 57 C; there are shutdown settings in the Bios for temps that you should check (under ABit EQ).

    From what I know, 4 pin fans are selected as PWM and 3 pin as DC and your mobo allows different shut down temps for those depending which are selected. Do some research.

    :)

    http://www.abit-usa.com/products/mb/manual.php?categories=1&model=236
  8. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Heh, I sort of have a newbie question...how do I find out the CPU and the fan? Open the computer up, or can I do that via system check...

    -_-...
  9. CCT

    CCT Newcomer, in training Posts: 3,556

    Download Everest - Google for 'Everest Free Major Geeks' and get it there.
  10. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Wow, Everest blew my mind. It's really handy, thanks for the recommendation. Alrighty, here's my CPU:

    CPU:
    CPU Properties
    CPU Type Intel Pentium 4 560J, 2780 MHz (14 x 199)
    CPU Alias Prescott
    CPU Stepping E0
    Instruction Set x86, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
    Original Clock 3600 MHz
    Min / Max CPU Multiplier 14x / 18x
    Engineering Sample No
    L1 Trace Cache 12K Instructions
    L1 Data Cache 16 KB
    L2 Cache 1 MB (On-Die, ECC, ATC, Full-Speed)

    Multi CPU
    Motherboard ID OEM00000 PROD00000000
    CPU #0 Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.60GHz, 2781 MHz
    CPU #1 Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.60GHz, 2781 MHz

    CPU Manufacturer
    Company Name Intel Corporation
    Product Information http://www.intel.com/products/browse/processor.htm

    CPU Utilization
    CPU #1 / HTT Unit #1 0 %
    CPU #1 / HTT Unit #2 5 %

    (I couldn't find the fan...sorry...Ill check further in Everest, I think I may have missed something.)

    Also, while I was playing WoW, I noticed that my CPU temperature skyrocketed from its usual 40C to an extreme 75C!

    Thanks for your time (again) :)
  11. CCT

    CCT Newcomer, in training Posts: 3,556

    You have an Intel 560 Hyper Threading processor (like mine) that is being underclocked and throttled because your heat sink is NOT attached properly.

    If you do not know how to attach it properly (like, no experience and don't want to learn by burning it out) I would suggest you take a printout of that data and your comp to a shop and tell them to remove and re-attach your heat sink and reset your Bios to fully utilize your cpu.
     
  12. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hmm, it's not attached properly? Interesting... my roommate built a couple of computers, so he'll know how to fix it. (I didn't bother him with this problem only because finals are rolling around at our school, heh.)

    Wow, I'll update you guys again :)
  13. CCT

    CCT Newcomer, in training Posts: 3,556

  14. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    That was awesome :) Being bitter towards something is always nice and healthy. Anyhoo, Im about to go into my computer and toy around with the heat sink. How will I know it's working? (with the exception of going into SpeedFan and looking at my temperatures.)
  15. CCT

    CCT Newcomer, in training Posts: 3,556

    Your Everest has a subset called 'sensor' (under motherboard) - run that, then minimize it, then run some game or intensive process windowed then, when it is firing on all 8 cylinders, have a quick look at Everest from the Task Bar - one way altho not the best,
  16. cocijo5000

    cocijo5000 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Alright, so I'm on my roommates computer. So now I have a question. I opened it up and made sure everything was attached, and now my computer wont load windows. It gets through the set up and then to windows, and then it does nothing. Nada. It just shuts off...

    During the process, the fan on the back of my computer broke. One of the pins that connects it to the power supply port broke in half. Could that be why? (God I hope so.)

    Or...did I just fry my computer?

    EDIT: or is it possible that I just need to replace, or put in new, heatsink fluid/paste??
  17. raybay

    raybay TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Very likely. Most motherboards are designed to check for proper operation of the CPU fan and cooling.
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