Need help identifying computer problem. Computer keeps crashing when playing games

By Hammerdin
Sep 9, 2009
Topic Status:
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  1. Hello there, I've got a problem with my computer that's been bothering me for a long time now.
    If possible, I'd like any of you to help me identify the problem, and find a solution.

    I've never been able to fix this problem, on what should be a perfectly fine computer, bought new in march 2008. Full spec list in the end of the post. OS is Windows XP Pro.

    The problem is that the computer is either crashing completely, or forcing games to shut down when I'm playing games. What I've come to think is that my power supply can't handle the hardware that's in the computer, when all the parts are being used maximally. Here's what I'm thinking: When a game that demands the whole computer to work at maximum capacity is running, the power supply will attempt to deliver the power all the hardware parts need to function properly at full speed. 'Say the computer actually need a 550w power supply to function properly, but the power supply i have only works at 500w, it will actually try to deliver 550w, ultimately causing it to "overheat", and force itself to reboot as a means of getting cooled down or simply slowing down to work at normal capacity - instead of keeping on working at more than 100% capacity over a longer period of time, which would end up destroying the power supply altogether. The crashes rarely occur when I do anything other than playing demanding games, basically any game that's got high hardware demands will result in a computer crash - most often the BSOD kind - or forcing the game itself to abruptly shut down. Older games, or games that simply doesn't need high end hardware, will go on forever without causing any problems.
    When it crashes, it usually happens after 1-10 minutes of playing, a few times it might go for around 20 minutes. When creating a character in a game, something that only needs very little processing power, it can go on for ages - even if the game itself would crash soon after playing normally. this only supports my theory about the power supply.
    I've got all the latest drivers and such installed, and always have.
    Things I've tried to fix my problem, all without success, include:
    - Switching graphics card and installing the proper drivers.
    - Formatting my computer, reinstalling windows and everything else.
    - Taking off the side of the cabinet and have a big fan blow air directly into the computer to cool off everything.
    - Switching hard disk. The computer/BIOS won't recognize either of the two other drives I've tried connecting.
    - Paying too much money for having the place I bought it from fix it, only to have them tell me "it's a software problem". They told me they experienced no problems while playing any games on their own hard disk they installed for testing. This is the only thing that goes against my theory about the power supply, as far as I can tell.
    I've never tested or switched the mother board, RAM, or processor.
    The OS I've used has been the same all the time - an old copy of Windows XP Professional from a burned CD.
    I'll try to install Windows 7 on my computer if nothing else can fix it. But of course I'd rather not spend time on formatting and installing windows when I'm not even sure that it's going to solve my problem. Because if it's a hardware problem, namely a weak power supply, I would lose my entire windows setup for nothing.

    Any and all ideas are welcome. Hopefully I can get this problem solved without spending any money.

    Mainboard : BIOSTAR GF7050V-M7
    Chipset : nVidia GeForce 7050
    Processor : Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 @ 2666 MHz
    Physical Memory : 2048 MB (2 x 1024 DDR2-SDRAM )
    Video Card : NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
    Hard Disk : WDC (400 GB)
    Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5.01.2600 Service Pack 3
  2. superty12

    superty12 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 432

    New Computer

    Yeah, build a new computer and put the drive in the new computer.
  3. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I'm not looking for a new computer. I'm wanna fix the one i already have.
  4. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    Ignore the kid- so far he's had nothing serious to say!

    Hammerdin, Can we try to troubleshoot the problem in Windows XP? Putting Windows 7 on isn't likely to help what you've described.

    There are three issues:
    1. Heat: you are using an extra fan for cooling.
    2. Power supply: use less on what you have or get more.
    3 RAML so far, the unknown.

    The fact that the system is crashing when you are using a memory intensive program leads us to suspect that either 1. there is not enough RAM to support the game itself or in combination with multi-tasking-OR- one of the RAM sticks has gone bad. Do memtest for this:

    Tutorial: How to use memtest.

    Read the Tutorial, then run the memtest. Be sure you make sufficient passes.

    After-or before if you want- access the Event Viewer and see if there is any Error corresponding to the time of the crash. You should be able to see a repetition if there is one:

    Start> Run> type in eventvwr

    Do this on each the System and the Applications logs:

    • [1]. Click to open the log>
      [2]. Look for the Error>
      [3] .Right click on the Error> Properties>
      [4]. Click on Copy button, top right, below the down arrow >
      [5]. Paste here (Ctrl V)
      [6].NOTES
    • You can ignore Warnings and Information Events.
    • If you have a recurring Error with same ID#, same Source and same Description, only one copy is needed.
    • You don't need to include the lines of code in the box below the Description, if any.
    • Please do not copy the entire Event log.

    Errors are time coded. Check the computer clock on crash.
  5. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hey, thanks for replying ^^

    I tried looking into the event viewer thing, something I've never done before, but then I remembered that my brother recently had similar problems, and all he did was manually switch his ram blocks around, and keep game testing until he found the ram block or ram slot that was causing the problem.
    So I did the same, and I've found that both ram blocks work, as well as both ram slots in the mother board. The only configuration of ram that will cause the computer to crash, is if both are plugged in at the same time. Of course I've always had both ram blocks plugged in, that's how it was built and sold.
    This just leaves me wondering why it crashes when both ram blocks are being used.
    I guess it could be because the computer only has enough power to run everything else + one ram block at a time. But does ram really require that much power?
    because if power is actually what's causing all of this, then one ram block would have to require enough power to tilt the whole machines power-need from an alright level, compared to what the power supply can deliver, to needing too much, and ultimately causing the computer to crash.

    However I'm happy that i finally found a way of staying in-game. Couldn't have come at a better time, just a week before Aion is released. a new MMO I'll be spending a lot of time playing :)
  6. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    My setup for the Event Viewer will make it easier for you.

    Windows XP can run well with 512MB of RAM. It is possible that the motherboard can't support 2MB- even if it was sold with that! It would be very unusual for any manufacturer to put 2MB of RAM in a Windows XP system. Some of them still try to get away with 256MB.

    Stay with just one stick. You know both slots are good and you know both sticks are good. My guess is that 2GB is too much for that system.
  7. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    hmm.. are you saying that XP might not be able to handle more than 1-2 GB of ram?
    because I'm running on 1 GB right now, and i can definitely see a difference in frame rate from when I had 2 GB plugged in.
    my motherboard isn't a good one either way, so if XP isn't the problem, the motherboard could easily be. I guess I would either have to get a new mother board, or switch to W7. depending on what it is, that cant handle the ram.

    edit:
    I just found out that my motherboard should be able to handle 4 GB ram.
    so I guess XP is to blame for everything?
  8. superty12

    superty12 TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 432

    Power supply

    Try replacing the power supply, if, in fact, you do believe that that is where the problem lies.
  9. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    No, I'm not. But obviously something can't handle the two chips because it crashes when you have them both in!

    Did you get this computer from a person rather than a manufacturer? No company I know of put Windows XP out with 2GB of RAM. Did you upgrade the RAM at purchase? Maybe it just doesn't work in combination with something else in the system.
  10. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I bought it off a stores website where I customized it. I didn't select any OS as I have an XP copy myself. but anyway, I spoke to a friend of mine who seems to know a great deal about power supplies and just computers in general, he told me the problem was definitely related to the power supply, and estimated that my computer would need around 650w to function properly, and since my own power supply is only at 530w, I decided to buy a new one. I ordered a 750w power supply, just to be sure.
    I'll write back once I get it, and find out if power was indeed the problem.
  11. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    This site will help you determine that amount of power you need for what's running:
    http://www.apcc.com/index.cfm?ISOCountryCode=US

    It's what I used when I first went to Windows XP from 98- I knew I need more but not how much.

    For the future, keep in mind the following for game related problems:
    1. Heat related.
    2. RAM related.
    3. Power related
     
  12. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    well, the PSU didn't fix the problem. returning it asap.
    the windows xp I'm using is from an old burned cd i got from a friend at launch. the last computer i had, had similar problems with gaming and crashing. I'm beginning to think that the windows copy i have is whats causing the problem. I will be installing windows 7 in a weeks time, and see how that goes. before doing so however, I'll try inserting a 2GB ram block, to see if the computer crashes because of 2GB ram, or because of 2 ram blocks.
  13. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    Seems to me things don't match up here:

  14. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I bought the computer new, at the said date, without an OS installed - clean hard drive.
    I installed windows myself, from the cd i mentioned.
    and there you go, a perfect match :)
  15. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    No, it's not a perfect match! You can't pass the CD for Windows OS around! It cost money the first time- you ger the auth through Microsoft. If you didn't buy it and it wasn't pre-installed, then it sounds like a pirated copy.

    Your friend illegally copied the OS, then illegally passed it on to you and you illegally installed it and used it. That is what 'pirating' is!
  16. Hammerdin

    Hammerdin Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    yes I know. I have no intentions of paying several hundred dollars for something I can get for free. I don't feel bad about it either. I would feel stupid if I paid that much money for something as bug riddled and overall not-working, as windows.

    if it works, I'll pay up. If it doesn't, I'll let them know by not paying. simple as that.
    unfortunately for companies like microsoft, only very few things computer actually work.
    If things like windows just worked, people like me would consider paying for it.
    Making bad products only results in fewer people paying for it.

    I'm just glad I never paid for all the problems I've had with windows.
  17. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,392   +35

    We do not support piracy.
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