TechSpot

Unstable system

By ezoons
Oct 27, 2006
  1. I have a very old PC which has been working more or less ok till recently.
    Ok, so it's a P3-866, with 256 mb ram, a 32 mb GF2 video card, but it ran WinXP smoothly and I could use photoshop, office stuff and even play some games.

    Recently, I've moved and changed the hardware on the PC (took out the TV tuner and old Ethernet card and plugged in a wireless network adaptor). I guess that's when all my problems began.

    And these problems are very annoying: the bloody thing keeps BSODing, freezes, refuses to run photoshop, I can't watch videos larger than 100mb etc. The PC freezes when I'm browsing, checking my email, using Miranda, Winamp or Skype.
    Most BSODs are "irql_not_less_or_equal" and "page fault in non-paged area" (the second one I'm not sure).
    I often have to reboot the PC. For example, as I was registering, I had to go into Opera settings to allow cookies for these boards. When I tried to do that, the computer froze. You get the picture.

    I'm thinking maybe all these things happen because my hardware profile has changed and the XP installation (nearly 1yr old) didn't like that? I'm more than ready for a reinstall, I just want to make sure that I'm not doing something that's not going to work.

    I looked at the bios power management screen when I rebooted and wrote down what I saw. I don't know what to make of this, but hopefully someone will tell me if there is a problem with the PSU.
    Vcore 1.74v
    VTT 1.37v-1.53v (lowest & highest values I saw)
    3.3v 3.05v-3.07v
    +5v 4.78v-4.81v
    +12v 11.49v-11.61v
    -12v -11.54v
    -5v -4.84v
    VBAT (v) 3.12v
    5VSB (v) 4.80V​
    Could someone tell me what I should be doing?

    Hopefully, I won't need to upgrade the whole thing. This would be nice but I can't afford it ATM.

    Just to add a couple of points (after reading another thread):
    1. I can start Windows normally. The problems don't occur until I run an application.
    2. Event log shows nothing. No error reports whatsoever. Just the usual "service stopped", "service started".
    3. I'll have to wait till the next BSOD and will write down what it says exactly. That shouldn't take too long.
    4. Psu readings as above. Speedfan shows the same thing.
    5. System temperatures are OK (again, as per speedfan).
    6. System restore disabled, so can't undo.
    7. Will run memtest over the weekend.

    Sometime the system runs for the whole evening without a sign of trouble, sometimes it freezes right after start-up. Today, I could successfully burn a CD, but had the PC freeze when using Opera. So it all seems pretty random to me - except photoshop: it can never launch.
     
  2. misskazzy

    misskazzy TS Rookie

    sounds liek a problem with the RAM?
     
  3. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Like I said, I'm going to test it with memtest.
    Can someone comment on the PSU currents?
     
  4. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Your psu voltages are a little on the low side but no that unusual!!!!
    Your psu appears to be working ok but may be suffering because of its age a little!!!!
     
  5. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,573   +65

    Those aren't the most spot-on voltages, but I've seen a lot worse and its still worked OK. ;) I think your PSU looks fine. Software-based voltage readings aren't always very accurate anyhow, especially on older computers, so I wouldn't put much stock in those numbers anyway.

    What you're experiecing is a really common symptom of memory. Let us know how memtest does. www.memtest.org
     
  6. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    OK, so I've run memtest a couple of times and can teport the following.
    With memtest v1.65 (floppy), I couldn't finish a single pass.
    Tried 3 times, and every time the computer froze at 23.55 minutes, while displaying:

    pass 79%
    test 2%
    test #8 [module 20, ones & zeroes]
    testing 108k - 256mb 256mb
    pattern 00000000-0

    So it looks like it's my memory, doesn't it?

    ===

    Posted the message, left the room with the computer running.
    Came back in 10 minutes and saw a fresh BSOD. Take it away, please:

    page_fault_in_nonpaged_area

    technical information:
    stop: 0x00000050 (0xFDFB8D48, 0X00000000, 0XBF8795C7, 0X00000000)
    win32k.sys - address 0XBF8795C7, datestamp 3d6de5e5
     
  7. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Yup, your ram is fubar and in need of being replaced!!!!

    You wont get away with just adding some ram, you will need to remove and bin the old ram altogether!!!!
     
  8. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, thanks.
    Getting new sdram shouldn't be too difficult/expensive. There's a decent shop nearby, I'll pop by in the evening and test a new stick.
    Hopefully this would work.
     
  9. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Make sure you get the correct ram for your mobo, go here - www.crucial.com and look up your mobo!!!!
     
  10. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ah, good thing I checked the boards before going out!
    My MB manual (yes, I kept it all htese years) only says that the MB supports "a maximum memory size of 512MB SDRAM". I thought I'd get a single 512mb stick.

    According to crucial, the board limits each memory slot to just 256 mb...
     
  11. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Make sure you get the correct speed too!!! The crucial database is pretty good but i wouldn't actually buy ram from them unless i wanted an arm and a leg amputated!!!!!
     
  12. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    OK, a thorough cleaning and 2 new 256MB ram sticks later, the problem is still there.

    I took out the old ram, cleaned the slot with compressed air, installed the new ram. Windows launches fine.
    But to even reach these boards, I had to reset the PC twice: both times the thing froze (no BSOD, just froze), first when I tried to open a 700mb movie, and then when I tried to open Opera.

    This is very frustrating :(

    Edit:
    I don't know what's going on!
    With the new 2 ram sticks in place, I couldn't even launch outlook (the pc froze mid-startup)! So much for an upgrade...
    Tried installing them in the 2 slots that weren't used before, same result.
    Took them out, put the old one in - at least I know what not to touch with the old ram.
    Should I take the PC to some service centre, perhaps? Would they be able to say what the problem is, exactly or they'll just say "ooh-er, this is an antique, you'll need to change everything" etc?
     
  13. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    Take out the card that you put in, and see if the problem persists.
     
  14. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    Run memtest on your new ram!! It's possible one of them is dody!! It's also possible the memmory controller on your mobo is dodgy!!!!
     
  15. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the suggestions.
    I'm happy to report that none of them seemed to solve my problem.

    1. Taking out the wireless card didn't change anything.
    2. Running memtest on the 2 new sticks had the same result as last time: the test froze at the very same point (79% total, 2% of the test IPR, [module 20...] etc), the only difference being that with bigger ram, it took 49 minutes to reach that point.

    Any guesses?
    Again, thanks for trying, I appreciate your help.
     
  16. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    I'd say your mobo is at fault then unfortunately!!!!:(
     
  17. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    How much time do you think I have before it dies completely then?

    Because if it's not all that urgent, I might have to start looking for a way to upgrade the whole thing...
    I mean, since I have to do it sooner rather than later, and since my system is beginning to die bit by bit (I already had to replace the PSU twice), it's probably not worth it to keep investing into this thing.
    What am I looking at (component-wise), if I decide to upgrade? I mean, when I bought my PC in 2002 it was already not exactly brilliant. And that was fine with me - I'm not a gamer nor an overclocker. I mainly watch movies, listen to music, browse, do some photoshopping, and word processing. Can you at least narrow down the choice of CPUs I should look at? There are so many of them, AMD, Intel, dual core, different sockets... When I looked at a component website yesterday (searching for my sdram), I was like, "what's all this about?"
     
  18. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    It all depends on how much you wish to spend and where in the world you are really!!!!
     
  19. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh, right :)

    I'm in Toronto, Canada.
    Since this is kinda unexpected, I want to spend as little as possible. I'm going to recycle my HDDs, and sound card.
    What I'm going to need then are a new CPU & MB, memory, case and PSU. I can live with on-board graphics for the time being.
    Here's a local shop that I kind of like: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/
    I was looking at their MB&CPU bundles, and something like this Epox 9NDA3I NVIDIA Socket 939 ATX Motherboard and an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 2.0GHz looks about right to me. Or not?
     
  20. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

  21. ezoons

    ezoons TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, considering that I'm probably going to give up a piii-866, even a jump to such an "outdated" board would be one hell of an upgrade :)

    Forgive my ignorance, but isn't 1.8 GHz kind of weak these days? Or am I missing something here?
    I know I'm on a budget, but for a similar price, I can get CPUs with higher frequencies...

    Also, about the "seriously cheap graphics card" you mentioned. Should I consider something with TurboCache?
    If not, would something like this be a good choice?
     
  22. Rik

    Rik Banned Posts: 3,814

    True the processor wasnt great on that one i found, but it is a very good mobo and will take a faster processor at a later date no problem!!! Msi is one of the best mobo makers out there, that why i chose it for you!!!!

    As for graphics card, decide on mobo first as the type of graphics card you need will depend if you choose an agp or pci express one!!!! I would go for pci express!!!!
     
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