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Computer slowly dying! Is it the RAM?

By WedgeoZ ยท 19 replies
Jul 24, 2007
  1. Ok, first of all this is my first post!
    I've had a nice stable self build for well over a year that in the last couple of months has just started dying. I'm getting random BSOD or crashes to Windows whenever playing games. It started out with Neverwinter 2 (so I blamed the half-baked poor release) and then spread to all my games (except, fingers-crossed, Doom 3). It's even affecting older games like Black & White 2 and Battle for Middle-Earth 1.

    Most BSOD were blaming the nv4disp driver so I tried upgrading to the latest driver but it actually made the problem worse. I reverted to the originals and it seems to be more stable with less BSODs but still plenty of random crashes to windows. I've also noticed major performance deteriorations with some movie load times taking several minutes and my DVD burner no longer opens post the crash.

    I've been looking around for similar problems and think it might be the RAM but memtest won't load so I'm not sure. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    AMD Athlon 64 3500+
    ASUS A8N-E M-board
    Albatron nVidia 6600GT 128Mb PCI-E
    Thermaltake 500W PSU
    LG H10A DVD burner
    2x 512Mb cheap **** RAM modules
    Windows XP SP-2 with latest updates

    All drivers except the Video are latest release
  2. LXIX

    LXIX TS Rookie Posts: 104

    it might be your RAM since you have the generic brands, i'm not sure if it slowly dies though so it might be your psu not getting enough power to some drivers maybe.
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,503   +3,696

    We've of course checked for and eliminated.....

    Power supply?
    There are freeware memory test programs you can download. I don't have a link at the moment, but I'm sure somebody will be along with one.
  4. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the replies.
    I've scanned and re-scanned for spyware, malware etc with the latest updates and everything has checked out fine.

    Checked for overheating, but monitoring temp levels post crashes and everything looks normal (CPU, GPU etc). Plus sometimes it happens only a few minutes after turning it on and that's after having 24hrs to rest.

    Don't have a spare PSU to test, so not sure how I'll eliminate that as a possibility. I would have thought that 500W would easily manage my specs (include in that 2 HDDs as well). Wouldn't it??

    I have noticed that it is much more reliable with graphics settings turned to minimal. But I don't see that as a permanent solution as it used to run fine with everything tweaked up.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,503   +3,696


    As I understand it the higher the setting on the graphics card, the hotter it gets and the more power it draws. So, there could be a message there somewhere. Just because 500 Watts would be sufficient to run your system, and the PSU is 500 Watts, remember it's a year or so old and there's no guarantee it's still delivering is rated power. Did we goof anything up with a new game install? Remember, PSUs have the highest failure rate of anything in the box, well except maybe DVD drives.
  6. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks CC...

    No, I haven't done any new game installs lately.

    Looks like I'll have to hunt down another PSU to test out if that's the cause. Hopefully it will be, I just want this problem solved! Is there any definitive test for a PSU other than trialling a different one and seeing if the problem still occurs??

    Could it possibly be the DVD??
  7. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 867   +12

    Your games are not causing this problem. I'd bet it's your video card or PSU. Switch PSUs for a while and run your computer and see what happens.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,503   +3,696


    Antec is supposed to have a PSU tester, you can check their web site.
    As sophisticated as computers are, sometimes good old trial and error is the (unfortunately) way to proceed. You can try this memory test: http://www.memtest86.com/ PCworld magazine recommends it, but I haven't tried it yet myself.
  9. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Good specs, the RAM well it worked a year you say. Can you buy match modules or 1GB stick they're cheap now. Still if you don't want to do that, then the copy of Windows might have got corrupted it does happen. Sometimes way to many updates can cause serious problems in XP. Also remember you might have to use more than one spyware checker to see if anything is hidding in the PC.

    What I would do, is wipe the drive and install a fresh copy of XP SP2. Don't apply any updates don't install any av or spyware. Just plain vanila system if you can do it? If the system is also your primary PC then it might be hard not to install the programs. To me something is now working right on your system when you play your games.

    MEMTEST I don't like that program there is a free one that does a better job and tells you right away what's wrong. I work so I don't have access to that program right now.
  10. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cheers for the help

    I've got a copy of memtest86 but haven't had much luck getting it to boot-up (I don't think it's a related problem).

    I've lined up a PSU to test over the weekend so will give that a shot and see if it fixes the prob. Would prefer to give that a go prior to a full re-install but I have been thinking that a new HDD and some more space wouldn't go astray, so I'll keep that in mind if no luck with the PSU. (Are the Seagate SATA2 16mb cache HDD anygood?) Unfortunately it is my main system so some programs will have to go back on.

    I don't really mind throwing money at it, but I'd like to make sure I'm replacing the right component before spending!
    Will let people know how this PSU trial goes, thanks again.
  11. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,997

    Hi WedgeoZ
    you don't say what the various temperatures are in the system - the gradual deterioration makes me wonder if cooling is still adequate?
  12. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi AlbertLionheart
    I haven't kept the temp monitors running the whole time recently but as a bit of an example the latest crash to windows happened when both CPU and GPU were only at 40 C (sorry for all those in US but I couldn't be bothered converting to F - that's not hot at all if you're not sure).
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,503   +3,696

    You would have 5 years to find out.....

    I didn't spend too much time on Memtest86's site but, I don't think the program is bootable by itself. I got the impression you had to create a bootable disc with a program such as Nero "burning ROM", and then use that.

    The Seagate drives are warranted for 5 years, all their SATA 2 drives support NCQ. Only WDs "SE" drives 400GB and above do. If you want a smaller WD drive with NCQ you must purchase their "RE" (Raid Edition) models. I have 2 WD2500s (SATA 2 16 MB cache) and a Seagate 80 SATA 2 as a system drive. Windows installed on the Seagate and worked perfectly 1st time. I was getting some goofy results with the same copy of Windows on one of the WDs. Although maybe I got better with practice. Dunno.
  14. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 867   +12

    Well Capt'n you are correct. You do have to burn the ISO to a disk or write the files to a floppy for it to work, and you have to boot into the disk during a boot cycle. Memtest86.com is the old version of the utility while memtest.org is a newer version of the same utility.
  15. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    1. run memtest 86+ booted from a floppy/cd for at least 7 passes
    2. check your PSU with a tester and multimeter
  16. LXIX

    LXIX TS Rookie Posts: 104

    they have special dogs you can buy that also double as gaming computers. pretty good idea imo.
  17. sghiznaneck

    sghiznaneck TS Maniac Posts: 394

    When you installed the new drivers, did you uninstall the old driver?? Many people forget this important step and install new/updated drivers right over the current ones. If there IS a problem with the drivers, by doing this, you can sometimes make the problem worse, or improve a little, but the problem driver is still there.
  18. LXIX

    LXIX TS Rookie Posts: 104

    the dogs man, the dogs. Go for the Dogs!
  19. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter


    Don't know about buying a gaming dog...

    Tested the PSU, no joy. It checked out fine with a multimeter and the replacement still crashed.

    The old drivers were completely removed (both times I replaced them).

    Still getting memtest to run so haven't trialled it yet, but shortly...
  20. WedgeoZ

    WedgeoZ TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Problem finally solved!!

    Cheers for everyone out there who gave me suggestions on what to trial to fix this problem.

    I finally figured out the issue with getting Memtest to run and on the first pass the RAM failed. I've narrowed down the culprit stick and it shall soon be replaced.

    Thanks for the help.
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