Having severe crashing issues while playing an online game.

By Caathaar
Feb 9, 2014
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  1. I am having severe crashing issues with an old laptop while playing Champions Online. I have tried pretty much everything that I can think of to resolve the issue, and some of the things that I have tried seem to remove some possible diagnosis including the most likely one of it being simply overheating.

    I can play games such as WoW, LOTRO, first person shooter games, etc. without problems. In fact the game I am having problems with Champions Online shares login information / chat with another game Star Wars Online. I have the problems with CO but not STO.

    Symptoms: As soon as I open the game client before it even logs in the computer starts struggling. It gets hotter and the on-board fan moves faster and faster until its hitting around 5800 RPM. Sooner or later the entire laptop powers off. This can be as short as a few seconds after logging on, or take as long as 10-15 minutes. This happens regardless of whether I am actively doing stuff in the game or if I am just sitting by myself somewhere using the in-game chat. The game is running along smoothly without any frame skips or lag then in an instant the screen goes black and the laptop is powered off without any warning. When I restart the machine I get a notice that the laptop did not shutdown properly and do I want to check the files for problems. (I've many times tried letting it scan the files but it never finds anything wrong. And ignoring it to go straight to windows does not make the problem worse or better.) It then logs into Windows like normal, and the game like normal.

    Repeat the crash experience.

    Seems like a simple overheating issue right..? After all, some computers are designed to shut off as a safety when it gets too hot, so that must be it, right,,? Well, maybe not. Here's where it gets odd.

    Changing the game's graphics to top-quality does not make it crash faster, in fact it 'seems like' it takes longer to crash. Changing the game's graphics to off (or at least the lowest quality when cannot turn something off outright) does not make it run longer before crashing and instead 'seems to' crash sooner.

    Loading extra programs in the background does not make it crash faster, but closing every single thing on the laptop except the core WinXP processes does not allow the game to avoid crashing or delay it in any way as far as I can tell.

    Furthermore, this problem was not always the case. I ran this game fine without crashing problems for months, but suddenly in the last couple weeks it has gotten to the point that I feel like I can not play the game anymore since it crashes any time I do anything on the game, even just sitting still doing nothing.

    I have tried running SpeedFan to see if I could figure out the problem since most people tell me it sounds like an overheating problem. The laptop 'does' run hot, but when in STO it can run for hours at 170 fahrenheit without crashing, but just a couple minutes on CO in the 140 fahrenheit range. But it does not always crash at 'cooler' temps on CO. In fact it can avoid crashing until much hotter as I've seen CO go over 170 before crashing sometimes.

    So, figuring that since it 'is' running hot I have tried a whole slew of things to cool down the laptop. I've tried cold gel compress bags on the casing, I've tried cooling units / external fans underneath. I've tried brace / stands to lift up the laptop off of the surface areas for better airflow. I've tried using cans of compressed air to clean / cool the laptops vents. I've tried opening up the case and using the air cans to clean away any dust that may have been inside.

    I have tried defragging, cleaning up the pc, changing the active windows processes list around, I've tried cleaning up bad pathways in the registry, I've tried changing the destination folder and also tried reinstalling. I have tried playing the game both with and without using task manager to manually close the game's launcher. I have tried playing the game in both windowed and full screen mode. I have tried changing my screen resolution and color information. I have tried updating my graphics card driver.

    Some more background info... this laptop is an old Sony VAIO F Series laptop. Which was built with an incredibly poorly thought out case design. The people who designed this case stuck the heat exhaust vents in the exact same place as the power plug port. This led to having to replace the power cable multiple times because of the intense heat deforming the cables and warping the prongs. In fact I have had to completely replace the power unit itself because the old one that came with the laptop initially burnt out and the connector prongs on the inside had melted and became unusable. (Not joking either.) Furthermore, the in-case airflow is absolutely horrendous. It almost seems like either the people putting the components together at Sony stuck stuff in hodge podge as it fit without taking time to check the flow.

    So.. anyone have any ideas? Heat is definitely an issue for this laptop, but since it only is having the crashing problems with one game and not others it feels like it's something other than heat at fault. And the fact that changing graphics quality and background programs does not affect the crashing even as it affects the heat makes me pretty sure it is something else.

    I have checked the game in question regarding game specific avenues of support for the issue and as far as we can tell it is only happening to me not to a large group of players. Since reinstalling failed to fix the problem, but the problem didn't exist until recently, and the problem only affects me; it seems like it must be something in my Windows software or the laptop's hardware creating this weird problem.

    Only things that I can think of trying that I have not yet tested is applying a new layer of thermal grease, completely reformatting the drive and restarting in case its a MFT or disk memory issue, trying to replace one of my ram sticks in case the game is trying to access a stick which has failed. I will eventually get around to testing all three of those possibilities if no one has a better idea, but since each of those three options either require either a lot more open case hands-on surgery or extremely long and painful software reinstalling processes I'd rather avoid all 3 of those if anyone can think of another avenue of possibilities that I have not yet considered.

    Computer specs:
    OS: WinXP SP1 (I like it better than the later SP's - typically runs smoother with less useless Windows junk taking up processes/ram) 64 bit
    Processor: Intel Core i7 Q740 1.73GHz
    Installed RAM: 4 GB
    Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GT 425M
    0% fragmented, Hard Drive 455 GB capacity of which 126GB is used space, 329GB is free space.

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