Most games crash (friend's PC)

By ComputerGod91 · 26 replies
Mar 1, 2011
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  1. So I have my friends tower over at my house because he says every time he goes to play games after about 30-60 Mins it'll crash to the desktop. For example, Half Life 2 will open and then a message pops up saying the .exe has stopped responding and close. Empire: Total War has crashed without an error message, and Company of Heros crashes with an error message that isn't helpful.

    I don't know what to do, I opened the case and checked all the connections and organized the wires and everything is plugged in properly. However, I think it could be a couple factors in which I don't know how to fix. His parts (listed below) or his OS which I think is a a torrented OS and not a store bought legit one. Anyway help is appreciated.

    Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit
    500Gb Hard drive
    Rosewall 700 watt
    Intel Core i3 @ 3.20Ghz
    4Gb RAM (don't know the brand probably generic)
    Radeon 5770 HD 1gb memory
  2. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    If it is indeed a torrented OS then begin and end there.
  3. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    So I should tell him that he needs to buy a copy of Windows 7. What happens if this issue with crashing doesn't go away after that?
  4. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Then all of TechSpot will aid you in your quest.
  5. bluebob951

    bluebob951 TS Member Posts: 57

    Possible fix?

    Well since it happens after gaming for a while i would guess it might be overheating of the graphics card, you could trying cleaning out the card or re-pasting with new thermal paste. You could also try the latest drivers.
  6. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    As Lokalaskurar rightly points out we TechSpot will definitely help. We see these issues with illegitimate software, especially OS.
  7. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    Ok, well I told him to buy a legit copy of Windows 7 and he'll get it on Monday. I hope that fixes the issue, if not like I said to him then at least he has a legit copy of Windows. I don't think his stuff is overheating, His case comes with a temperature thing on the front and its always at or around 70°F, however I don't trust this but still even to touch it feels cool. The person who built it (another friend) said that he put a generous amount of Thermal paste, which I don't know what he considers generous.

    Another symptom is lines or bars go across the screen while he plays which I think indicates overheating of something but I'm not sure. If it is overheating then I'm going to need specific help on how to fix that problem.
  8. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    A generous amount of thermal paste where? Thermal paste is fine but too much actually reverses what it is intended to do.

    Those lines sound like artifacting.
  9. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Those lines sound intriguing. Are those by any chance running parallel from the top to the bottom of the screen? That might actually be a shortened graphics-card. If it's just artifacting then there are other (though sometimes somewhat expensive) methods of combating this.

    As Route44 pointed out - to much thermal paste definently reverses the effects of cooling. One should be careful with that stuff :)
  10. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    With the lines he said that they run vertical across the screen. If thats what you mean by "running parallel from the top to the bottom of the screen" then yes.

    As for what Route44 asked, he put that on the CPU I'm guessing, isn't that where your supposed to put it?
  11. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    Yes, it is but the most you are to apply is a drop the size of a rice kernel. When you apply the heat sink it will spread out.
  12. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    As for the lines running vertical :) : that usually happens when the graphics card has malfunctioned "somewhere" on the circuit board, usually due to shorts or electro-static discharge (ESD). This might actually cause other components to misbehave - but don't usually result in a crash-to-desktop. Is there by any chance another graphics card you can try with this computer? (if there are any SecuROM-protected games installed like Mass Effect or Spore, then please ignore my question and save yourself the devaluation-costs...)

    With "specific help regarding overheating", do you need some suggestions to what might cause the problem, or do you want specific instructions on how to clear some paste off that processor?

    Perhaps you can even time the average "minutes-until-crash"-time? I had huge problems regarding Fallout 3 with CTD's, but those always occurred exactly 22 minutes after I loaded my game - in other words, memory-associated issues.
  13. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    Ok, I have Mass Effect and Spore, I can install those on his computer and play them, what is the difference about these games and what would playing them change? I'd need to know how to remove the thermal paste and basically step by step instructions on how to do the whole process so I can be sure I do it properly.

    In regard to the minutes until crash. He said about an Hour for Total War and with Company of Hero's like 30 to 40 minutes. However, I played Total War at my house on his computer for about an hour and a half and nothing ever went wrong or hinted at going wrong. The only thing I witnessed was when I started up Half Life 2, it immediately crashes on the menu saying "HL2.exe has stopped responding". I have not tryed Company of Heros.
  14. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Alright: your problem is unlikely to be memory-related, then.

    Not playing, just owning them. By installing them, you agreed (in that script nobody reads) that you would not register more than 5 copies of Mass Effect/Spore (any SecuROM game). SecuROM is basically a system which limits many EA games from being installed on more than 5 computers, and this piece of software is present on a lot of EA games - like Spore and Mass Effect.

    Thus: You may not want to poke around with your computer components, because if the game accidentally registers your computer as a completely new computer, you'll basically lose one of those five installations you're permitted to do, in other words: your game-disc becomes less worth. And with say 10 SecuROM games, that's a lot of money. Changing the GPU might result in this.

    Conclusion1: Don't test another GPU before you've checked if this is a thermal problem! (please :) )

    Alright: step-by-step process of re-applying thermal paste:

    - Screwdriver (Philips),
    - Thermal paste (either Zinc or Silver preferably, but the type of paste does not really matter as long as it's not tooth-paste ;) ),

    (Optional: )

    - Anti-static wristband. If you don't have one, make sure that you regularly (once every minute) touch something grounded, like a radiator or the kitchen sink. You may actually want to perform all of this on the kitchen sink as it's a firm electrical ground.

    1. Open up the PC. Note: This may void your warranty.
    2. Locate the CPU-cooler, a huge block of metal, usually in the middle of it all. Presumably with a fan on it. (I do think you're familiar with PC-tech, BTW :) )
    3. The cooler will have either "push-screws" or ordinary screws. Remove them AND also remove the fan's plug from the motherboard (it's usually plugged into the MB near the CPU) should the fan be present.
    4. Remove the cooling-block. You'll now see the CPU exposed. Do not start the PC without the block attached, as the CPU will overheat in seconds (as few as 5 seconds) and it'll ruin in permanently.
    5. Remove the CPU by unhooking a latch attached to its socket.
    6. Clean the block and the CPU from thermal paste, be careful, use some kind of solvent like chemically clean gasoline.
    7. Re-attach the CPU and close the latch.
    8. Apply a some thermal paste - about the size of a piece of rice.
    9. Spread the paste so that it forms a very thin layer across the entire surface of the CPU, about 0,3mm (0,01 inches) thick. Tip: use an expired credit card as a "paste spreader/dispenser."
    10. Attach the cooler. Attach the cooler's fan-plug onto the motherboard if present. This is important, BTW.

    You're done.
  15. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    Alright everything is clear in those instructions except taking the paste off the fan/CPU. I don't have any Chemically clean Gasoline, I'm sure there are other ways to remove the paste, is there something more household common I could use?

    You're also saying don't swap GPU's until I have tested if its the thermal paste issue, so I won't swap cards yet. I do know how to do that so no instructions needed there. You are correct on you're assumption though, I do know the parts of a computer and where they are located, just not how to do things inside the case properly or differentiate which is better (ex: if one CPU is better then the other or GPU)

    I also thought of something I failed to mention earlier that may be important. All the games he has played are running off steam, he has not played an retail copies of games. I don't know if steam may be causing issues.
  16. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    Yes, use Isopropel Rubbing Alcohol @ at least 80% and cotton swabs and gently clean it off.
  17. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Route44 is right: Isopropel is a good alternative. I personally prefer isobutanol but it doesn't matter, as I said -> I have access to chemically clean gasoline ;)

    Any high-concentrate hydrophobic liquid will do, alcohol is a very good solution as long as it's high-concentrate. Ordinary gasoline contains fatty residues - so that's a no-go.

    Oh, so I found out that "Chemicaly clean gasoline" is also called "White gasoline / Pure gasoline" in the US. Basically it's ~96% distilled gasoline, without tetraethyllead-content.
  18. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    Alright, I'll look if I have some and if I do, I'll open his case up and do as you said. Any Idea if steam might be the issue?
  19. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    I never got Steam up and working, so I've basically exceeded my capacity on this one :eek: .
  20. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    I don't have either of those and am not in a position to buy them :( alternatives?
  21. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Do you have any spirits aka. booze perhaps? Because, a high-percentage (hydrophobic liquid such as) alcohol is really all you need to clean the CPU + cooler.

    Water is a very bad idea. And fatty hydrophobic liquids should be avoided such as olive oil. Non-fatty hydrophobic liquids is the deal so to speak.

    Let's see: you wish to clean the CPU + cooler, thus you need some kind of (hy. ph.) solvent. Funny smelling ones are often ethereal, in other words hy. ph. This is definentily starting to sound strange with me proposing various home-brews to clean the CPU...

    Ordinary soap is a bad idea - it dissolves in water = hydrophilic, not h-phobic.
    Gas from the car is a bad idea as well = a very fatty liquid.
    Liquor is also a bad idea = fatty liquid.
    Vinegar perhaps?

    What chems do you have laying around?
  22. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    I know I have different kinds of vinegar laying around. Will that work?
  23. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    Yes, the ordinary CH3COOH-vinegar will work just fine. Simply put "just a little" of it on a piece of cotton and clean the thermal paste off.

    Pardon for the periodic name, but in my native tongue there is a very big difference between ordinary CH3COOH-vinegar and vinegar that's used for plain cooking. Translated it simply becomes vinegar.

    If it's plain CH3COOH-vinegar, then the percentage is at least 12%. Higher percentage = Better solvent, so look for high-percentage vinegar.
  24. ComputerGod91

    ComputerGod91 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 68

    Of the three different kinds of vinegar the highest was 6%, so I'll have to find some of the vinegar your talking about, or maybe I can get whatever it is that's best to remove thermal paste.

    You said native tongue? I figured you weren't from the US when you made your earlier post, do you mind if I ask where your from?
  25. Lokalaskurar

    Lokalaskurar TS Enthusiast Posts: 544

    The best option would be "white gasoline"; it is commercially available at larger stores that provide chemicals like Aspirin and Otrivin etc.

    Ethanol is also a preferred solvent of thermal paste.

    So I would recommend white gasoline rather than vinegar, just because vinegar and such is more like a "final solution" option rather then the "preferred solution" option.

    Also, keep in mind that this side quest on how to remove thermal paste might still lead to many game-crashes as the thermal paste might also not be the problem. :eek:

    As for my origin, I hail from a Slovak bloodline, having a surname meaning "Carrier of the Crucifix" and so on... that sounded a bit unnecessarily weird. Anyhow, I've been studying English in Sweden (of all places) for the past 12 years - hopefully the posts will be understandable enough :) .

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