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Troubleshooting 3D-related freezes
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Author:  ceenvee703 [ Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Troubleshooting 3D-related freezes

I still read posts here a lot even though I don't post much anymore. Was hoping that someone here could help out with an off-topic problem I'm having.

This is with a DIY PC I built, Intel motherboard, i5 processor. It is running 64-bit version of that off-topic OS, but my guess is I'd see the same problem running Linux.

Namely, the thing is rock-solid and can run for days, UNLESS I run something like a game or video transcoding software that uses 3D acceleration, in which case I get random freezing. It can lock up within 10 minutes, or maybe after an hour--no way of knowing when it will lock up.

I got lockups with the on-board Intel-based acceleration. Got an NVIDIA GTX 460 SE to see if I could work around the problem: same deal.

Things I have done:

* returned the motherboard and gotten a replacement
* updated mobo BIOS
* run memtest86 for hours: RAM checks clean
* gotten a new 750W power supply (only two drives + one video card in machine, I think I'm well within power requirements)
* gotten a CPU cooler and checked core temps -- all running cool enough, I think in the 40s under load.

Things I have not done:

* installed a new CPU (expensive)

Any ideas on what to do to figure out what the problem is? Or a good forum to post to out there that helps with goofs like me who tried to save some money by DIYing it?


Author:  jzigmyth [ Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

Try running the directX diagnostic tool:
ON the "Display" tab there are buttons to test directdraw and direct3D
See if the system passes those tests.

Things to try to get it to pass those tests or to survive running your software:

Go to Control Panel
double click on "Display"
click the "settings" tab
click the "Advanced" button
click the "troubleshoot" tab
Move "hardware accelleration" slider down one step and try again.
If the problem persists slide it down another notch.

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:35 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks very much for your reply... I'll give those things a shot and report back.

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

I ran dxdiag.exe; DirectDraw, Direct3D and AGP Texture accelerations all show as "enabled." Notes says "no problems found."

I appear not to be able to turn acceleration down a notch or two via Display Properties, since apparently the NVIDIA drivers overrride that.

Any other ideas?

Author:  jzigmyth [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

The aforementioned slider works for me, although my OS is 32 bit XP.

I have an Nvidia GForce 210 PCIe card with the Nvidia drivers ( dated 8/3/2011) and Nvidia control panel (280.26) installed.

I'm not sure what else you can try. Except perhaps checking temps on the motherboard chipset, if not with software, at least with the back of your fingers.

You could also try non-graphical CPU stress testing. Prime95 version 26 seems to be the definitive program for that sort of thing.

You can get it free from:
Read the readmes.
Start the program and go to the "Options" menu
Then select "torture test"
There are three variations you can try there.

I'd recommend having some sort of CPU temp monitoring software running because this program will run you CPUs to the MAX! My CPU temps shot up way past maximum in just a few minutes. And the program started reporting errors. Turns out my CPU heatsink had burrs on it that prevented it from seating properly.

Something I wouldn't have normally found with the CPU just idling during web browsing etc.

Author:  jzigmyth [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

Just for clarification, Prime95's main purpose is not for stress testing, it just happens to have an excellent torture test as one of it's options in it's menus.

It's real purpose is to find a new Mersenne prime number. It is intended to be run continuously in the background (not the torture test, of course, just the prime number search)

If interested in helping to find Mersenne primes with possible cash reward see:

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

I did already have the Prime95 stress test, so I could check my CPU cooler results. I started it up and it ran for about 10-15 minutes... temps on my 4 cores never got about the low 50s.

I stepped away from the computer for a half-hour to watch the news, and it had locked up on me while I was gone.

Author:  penguinpwr [ Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here is a few things I usually do when trouble shooting a Winders Box.

Try this Live CD first.
This should verify most of the hardware. I usually start with memtest86 but you already ran it.

I would then run one of the Linux distro's live CD's. Play around with the video and see if it crashes. Here is one of my favorites.
It is difficult to stress a video card with a live Linux CD but see what you can do.

Then I would download the hard drive manufacturer's cd and run a non-destructive scan on the hard drive with it. A bad sector in the page file area will drive a person nuts. But this test will verify the disk.

By using the live cd's this should verify whether it is the evil OS or the hardware.

Next I would start in with the drivers. I would try the vendor's motherboard chipset drivers and vendor's video card drivers first. If I still had issues then I would try the manufacturer's chipset drivers and then the video cards manufacturer's chipset drivers.

A couple of other things you might want to try is the latest and greatest bios update and the latest DirectX from the non-Linux website. Could you post the model numbers of the motherboard and video card?

Author:  mattbatt [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:07 am ]
Post subject: 

what applications are you using? It might be their fault.
Does it consistently fail eventually? I know the time varies but does it always eventually fail? maybe try swapping out ram sticks.

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:54 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks again for everyone posting to help. It's way more help than I got posting at other forums.

QUESTION: I'm realizing that I got a freeze while running Prime95. I don't think that uses GPU or 3D in any way. So maybe that means it's a more generic problem with the CPU?

Also, I'm reading that people often use Prime95 to test with overclocking. I have not overclocked my system, but maybe I should try UNDERclocking to see if it helps? Again, it's not a matter of my CPU overheating, as far as I can tell.... temps don't go above low 50s C under Prime95 stress.

@penguinpwr: I'll definitely try that Live CD, sounds interesting. And I'll check the hard drive, although I don't think it's disk-access-related.

I just updated my NVIDIA drivers before getting the Prime95 freeze, so they're current. Video card is a EVGA NVIDIA GTX 460 SE. Motherboard is an Intel DZ68DB. BIOS should be current by at least a couple of months.

@mattbatt: memtest86 says RAM is clean. Machine is rock-solid unless I use something that stresses the system (3D gaming, video encoding, prime95), then it always does seem to eventually fail. I might transcode 2 or 3 recordings, but eventually it'll freeze on me while transcoding. Same with games.

Author:  jzigmyth [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Looks like you have definitely eliminated the video card and the power supply as the problem. And you've swapped motherboards so that's eliminated, unless it's a design flaw (not too likely, I guess)

Don't rule out your memory yet. Your board should be able to run with just one stick of ram. Try the Prime 95 again with each stick installed individually and see if one hangs and one doesn't.

When it hangs, is the hard drive light stuck on? If it is, try another hard drive, if you have one laying around. It wouldn't hurt to try a different hard drive even if the light isn't stuck on.

Pull out any cards you have installed and test again (tuners, ethernet, etc).

Rereading your post, I see you have two hard drives installed. Try it with only one. Are you running them in a raid? The latest bios says it fixes a hanging problem with a raid configuration.

Is your ram DDR3 1333 MHz? I have see a poster who had trouble with DDR3 1066 MHz ram even though it's supposed to be supported.

If you can eliminate the ram and hard drive, that pretty much leaves the CPU. Is it still under warranty?

You should also swap the keyboard and mouse just to be sure. I've seen stranger things.

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:10 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks very much: I'll try all these things this weekend and report back. CPU was purchased within the year so I think it's under warranty.

Author:  jzigmyth [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:46 am ]
Post subject: 

ceenvee703 wrote:
QUESTION: I'm realizing that I got a freeze while running Prime95. I don't think that uses GPU or 3D in any way. So maybe that means it's a more generic problem with the CPU?

or any none video hardware including possibly the OS

Also, I'm reading that people often use Prime95 to test with overclocking. I have not overclocked my system, but maybe I should try UNDERclocking to see if it helps?

Good idea. If underclocking fixes the problem then that would point away from the OS and towards a hardware problem

Author:  mattbatt [ Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

if it doesn't crash with the live cd then it might be windows it's hard to prove a negative

Author:  ceenvee703 [ Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Some good promising results: thanks for everyone's help.

I downloaded and booted the stresslinux CD. I wasn't getting too far with the stress tests on the menus, but saw in the forums that they had added the Mercenne primes program mprime. I ran that, and the options provided had three tests.

Test #3 says something like "if you run this and it crashes, but Test #1 doesn't crash, it's likely a problem with memory or the memory controller."

Well, Test #3 freezes right away, within 5-15 minutes. So far Test #1 has run almost an hour without crashing.

I'm a little suspicious that memtest86 didn't identify any bad RAM after hours of running it, but if what mprime said is true, it certainly looks like RAM instead of CPU or HD or Win7.

I'll report back after pulling RAM to see if I can identify a bad stick.

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