need help to troubleshoot my own htpc problem, video card is resetting

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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this problem has been ongoing for over a year. ill try to keep it short, with only pertinent info. ive been playing with computers for fun for almost 20 years, and im just stumped.

started when i built it. its an i3 h55 chipset system, and i know i caused the problem when i first turned it on. i did not have the power connector on my 8800gt. the motherboard (or whatever it was), made a high pitched squeal, that stayed on constantly. i turned it on and off like that about 4 times before i finally realized i forgot the video card power connector. i plug that in, and it finally booted and worked.

but the video adapter would reset randomly. usually only when i was doing 3d stuff, or windows media center, but it was pretty random. sometimes it freezes and the computer wont come back, it needs to be restarted. thing was, most of the time the adapter would just reset, it would recover and i could go on playing my games at max levels and they ran for hours just fine. at this point i did try full formats and re installs of windows as a cheap fix, but that didnt help.

eventually i got tired of the daily resets, so i bought a 4870 for it, thinking i ruined the old video card. no luck, the amd card did the exact same behaviors.

the new amd card would work a little better though, not as many freezes and resets so i lived with the problem for a long time, thinking the whole motherboard (asrock) had to be replaced.

just this weekend, i replaced that with an asus p7 h55 pro. it seemed to work GREAT at first. i even played one of my games that would never work for about 20 min. but guess what? it froze and the problem is back again. the video adapter freezes and resets constantly again. its happening on the desktop too, it does not appear to be an overheating problem at all.

now im just at a loss. memtests show the ram passes perfectly, and i have quality components throughout. im ready to do another full format since this install has seen both amd and nvidia video cards, but i just doubt its going to fix anything.

my specs are

i3 1156 @ stock
asus p7 h55 pro board
ripjaws 2x2gb ddr3 1066 @ stock speed
4870 1gb ati card
asus xonar first gen sound
ati theater 650p tuner card (for qam)
250gb mechanical system drive
500gb wd green mechanical storage drive
corsair tx650 power supply

since i just fully dissasembled this computer and put it back together (for the new motherboard), i can rule out weird installation issues. this problem is just weird, and basically im down to ram and the power supply as the last components left when i originally screwed up (forgot to plug in video card power cords). that, and the i3 cpu of course, but i really dont think that is the issue... i just put a new cooler on it too.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
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My first bet would be the PSU, and that's fairly cheap and easy to replace (besides, it's good to have a spare).

Second thought would be a "hardware virus". As in, the current demands of the GPU w/o the supplemental PCIe power connector broke your original ASRock mobo, which then proceeded to break your 4870, which then broke your P7H55. That's a long shot though.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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i keep thinking the same thing. its very rare to have that phenomenon happen though... but who knows, maybe it did originally fry my psu and that has been the problem this whole time like you said.

that power supply was brand new when i did that though. its still under warranty i think, but the label sticker on it has peeled off and since been discarded... which means the serial number on it is gone. ive bought $20 psu's that never have their spec stickers peel off.. i wont be buying the TX-series psus from corsair ever again.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
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That type of computer doesnt need a 650w PSU anyway, get a quality 400w unit.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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i know. it was on sale at the time, and i figured it would future proof me. so much for that idea.

ive been shopping for a ~400w single rail 80 plus unit. i wish to have a modular one though, so the pickings are slim.
 

Slugbait

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
3,633
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i know. it was on sale at the time, and i figured it would future proof me. so much for that idea.

That's actually a really good power supply, I wouldn't write it off so soon.

Your specs don't list the case. You also don't list air intake and exhaust. You might think that it's not being caused by overheating, but if airflow is too much intake without enough exhaust, you can create hot zones...and it's not unusual for a hot zone to be south of the card.

I assume that the first thing you did after OS install was to install the chipset drivers, correct?

Another possibility is the BIOS...updating (or sometimes reverting) the BIOS can eliminate bugs between the mobo and certain devices.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
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that power supply was brand new when i did that though. its still under warranty i think, but the label sticker on it has peeled off and since been discarded... which means the serial number on it is gone. ive bought $20 psu's that never have their spec stickers peel off.. i wont be buying the TX-series psus from corsair ever again.

Hmm, this makes me think that slugbait may be onto something. Take the side panel off your case and see if the lockups continue.
 

Slugbait

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
3,633
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Just realized you weren't critiquing his PSU, but pointing out another one for purchase...sorry
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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ok this is absolutely maddening now. this is just absolutely the worst computer problem i have ever had.

funny you posted the builder series power supply. i already bought the 500w model and it didnt make a lick of difference. at all.

to eliminate potential thermal problems, ive already had the htpc case top off. but now i moved the whole case to the middle rack of the entertainment center, and i even put a box fan directly blowing on it. everything stays as cold as room temp now.

still no difference. video adapter resets when trying to do 3d things, or watch tv or videos.

so i got mad and d-banned my harddrive. reinstalled windows fresh.

no change. still resets the video adapter even when i just try to run the windows assessment.

fuck everything at this point right? so i rip the pc down to mobo, cpu, hdd, and ram. im using the onboard video now. installed all drivers, run the windows driver assessment test aaaannnndddd!!!>.....

nothing. freezes. resets video adapter, crashes assessment test and i almost threw my fist through the wall. i litterally dont even know what to do now. i cant keep throwing money at this, its been two years since i built this fuckin thing and it NEVER worked right. and now all thats left from that built is the ram and cpu!!!!!!! ram memtests perfect too...

im honestly down to the cpu best i figure... this is so insane it doesnt even seem like reality. whats so troubling is that when it does work, its FLYING. i run gta4 at 1080 and 4x aa butter smooth... but more often then not the video adapter just suddenly resets (usually right when the game is first starting). sometimes it recovers and i can play for hours just fine, most of the time it just keeps resetting till the whole computer has a period.

but it works so well when its not resetting the video adapter. i just dont get it... everything has been replaced. its probably wise to just start saving up for another $1000 machine, a whole new one (usb devices and all! i might even replace the breaker in my circuit panel!)
 
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VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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Down to CPU and RAM, hmm. Tried new RAM yet?

What make is the RAM that's already in there? Is it Ballistix, or OCZ, two known problem RAMs?
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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yeah sorry its those ripjaw 1600's 2x2GB

and i should mention i had done some overclocking on this i3 chip too. so to be honest im actually leaning towards that, but who knows. i guess ill just buy a cpu and ram, and find a $20 case to put all my old stupid parts in and sell it. this better work, as this is gonna put me out another $100 (buying used off forums).

edit- i did take out one of the ram sticks, and also put the remaining one in slot 1b, and it actually passes windows assessment now. im waiting for "that one game that never worked" to finish reinstalling, to see if my onboard video plays it normally.
 
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wirednuts

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Jan 26, 2007
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fixed?!

well after that successful test last night, i woke up this morning and played THAT game (deathtrack resurrection). and the oboard video plays it! i finished a whole race, i have never done that before.

so, feeling balsey, i stuck the video card back in there. BAM, it actually works! i not only finished another race, i won it. game ran absolutely perfect at 1080p full detail. i shut that down and tried GTA4, the other evil game, and it worked absolutely perfect as well. its been soooo long.. ugh....

so i just put everything back in it, audio card and tv tuner, and it still works great. all i left out was that one stick of ram. the god damn ram that passes memtests over half a dozen times. best i can figure its the cpu that is not compatible with these memory sticks i have... i dont think its the model of the ram, just maybe these exact parts i have (something goofy with them).

im dead-scared to even try to put both sticks back in and see if i cant find a bios setting that makes them work. i think im just going to buy a 4gb stick and run this thing in single channel mode for awhile. for now, im going to ENJOY this stupid pile of *(&%
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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thanks. ill probably rma the pair. i feel so dumb, i could have avoided countless nights of frustration... so much for memtest then too. im going back to my old viewpoint- no matter what its probably the ram.

just got back after a night away from home, and it still works perfect. this is so nice
 
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henryay

Senior member
Aug 14, 2002
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Make sure your RAM voltages are set correctly. If it is in Auto, try a specific setting instead. My friend had it set to Auto for many years and suddenly the RAM started to cause blue screens. I asked him to change it from Auto to 2. something volts and it works perfectly now. Check the specs of the memory for the right voltage.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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i tried that long ago, never made a difference.

i can conclude without doubt now it is one of the sticks of memory. yesterday after everything was running flawless for 2 days, i tried adding in the suspect stick of ram again. problem came right back, hangs and resets video adapter when trying to do 3d stuff. so i took both stick out, and put the suspect stick in the slot the working stick of ram was in, and left the working stick of ram out. problem still happens.

finally, i swapped the suspect stick of ram for the good one again, and viola, everything works flawless again.

its just weird that this ram works in 2d mode just fine, and even passes memtests. whatever, its being RMA'd thats for sure. ill keep the good stick of ram, its been working well. ive been running this rig at 3.5ghz for the last 2 days too, and its still perfect. i bet i could push this chip to 4ghz, but my case really isnt meant for that kind of heat....
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
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Yeah, sounds like you've pretty definitively concluded that it's the memory. They should have no problem giving you an RMA.
 

Morg.

Senior member
Mar 18, 2011
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thanks. ill probably rma the pair. i feel so dumb, i could have avoided countless nights of frustration... so much for memtest then too. im going back to my old viewpoint- no matter what its probably the ram.

just got back after a night away from home, and it still works perfect. this is so nice

And that is why, next time, you follow the normal troubleshooting guide :
a) linux-key for all that is software
b) swap gfx w/ another rig for all that is video
c) memtest for the ram
d) if you really need to check cpu / mobo ... hope you got two of the same gen ^^ - ask a friend for his cpu ;)

And besides, reverse-backflip-mobo-gfx-mobo destruction is a myth, it does NOT happen, ever.

You will never damage a gfx / mobo because you forgot to plug in a pci-e aux power connector -- else there'd be so many fried cards you'd hear about it every day :p
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
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And that is why, next time, you follow the normal troubleshooting guide :
a) linux-key for all that is software
b) swap gfx w/ another rig for all that is video
c) memtest for the ram
d) if you really need to check cpu / mobo ... hope you got two of the same gen ^^ - ask a friend for his cpu ;)

Pretty sure he did run memtest quite a few times.

And besides, reverse-backflip-mobo-gfx-mobo destruction is a myth, it does NOT happen, ever.

You will never damage a gfx / mobo because you forgot to plug in a pci-e aux power connector -- else there'd be so many fried cards you'd hear about it every day :p

Be careful throwing around all those absolutes. Just because something is unlikely, doesn't mean that it does not happen, ever.
 

wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
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And that is why, next time, you follow the normal troubleshooting guide :
a) linux-key for all that is software
b) swap gfx w/ another rig for all that is video
c) memtest for the ram
d) if you really need to check cpu / mobo ... hope you got two of the same gen ^^ - ask a friend for his cpu ;)

And besides, reverse-backflip-mobo-gfx-mobo destruction is a myth, it does NOT happen, ever.

You will never damage a gfx / mobo because you forgot to plug in a pci-e aux power connector -- else there'd be so many fried cards you'd hear about it every day :p


i did swap graphics cards. and power supplies. and motherboards. and harddrives. i couldnt afford to buy another i3 cpu though. those usually work or they dont though, so i left that for last. i also ran memtest at least half a dozen times... always passed perfectly.

what is that high-pitched LOUD squeal that comes from the pc when you dont hook up the video card power lines? it cant be good for whatever it is!