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Thread: Random Shutdowns

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    Random Shutdowns

    Hi all,

    I've been having a problem with an Alienware PC I bought earlier this year, I think I've got it nailed down to being a power issue but wanted some clarification before I contact their support.

    Let me just quickly summarise the system specs:

    Vista 32bit
    Nvidia Nforce 790I Ultra motherboard
    XFX Nvidia Geforce GTX 295 1792MB Graphics Card
    4GB (2 x 2GB) Patriot DDR3 RAM
    Intel E8200 2.66Mhz CPU
    1000W OEM ATX PSU

    What's happening is that the system is shutting down randomly whenever I'm doing anything fairly graphically intensive (gaming, in other words). It is literally completely random in that I've had it last for almost 5 weeks once without ever once doing it, even though I was continuing to play the likes of Crysis and Far Cry2 at max settings, yet other times it will do it 3 or 4 times in one evening. I've only had these random shutdowns happen when I'm gaming and never when just web browsing or watching movies. Additionally, I've never had one happen within the first hour or so of the PC being turned on, if it's going to do it then it's usually at least an hour after the PC has been on. There's never anything useful in the Event Log about it.

    It was that second point that initially made me suspect an overheating issue. However, I installed Riva Tuner and the temperature of both GPUs is averaging at about 45 degrees during a gaming session. I've never once seen a temperature readout of higher than 51 degrees. I also used Riva Tuner to manually force the main fan to run permanently but still had a random shutdown.

    Although I believed it unlikely that it was the RAM at fault, I ran memtest86 on both sticks of RAM and it didn't find any errors.

    To me, the only other option is power but, with that 1000W PSU that Alienware have put in there, there should be more than enough juice as Nvidia recommend a 480W PSU for this card. I noticed the card requires both a 6 pin PCI-E power cable and an 8 pin PCI-E power cable and the PSU doesn't have native 8 pin output so they've used a 6 pin to 8 pin adaptor but, with 1000W total capacity, I shouldn't think that would be a problem.

    Anyone got any further suggestions?

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Could still be overheating. Inadequate northbridge cooling is one possiblity. CPU might do it too.

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    IMHO,either something is overheating in your computer or the PSU cannot handle the load. The rating is not so important but the number of amps which can be delivered on the 12v lines.

    From what I have read the PSU is actually made by a subsidiary of Delta Electronics so it should be a decent PSU:

    http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5912

    However I have also read people have had issues with this PSU. TBH, you should not be having any issues with such an expensive PC in such a short time and it sounds like bad QC and QA to me.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 13-08-2009 at 11:25 PM.


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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    If it was brand new Alienware it should be under warranty shouldn't it? Can you get them to sort it out for you?

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Quote Originally Posted by Uriel View Post
    If it was brand new Alienware it should be under warranty shouldn't it? Can you get them to sort it out for you?
    Agreed! I would let Alienware sort this out for you and be firm with them too as they may try to make excuses from what I have heard.


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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    If it never crashes on the desktop then it could be poor cooling on the graphics card; not the GPU but the VRMs. I had a sinmilar problem. If Rivatuner cannot show temps for VRMs then try everest; it diagnosed my problem straight away. BTW Does the computer switch off or does it hang with a blank screen?

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Sounds to me like heat build up in your case as a result of prolonged load on all components is reaching the point where something no longer keeps cool... check the speed of your fans, hoover it out etc and check all temperatures, it could even be the PSU overheating if it is sucking in that hot air from your case to cool itself?

    Try running with the side panel off and a desk fan pointing into the case and then try to replicate the issue?

    It might be so finely balanced that these crashes occur when your ambient air temperature reaches a certain level? Does it happen more on warm days?

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    check the speed of your fans, hoover it out etc and check all temperatures
    Whatever you do, do not vacuum clean your PC!!!! Fast moving air will create static electricity, which is a quick, efficient way of killing off your hardware.

    Use a can of compressed air/"air duster", much better. The stuff used will not cause static electricity.
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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    I reckon its the 2.66Mhz speed you quoted

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Does seem to have been power related. I had a spate this afternoon where it was constantly shutting down at a particularly graphically intense part of Crysis Warhead.

    I disabled SLI via the Nvidia control panel so it was only running off one GPU and then had no problems at all with only a very slight drop in framerate. I'll leave it like that as I can't budget for a new PSU right now, but I'm relieved that the cause appears to have been found.

    Thanks all for your help.

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Quote Originally Posted by AD-15 View Post
    Whatever you do, do not vacuum clean your PC!!!! Fast moving air will create static electricity, which is a quick, efficient way of killing off your hardware.

    Use a can of compressed air/"air duster", much better. The stuff used will not cause static electricity.
    Hmm - bit of an urban myth IMHO. While it is true that the fast moving dust particles may (in theory) deposit a charge on the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner, that is the same nozzle that you are holding, and so you are likely to provide a discharge path (have you ever received a static shock from a vacuum cleaner nozzle?) However - to be sure, don't let the nozzle come into contact with any of the components in the machine.

    However, I regularly vacuum the internals of my computer - so far without any damage.

    However - back to the OP - did you test the memory individually or as an installed pair? I have had an instance where each stick tested OK, but the two together didn't play nicely. Just minor differences in ostensibly the same specification was enough to cause problems.

    But, as others have said, if it is under warranty, send it back to the system builder and get them to sort it out.
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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    Quote Originally Posted by AD-15 View Post
    Whatever you do, do not vacuum clean your PC!!!! Fast moving air will create static electricity, which is a quick, efficient way of killing off your hardware.

    Use a can of compressed air/"air duster", much better. The stuff used will not cause static electricity.
    So long as you don't touch the components it's fine... I've done it for years to get the dust out of my fans/filters and the stuff that collects in the bottom of the case.

    In theory touching your computer is a static risk, but how many of us wear those wristbands and earth ourselves to the radiator when we open up? I know I never do... and of all the computers I have had, and the ones I have broken, I have never trashed one with static electricity!

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    I tend to use a can of air to blow dust out of nooks and crannies then catch it with a vacum cleaner. Got to go somewhere.

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    I also use a vacuum cleaner - mainly to clean the heatsinks/fan grilles etc but I use a clean duster or something to brush dust off PCBs/fan blades and use the vacuum cleaner to suck up that dust. One thing to remember is hold fan rotors still if you are cleaning near them to stop them spinning too fast and possibly getting damaged.

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    Re: Random Shutdowns

    I try and blow very hard while trying not to dribble when cleaning my electrics!

    Quote Originally Posted by kingpotnoodle View Post
    In theory touching your computer is a static risk, but how many of us wear those wristbands and earth ourselves to the radiator when we open up? I know I never do... and of all the computers I have had, and the ones I have broken, I have never trashed one with static electricity!
    I always make sure I leave teh cable plugged in but turned off so everything is earthed. I then periodically touch the case/PSU. Without a PSU i touch bare copper pipes on a radiator (without moving across carpets obviously. Not sure if this works but haven't broken anything.

    There are photso in items on eaby for cpus and ram that are sat on a nice wooly rug with no packaging; That is very dodgy in my opinion.

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