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Thread: Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

  1. #1
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    • philpem's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P5N72-T Premium
      • CPU:
      • Intel Q6600 @ 3GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066
      • Storage:
      • 2x500GB RAID1 + 2x500GB externals
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 896MB EVGA GeForce GTX260
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX620W
      • Case:
      • Antec Three Hundred
      • Operating System:
      • Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
      • Monitor(s):
      • Viewsonic VX922 19" TFT
      • Internet:
      • 10Mbit ADSL2+

    Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

    Hi guys,
    I've got a desktop system, specced as follows:

    Case: Antec 300, two Noctua 80mm fans in the front, plus the two standard fans top and rear (both set to "M" speed).
    PSU: Corsair HX 620W
    Mobo: ASUS P5N72-T Premium
    CPU: Core Quad Q6600, SLACR. 2.4GHz standard, usually overclocked to 3GHz stable.
    RAM: Four sticks Corsair TWINX XMS2/Dominator CM2X1024-8500C5D -- XMS2-8500, 1GB/stick (4GB total), 1066MHz, 5-5-5-15, 2.10V. Have also tried two sticks (for troubleshooting purposes).
    HDDs: One Seagate 500GB, two WesternDigital RE2 500GB. All in "JBOD" mode, not RAIDing.
    GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX260 standard edition (NOT overclocked), 896MB
    Extras: Lite-On DVD rewriter (LH-20A1P if memory serves, it's on the ATA bus)

    I can boot the machine fine first thing in the morning, and it'll stay running for about ten minutes. At that point, the screen freezes completely (no response to mouse/keyboard -- even Alt-SysRq-K does nothing). Hitting the front-panel RESET button makes the DVD drive reset (it does its little shriek-tick-tick warm-up dance) but the screen remains frozen.
    The power switch does nothing -- I can hold it for ~5 seconds and the machine will shut down, but the Instant-off feature is DOA (that is, if you're in the BIOS or the bootloader you can press the power switch once and the machine shuts down immediately).

    If I switch the machine off at the wall for a few minutes then try again, I can sometimes get the BIOS to appear -- it gets to "Main Processor: Intel Core 2 Q6600 2.4GHz" then freezes solid again. This has been getting steadily worse -- it used to get through the BIOS, reboot OK, then either freeze at the bootloader (GRUB) or carry on and work fine for the rest of the day. I should probably point out that once it's working, it'll work until it's next powered down. Then the whole sad dance begins again.

    At no time during the reboot is there any HDD activity -- the HDD Act LED stays off. Sometimes when it crashes in Linux or XP the disc activity LED is stuck on.

    I've already pulled out all the extraneous I/O cards and dropped back to 2GB RAM (one matched XMS2/Dominator pair) and I'm getting nowhere. Short of replacing the motherboard, CPU, RAM, GPU and PSU (at which point I might as well scrap the machine and start over), is there any other troubleshooting I can do?

    I have a very limited budget (engineering student!) and would rather not buy a fairly expensive replacement part (motherboards and PSUs seem to sell for around £100 each) only to find that it's not the cause of the problem... :-/

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Phil.

  2. #2
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    • blueball's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Gigabyte Z270 - HD3P
      • CPU:
      • i7-7700K (4 x 4.2GHz plus HT)
      • Memory:
      • Team Group Vulcan T-Force 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 PC4-19200C14 2400MHz
      • Storage:
      • 1TB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe PCIE M.2 plus Samsung 860 EVO 4TB SSD
      • Graphics card(s):
      • ASUS RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix OC
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX850 850 W Full Modular 80 Plus Platinum
      • Case:
      • Corsair Carbide 330R Ultra Silent Midi Tower
      • Operating System:
      • Win 7 Ultimate x64 (using wufuc to allow Win7 to run on this CPU)
      • Monitor(s):
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      • Internet:
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    Re: Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

    Anybody you could borrow a PSU from?

    or borrow/buy one of these

  3. #3
    Registered+
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    Sep 2008
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    • philpem's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P5N72-T Premium
      • CPU:
      • Intel Q6600 @ 3GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066
      • Storage:
      • 2x500GB RAID1 + 2x500GB externals
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 896MB EVGA GeForce GTX260
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX620W
      • Case:
      • Antec Three Hundred
      • Operating System:
      • Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
      • Monitor(s):
      • Viewsonic VX922 19" TFT
      • Internet:
      • 10Mbit ADSL2+

    Re: Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

    EDIT: I've just swapped the GeForce from the top PCIe16 slot to the bottom. The board is completely dead now -- power comes on, the fans spin at low speed, then all the fans rev up to full speed. Nothing at all on the monitor... Power switch does nothing unless it's held down for 5-10 seconds (in which case the machine powers off). Does this sound like a motherboard failure?


    Quote Originally Posted by blueball View Post
    Anybody you could borrow a PSU from?

    or borrow/buy one of these
    Unfortunately the only folks I know with spare PSUs only have the ~300W cheap-junk things that come with equally cheap PC cases. I think I might have a 400W in my PVR that I can cannibalise (that machine is an AMD Athlon64/X2 with a Geforce 8800), but I doubt it'll run The Beast (Core2/Q6600 + GTX260).

    I suspect this issue is at least somewhat thermally-related -- I can start the machine cold, and it'll run for a few minutes, then the BIOS freezes. Rebooting immediately gets me the black screen. Leaving the machine to cool gets me back to step 1 -- it'll work for a bit, then die.

    One of the chips on the motherboard seems to be getting VERY toasty, though -- the motherboard manual calls it the "nForce 570 SLI" chip (the other chip under the BIG heatsink -- the 780i SLI -- seems to be fine). I'm wondering if there's something up with the heatpipe system that cools these chips (in which case my m/b is a write-off).

    Hmm.

    As for the PSU testing, I'm an electronics designer, so I have a fair bit of test gear handy... including a multimeter and oscilloscope. I'll pop them on the +12, +5 and +3.3 in turn and see what's going on. Like I said before, I don't think the power supply is the issue. And in any case, this motherboard has always been a little flaky (it took nearly a day of tweaking to get it to run in a remotely stable way).

    In case I end up swapping the m/b, can anyone suggest something similar to the P5N72T, but not a P5N72T? It needs to take a Core2Quad Q6600 "SLACR" (LGA775), have at least two PCI slots and one PCIe for the graphics card. Nvidia SLI would be nice too.
    Last edited by philpem; 01-01-2010 at 07:26 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered+
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    • philpem's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P5N72-T Premium
      • CPU:
      • Intel Q6600 @ 3GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066
      • Storage:
      • 2x500GB RAID1 + 2x500GB externals
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 896MB EVGA GeForce GTX260
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX620W
      • Case:
      • Antec Three Hundred
      • Operating System:
      • Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
      • Monitor(s):
      • Viewsonic VX922 19" TFT
      • Internet:
      • 10Mbit ADSL2+

    Re: Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

    *sigh*. I think I've found the problem.

    The northbridge and MCP heatsinks weren't properly attached at the factory -- one of the screws on the MCP sink is cross threaded (and the knurled insert that goes into the baseplate is a total mess), and the other one wasn't even screwed in properly.

    Looks like I'm off to CCL tomorrow to get a new motherboard...

  5. #5
    Registered+
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
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    1
    Thanked
    2 times in 2 posts
    • philpem's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P5N72-T Premium
      • CPU:
      • Intel Q6600 @ 3GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066
      • Storage:
      • 2x500GB RAID1 + 2x500GB externals
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 896MB EVGA GeForce GTX260
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX620W
      • Case:
      • Antec Three Hundred
      • Operating System:
      • Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
      • Monitor(s):
      • Viewsonic VX922 19" TFT
      • Internet:
      • 10Mbit ADSL2+

    Re: Troubleshooting help needed -- random crashes

    Nope, not the motherboard. Swapped it for an ASUS Rampage Formula, still DOA (the "LCD POSTer" stays blank, fans revving at full speed).

    Given that it's quite obviously not running code, I suspect the CPU's stuffed....

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