Computer locking up frequently - answers?

By alg6565 ·
I have a problem with my computer locking up - pretty much to the extent that it does it within minutes (or sooner) of booting up. Typically the cursor will freeze and all processes will stop. Have to do a hard reset. Other symptoms are the screen will black out, then reappear or just black out and not reappear.

I was able to run in safe mode but since that is not practical I formatted the drive and reinstalled XP. I noticed that the computer ran without issue until after a few restarts the system detected the video card (PNY Geforce 6200 128 MB) and installed the drivers. Then it was back to the same problem. Uninstalling the drivers resolved the problem but obviously the graphics are clunky and not okay to enable me to use Photoshop etc.

I tried installing the latest NVidia drivers, I tried installing older drivers - same problem.

Thinking it was the graphics card I changed it, still have the same problem. (Card was replaced by shop for a PNY Geforce 6200 256Mb). The previous card had worked fine for 11 months.

Latest development is that the system has now locked up once even on the basic setting (video card not installed) and I have now turned down all graphics hardware acceleration.

Completely confused as to the likely cause of this problem and why the system seems to work without the graphics card installed (even though that may now be developing the same problem) and why it locks up with the graphics card. Not clear on how the graphics are produced prior to installation of the graphics card - are they produced by the chip on the motherboard and sent through the graphics card or is the graphics card processing the graphics in a 'reduced' mode.

Is the motherboard at fault? Incompatibility between M/B and NVidia graphics card? (Although this seems unlikely since the original card worked okay for 11 months.) Power supply issue? RAM chips? I am trying to locate the most likely cause of the problem since I don't want to change all the components on an old system.

Any help would be really appreciated!

The system is about 5-6 years old: Pentium 4 3.0GHz, 2GB RAM, XP Home Edition, motherboard Medion 8080 (only info I can see)

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Could be several things

by jck In reply to Computer locking up frequ ...

a) could be the PSU failing and when the video card needs more power it causes a fault.

b) could be a bad video card causing a fault.

c) could be your memory and/or cpu and/or video card is getting too hot. make sure you have plenty of good ventilation.

Not that the 6200 is a huge heat producer like the 4000-series ATIs or the 200-series nVidias, but if your airflow is poor in the case and the cpu cooler is not working well or the thermal paste coupling isn't good, it could be a heat issue causing the system to lock.

Could be the mobo too. But, i've seen more lockups from CPU overheat or bad/overhot memory or a bad PSU than anything. Usually when a mobo goes bad, it just goes.

Good luck.

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shot in the dark...

by ---TK--- In reply to Computer locking up frequ ...

Two things come to mind: Power Supply and blown caps.

If the PS is starting to go out, it could be the cause of this issue. The GFX card is requesting more power, PS tries to give it, it cant so the card locks up the system. Two options either replace the PS or buy a PS tester to see if that is the cause.

Blown Caps are often easy to overlook and often forgot about. If any of them are blown meaning they are budging/ leaking acid, this could also cause this issue... Caps are the cylinder looking objects on the motherboard, and they have a X on the top, they should be straight across... but if one of them are popped up a little, it can reek havoc on a system..

Since its free to search for popped caps, that would be the first thing I would look for. If you don't find any the I would test the PS or try replacing it.

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Working OK on lower graphics setting

by alg6565 In reply to shot in the dark...

Thanks for the replies guys.

I've checked the caps, they
seem fine visually.
I don't think that it's an overheating issue since it comes on within minutes of booting up. I've also checked the temperature of the CPU and it stays within 40-50 degrees.
Seems unlikely that it is the video card since I've changed that and it's giving the exact same fault.

Is there an easy way to check the RAM or can I just try them individually?

So is the feeling that it is unlikely to be the motherboard? Or a faulty CPU?

I like the idea of the PSU since that would fit in with the system running okay on a lower graphics setting. Does that seem logical?

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It certainly could be the PSU

by Slayer_ In reply to Working OK on lower graph ...

Without the drivers it would be running under Low Power 2D.
Once you install the drivers, it would activate the performance 2D/3D processors. Especially if your running Vista as that card likely predates the low power 3D setting on cards now.

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Problem fixed!

by alg6565 In reply to It certainly could be the ...

Thanks for the replies.

I was in favour of replacing the PSU but checked the RAM and found that 2 modules were faulty. The original 2 modules that came with the machine were fine, it was the 2 upgrade modules I fitted a few years ago that were screwed.

The system is running just fine now with no lock ups.

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