Computer reboots unexpectedly and applications err frequently (pt. 2)

By jon_melvin ·
I previously posted regarding frequent system reboots. I received many helpful suggestions:

It appears I most likely need to replace hardware. Most seemed to think the power supply needed to be replaced.

I need your insight. I receive many application errors--pretty much any application I am working in is at risk of crashing. Word, FireFox, Outlook, games, explorer.exe, whatever. I have received a couple blue screens "Hardware Malfunction, system halted" messages.

The system reboots with no error messages many times a day. I used the linux universal boot cd and ran tests:

Lucifer ran overnight (8 hours) and encountered 26 errors, though continued running.

The CPU tests would complete iterations, though within an hours time, the screen would go blank--seemingly with the system hung.

Memtest ran and completed 20 full cycles without any errors.

Is there any definitive way to know what hardware may be at fault? I'd hate to replace one component only to find the problem still exists. I'm a grad student, so I have a very small budget to work with.

Thank you much for your assistance with this. I sincerely appreciate any insight you can offer!


You could try using a UPS
To isolate the computer from the mains and see if that makes any difference. Quite often if you live in an area with the Mains are Iffy you'll get problems like this occurring so you first need to rule out the Mains as the problem.

Then you move ahead with a Power Supply and work from there.

Posted: 02/14/2007 @ 16:00

HAL 9000

A great suggestion, though I do have a UPS
Posted: 02/14/2007 @ 16:08

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BIOS PSU Readings...

by jon_melvin In reply to Computer reboots unexpect ...

I watched the power readings within BIOS for about ten minutes:

ATV 3.3V: 3.35V (constant)
ATX 5.0V: 4.91V & 4.94V (fluctuating)
ATX 12V: 12.09V (constant)
ATX 5VSB: 4.99V
Battery: 3.14V

Maybe this gives some insight? I don't know.


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small fluctuations are normal

by w2ktechman In reply to BIOS PSU Readings...

and it is keeping in range, at least for a short time.
My best suggestion would be that proc test again, keeping a watch on the power as well. But I must say, I thought it was the PSU as well (I read it but did not post), but it is looking more towards MB/Proc.

Anyway, run a test on the power and processor. When the test fails, were there any power oddities?

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Testing & Power.. not certain

by jon_melvin In reply to small fluctuations are no ...

Unfortunately I don't have any external equipment to measure this PSU. I was relying on readings I monitored within BIOS. This would prevent gathering power readings during system testing from the boot cd.

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Just an off the wall question

by NickNielsen In reply to Computer reboots unexpect ...

When was the last time the inside of the PC was cleaned? If it's been a while, you could have dust collected in the processor heat sink. Dells, in my experience, are notorious for this, although any heat sink can collect dust.

edit: clarify

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air-blown 4 week ago

by jon_melvin In reply to Just an off the wall ques ...

with an air compressor... no capacitors were blown off

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I think Nick's on the right track

by DMambo In reply to Just an off the wall ques ...

It sounds suspiciously like a processor error, and overheating is the likely culprit.

Any possibility of swapping processors with a similar machine? Double check the dope (or whatever that goo is called) between the heat sink and the processor.

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Thermal-conducting compound

by NickNielsen In reply to I think Nick's on the rig ...

Even better, if he built the machine himself, is there even compound present?

This page from provides a good explanation of why it's necessary, particularly for the Athlon processor:

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AS5 applied when I built the system

by jon_melvin In reply to Thermal-conducting compou ...

I used Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound in the process of applying the Zalman CNPS7000B heatsink/fan to the CPU. AS5 was also used when I replaced the northbridge chipset fan with the Jing-Ting Offset heatsink/fan.

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Oh if only!

by jon_melvin In reply to I think Nick's on the rig ...

I wish I could isolate the issue by swapping parts in and out. Unfortunately, this is my only computer, unless you count a 500Mhz e-machine.

The AS5 dope between the processor appeared to be silvery. For the sake of excitement, I cleaned it all off and reapplied AS5. Same issues.

Incidentally, I have never seen the CPU temperature exceed 38C, even after a night of rendering video.

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Hard ndisk on way out?

by ozi Eagle In reply to Computer reboots unexpect ...


Maybe your hard drive is on the way out. Download the HDD manufacturer's diagnostic software and run it, usually from a boot disk.
If you don't know, can't find your HDD's diagnostics MAXTOR's powermax works fine with many different brands.


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