Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

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I am new to this newsgroup, having just discovered it while browsing UseNet.
I have a couple of problems that I am hoping someone can give me some advice

The machine in question is based on a Soyo K7ADA Socket A motherboard with
an AMD Althon XP 1900 CPU and 512 mB memory.  I have installed Windows 2000
SP 4.  Originally I had a Connect3D Radeon 9200 256MB video card, but was
experiencing freezeups whenever I was in a 3D game, and at no other time.
For example, if I played The Sims 2 or Morrowind, after a period of time
ranging from 3 minutes to roughly 10 minutes, the entire system would lock
up, forcing a hard reboot.  I tried upgrading the drivers, upgrading
DirectX, but to no avail.  Finally, after quite a long time of simply living
with the problem (other than a few games, the machine was OK...see below), I
decided to try another video card.  This one was a GeForce MX 4000 128mB
that I got from CompUSA cheap.  After the install, however, I still had the
same problem.  So now I really can't figure out what could be causing the

Another, possibly unrelated problem, has to do with the hard drive.  I was
originally hoping to do some Digital Video editing on this machine, or at
least have it capable of burning a DVD from home videos.  The original 40mB
hard drive was fast enough to capture video using a Firewire card, but
because it was the boot drive it didn't have a lot of space.  I installed a
second hard drive 150mB in size, and with the same seek time (7200 RPM), but
for some reason it ran a LOT much as 10 times slower than the
smaller drive (this was determined using a utility from the Video Capture
software that determined if the hard drive was fast enough).  Rather than
fiddle with it, I decided to replace the 40mB drive with a second large
drive (160mB, 7200 RPM).  Same cable as the original drive...but it runs as
slow as the other one!  Now I am really perplexed.

The only conclusion I can come to, using pure logic, is that the damn thing
is posessed by Satan.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do
to diagnose the two problems?  Are there any utilities that are good for
locating and resolving freezing caused by video problems?  Is there any
utility that can monitor the reading and writing to the hard drives?  Or
shall I just give up and get a new computer or a new motherboard?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the lengthy post.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

On Mon, 03 Oct 2005 20:17:30 GMT, "doodles"

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"Commonly" in such situations the CPU is simply running at
far nearer full load than in other uses, and this reveals
insufficient cooling.

Run Prime95's Torture Test, "In-Place Large FFTs" setting
for at least a half hour (preferribly longer) and note any
crashes or errors reported by Prime95

Prime95 direct download of newest version (as of today

If Prime95 runs for that period of time with no errors, I
would look at AGP related settings in your bios, trying
lower AGP rate (like 2X instead of 4X or 8X), a lower
aperture (suggest 64MB).  You might also check the
motherboard manufacturer's website to see if there are any
newer bios that address video related issues.

On the off chance that these games are causing the problem,
I'd check on game patches.  It seems less likely since
multiple games are causing it, but games can be fickle and
crash otherwise stable systems for several reasons, even
sound drivers (try another sound driver too if all else
fails), or windows virtual memory (swapfile) manually-sized
settings, user-set tweaks to the operating system or video

You might also check the memory for errors with Memtest86+.

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Check your bios settings to see if there's set to "auto" or
similar for the ATA mode.  Use a benchmark like HDTach to
see what figures it comes up with for burst rate, and
sustained throughput.  Look in Device Manager at the
properties for the Drive (in win9x/ME) or for the drive
controller (win2k/XP) to see if it's set to use DMA, via a
checkbox).  I presume you do have motherboard chipset
drivers installed?  If not (or even if you do, if all else
fails) try newer chipset drivers.  The best place to get
newest ALI chipset drivers is from the source, ALI's
Unfortunately it seems their driver page is broken so you
may need to Google for alternate download locations.  It
cannot be assumed (but "might" be possible) that Soyo has
the latest drivers for your board, but if all else fails,
see what Soyo has too.

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Try running a benchmark like 3Dmark2001.  The video cards
you mentioned are relatively slow, thus you should try
3DMark2001 first and then you "could" try 3Dmark2003, if you
feel it might be DX9 related.  Also you might try
(re)installing DirectX 9c, available from Microsoft's

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I doubt a new motherboard is necessary, unless the
capacitors on yours have failed (vented tops or leaky
residue around them).  You might try Google searching for
issues specific to your model of board, just search for Soyo
K7ADA.  I'd run the Prime95 test first, and if it's
overheating, check for dust buildup on case vents and
heatsink, and/or a fan failure... case, CPU, or video card

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

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Wow...thanks for the comprehensive reply.  I'll try all the things you
mentioned, but I frankly doubt that heat is the problem...I have a monitor
that keeps track of the CPU temp, and it goes off when it overheats.  It did
so when the fan was going south, so I know it's working OK, and of course it
only happens when I play 3D games.

Thanks again.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

On Tue, 04 Oct 2005 01:58:30 GMT, "doodles"

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MIght be video card heat then?

The basic tests for memory, memtest86+, and CPU, prime95
(details mentioned in previous post would still be useful if
you haven't ran them yet.  "Sometimes" CPU temp
monitors/alarms/etc are inaccurate, and regardless, if
Prime95 shows errors it is clear there is some instability.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

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I think I have identified the problem with the video card as being
overheating, and wanted to thank you for your suggestions (and for correctly
guessing it as a cause).  I really didn't think that was it, but when I was
running Prime95 the temp spiked above my overhead threshold, and this was
even before I tried running it with the video card in 3D.  No errors from
Prime95 yet, but I suspect it's only a matter of time.

A couple of questions, if you have the time:
1. I am seeing a temperature of 61 C under normal load (well, Prime95 normal
load...not 3D video load).  Is that too high?  I had the alarm set for 60 C,
and upped it to 65 for purposes of the test, but I don't really know what an
acceptable temperature threshold is (other than "lower is better").
2. What can I do to lower the temperature in the system?  I have a CPU fan
and a system fan, both of which are operating normally.  Should I add
another system fan?  Or is there another solution that I haven't considered?

By the way, one problem contributing to the temperature was the fact that I
was running two machines concurrently in close proximity.  My wife, God
bless her, pointed this out, as I was apparently too stupid to even consider
it.  I ended up moving one of them to the top of the desk and am trying to
operate with only one machine running at a time.

Thanks again for your advice.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

On Tue, 04 Oct 2005 15:44:42 GMT, "doodles"

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IF the reading is accurate, and CPU not overclocked, 61C is
low enough that (temp alone) should cause no instability.
The benefit of Prime95 is not only that it raises temp with
the In-place Large FFT setting, but that it does
calculations and most importantly, checks them.  

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There is no need to set it as low as 60C.  Generally
anything under 70C is too low, and depending on the uses, it
might be better to leave a system running even if the
elevated temp raises odds of errors, rather than a
sudden/abrupt shutdown (depending on the functionality of
the system's shutdown mechanism, whether it throttles, turns
system off immediately, or just produces an alarm tone or
message.  Obviously the alarm tone or message is of limited
usefulness for a critical overheat condition unless the user
is always sitting in front of the system.

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"Operating normally" is somewhat arbitrary and based on that
fan and chassis.  If it never gets above 61C running
Prime95's Torture test, there is no pressing need to reduce
the CPU temp further, and it isn't likely any game could
raise the temp higher if even that high.  The most common
cause of high temp is either suboptimal heatsink or case
impedance to airflow (fan openings partially obstructed by
stamped metal grills are common, or the front bezel is too
restrictive to intake).

Since you feel the video card is overheating, that should be
the primary focus, and it's likely to be running hotter than
61C as modern gaming cards often do with their stock 'sink
even in otherwise adequate cases- but then the manufacturer
has to take that into account and use a GPU core speed that
can tolerate that temp, and/or a better cooler to hit any
given speed expected by the industry/market for a certain
nomencluature of card.

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If the room has limited air circulation, two of them will
tend to increase the local ambient temp, a small % of the
air heated by the system will find it's way back into the
front intake of the case.  Side panel fans will even further
increase this recirculation more often than not, but care
must be taken to assess any type of fan/flow changes.

I generally have at least 3 systems under a large desk at
home, when all 3 are on their temps go up a little but are
still manageable as there was ample margin built into the
cooling.  Point being that if you "need" to have them in
close proximity it is possible, and 61C is not necessarily
bad but if you found your heatsink(s) or case airflow could
be improved, that would help to address any further temp
rises particularly that of the video card.  Note also that
video cards are susceptible to lifespan reduction from
elevated temp even if cool enough to remain stable.  Seldom
is this mentioned, but it was only yesterday that I found
myself replacing capacitors on my nephew's GF3 card.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

if you want to reduce the cpu temp and the internal temp of
the case get your self a 120mm fan and if you can cut a hole to
accomadate it. if not make sure all your fas are extracting.

if you have two fans make sure they are both extracting.
and don't think if one is blowing in and one extracting
it will keep it cool, it won't the one extracting will
not extract fast enough.

Re: Comp Freezing, and strange slowdowns

On Wed, 5 Oct 2005 06:28:45 +0000 (UTC), Darklight

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Actually with one intake and one exhaust fan, the intake fan
does "usually" increase the exhaust rate of the exhaust fan.
However as always the criteria must be cooling balance, how
any particular addition or subtraction of fans alters the
flow to any particular portion of the system.

Depending on the particular case, it could indeed be that
having both fans exhausting is the optimal solution,
providing both are located to move air through the longest
path in the system and at least a sufficient amount of
intake is *forced* to flow through the HDD

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