What to try first, concerning system lock-up.

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thejokerking

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Recently, I had to reinstall my copy of Windows 2000. It had stopped loading correctly - after the Windows Loading screen and before the log-in screen, I would get a blue screen error (page_fault_in_nonpaged_area). I don't have any of the numbers with that though. Anyway, after a fresh install, Windows seemed alright. Now, when I play World of Warcraft, I get about 15 mins of play before the game literally comes to a screeching stop. The screen gets all scrambled, and then freezes. I have to manually restart. I had had occasional problems like that before, but sporadically and after hours of play. Now it happens practically every time I play World of Warcraft, and usually between 15-30 mins of play. My question is really just seeking any advice on what anyone thinks the problem concerns. I don't know tons about computers, but my thoughts led me naturally to my video card. But, as a starving college student, I don't want to immediatly drop 200 bucks on a new vid card without getting some other ideas first. Any thoughts people might have would be greatly appreciated.

Windows 2000 SP4
2500+ XP Athlon
Soyo KT600 Dragon Plus V.1
1024 DDR 400MHz Ultra RAM
Sapphire Radeon 9700 Pro
Creative Labs Soundblaster Audigy
420W PSU
 
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Check that the temperatures inside the case are normal. Check CPU and Motherboard temps.
Unplug the computer from the wall, open the case, and clean out any dust buildup in the heat sinks. Use a can of air, or, get a straw and do the human can of air thing.
Inspect your vid card and sound card for physical damage.
Check that the cards are seated properly in their slots. The best way to do this is to pull them out, and push them back in. Do the same with your RAM.
Check that all cables are firmly seated in their respective ports.
 

MysticEyes

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As was stated sounds like a Temperature problem. Pull the case and have a desk fan blowing inside and see if that solves your problem.
 

thejokerking

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Apr 19, 2003
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Tried removing the side panel, and hitting it with a seperate fan. Didn't work. Still got sporadic freezes. Does anyone know of a program to test the different devices for malfunction?
 
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The only way ito test individual components is to setup the computer with the bare minimum. One stick of RAM, video, processor, one hard drive, nothing more. Boot the computer and stress it by running a game, try to recreate a crash. If it works, you know that all those components are fine. If it fails that test, one of those components might be bad. If you are good with the basics, it passes the first test, start adding components one at a time, again stressing the computer. As soon as the crash is replicated, you've got your bad component. Start with RAM. Seems to me the most common failure. If one of your basic components is bad, you must find a friend with some parts you can swap out, parts that are known to function. Borrow a video card, if you are slick, borrow some ram chips. If you are extremely lucky, your friend might have the same motherboard as you do. Test all your components one at a time in his computer. There's lots of options, but it'll take a lot of work to nail it. These type of errors cannot be detected with mere software.
 

thejokerking

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Apr 19, 2003
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Update: I tested the RAM with Memtest86. Everything passed. Swapped out my video card with an old Radeon 9200, but I am still getting the same problem. Anyone have any idea where I should go from here? Also, I have a hardware monitor that came with my MoBo, but its kinda crappy. What is a dangerous temperature for CPUs?

Edit: Also, I checked the connections and removed as much dust as I could.
 

thejokerking

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I just tried World of Warcraft with the 9200 set on the lowest rez. I got about 30 seconds in before it crashed. Now my computer is barebone. HD, CDROM, and a different video card set to the lowest resolutions in World of Warcraft. And I just repeated the crash about three times in a row. It seems that the crashes are happening when there are a lot of characters on the screen. Its ok when I am all by myself, but any time a bunch of computer controlled characters appear, it crashes. However, with the 9200 it isn't entirely freezing my system. It blacks out and drops to the desktop, and brings up ATI's VPU Recovery Window. It says that the video card stopped responding to driver commands.
 
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It would seem that you might be looking at a software error. Can you disable the vpu recovery software? I would also try a different version of the catalyst driver. Not necessarily the latest version. Some systems and games can do strange things with specific versions of video driver. It might be worth a trip to tech support on WoW and see if they might offer any help. Alternately, there might be someone here who plays WoW and has some insight.
For now, I'd say uninstall the video drivers, and reinstall an older version of the driver, but drivers only. Don't let it install all the extra software. There should be a drivers only install.
 

thejokerking

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Apr 19, 2003
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Well, I checked out the WoW forums. There's a lot of people around there that are complaining about the same exact problem. But, this could mean that all of us just have messed up systems. I reinstalled my 9700 Pro, used the the drivers that came on the CD, and didn't install any other software. I downloaded Speedfan to keep an eye on my temperatures. And I installed Rome:Total War to see if I could get something out of it with that. I got about 10 mins into that game when it locked up. I restarted my machine and checked Speedfan. What I am assuming is my Vid Card temp was through the roof. My only question is what would make my video cards all of the sudden start jumping into unstable temperatures? And after mere minutes of play? Is it a bad Motherboard slot?

I've also heard nasty rumors that the WoW servers have been hit with a virus of some kind. Or that the WoW developers have made some mistake in the game that is causing widespread crashes/lock-ups. I don't know if either of those theories are true. But it does seem awefully strange that so many people are having the same problem with the game...and at the same time following a particular patch. And also while easily meeting and outdoing the "recommended" system requirements.
 
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There is a problem with the new cata drivers, in your control panel... try switching your graphic settings from optimal to default, and see if that works.
 
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