System Error, The Solution

This issue had me running around in circles, trying to recreate the same issue many ways.

My system was BSOD’ing when I would load a game, or any full screen 3D video application.

I’m sure most IT savvy folk out there would have immediately ran straight for the one device that would be the start for investigation, the Graphics Card. I did exactly that, and no joy.

I tried swapping memory configuration today, swapping AGP cards, swapping both, so that my setup was near completely replicated on another machine, with exception of the CPU, and .. it completely passed BurnInTest (from Passmark).

Incredible. So, I couldn’t replicate it on another machine, and couldn’t rule out if my old fx5500 was the issue, or if the issue was my Gigabyte GA-8IPE775G’s motherboard, or it’s Memory slots, or my 3GB of DDR400 RAM.

Unfortunately, I wasted several hours getting to the bottom of it, but I did just that, before giving in to claims that Science wasn’t going to be the answer.

Science is always the answer. If something happens, due to an event, you can always recreate that event, and see predictable results, assuming environmental and input factors remain the same. Hint, don’t expect a computer to work, when its sitting at the top of a boiling volcano, heat would cause it to simply give up.

My issue wasn’t heat related however, I installed fantastic Zalman fans in all PC’s here, due to Windows Desktop Search running its caching program late at night one night, and that kept us awake, bloody Intel Fans. Anyway, it was immediately off with Windows Desktop Search, I’m happy to wait a few mins for a result.

Moving back onto the original issue, my issue was Power Supply related.

My system contains exactly the following:

Intel Pentium 4 630 – 3.0Ghz EM64T HT Processor (Socket 775)
Zalman Fan (I think its a 9500LED/9700LED)
Gigabyte GA-8IPE775-G Socket 775 Motherboard, 4 DDR400 RAM slots (supports 4GB), AGP 8x, SATA, etc, etc.
2 x 1GB DDR 400 Sticks of RAM in Dual Channel configuration
2 x 512MB DDR 400 sticks of RAM in Dual Channel configuration
NVIDIA FX5500 256MB AGP 8x Graphics Card
NVIDIA FX5200 128MB PCI Graphics Card
1 x 80GB Seagate IDE HDD
1 x 120GB Seagate IDE HDD
1 x 160GB Seagate SATA HDD
1 x 250GB Seagate SATA HDD (very good reason for using Seagate, they generally recover, when compared to Western Digital)
1 x Pioneer DVR-109 DVD burner
1 x Pioneer DVR-110D DVD burner
1 x Ancient Floppy Drive
400W Power Supply

Now, it runs in Windows normally, in game, it seems to not like the 400W power supply with everything running.

After giving up running around in circles, I pulled the two SATA drives power plug, and ran the same 3D test (15 minutes of BurnInTest), and viola, it passed. Plugged ’em back in, and it crashed.

Pretty conclusive :). So, off to find me a 500W power supply, I think. I know, your probably thinking, why not get a 320GB and just move to it? Performance. You aren’t bogging down one drive with a large lot of tasks when you have several drives, and backup, one fails, there might be a copy on another drive. So, I decided against moving to one drive, and just thought I’d get it the extra power.

It’s not like it’s always using its max power anyway, as Intel Processors chew more power the harder they are worked, so when it’s idle / doing bugger all, it’s using less power, when its at full load (playing a game, or anything INTENSIVE), it obviously sucks more power to fulfill that operation.

Ideally we’ll move to Dual Core when everything fits in place, and the time is right, hopefully meaning less power consumption / better performance. I don’t want to do that just yet.

Anyway, I’m just happy to have zero’ed into the power supply as the issue, it was confusing, and rather annoying to have such an issue with no idea of what’s going on.

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