Can't find cause of system freezes

Gigabyte / Ep45-ds5
March 2, 2011 at 10:40:38
Specs: Windows 7, 2.4 GHz / 8190 MB
I've been having this problem with my computer just freezing up at complete random. Before this, my motherboard died and I was sent a replacement. Once everything was built and up and running again I noticed it would freeze whenever it felt like it. Didn't matter if I was playing a game, browsing the Internet or it booting up, it'd freeze. Sometimes it would not do it for days and then sometimes it'd do 10x in a row before finally becoming stable enough to use.

I'm almost certain that it's a hardware fault and not a software/driver issue. I attempted to reinstall Windows and it completely frozen up while loading the disc. I thought I could just live with the issue but after it just did it again and I lost 30 minutes of important work I just wanted to pick the whole thing up and smash it to pieces as it's no better than a hunk of junk.

The No. 1 culprit is the replacement motherboard. The board looks good as new but the box had clearly been messed with meaning that it could be a refurb that wasn't fixed properly. I have been thinking of just buying a new board but I can't find a suitable replacement available for sale. It's a Gigabyte EP45-DS5. I've pondered the idea of just buying a different type of board but that'll mean I'll also have to purchase DDR3 RAM and a new CPU.

Are there any tests I can do on components to try and find the culprit? When it freezes everything stops working (sound, display and input). I have to hard reset it when it happens with the switch. Would it be possible for any one component like the HDD, GFX card or RAM to complete lock up the machine when they go wrong? Usually they at least give signs that they are failing (read errors, screen artifcats and blue screens) but I get none of those which is making me think it's the motherboard.

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March 3, 2011 at 16:39:31
Nice to see a well written post describing your issues, I'm suprised no one responded to you yet, but, sometimes a good description of the problem doesn't help in diagnosing FREEZING systems.

Yes RED flag with the motherboard replacement & box I'd say.

It does sound like hardware issue(s), though, don't rule out malware. Make sure your system is clean. I'd run 2-3 anti-malware tools, MalwareBytes, Emsisoft anti-malware, SpyBot S&D, Anti-Root Kits like GMER, Radix, RootKit Revealer etc.

When systems freeze, I think of three things: 1. Diagnostics, 2. Diagnostics, 3. Diagnostics. There's no way to tell what's going on w/o making sure all your system settings are correct in BIOS and OS, correct & updated drivers installed, as well as making sure your system is clean of malware etc. If those are all OK, I'd test everything:

- HDDs.
- Optical ROMS.
- RAM.
- PSU.
- Video.
- Are there any firmware updates for HDDs, Optical drives, Video cards etc.
- Make sure motherboard is correctly mounted in the case.
- Check motherboard for any bulging capacitors.
- Make sure the RAM modules and Add-In cards are fully seated in their slots, and that the slots themselves look clean and undamaged.
- Look for loose or cracked data & power connection cables (I once found a loose power wire in a MOLEX connector on a flaky system).
- Look for loose, dry (ungreased) CPU/Heatsink.
- Look for noisy or hard to turn fans which indicate bad bearings.
- Is the system clear of ALL dust & debris?
- Does it Freeze in Safe Mode? A system that freezes in Safe Mode is fairly rare.

The last PC that I saw freeze , and by freeze I mean it freezes while in the OS, was a P4 single Core CPU, XP system w/ an Intel board. The whole CPU/heatsink/fan assembly was a tad loose from the motherboard and wasn't fully seated down into the CPU Heat sink snap downs on the motherboard. I'm assuming it was the ahem, "technician" who looked at her system prior to me. He also installed the main case fan backwards.

Never ASSUME anything.

Just another stupid saying...

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March 6, 2011 at 11:08:01
Thanks for answering, sorry for late reply.

Why I was checking some of these I came across something else. While in the BIOS I noticed that when I scrolled through the options some characters where changing. For example, the word 'Setup' changed to 'Satup' and then back again. Many other characters in words did the say and sometimes they'd even blink/flash. It didn't freeze up at this stage though. Since this is happening while in the BIOS then it must be a fault lower down. I guess I can rule out the HDD and peripheral components at this point. I'm thinking it's the graphics cards memory doing this but it could also be the main memory or the motherboard still. I've tested the main memory before with memtest and it passed but that was before the motherboard died so I'll have to run it again at some point.

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March 6, 2011 at 12:47:21
FREAKY! I have never seen anything like that. I'm wondering if you have some sort of firmware malware or BIOS malware:

I remember Dell had an issue with firmware malware:,281...

This guy in the UK seems to have had the same issue as you (if you're not him):

Just another stupid saying...

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March 6, 2011 at 19:00:44
That post was by me. :)

I've ran memtest and let it get about half way through as no errors were reported. I would've something would have come up by then it is was the memory. I'm not sure it would be malware unless there's malware out there that effects ATI Radeon graphics cards? I'm guessing I'll just have to bight the bullet and buy a new card and hope that it was the graphics card and not the motherboard.

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March 6, 2011 at 21:48:00
They (the bad guys) can put firmware malware wherever they can get it, BIOSes add in cards, networking cards etc....

Only other thing I can think of w/ freezing is electricity. Any other strange electrical issues going on? Do you have your PC on a UPS?

Just another stupid saying...

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