Computer crashes while gaming

Evga Nforce 780i sli ftw a1 desktop boar...
July 23, 2010 at 11:54:34
Specs: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Hey I really need some help trying to troubleshoot this problem I've been having with my desktop computer. Here's its specs:

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 @ 2.93ghz
OCZ Reaper DDR2-1066 4GB (2x2GB)
eVGA nForce 780i SLI motherboard
eVGA Geforce GTX 260 superclocked Core 216 (video card #1)
eVGA Geforce GTX 260 superclocked Core 192 (video card #2)
WD VelociRaptor 300 GB 10,000RPM Sata
2x WD 1TB 7200RPM (storage drives)
OCZ GameXtream 850W PSU
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, build 7600

I'm having a problem that's been getting worse over the past year or so. After about 20 minutes of gaming in ANY game the video drivers crash. The problem only used to occur about 1/2 the time about 6 months ago, now no matter what it'll always crash after 15-20 minutes of gaming. When it does it I see no artifacts on the screen, the video just seems to "hiccup". I used to be able to hit ctrl-alt-del and it would make the computer unfreeze and the drivers would recover somewhat (with half the framerate, and with the 1st GPU doing 2x the work) but lately the computer has been locking up completely where I have to hit the power button to reset it.

My first idea was that it was a problem with SLI mode in certain games. But it does it in EVERY game and even in single-gpu mode. My second idea was that my computer wasn't getting good power, and I checked my UPS and it was only rated for 450W. I plugged my computer directly into the wall, and if anything the problem has only gotten worse. The problem started with the previous OS I had on here (Vista Ultimate 32-bit) and I formatted and installed 7 64-bit because of it, but it hasn't fixed anything. Also, because it started with Vista 32-bit, I don't think its a problem with Windows 7 or the fact that its 64-bit. I've updated/rolled back the NVidia drivers and that hasn't changed anything. I've updated my games and tried playing them in XP SP2 compatibility mode and it didn't change anything either. Right now I'm thinking my computer isn't getting good power so I'm getting a 900W UPS later to see if that helps, but if it doesn't I don't know what to do. I'm guessing it could also be a hardware problem with my motherboard or graphics cards, all of which were RMA'ed last year after a lightning strike FUBAR'ed my computer. After the strike I RMA'ed the mobo and video cards and bought that new OCZ Reaper memory and PSU. The only hardware from before the strike are my SoundBlaster X-Fi sound card and a couple of DVD drives that are flaky but still seem to work. Can anyone help me? Is it a power issue, will getting a new UPS fix it? The room I have my computer in has ungrounded outlets and old wiring so I might be getting brown-outs or something? Or is my problem actually with the motherboard or video cards? I don't have the cash to throw money at this computer til it works, and I don't want to build a new 1.

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July 23, 2010 at 12:26:01
Suggestion: Underclock both video cards, and see if the crashes lessen/disappear.

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July 23, 2010 at 12:47:01
I've tried clocking both cards at the stock speed of my GTX 260 Core 192 (it runs at 602mhz stock compared to 626 for my Core 216) and it didn't really seem to change much. I could try to go even lower and see if that helps. Using the EVGA monitoring utility the cards never get above 80*C while gaming, though (max according to EVGA is 85*C, NVidia says 105*C though). I've seen the video driver crash with the video cards at only 70*C or less. One thing I forgot to mention, the cpu is overclocked from 2.9 to 3.2ghz, I've stress-tested it though and it only hit 83-84*C. Its never gone above 80*C in gaming or other activities. Setting the CPU clock speed back down doesn't seem to change much.

Edit: While playing Empire: Total War a few weeks ago, before I formatted and installed 7, I had both cards up around 85*C. Also, last winter I had some problems with my metal desk static shocking my computer while it was on. The shocks would just disable my mouse and make me have to plug it back in, but could those things contribute to the problem I'm experiencing now?

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July 23, 2010 at 12:50:55
Did you underclock the video memory, too?

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Related Solutions

July 23, 2010 at 12:53:45
Yeah, I underclocked the shader and memory clocks too.

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July 23, 2010 at 13:27:41
According to several sources.....

Each of your 260 cards must be connecting to the power supply via

"Two 6-pin PCI Express® supplementary power connectors -or- One 6-pin PCI Express® and two 4-pin peripheral supplementary power connectors"

Are they ?

ONE 260 card, or one 260 chipset on a card, requires:
System Requirements Minimum of a 500 Watt power supply.(Minimum recommended power supply with +12 Volt current rating of 36 Amps.)

According to this web page
the smallest example recommended PS model capacity they list is 650 watts for two 260 cards.

So - your 850 watt PS SHOULD work fine with them.

"....SoundBlaster X-Fi sound card ..."

Problems with sound drivers often cause video problems.


- DISABLE the SoundBlaster X-Fi sound card support in Device Manager temporarily, try the games, to see if your problems have gone away.
If that cures your problem, there may be newer "drivers" available that don't cause the video problems. Use the SBxxxx model number on the card on the Creative or Soundblaster web sites to find the proper "drivers" , see if there are newer "drivers" available.
If there are....
Uninstall any listing for the Sounblaster card in Control panel - Programs and Features.
That MAY take a while because there is a lot that needs to be un-installed.
If there were listings you un-installed, reboot.
DO NOT install drivers while booting or at any time if New Hardware pops up regarding the card's sound.
Go to Device Manager.
If the Soundblaster sound is still listed, RIGHT click on it and Un-install it. That WILL take a while because there is a lot that needs to be un-installed.
Reboot at least once if you did that.
DO NOT install drivers while booting or at any time if New Hardware pops up regarding the card's sound.
Run the proper "drivers" installation download after the desktop has fully loaded.

- if your mboard has onboard sound as well, if it's enabled in the the bios Setup, and if the drivers have been installed for it, you can set Windows to use the onboard sound rather than the Soundblaster card, in Control Panel - Sound - change which sound adapter is the default for Playback - has the green checkmark beside it.
Try the games, to see if your problems have gone away


- whatever sound adapter you install the drivers and associated software for last becomes the default there.

- Unless the instructions for installing a device tell you otherwise.......
(This ALWAYS applies to sound adapters....)
You DO NOT install drivers for a device while booting into Windows, if the software for the device has not been installed yet - when Windows detects a generic device or New Hardware while booting, you allow it to search for drivers, it doesn't find any, and it wants you to show it the location of the drivers - CANCEL that, continue on to the desktop, and install the software for the device using the proper installation from a CD or the proper installation file that you downloaded from the web.

If you DID install drivers that way, go to Control Panel - Classic View - Programs and Features and Un-install the software you installed, reboot, DO NOT install drivers while booting, and install the software the right way !

(Also check to see if the Soundblaster support is still there in Device Manager after you have done that. If that's there, un-install that too, reboot at least once, BEFORE you install the software for it again.)

The same applies no matter when Windows finds New Hardware !

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