[SOLVED] Find possible cause of random system freezes (on idle, heat/stress tests are fine, PSU and GPU swapped)

Mar 29, 2022
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Hello,

I am struggling to find out whether my system freezes are hardware or software related.
It started a month ago, after I have gotten a new PSU, GPU and CPU cooler and started using Nvidia Shadowplay. However, I have switched up everything (except for my CPU and Mainboard), and I cannot find the cause.

As an introduction, I have run a UserBenchmark so you can see my system and that it performs normally:
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/51564719
I am using a MSI Z370-A Pro Motherboard and a Seasonic Focus GX-650 PSU. I have been using RAM slots A2 and B2 for 3 years.

Freezes happen randomly:
  • every 1 to 5 days there is a freeze (starting a month ago)
  • on idle
  • when watching a YouTube video
  • when playing CSGO (on low settings, does not max out system at all)
How the freeze looks like:
Sometimes I am still able to move the cursor (which is stuttering), and when I try Ctrl+Alt+Del, even my cursor freezes, as well as my keyboard (Caps Lock does not change the LED any more).
At other times, when playing CSGO, I do not hear sounds any more and shortly after that the graphics freeze (sometimes without a delay).
I have tried pressing Win+Ctrl+Shift+B to restart the Graphics Driver during a freeze on idle, and apparently the screen went off and on again, but most of the times the keybind does not work and it did not fix the freeze anyways.
I always need to manually restart my PC.

What I have tried:
  • got another new PSU. I do not suspect it to be the cause because during all stress tests there was no power shortage (e.g. Aida64 System Stability Test stresses all components at once, no problems there). Also, the problem started 3 weeks after I got the PSU.
  • max out temperatures (using e.g. Aida64, BurninTest, Prime95, Heaven Benchmark, 3DMark). CPU stays under 60 (with Pure Rock cooler and reapplied ARCTIC MX-4 thermal paste) and GPU stays under 75. I do not think it is temperature related because the freezes happen on idle.
  • change windows settings (trying balanced and high performance power plans, disabling PCIe Link State Power Management, increasing time until Hard Disk is turned off)
  • switch GPU (from Asus GTX 660 to Zotac GTX 1070 Mini and back)
  • turn off Nvidia Shadowplay/Ingame Overlay
  • turn off CSGO Faceit Anti Cheat (I thought it might interfere with my hardware as I only put my computer to sleep and thus it is running for several days in a row)
  • run Windows Memory Diagnostic and memtest86, no errors
  • check Windows Event Viewer for errors or warnings, but there are none related before the freeze happens
  • updating Windows and Drivers to the latest version
  • updating Bios to the latest stable version (2.C)
  • run sfc /scannow again, it replaced some corrupted windows files, even though I have reinstalled windows a month ago, and I am afraid this will not solve the issue anyways
  • disabling Bonjour Service, as I see errors in Windows Event Viewer, which do not occur before freezes, but I wanted to give it a try
  • enabling XMP. After I updated my bios, my settings were reset. UserBenchmark told me that my Ram is underperforming.
All of the above did not help, I am not even sure how to reproduce the freezes. I need to wait 1-3 days until it reoccurs.
Once I could reproduce the stuttering cursor using CPU Stability Test 6.0 when selecting "CPU Warming only", but I suggest this is due to thermal throttling and I am not sure how this software works (it seems quite old). I could not close it and had to restart my PC manually. Using every other CPU stress test, temperatures were below 60 all the time and there were no problems.

I kept track of my actions on a timeline: https://pastebin.com/zVyjSELw

Programs that are running:
Steam, ShareX, Geforce Experience, BitDefender Antivirus Free

What I might try next:
  • upgrading motherboard and CPU. This might be pricy but I do not see another good solution. That's why I am asking you, maybe I am missing something. CPU, Mainboard and RAM are 3 years old now. Is it possible that while I installed a new CPU cooler, I damaged my CPU while reapplying thermal paste? My temperatures are very good actually and all stability/stress tests passed. That is why I am wondering, the problem occured shortly after I upgraded my CPU cooler and thermal paste. I am very confused because my CPU is working fine in all tests.
  • reinstalling windows (even though I reinstalled it in February, 3 weeks before the freezes started)
  • taking a look at XMP Ram Timings and running memtest86 again? I am wondering, there were no problems during the last 3 years while using this RAM.
Any other ideas? This is driving me crazy. Thanks in advance!
 

Aeacus

Champion
Ambassador
When switching GPUs, uninstall old GPU drivers with DDU, so that every last bit of old GPU drivers are removed, before installing new GPU drivers.

Without doing DDU, the lingering driver bits, incompatible with current GPU, could cause this issue as well.
 
Reactions: Bluedayz

Aeacus

Champion
Ambassador
Few ideas what to try:

* Run in Safe Mode and look if PC freezes up. If it doesn't, it's to do with software issue, since in Safe Mode, bare minimum is running to boot into OS. If it does freeze even when in Safe Mode, issue is with Win and/or one of it's updates.

* Disable AV (BitDefender). AV programs, for the most part, are hogging resources and can cause all sorts of issues. Might want to even switch AV program. E.g MalwareBytes is free and good. I used free MalwareBytes for years, before i decided to buy the Premium version of it.

* Clean Win install would get rid of any software issues.

* If freezes would be caused by hardware, using another OS would point that out. E.g live bootable GNU/Linux distro on a flash thumb drive. If interested, then further reading on how to set it up: https://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/
Btw, i keep Linux Mint as bootable from my thumb drive, just in case Win decides to crap out and i need to access the drives.
Oh, once you boot from flash drive, don't select the installation option, instead select the boot to OS option. This way, entire GNU/Linux will be booted off from flash drive, without overwriting your Win on your OS drive.
Though, if you haven't ever used any of the GNU/Linux distros (i've used several), then this idea doesn't help you much, since you don't know what to do in GNU/Linux.
 
Reactions: Bluedayz
Mar 29, 2022
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Apparently I fixed that issue by upgrading my CPU and motherboard (to AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and MSI MPG B550 Gaming Plus)!

I suspect I might have damaged something while installing my cooler... I cannot explain that otherwise. It was working fine before.
CPU, motherboard and memory were only 3 years old (3 years warranty expired recently) and my memory is working fine in my new setup.

Pretty unfortunate since my CPU was running great except for those freezes every couple of days.

Reinstalling Windows and disabling AV did not help.
 
Reactions: Aeacus
Mar 29, 2022
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It happened again! Now I think my memory is the only component left that can be responsible for that, since I have switched my PSU, Motherboard, CPU, GPU and reinstalled windows twice and updated my drivers. It passed memtest86 (4 passes) twice.
 
Mar 29, 2022
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I tried in safe mode (not for long enough however). After I installed my new CPU and motherboard it took 9 days for the freeze to occur. I am also not sure if I should run safe mode with networking on?
 
Mar 29, 2022
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Safe mode with network is only if you want to access internet while in safe mode.

Here's what safe mode is/does
I am aware of that. I only wondered if enabling networking would change the outcome of the testing. I would keep it on since I would need to test for a couple of days (I use my browser most of the time).
 
Reactions: Aeacus
Mar 29, 2022
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It happened with the new memory, too!

Maybe it is related to my GPU and/or driver? Or GPU Memory?
I got the GTX 1070 Mini on 24th Feb. and the first freeze happened on 28th Feb. After I have switched back to my GTX 660 on 21st Mar. , there was a freeze on 24th Mar., so I switched back to my GTX 1070, but I remember this freeze being different and I am not entirely sure any more. I will test with my GTX 660 again.

One more thing that I noticed is that at first my screen freezes, but I can still move my cursor (sometimes the cursor stutters). When hovering over the "Close, Minimize and Zoom" Buttons of my Window, there is no visual effect. Tapping "CAPS LOCK" still changes the LED on my keyboard. Win+Ctrl+Shift+B should restart my GPU Driver, but nothing happens. But when I press Ctrl+Alt+Del, even my cursor freezes and the "CAPS" LED does not change any more.
I remember running a GPU stress test in Windowed Mode, and when switching to another window, the cursor felt the same and visual effects when hovering over something were absent, too (or delayed). It feels like my GPU is throttling.

I will now start to test in safe mode, too.
 
Reactions: Aeacus

Aeacus

Champion
Ambassador
When switching GPUs, uninstall old GPU drivers with DDU, so that every last bit of old GPU drivers are removed, before installing new GPU drivers.

Without doing DDU, the lingering driver bits, incompatible with current GPU, could cause this issue as well.
 
Reactions: Bluedayz

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