Question PC abruptly powering off. Already rebuilt entire system with brand new PSU and cooler.

Feb 24, 2019
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Quick system specifications:
CPU: i7 2700K
GPU: RX 480 4G
RAM: 32GB DDR3 1866
Storage: 3x 7200RPM, 1x SATA SSD
PSU: Corsair RM 550x 550w (new), OCZ modxtreme 700w (previous)
Cooler: Corsair H115i PRO
OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Motherboard: MSI z77a g43


I've been using the PC for almost 7 years. A few months ago, my PC abruptly shut down on me. The screens froze, then static appeared on one of my monitors, then silence as the PSU shut off after a second or two. The PC does not automatically reboot, and I must hit the power button myself to start the PC again. I do not recall any recent major changes to my system prior to the issue. The first time this happened, I was converting files in Foobar audio player. I passed it off as a spike in CPU usage bringing my CPU over safe temperatures (my fan curve targets mean my system is almost always 80c or so, with the fans spinning more or less to keep it there. If something prevented the fans from reacting in time, the increased load could reach the shut-off temperature of 100c very quickly I guess.). Even though I've been doing this for years perfectly fine on the same setup already. Then it did it again and again, once or twice a week. I replaced the paste under my cooler (Evo 212), but it did not solve the issue. In fact, the temperatures were not even reaching dangerous levels in any case. Whether as coincidence or causation, Foobar had been open during every system failure (I'm practically using it all the time).

Last week, I rebuilt my entire PC with a brand new power supply, going from 700w to 550w, and also bought a brand new AIO liquid CPU cooler (not specifically to fix this issue). While I was at it, I also inspected my motherboard and graphics card for any sign of damage to the caps, but could not see anything. Ultimately, the system failures continued. As it turns out, neither the temperatures nor the PSU could be the culprit. For the record, I am running base clocks and voltage on all components.

Just today, my computer shut down again (with foobar running). However, when I rebooted, it shut down again within 10 minutes, and importantly, Foobar was actually not running, removing it as a possible culprit. Worse, my system continued to shut down repeatedly, each within 20 minutes, just idle at the desktop. All temperatures normal, with the CPU at a comfortable 40c. No sign of OS drive failure that I can detect, no logs in Event Viewer on the cause of the crash (but it does recognize that the computer was turned off unexpectedly.)

What is my next troubleshooting step? Is this type of failure characteristic of issues regarding motherboard, RAM, CPU, GPU? I would replace my OS to Windows 10 just to see if my current OS is the cause, but the lack of a report in Event Viewer leads me to believe a component is shutting down my system. Furthermore, I did not make changes to my OS around the time this issue started.

Any insights are greatly appreciated, thank-you for reading.
 
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Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Not good on the CPU temps. 80°C should be maximum peak, not standard temperature. You would be wise to recurve your cooling profile to fix that. There is no reason to ride at that temp for normal operation. Especially on a stock configuration that isn't overclocked. It's not going to work better that way, and if it's that way to reduce noise, you need quieter fans, not a bad cooling profile. While that may not be your issue, it certainly could be as the thermal diode on a platform that old may be off by as much as ten degrees due to age which could certainly take you into a protective state although it's unlikely since the shut down TJmax temp should be much higher than that.

I'd 100% believe this is most probably a motherboard issue, especially given the probable age of your hardware. Unfortunately, short of eliminating everything else, about the only way you can determine that is by replacing it. Prior to doing that though I would absolutely download Memtest86, create bootable media and test your memory first IF it will even run long enough to do that.

Does the system shut down if you don't boot into Windows? If you boot and enter the BIOS, and leave it in the BIOS, does it still shut off. How about if you create a Linux bootable disto USB and boot into something like Ubuntu. Still shut off, or not?
 
Feb 24, 2019
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Does the system shut down if you don't boot into Windows? If you boot and enter the BIOS, and leave it in the BIOS, does it still shut off. How about if you create a Linux bootable disto USB and boot into something like Ubuntu. Still shut off, or not?
It does not shut off in BIOS. In fact, I just booted it into Windows Safe Mode with networking, and it ran fine for about an hour, at which point I restarted to try regular windows. Not more than 5 minutes, and it shut off again. Back into safe mode, and still working... I have a new suspicion -- could my graphics card somehow be killing my entire system? I say this because for a few boots after crashes (not always) the graphics card fans spin at max RPM until the motherboard boot logo shows up, for whatever reason (for the record, I've never messed with my graphics card fan curves, and even the pipes are just warm to the touch during this). Furthermore, safe mode bypasses the graphics hardware among other stuff, which could be the reason my PC was able to remain on. When I first purchased this card, there was a lot of news about RX 480s drawing too much power from the PCIE slot and killing them/ the board. This might be the issue? Currently I have re-positioned my graphics card to the lower PCI-E slot, waiting to see if my PC shuts down soon. If it doesn't, I'll move it back to the top slot and see if it crashes straight away again.

Thanks for your concern my CPU fan curves, I knew it was running hot but dang do I hate noise. Thats why I have the H115i now, it idles at 40c nicely.
 

Darkbreeze

Titan
Moderator
Good deal on the cooler. That's MUCH more appropriate.

Yes, your graphics card could very easily be the issue. Before assuming that though I think I'd try all of the following first, if you haven't already.

Here are the first steps to take when trying to solve these kinds of hardware problems. If you have already tried these steps, all of them, exactly as outlined, we can move along to more advanced solutions.

If there are any you have NOT done, it would be advisable to do so if for no other reason than to be able to say you've already done it and eliminate that possibility.


First, make sure your motherboard has the MOST recent BIOS version installed. If it does not, then update. This solves a high number of issues even in cases where the release that is newer than yours makes no mention of improving graphics card or other hardware compatibility. They do not list every change they have made when they post a new BIOS release.

Second, go to the product page for your motherboard on the manufacturer website. Download and install the latest driver versions for the chipset, storage controllers, audio and network adapters. Do not skip installing a newer driver just because you think it is not relevant to the problem you are having. The drivers for one device can often affect ALL other devices and a questionable driver release can cause instability in the OS itself. They don't release new drivers just for fun. If there is a new driver release for a component, there is a good reason for it. The same goes for BIOS updates.

IF you have other hardware installed or attached to the system that are not a part of the systems covered by the motherboard drivers, then go to the support page for THAT component and check to see if there are newer drivers available for that as well. If there are, install them.

The last thing we want to look at, for now anyhow, is the graphics card drivers. Regardless of whether you "already installed the newest drivers" for your graphics card or not, it is OFTEN a good idea to do a CLEAN install of the graphics card drivers. Just installing over the old drivers OR trying to use what Nvidia and AMD consider a clean install is not good enough and does not usually give the same result as using the Display Driver Uninstaller utility. This has a very high success rate and is always worth a shot.

If you have had both Nvidia and AMD cards installed at any point on that operating system then you will want to run the DDU twice. Once for the old card drivers (ie, Nvidia or AMD) and again for the currently installed graphics card drivers (ie, AMD or Nvidia). So if you had an Nvidia card at some point in the past, run it first for Nvidia and then after that is complete, run it again for AMD if you currently have an AMD card installed.

Here are the full instructions on running the Display driver uninstaller and CLEAN installing new drivers.

Graphics card CLEAN install tutorial using the DDU
 

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