Question PC Freezing during work and games for YEARS, cannot find anything wrong with the system?

Aug 18, 2020
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Hi guys,

So I've had my PC for around 6 years, and ever since about year 2 it would randomly freeze whilst playing games or sometimes just when idling/browsing.
Every time, whatever sound was playing at the time of freezing would buzz/clip/repeat SUPER LOUD (if there was no audio it would usually just be silent, though there would be a buzzing sound sometimes IIRC). At this point it would just freeze with no coming back (left it for 2 days at one point, nothing). I've been pretty safe using this PC, not installing dodgy stuff and always having an antivirus present (which picks up nothing), and cleaning it pretty regularly.

This stopped being a problem so much when I switched to PS4 for gaming, and just used my PC for work. I'm an animator, and use softwares like 3DS and Maya, and I would rarely get these buzzing freezes (maybe once every 2 weeks or so) when using these softwares. However, since graduation, I've been trying to get into Unreal, and making some games. UE4 freezes my computer consistently about every 30 minutes-1 hour, and I cannot figure out the issue.
The freezes feel so inconsistent outside of Unreal. I play some games every now and then, but they're really low intensity ones like Minecraft, Runescape and Realm of the Mad God, and they've not once caused an issue. The games that used to freeze me often were things like Dark Souls 3, CS:GO, Skyrim, etc.
I thought that it was the GPU overheating as I've never gotten around to replacing my thermal, but I had Speccy open last time it froze and I was only on 68 degrees whilst I was working in Unreal. Everything idles at around 38 degrees otherwise.
I did think it was weird that my disk drives (D: and C: ) were both only using 0-2%, but I don't know if that's an issue or not?
I'm noticing some weird things lately like when I try to open a photo from my files it crashes and I have to try multiple times, and things like sticky notes not responding/letting me type, but I've just passed those off as usual Windows 10 jank.

Managed to get a picture of the things I had open to check what was wrong (I was using UE4 at the time, and expected a freeze, so was trying to troubleshoot);

View: https://i.imgur.com/X0UWc6h.jpg

(excuse the size, had to use a panoramic on my phone to fit the whole thing at a readable resolution)

Specs;
OS;
Windows 10, 64-bit
CPU; Intel Core i7 6700K @ 4.00GHz
RAM; 16.0GB Dual-Channel 1066MHz
Motherboard; Gigabyte Technology Co. Ltd. Z170X-Gaming 3
GPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970
Storage; 1863GB TOSHIBA DT01ACA200 (SATA )
447GB KINGSTON SM2280S3G2480G (SATA-2 (SSD))

Power supply is a Corsair VS550, I don't know how to check wattage.
CPU Cooling is liquid (I think? There's a couple tubes going around in my PC).
Case is a stock one supplied by PC Specialist who made the system. Has 3 fans.

Things I've tried myself;
  1. Usual cleanup stuff, defragmenting, using disk cleanup, using CCleaner and the cleaner in my antivirus (Avast). Cleaning my PC also. No improvement.
  2. Using performance report, checking event logs, etc, to try to find any issues. Can't see anything outstanding and performance report comes back mostly clean.
  3. Uninstalling almost everything on my computer, down to the bare essentials I use to work.
I think that's everything I've tried, but its been so many years that I'm sure I'm forgetting some things.

Any and all help would be awesome. I'm pretty broke so can't afford a new PC altogether, though could scrounge the money to get some new parts if needed.
 
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Your system doesn't use a whole lot of power, maybe a liberal 350-400w. But that doesn't help with a corsair VS, it's a lower grade unit, group regulated, rated at a low output temperature. I'd put money on the psu needing replacing.

But the gpu could also be an issue, get msi afterburner and maybe reduce the power limit to 80%.
 
Aug 18, 2020
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Man, I thought that might have had something to do with it, I remember way back when I had some tech guy around he mentioned something like that, but that was years ago. I'll be able to order a new one on friday, i'll have around a 50-100 pound budget.
Can anyone point me to one that will be good for my components? I'd prefer one that'll last a decent bit of time, as I don't know how long it'll be until I can get a career in the animation industry with COVID going on.
Also, how hard are they to replace? Can I do it myself? I've replaced some GPU's and tinkered with RAM in the past, so I'm not a total noob there, at least.
Thanks for all the fast replies guys you rock.
 
Aug 18, 2020
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Man, I thought that might have had something to do with it, I remember way back when I had some tech guy around he mentioned something like that, but that was years ago. I'll be able to order a new one on friday, i'll have around a 50-100 pound budget.
Can anyone point me to one that will be good for my components? I'd prefer one that'll last a decent bit of time, as I don't know how long it'll be until I can get a career in the animation industry with COVID going on.
Also, how hard are they to replace? Can I do it myself? I've replaced some GPU's and tinkered with RAM in the past, so I'm not a total noob there, at least.
Thanks for all the fast replies guys you rock.
I've tried out using Afterburner in the meantime, and have set the power limit to 80%. Gonna give some game dev a go and see how it feels.
 

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Man, I thought that might have had something to do with it, I remember way back when I had some tech guy around he mentioned something like that, but that was years ago. I'll be able to order a new one on friday, i'll have around a 50-100 pound budget.
Can anyone point me to one that will be good for my components? I'd prefer one that'll last a decent bit of time, as I don't know how long it'll be until I can get a career in the animation industry with COVID going on.
Also, how hard are they to replace? Can I do it myself? I've replaced some GPU's and tinkered with RAM in the past, so I'm not a total noob there, at least.
Thanks for all the fast replies guys you rock.
They are pretty easy to replace 4 screws holding them in and connect all the cables. This is the cheapest I would go for:

PCPartPicker Part List

Power Supply: Corsair TXM Gold 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply (£69.98 @ CCL Computers)
Total: £69.98
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-08-18 23:22 BST+0100
 
Aug 18, 2020
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This would be a better quality one that has fully modular cables:
PCPartPicker Part List

Power Supply: SeaSonic FOCUS Plus Gold 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply (£88.99 @ Amazon UK)
Total: £88.99
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-08-18 23:29 BST+0100
Thanks for the recommendations! I notice both of these are 550W, same as my current one, would that be enough? I was under the impression that the issue with my current Corsair one is that the wattage isn't high enough, so should I go for higher like 650? Or is it just the model that is unreliable?

I'm not entirely sure how realistic it is to replace this by myself, as looking inside the case the cables are EVERYWHERE and threaded through various components and cable tied all over the place. Think that PC Specialist didn't do an awesome job there, so I'm worried I'd break something trying it myself.

In good news, following the advice from maxamillionfeettall, capping my GPU power at 80% on Windows startup did allow me for a half hour game dev session last night without a freeze. I'm going to test that more now that I'm home from work, and go as long as I can before I get a freeze. With any luck, this will be a good solution until I can get a new PC or until COVID has died down enough that I can get the PC to a shop without fearing getting ill.
 
Thanks for the recommendations! I notice both of these are 550W, same as my current one, would that be enough? I was under the impression that the issue with my current Corsair one is that the wattage isn't high enough, so should I go for higher like 650? Or is it just the model that is unreliable?

I'm not entirely sure how realistic it is to replace this by myself, as looking inside the case the cables are EVERYWHERE and threaded through various components and cable tied all over the place. Think that PC Specialist didn't do an awesome job there, so I'm worried I'd break something trying it myself.

In good news, following the advice from maxamillionfeettall, capping my GPU power at 80% on Windows startup did allow me for a half hour game dev session last night without a freeze. I'm going to test that more now that I'm home from work, and go as long as I can before I get a freeze. With any luck, this will be a good solution until I can get a new PC or until COVID has died down enough that I can get the PC to a shop without fearing getting ill.
It's not that it's low on power, it's that the unit is a group regulated model with low quality components. I stated this in my post originally. If you don't know what group regulated means, it's means all the rails, 12v 5v 3.3v, are regulated as a group. So, when a rail is loaded up or has nothing on it, the voltage across the 12v rail maybe too high or low depending on the load on the minor rails. Too high or low voltage puts the main 12v rail out of spec potentially damaging components, either rapidly or slowly. PC parts can only take so much of incorrect voltage.
The VS550 is also overall of low quality, so there may be issues with voltage stability(ripple), load regulation, transient load, and possibly some improperly set protections.

The psu cables plug in only one way for most parts, the only ones I'd worry about mixing up is maybe the cpu eps connections and pci-e cable connections. When you get a new psu, each cable should be labeled either in the manual or on the psu.

If the reduced power limit ends up working, that is usually indicative of a gpu failure. Though a psu replacement should be done regardless if it is at fault or not.
 
Aug 18, 2020
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Ok guys, thanks a bunch for your feedback. I'd be willing to accept that the GPU may also be at fault here, just based on how old the PC is really.
I feel like if I were to go for a new power supply and a new GPU, I may as well start saving up for a new PC, using the capped GPU power solution in the meantime! The system is seriously due an upgrade anyway.
Luckily some things have come up in the past few days so my future financial situation seems a little bit more positive, hopefully. Failing that, new PSU/GPU and a PC shop visit it is.
Thanks again everyone, you've really helped me troubleshoot an issue that has been plaguing me for years, in just a matter of days.
Stay safe!
 

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