Question PC freezing with loud, static noise at random intervals ?


Jan 31, 2014
OK, so starting off - this issue has followed me across different builds for years and I recently found a rogue driver was the root of the issue, however...

This issue is now on a brand new build - new Motherboard, CPU, PSU, AIO, Case - the only things I recycled were the GPU, the SSD's, my Soundcard and the RAM. My suspicion is that the fix I issued on my previous build is now incompatible with my new one.

So starting from the very beginning; Around 3.5 years back, I built a new rig using mainly ASUS hardware (ASUS MOBO, GPU, Soundcard) and all was well, but I went down the rabbit hole of downloading drivers for my PC. I thought nothing of it, but shortly after I started to get issues where my PC would lock up with mainly a low buzzing sound coming from the speakers, different to the loud static noise experienced at the moment although very rarely, I had the same issue on my old build but I just attributed it to being the same thing.

So, I scratched my head and tried a few different things - I replaced the CPU, AIO, MOBO, RAM and PSU (3x) as those were recommended as being the possible faulty units on other forums. I was convinced in the end it was a heat issue, so I moved the setup to an airflow case and ran a 16" gym fan near it to keep it cool. Temps were always below 50°C but the issue would persist. I was close to giving up but a hail-Mary RMA from Corsair came through and they replaced my old AX760i with a HX850 and for a long time, the issue didn't occur again. I thought it was all fixed, but then the issue happened a few more times, so on a random recommendation on YouTube, this video with about 250 views finally managed to fix my issues by telling me to remove the Realtek HD Audio Driver and just use the Windows one -and lo' for months after, I had 0 problems whatsoever.

Fast forward to last week and I went to power my PC on and no lights came up on my MOBO. I tested the GPU on a test MOBO - no problems, so I just resolved to commit to the MOBO being dead (warranty had just expired, so no RMA).

I decided to then get another MOBO, an NZXT N7 Z490 (new CPU too - new braided cables as well, as I wanted a better aesthetic - also a new AIO, case and GPU), set it all up powered it on, installed ME:LE played for a few hours and then it all started again; this time, just the hissing/high pitched static sound only, along with the freeze.

Back to the triage drawing board; first off, I patched the BIOS, downloaded all updates and driver updates from Windows - I also installed a Realtek driver as this was the recommended sound driver from NZXT however the issue persists. I wanted to try the same trick as before, however there's currently no listed Realtek audio driver within Device Manager, so possibly I can try to install the Windows Audio Driver directly from their download center, which I'll try later.

Looking at the event log, I can't find where the issue might be - the only !Error notification before the shutdown is: "The previous system shutdown at xx:xx:xx on xx:xx:xx was unexpected" before the XCritical one, which is me holding the power button in for 5s to force shutdown. The only other notifications before the shutdown are !Warnings from: Microsoft-Windows-DistributedCOM but that's unrelated.

The last part is temperatures, but monitoring the temps, I can't see the GPU go past 60°C much and the highest the CPU seems to cap out at is 50°C and airflow is clear (I also have an external tower fan nearby to ensure that more cool air is nearby).

To summarise; new GPU, new PSU, new MOBO, new CPU, new AIO, new Type4 cables, 2x "old" SSD's, 2x New NAND SSD, 4x (relatively) new RAM cards (no failure on MEM test) and 1 x "old" 7.1 soundcard, but still getting legacy noisy freezing issues.

I'm almost 100% certain this is a rogue driver issue, but I'm not sure how to address this anymore.