Question PC randomly becomes unresponsive to keyboard and clicks and everything freezes

Dec 11, 2021
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This issue has been frustrating me for almost a year now. I am very frustrated and I need help. For TLDR skip to bullet points.

It all started in my last rig (Windows 10, i5-4460, 16Gb DDR3). The PC, while working perfectly, would randomly (usually when watching a movie) start stuttering, then freeze forever. Mouse can move but clicks have no or bugged (half) effects (e.g. I press the start button, it brings up a menu with no items). Keyboard input does not work (e.g. I cant bring up task manager). This would initially happend about once a week and then it happened almost daily.

I started to suspect Wallpaper Engine (it all started happening around that time) so I removed it. Didn't work. Then I suspected that one of the RAM dim may be problematic (I ran dual channel) and tried with using only one. This seemed like it had done the trick. The other RAM either was or was made dead by my handling or sth. So I blamed it on the RAM, bought a new dim and put it in my system. The same thing started happening again! More rarely but it would happen.

Now, I don't remember if I did, but I think I did a good old format and then I was fine?

Fast-forward to today.

I built a new system last month. A Ryzen 5 5600X, 2x8Gb DDR4, B450 Tomahawk MAX II updated to support Ryzen 5 series, same GPU as before, different SSD for OS but same two data drives (one SSD, one HDD) carried over without formatting from the old system.

Day 2 of having built this PC, I get the exact same freeze. I immediately suspect the RAM and I remember that enabling XMP might make the system unstable so I take XMP off and everything appears normal. About a week and a half later same crash. This time after attempting to use MSI's Mystic light to change the RGB on the mobo. This time after the freeze happened and I had to force shut down the PC, it wouldn't boot again! I opened the case, made sure everything connected, tried to open it again and now it opened (without essentially changing anything) with the RGB lights reset to their original red hue. I vow never to touch Mystic light again (after some digging), I unninstall it and continue, without XMP to use the PC.

Everything seems fine, until again the past week I got the same freeze. Then again day before yesterday, then again yesterday, then again today. What is happening? Is this going to be daily now? It happened once trying to open steam and twice while watching a movie on firefox.

Again I suspected the RAM, even though it's new, it seems it is usually the culprit for freezes. I did the default Microsoft test (took ~20minutes) and then I did the memtest86 overnight with 4 passes. No errors found. So RAM is probably clear (it's new anyway).
CrystalDisk says disks are clear. And I even ran a stress test on CPU to check temps but they also seem clear.

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So here is what I have to work with:
  • Same freeze issue I had on the old machine (where I thought it was the RAM or Wallpaper Engine).
  • PC doesn't shut off by itself, no blue-screen just unresponsive. No debug lights on the mobo either.
  • From the old machine I brought over two data (ntfs) disk (no OS) which I did not format, so maybe something carried over from there? Is it bad to use installed programs there?
  • XMP is off and RAM should be clear after successfully running those tests.
I have NO IDEA what the hell is causing this issue. I am hoping someone of you might. My best calm guesses are:

1. Could it be that some cable doesn't make good enough contact? That might explain why openning and closing the case again made it open when before it wouldn't that one time when it wouldn't boot after messing with mystic light. Unless it needed to take its time for some reason??? Maybe I somehow nudged some cables the right ways and then it opened. Then again, I am not moving the cables when it freezes. And shouldn't it shut down if it has a power issue? Before the freeze everything works normal.

2. If it's not a cable then it MUST BE a software thing, right?
Some bad driver / daemon program I install (is Advanced System Care bad for example?)? Maybe MSI board drivers are trash like Mystic Light and I shouldn't have installed them?
Or maybe something (malware??) that carried over from the two data drives I didn't format? That would explain why it is the same issue as before. Other than that the only other common thing I can think off is that they are both connected to the same power outlet. Could power supply in the house be causing this?

I am considering going full nuclear: reinstalling Windows and this time formatting ALL disks after saving important documents, photos to a USB drive. I just don't know if that will solve my issue. And it's very inconvinient right now, I don't want to lose something important. And what if I end up reinstalling the culprit?

Has anyone dealth with this before??? I am losing my mind and patience over this and I am feeling very insecure before starting anything important like a call.

Thank you in advance if you made it through all that. Appreciate any advice.
 
Jan 4, 2022
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I built a new system last month. A Ryzen 5 5600X, 2x8Gb DDR4, B450 Tomahawk MAX II updated to support Ryzen 5 series, same GPU as before, different SSD for OS but same two data drives (one SSD, one HDD) carried over without formatting from the old system.
Is it a new SSD for OS? New OS?

I would remove the extra data drives, only keeping the single drive with OS for now.

I would also remove the GPU and use onboard display for now since its one of the couple things brought over from the old system.

I am immediately suspecting the PSU, but if you remove the above and literally every other peripheral to see if the issue persists you can start narrowing your search. If the issue goes away you can start reintroducing peripherals, GPU, etc. one at a time while running tests.

See if a friend has a PSU multimeter to maybe see if that does anything. I would recommend against opening the PSU as if you're not careful you can get a nasty jolt, if you think it's toast just recycle it and replace.
 
Dec 11, 2021
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Is it a new SSD for OS? New OS?

I would remove the extra data drives, only keeping the single drive with OS for now.

I would also remove the GPU and use onboard display for now since its one of the couple things brought over from the old system.

I am immediately suspecting the PSU, but if you remove the above and literally every other peripheral to see if the issue persists you can start narrowing your search. If the issue goes away you can start reintroducing peripherals, GPU, etc. one at a time while running tests.

See if a friend has a PSU multimeter to maybe see if that does anything. I would recommend against opening the PSU as if you're not careful you can get a nasty jolt, if you think it's toast just recycle it and replace.
The SSD for the OS is a new NVMe SSD.

The Ryzen 5 5600X does not have integrated graphics so I can not do this without a GPU. Although I do have an even older GPU available. Should I temporarily switch them without changing anything else to see? Could a faulty GPU cause this? I can see the mouse moving so it's not the image that is freezing.

Also it has never actually crashed during games. It works perfectly. Although I did recently notice that windows reports 1-3% usage during RDR2 which is crazy off. GPU-Z actually shows 95% load. The freezes aren't happening during heavy GPU usage.

The PSU is also new. Which is why it must be some crazy coinsidence if both PSUs have had the same problem. Wouldn't it be more likely for there to be a problem with the power outlet or the power strip which is the same as before? Do you believe it's a power thing? Should I find a new power strip or something? How would that explain the PC freezing/hanging yet not shutting down and everything (RGBs, etc) to continue look like they are working ok?

The problem with what you are describing is that I can not manually reproduce the problem. It happens completely randomly. How long is long enough to be sure? It only lately started happening daily and it may be because I ve had the PC open all day. It usually doesn't happen as soon as I boot.
 
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Jan 4, 2022
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The SSD for the OS is a new NVMe SSD.

The Ryzen 5 5600X does not have integrated graphics so I can not do this without a GPU. Although I do have an even older GPU available. Should I temporarily switch them without changing anything else to see? Could a faulty GPU cause this? I can see the mouse moving so it's not the image that is freezing.

Also it has never actually crashed during games. It works perfectly. Although I did recently notice that windows reports 1-3% usage during RDR2 which is crazy off. GPU-Z actually shows 95% load. The freezes aren't happening during heavy GPU usage.

The PSU is also new. Which is why it must be some crazy coinsidence if both PSUs have had the same problem. Wouldn't it be more likely for there to be a problem with the power outlet or the power strip which is the same as before? Do you believe it's a power thing? Should I find a new power strip or something? How would that explain the PC freezing/hanging yet not shutting down and everything (RGBs, etc) to continue look like they are working ok?

The problem with what you are describing is that I can not manually reproduce the problem. It happens completely randomly. How long is long enough to be sure? It only lately started happening daily and it may be because I ve had the PC open all day. It usually doesn't happen as soon as I boot.
I think your questions are entirely valid. The reason I think so is because its one of the only couple things you brought over from your system, you mentioned the issue is the same so I looked at that. The issue also seems random and unstable, maybe it has something to do with the PSU not fully powering components, faulty/loose modular cabling, etc.

Regardless, I think removing the extra drives, using the old GPU (though onboard would've been preferable), and removing any extra peripherals is a good troubleshooting step. Try it out, see if you can recreate the issue, run some benchmarks, and try to induce a freeze.

Did you see if there are any entries in the Windows Log tab in Event Viewer?
 
Reactions: SupremeChampion
Dec 11, 2021
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Did you see if there are any entries in the Windows Log tab in Event Viewer?
Yes. There are only 2 error message, both are about the system shutting down abnormally, which makes sense since I have to force shut down. So they re not any help.

I will try removing and reinstalling the PSU after making sure all cables are connected. If I don't notice anything weird, I ll switch the GPUs just to check if it is that. If it is, I am kinda screwed because of current prices but at least I ll have some output with my old GTX 750 Ti. If it isn't then I guess I have to format everything and hope that it was software?

Edit: So PSU cables seemed fine everywhere I checked. I switched the GPUs, clean installed drivers for the older GPU and now we wait to see if it happens again or not.
 
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Dec 11, 2021
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Well, it took 6 days but it did it again! With the old GPU..... Right when I was about to call for the warrantee for the newer one. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. The GPU would have been the simplest explaination for all this, being a problem with both PCs... I guess that means the GPU is clear. Which doesn't leave reasonable room for another culprit other than the two disks themselves or something on them or some software I keep installing...

I guess I now have to nuke everything (i.e. formatting all the drives and reinstalling windows).

Should I remove the drives as well? It doesn't make sense to me that a "bad" drive (crystal disk shows them both good), that doesn't even have the OS on it, would cause such a freeze...
 

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