[SOLVED] System Randomly Freezing

Aug 14, 2022
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Hi,

I've been dealing with this issue for a few weeks now. My computer will randomly freeze and require a hard restart. It appears to happen regardless of what I am doing (gaming, browsing, or sitting idle). All programs freeze though I am able to retain mouse control. I am not, however, able to open or manipulate any programs or windows generally (including opening the task manager). Temps seem okay nothing exceeding 70c at max load.

I've tried a variety of solutions to no avail including:

  • Clean install of Windows 11
  • Updating drivers using IObit Driver Booster
  • Run sfc/ scannow
  • Windows Memory Diagnostic
  • Resetting BIOS
  • WMIC diskdrive (status okay)
Let me know if you need any additional information. Appreciate your help.


System Specs:

Operating System
Windows 11 Home 64-bit
CPU
Intel Core i7 10700K @ 3.80GHz
Comet Lake 14nm Technology
RAM
32.0GB Dual-Channel DDR4 @ 1066MHz (15-15-15-36)
Motherboard
ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 (CPUSocket)
Graphics
4095MB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (ASUStek Computer Inc)
Storage
931GB NVMe Samsung SSD 970 SCSI Disk Device (Unknown (SSD))
PSU
SFX-L 750W 80 Plus Gold Power Supply
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Ok. That's good, ish. LOL.

What are you using to monitor thermal compliance and WHICH thermal sensors, exactly, are you looking at? Are you monitoring CPU core and package temps, both? Are you monitoring GPU and VRAM temperature? Are you monitoring motherboard VRM temperature? Because all of those things might be important, although for the most part those kinds of issues will generally result in throttling, not freezing or other issues, but in some cases they can.

I would give a serious look at the PCI riser as well. Make absolutely sure all connections are 100% secure. I've seen risers and riser cables cause similar problems before, much like a graphics card that is almost but not fully seated in a normal desktop system.

And yes, now that you've updated the BIOS, and after you reconfigure the BIOS to include any custom settings you might want to set such as fan curves or other settings, I'd do another clean install of Windows AND make sure you ARE doing a clean install. Not a reset, or refresh, or restore. A "CLEAN" install, as outlined in my guide.

The problem with the "restore" image on laptops and prebuilt OEM systems, is that when you use THAT, you also put all of the preinstalled bloatware back on there as well. We've seen such high numbers of cases where brand new systems could barely hold their own necks up due to the weight of all the bloatware that they ran as though they were terribly infected with malware when they actually only had piles of useless "optimization" and other bundled software installed.

I ALWAYS recommend doing a clean install whenever there's a question of which way to go. That includes every time Microsoft releases a major update. Microsoft does not have a very good track record of making transitions between upgrades or major updates terribly smooth, seamless or trouble free. Usually, more often than not, problems are created that did not exist before the update or upgrade. Not in every case to be sure, but often enough to warrant avoiding the process when it is at all possible or at the very least, every other major update/upgrade.

Continuing to simply upgrade/update or reinstall the factory bloatware often just continues to put the same problems that existed from the start, right back where you left them prior to the process. I would never allow one of my machines, or any machine I work on, to go longer than two major updates without doing a clean install to the newest available Windows ISO release, and usually, unless there are circumstances that make it terribly inconvenient to do so, every major update.

If you wish to DO a clean install, you can do so as follows.


Windows 10 Clean install tutorial


First though, download all these and put them on a secondary or external drive so you already have them before you do the clean install of Windows and don't have to try and go find them afterwards:

Audio: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/All/Audio/Realtek_Audio(v9231.1_UAD_WHQL_Nahimic).zip

Bluetooth: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/Bluetooth/Intel_Bluetooth(v22.70.1.1G).zip

Intel chipset (.inf): https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/INF/INF(v10.1.18836.8283).zip

Intel management engine: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/Others/ME(v14.1.60.1790v4_Consumer).zip

Realtek LAN: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/All/LAN/Realtek_LAN(v1.00.0037).zip

Nahemic III utility (Required for audio): https://download.asrock.com/Utility/Nahimic/Nahimic3(v200925).zip

Latest Nvidia driver for RTX 2080 Super: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/driverResults.aspx/192967/en-us/

After doing the clean install, install all these drivers, and I recommend you restart after each driver installation, and then run through all the available Windows updates until there are none left to do. Be sure to create brand new Windows installation media using the latest version of the media creation tool available here:

https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2156295
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
First, do NOT use any "Driver booster" or similar type automatic programs. They are not just worthless, they VERY OFTEN cause problems where none existed before. Fact.

Always, ALWAYS, update all drivers manually by visiting the product manufacturers page (motherboard manufacturer for chipset, onboard network adapters, audio, etc. Nvidia or AMD depending on graphics card model. Product page for other hardware like add in cards, keyboards, mice, etc.) and manually downloading and then installing the latest manufacturer drivers. Don't use automatic programs and don't trust Windows to give you the right drivers either. Microsoft supplied drivers are often universal type drivers that lack full feature performance and should only be used when no other driver for a given OS can be found in order to get the device to work.

What is the ACTUAL brand and model of your power supply? How long has it been in service.

What motherboard BIOS version do you currently have installed?
 
Aug 14, 2022
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Very much appreciate your help.

My BIOS version is: American Megatrends Inc. P1.20 4/21/2020
My PSU is actually 650W: It is an NZXT NP-S650M (just over 2 years old).

Should I do another clean install of Windows 11 to reset drivers so I can manually update them?
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
First thing you need to do is update the BIOS. You are on the very first release and there are three significant releases after that. I would recommend that you update to version 1.6 before doing anything else.

https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITXTB3/index.asp#BIOS

Do you have an NZXT H1 case? Because seems as though that PSU is the one that only comes with that case, not sold exclusive of the case.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
You understand that there are serious problems with that case, and that for a while there it was under a recall until NZXT decided they didn't want to continue replacing them for people because NZXT is a crap company with no morals and even less consideration for it's customers? And that there is a free PCIe riser replacement program in place that everybody should take advantage of IF they want to continue using that case?

https://support.nzxt.com/hc/en-us/articles/1260800770389-H1-Case-Safety-Notice
 
Aug 14, 2022
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I do (and agreed). They initially sent me plastic screws to address the issue. I finally received and installed the replacement riser. It was kind of wild.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Ok. That's good, ish. LOL.

What are you using to monitor thermal compliance and WHICH thermal sensors, exactly, are you looking at? Are you monitoring CPU core and package temps, both? Are you monitoring GPU and VRAM temperature? Are you monitoring motherboard VRM temperature? Because all of those things might be important, although for the most part those kinds of issues will generally result in throttling, not freezing or other issues, but in some cases they can.

I would give a serious look at the PCI riser as well. Make absolutely sure all connections are 100% secure. I've seen risers and riser cables cause similar problems before, much like a graphics card that is almost but not fully seated in a normal desktop system.

And yes, now that you've updated the BIOS, and after you reconfigure the BIOS to include any custom settings you might want to set such as fan curves or other settings, I'd do another clean install of Windows AND make sure you ARE doing a clean install. Not a reset, or refresh, or restore. A "CLEAN" install, as outlined in my guide.

The problem with the "restore" image on laptops and prebuilt OEM systems, is that when you use THAT, you also put all of the preinstalled bloatware back on there as well. We've seen such high numbers of cases where brand new systems could barely hold their own necks up due to the weight of all the bloatware that they ran as though they were terribly infected with malware when they actually only had piles of useless "optimization" and other bundled software installed.

I ALWAYS recommend doing a clean install whenever there's a question of which way to go. That includes every time Microsoft releases a major update. Microsoft does not have a very good track record of making transitions between upgrades or major updates terribly smooth, seamless or trouble free. Usually, more often than not, problems are created that did not exist before the update or upgrade. Not in every case to be sure, but often enough to warrant avoiding the process when it is at all possible or at the very least, every other major update/upgrade.

Continuing to simply upgrade/update or reinstall the factory bloatware often just continues to put the same problems that existed from the start, right back where you left them prior to the process. I would never allow one of my machines, or any machine I work on, to go longer than two major updates without doing a clean install to the newest available Windows ISO release, and usually, unless there are circumstances that make it terribly inconvenient to do so, every major update.

If you wish to DO a clean install, you can do so as follows.


Windows 10 Clean install tutorial


First though, download all these and put them on a secondary or external drive so you already have them before you do the clean install of Windows and don't have to try and go find them afterwards:

Audio: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/All/Audio/Realtek_Audio(v9231.1_UAD_WHQL_Nahimic).zip

Bluetooth: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/Bluetooth/Intel_Bluetooth(v22.70.1.1G).zip

Intel chipset (.inf): https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/INF/INF(v10.1.18836.8283).zip

Intel management engine: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/Intel/Others/ME(v14.1.60.1790v4_Consumer).zip

Realtek LAN: https://download.asrock.com/Drivers/All/LAN/Realtek_LAN(v1.00.0037).zip

Nahemic III utility (Required for audio): https://download.asrock.com/Utility/Nahimic/Nahimic3(v200925).zip

Latest Nvidia driver for RTX 2080 Super: https://www.nvidia.com/Download/driverResults.aspx/192967/en-us/

After doing the clean install, install all these drivers, and I recommend you restart after each driver installation, and then run through all the available Windows updates until there are none left to do. Be sure to create brand new Windows installation media using the latest version of the media creation tool available here:

https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2156295
 
Aug 14, 2022
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Thank you again for such detailed directions.

I ran a clean install of Windows 11. However, I wasn't able to do it through a USB boot drive. In order to install W11, I had to disable the Compatibility Support Module. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't change the USB to GPT after the new Windows installation media was installed. It kept reverting it to MBR. Ultimately, I ran the installation through the EXE included in the installation media. Hopefully that is okay, but please let me know if that is problematic.

Otherwise, I successfully installed the drivers and fully updated through the Windows update, restarting after each driver was installed. (I did not install any of the Windows "optional" updates. They looked suspect to me.)

To monitor thermals I was using a combination of Speccy and NZXT CAM. I was only monitoring GPU temp and CPU core temp. I will keep an eye on package, VRAM and motherboard temps. If there is a program you recommend that logs temp data, I would gladly take your recommendation.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Something isn't right here. With CSM "enabled" you should have problems installing Windows 11 because CSM is a setting that allows for a legacy non-UEFI installation. With it "disabled" it should be a full UEFI installation. Do you have TPM enabled, because that's a requirement. You need to have a compatible version of the Trusted platform module and it needs to be enabled, in order to install Windows 11 without any kind of questionable work around being used. And with a full UEFI installation, whether Windows 11, or 10, or 8.1, it should automatically be a GPT installation.

But, if all is installed and configured as desired, then so be it.

I would avoid using Speccy and CAM for monitoring. There is literally nothing better than HWinfo. You want to download it, install it, run it, choose "Sensors only" and uncheck "Summary" and then you have access to the FULL menu of sensors. If you get a message about any kind of potential issues with a certain type of sensor, just click to ignore it and move on. You won't see it again. If it causes a problem at all then uninstall, reinstall and the next time choose to not monitor that sensor but generally for most systems it is not a problem despite the warning.

Core Temp is also good, if you only need to monitor CPU core and package temps.

CAM is a POS and I've refused to use it through the years because of it's invasive phone home practices. There used to be a long running thread on the CAM forums about this and calls for action were taken, but unsurprisingly because of the bad press NZXT was getting over it despite having said several times that they removed it and didn't, they finally removed the whole thread from the CAM forum in order to just whitewash the whole thing. That on top of a lot of other problems with this company are among the reasons I can't stand them.

If you require CAM for lighting or other proprietary issues there may be other software out there than can do it. I used an open source program to control my Hue+ and for my Grid+ I'd install the program, set the fan profiles and then uninstall the program. The hardware would remember the settings but not be running and sending God knows what to NZXT the whole time. The program has always been a buggy POS and for me and many others, it actually CAUSED problems in Windows that did not exist without it there. If you can, I'd not use it at all. If you can't, well, IDK man.
 
Aug 14, 2022
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Yeah, not sure what was going on. TPM was enabled, and I was able o run the USB boot installation initially, but Windows told me I didn't have the required specs for W11. I did some reading and saw that I needed to enable Secure Boot, but to do this my BIOS told me disable CSM. My USB was configured as GPT, but every time I installed the Windows media files to the drive it converted it back to MBR. In any case, W11 is installed now, and so far so good.

I downloaded HWinfo and am keeping an eye on the temps. I don't need CAM so it's been jettisoned.

Unless you recommend anything else, I'm hopeful these steps will resolve my issue! I'll report back in a few days assuming all goes well. (Thanks again for your help!)
 

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