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Out of the Blue

Well, I followed through on my commitment to dope out my BSoD (thanks to all who offered help and suggestions), and was victorious, in that failing sort of way. I devoted a little more attention to the logs and determined I did have a hardware issue with my RAM. I got four matched sticks of RAM and installed them, and sure enough, my system passed the RAM test it previously failed. As for the bad news, this may come under the heading of not fixing something that isn't broken (I mentioned my system crashes were pretty infrequent), as when I headed out to the wasteland to play Borderlands 2 with my buddies last night, I began suffering all sorts of texture glitches and pauses, making the game unplayable, and some visual glitches are also showing up in desktop applications. So even though it was fine before my RAM swap, my new GTX 760 is now acting all flaky: 3DMark runs for a while, but eventually halts with one of two errors, the benchmark either quits saying Windows lost focus, or quits saying the video card was disconnected. I found forum posts suggesting EVGA cards don't like beta drivers, so I rolled back to the WHQL-certified drivers, but to no avail. The event viewer shows I have multiple listings of Event 500 and Event 501, which suggest switching to Windows 7 basic, and while these errors may well be related to my issue, they also date back not only to before I was experiencing these problems, but before I replaced my video card. Things are messed up enough that may have to turn to truly desperate measures and actually call EVGA tech support. Shudder. Wish me luck.

Desperate Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Barons Gate.
Kingdom of Liars 3.
Links: 5 Shockingly Violent Back Stories of Everyday Traditions.
Media: GTA V - The Musical (GTA 5).

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23. Re: Out of the Blue Sep 10, 2013, 13:14 WaltC
The last BSoD I had was years ago under Vista, I believe (now running Win8x64). I had a problem similar to yours--it was a real humdinger and a head-scratcher, too. BSoD's these days are almost always caused by hardware problems somewhere (software problems usually just dump you back to the desktop these days because post-XP Windows versions are very stable and can easily handle an application crash.)

What I discovered then was that sometimes the logs can be wrong--way off, even. Sometimes, depending on the particular hardware problem, OS diagnostics show where the OS detects the problem as opposed to where it actually is. Making a long story short, under Vista I kept getting a BSoD intermittently that kept telling me that the fault lay in my Catalyst driver--which should indicate a problem with my GPU somewhere--either in the driver or the gpu hardware. After much hair-pulling and exhaustive testing (drove me bananas), it turned out that I had two simultaneous hardware problems going on, neither of which involved the gpu or my gpu drivers:

1) Ram tests revealed that one of my DIMMs was bad. The only time that problem caused the BSoD was when a program or application happened to attempt to access that particular DIMM's memory space...Replaced the DIMM and the memory now passed the tests that it had been failing--but then--Bang!--another BSoD again implicating the gpu driver...

2) One of my hard drives was failing. That was the really weird one! As I said, the logs and the other diagnostic software was of little help to me. It was only by physically disconnecting my hard drives one-by-one that I isolated and solved *that* particular problem. After disconnecting a particular physical hard drive (I had 4 HD's installed at the time), the BSoD's vanished. Plugged the drive back in and the BSoD's intermittently came back--until I disconnected. After a week disconnected with no further BSoDs, I plugged it back in, and within an hour or two I got the same BSoD again. After replacing the drive I never had the BSoD problem again.

To sum up--two hardware problems were causing me intermittent BSoDs, and the problems were uncovered manually as opposed to by my OS diagnostic software--which never failed to incorrectly identify the problem. Hardware problems are like Dominoes, the source problem affects one component which affects another, and on and on until a system crash that generates a BSoD occurs. The automatic OS diagnostics pick up the last component to fail in the chain reaction, and the BSoD itself displays that software component as the culprit. But in my case the BSoD was wrong because the information revealed only the last software component to fail--my gpu driver--as the source of the problem. But it never was...;)

In these cases, unfortunately, only skilled manual component testing will allow you to isolate such hardware problems when they occur. But that's a big advantage in running a desktop PC--you *can* self-service your machine when you need to. With other devices and form factors if you open the case you void the warranty--and you become helpless before the whims of your particular manufacturer. And if you own a non-PC device (like a console) and it's out of warranty--cracking the case won't do you much good unless you can replace the faulty components inside with off-the-shelf equivalents--which will often not be the case. I guess this sums up the worst problem I've ever had with a desktop computer.

You'll eventually get this solved, I'm sure. And be the wiser for it, too!
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