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  1. #1
    4 Star Lounger
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    I assembled a new system with Windows XP about four months ago. It ran flawlessly from the start... until last Tuesday. Then, in the middle of nothing in particular, I get a Blue Screen of Death.

    I opened up the system and tightened everything. I noticed that one of the power leads was pressing against the CPU fan blades, preventing them from turning, and I moved it, but I didnít know whether it was there when I opened the case, or got moved when I did the tightening. In any case, the system crashed three or four more times over the rest of the day and the following day. I donít know much about interpreting Windows memory dumps, but I looked at the crash codes and module names, and I didnít see any pattern. I checked my system for a virus, but it came out clean. There had been no recent changes to hardware or software, so there were no obvious suspects to remove.

    I suspected RAM problems. It took me until Wednesday evening to find a satisfactory RAM tester (MemTest86 v3.4). I ran the test overnight, and got no errors at all.

    Since then, there have been no more crashes. I still donít know why it was crashing; now I donít know why it stopped, either.

    Some time after the last crash I noticed that another power lead was in contact with one of the RAM modules. I repositioned it, just in case it might be causing a problem. Thatís the only cause-and-effect relationship I can extract from this adventure. It seems inplausible, though. The lead is carrying DC, so it can't be radiating energy, and the amount of vibration it could transmit from the fans to the RAM module must be microscopic.

    Does anyone have better theories about what has happened?


  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    I hope that it does not return, and I suspect that you have discovered one of the mysteries of digital electronics. It still could be the power supply. Do you have USB devices that come-and-go? Could there be a DVD drive or fan going "bad" and pulling the power supply down to "brown out". I once had a 3.5" floppy drive do this to me. I thought it was RAM, replaced it, no help, Replaces the power supply, no help. Finally began the tedious process of disconnecting one thing at a time, thankfully the floppy was third in line after the DVD's. The good thing, I now have a new, larger capacity power supply and twice the RAM.
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  3. #3
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    Agree with RussB, 3 to 4 months is generally when hardware problems will surface. Try spinning the fans with your finger while powered down, do any of them seem difficult to turn, especially the CPU fan? PS testers are cheap, you could start there, and if it checks OK, start disconnecting one item at a time as suggested until you find the bad boy.

  4. #4
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    The lead is carrying DC, so it can't be radiating energy, and the amount of vibration it could transmit from the fans to the RAM module must be microscopic.
    The RAM is more likely to radiate into the power lead, which may upset the power supply or the fan controller.

    cheers, Paul

  5. #5
    4 Star Lounger
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    >Do you have USB devices that come-and-go?

    Nope.

    >Could there be a DVD drive or fan going "bad" and pulling the power supply down to "brown out"...

    Possible, but it seems unlikely. First, because the problem stopped. Second, because I've got a pretty high quality power supply (Antec Earthwatts) and case (Antec Sonata). As for the drives, theyíre all considerably older than the case/mobo/CPU/RAM, so they should be well burned in.

    >Try spinning the fans with your finger while powered down, do any of them seem difficult to turn, especially the CPU fan?

    The power supply fan is hard to get at, so I canít speak for it. The others seem fine.

    All of the crashes except the first one happened with the case open and sitting on the desktop, with the open side facing me. If a fan were acting up, I think I would have noticed something unusual about the sound.

    > The RAM is more likely to radiate into the power lead, which may upset the power supply or the fan controller.

    Thatís the most satisfying theory Iíve seen so far -- better than mine that the power lead was affecting the RAM. It may have satisfy me.




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