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hardware problem?

by engineer331 / June 4, 2006 2:29 AM PDT

Recently my computer stated crashing while I was playing games (specifically bzflag and Age of Empires 2). The screen would display multicolor horizontal lines and the machine would stop responding.

As time went on, the problem got worse. Crashes started occurring more frequently. Soon it wasn't just during games that it froze; it started to freeze during regular use. It would still display the multicolor lines across the screen, but sometimes it would give an error message saying that Windows had recovered from a hardware error. So, to double check, I booted into Linux. Everything worked fine. I ran PC-Doctor in Windows and everything checked out ok - the hard drive, the video card, everything.

Despite the results of the tests, the problems continued. Eventually I couldn't even get into Windows because it would freeze while displaying the Windows logo at startup.

Thinking that this could be a problem with Windows, I reformatted the partition and reinstalled XP Pro. Everything seemed to be working fine during the install. When it was done I immediately installed SP 2 off of a CD from Microsoft. I started the install and left the room. When I returned, it was frozen again. Like before, the crashes became more frequent until I couldn't even boot into Windows at all.

I'm really at a loss here. I thought that it could a problem with the video card (because of the sometimes multicolor sometimes black and white lines that come across the screen when it crashes) or the hard drive (which was replaced with a refurbished one and has been beeping sporadically ever since), but then why would Linux work ok and why would the diagnostics say everything is fine? And it seems unlikely to be a software problem as a fresh install of Windows was having problems (despite the fact that I've had this computer for almost three years, and have been running XP that entire time).

Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide.

Gateway 450 ROG
Pentium M @ 1.6 GHz
512 MB RAM
ATI Mobility Radeon 9000
Windows XP Pro SP-2
Debian "etch" (testing)

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Three or Four Things Come To Mind..
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 4, 2006 3:41 AM PDT
In reply to: hardware problem?

1. Heat problem: Remove the cover from the tower, blow out all the dust and gunk from inside, then aim a fan at the computer inards.. Check to make sure all fans are operational..

2. Power Supply: I'm guessing you have the original brand-name 200 watt PS installed.. It may simply be dying. Try a newer, bigger one.

3. Motherboard problems: Click on the link below and view the bulging capicators that can occur over time. Compare to your motherboard:

Blown and Leaking Motherboard Capacitors - A Serious Problem? ...

4. Graphics Card headed south: If the computer has onbard graphics, try removing the current ATI card and reverting back to the onboard video as a test. Try running normal programs (not games) and see if the problem is still present. If you don't have any onboard graphics, you'll need to try a different card.

Hope this helps.


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but why would Linux work but not Windows....
by engineer331 / June 4, 2006 4:19 AM PDT

I neglected to mention that the computer is a laptop.

If it were a problem with overheating, the power supply, the motherboard, or the graphics card, why would Linux work but not Windows? Is it at all possible that Linux is not using the graphics card?

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Linux uses fewer resources
by chuckieu / June 4, 2006 6:06 AM PDT

than Windows. That's one of the reasons it is used on older computers. Most newer laptops aren't that great for
resource intensive games, an older one can get pretty stressed. chuck

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Probably not the problem here...
by engineer331 / June 4, 2006 6:30 AM PDT

I know Linux uses fewer resources, but I don?t think that?s the problem here. I?ve been running Windows XP on my laptop since I got it, and have never had any problems until now. After the start of its difficulties, it would lock up on even the simplest of games (like bzflag), even though I have been playing games on it successfully for years. Then it would die while just using normal apps. Now I can?t even start it into Windows.

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Exactly The Problem...!
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 4, 2006 9:51 AM PDT

Windows XP is much more resource intensive than Linux and as a result, the added stress is causing the lock up. Linux requires very little RAM to function while XP needs a bunch.. Linux uses very little space to install. XP needs a bunch. But still, if the computer continues to spiral down, eventually Linux would start having problems as well.

Laptops are even more susceptible to overheating damage than desktops. Have you routinely used compressed air to clean out the vents and fans on that machine?. Such maintenance is definitely necessary to keep laptops functioning for long periods. And still, if you use the laptop for games and you've had it for 2 or 3 years, it's not uncommon to start failing.

Based upon the title of your first post, it appears like you already felt this was a possiblity. Am I right?

Hope this helps.


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