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Question

My computer keeps crashing randomly and rebooting.

by miyadaman / January 2, 2014 10:12 PM PST

My computer keeps crashing randomly. By crashing, I mean no BSOD, no shut down procedure, nothing. It simply shuts off instantly. Simultaneous to this there is a small mechanical click from the computer.

About 3-5 seconds after it crashes like this it turns itself back on and tries to reboot. During this reboot process it may or may not crash. Usually it crashes at least one more time during the reboot, only to attempt to reboot itself again. It will simply keep crashing, rebooting until it eventually reboots the system.

I have run chkdsk, memory check, etc. and found no errors. I have monitored the CPU temp and it stays low.

I'm at a complete loss. I'm not a tech head.

The crashes seem to happen the most often while I'm in a game. It has happened once or twice within a minute after exiting a game.

The computer is a 2 year old MSI GT683DXR Laptop.

Please help.

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All Answers

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Answer
I assume you're running Windows 7, right?
by wpgwpg / January 2, 2014 10:33 PM PST

Given that your computer's 2 years old, I'm guessing that you're running Windows 7, right? In any event I suggest you download MalwareBytes & get it up to date (there's a free version that works fine. Then boot to Safe Mode and do a full system scan with both your antivirus and MalwareBytes.
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Good luck.

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Answer
Since it's two years old
by Jimmy Greystone / January 2, 2014 10:57 PM PST

Since it's two years old, and AFAIK, MSI only makes gaming oriented laptops, the first thing I'd recommend is the old canned air treatment. Aside from that, gaming laptops rarely last more than 18 months without needing significant repair work, so if you've made it to ~24 and are just starting to experience problems, you're one of the lucky ones.

In any event, your symptoms are classic signs of heat buildup. I don't know how you're monitoring the temp of the CPU, but not all programs are created equal in that regard. Speedfan, for example, unless something has changed in the last few years, was well known as often being 10-15C off in its reported temps because it was using a flawed method of calculating the temp. But if the GPU is overheating, that could cause similar symptoms as well. Especially in a laptop where there's virtually no room for that waste heat to go.

So start with the canned air treatment, if you're feeling particularly brave you can repaste the CPU and GPU heatsinks, maybe even buy a new fan to put in because the old one might be slowing down because of age. It might still be within what MSI defined as normal bounds, but if you're gaming it might not be enough anymore. Especially if it's been dragging around a bunch of dust bunnies for 6-12 months.

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Heat
by miyadaman / January 3, 2014 3:25 PM PST

Ok.. I opened the computer up to clean it.

It was spotless. There wasn't an speck of dust inside there.

The fan seems to be working fine. It's blowing out air as strongly as it was when I first purchased the computer. I can feel it blowing it out with my hand.

I still gave the inside a good blowing.

If it is heat buildup what would be the cause? A friend said he had a similar thing happen with his gaming notebook. He said the motherboard would get too hot and it did the same thing. He had a technician fix it (he didn't say how this was done). He ended up selling it and another guy is still using it 6 years later. He said it wasn't so much that the motherboard would get so hot but that its resistance to heat was lowered. So, instead of approaching critical levels around 60 C it would instead reach it around 40 C. I wonder if this is happening?

I just now booted it back up. I'm going to give it a run and see what happens. My guess is it continues to crash out.

I'm not sure it is or isn't heat. No dust, it doesn't feel hot, the temp recorded aren't high, etc. But, at the same time after reading the posts here I started thinking about something. I've been at my lady's apartment this week. Back home I keep my laptop on a cooling stand/fan. I didn't bring it with me to her place because her apartment is typically kind of cold in the winter. But, this week without the stand it's been going crazy shutting down over and over. It might just be coincidence but it might also speak to overheating.

What else should I try?

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It's a gaming laptop
by Jimmy Greystone / January 4, 2014 4:53 AM PST
In reply to: Heat

It's a gaming laptop. I am absolutely not kidding when I say these things are like the mythical phoenix, consumed by the very fires that gave birth to them or high performance cars where just driving them is akin to abuse. Even setting aside all the other reasons why laptops make for a horrible gaming platform, the biggest one by far and away is the lack of ventilation.

Most laptop cases are made of plastic because it's cheap. Problem is, plastic is a terrible conductor of heat, so by the time plastic even feels warm to the touch, it's probably at least 2-3X warmer on the other side. Combine that with the tight confines of the case and the fact that it sounds like you only have one fan in this unit and you can see that this thing was designed to last only as long as the warranty.

Proper airflow is one of those things that seems very simple but is not. Ask almost any engineer and they will probably groan if you mention a fluid dynamics class, sort of like med students with organic chemistry. Despite air being a gas, it moves like a liquid for the purposes of convection based cooling. Most laptop makers, even Apple, only have exhaust fans, but if we remember Newton's Third Law of Motion, every action has an opposite but equal reaction. So for every cubic centimeter of air that is expelled from the case, a cubic centimeter of air has to be pulled in to replace it. That's where the cooling of most laptops breaks down. Instead of having one fan forever pulling IN cool air and one fan forever pushing hot air OUT, creating a constant stream of air flowing through the unit, they just push the hot air out and rely on the resulting difference in pressure to create enough of a vacuum to pull in more cool air. If you were to take something like dry ice gas and flood it into a laptop so you could see what happened, you'd see that the fan (typically mounted on one side or the other) has a limited area of effect and you have this big pocket of air on the opposite side that tends to just sit there.

In most laptops I've ever worked on, the heatsink snakes around and ends in a grille-like appendage which is right by the fan. So, the idea is that the heat from the CPU is drawn into the heatsink and carried along this metal conductor where the fan is providing a lot of convection cooling. Some of the heat will bleed off into the rest of the case and I'm still not seeing you mentioning anything other than CPU temps, when you also have to be concerned about the GPU. Those are just the major heat producers however, your problem could be caused by the 2 years worth of slow baking that the rest of the circuitry on the motherboard has been subjected to. Solder joints have likely become very brittle and some may well have cracked causing intermittent cold solder joints based on the thermal expansion/contraction of the unit.

The application of little more than a high school level understanding of physics would go a very long ways to helping understand what is likely going on. It'd also help people avoid buying a great many useless trinkets and solve a great many problems that maybe they haven't encountered before. However, you can basically sum it up in this case as: Gaming laptops very rarely survive more than 18 months without needing major repairs. You've gotten around 2 years out of yours before issues started manifesting, so count your lucky stars and next time get a desktop if you want to play PC games or just understand that you are unlikely to be so lucky a second time with a gaming laptop. Since you live in Japan, maybe consider a game console. Especially if you're an RPG fan. Japan is like nirvana for the JRPG fan since for every title that gets released in the US there's 2-3 that never make it out of Japan. You can also get the titles at least 6 months earlier and people swear up and down that Japanese voice actors are better than their American counterparts. So if you can speak/read Japanese reasonably well, that will keep you pretty well occupied.

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Thanks
by miyadaman / January 4, 2014 8:56 AM PST
In reply to: It's a gaming laptop

Minus the dismissive tone, thanks for the lengthy reply.

My GPU temp idles around 40, is about 60-65 under stress, and gets to about 70-72 if I really push everything for a while.

Other than "I'm screwed" can we at least attempt to problem solve this thing? How would I go about determining if solder joints are cracked? Is this possible? Can this be fixed? Do I need to buy a new motherboard? Do people even replace those on laptops?

I bought some thermal glue from Amazon and it should get here tomorrow. I'm going to dive deep into uncharted waters and re-glue the heatsinks and all that. Should be a grand time. Hopefully that solves things.

The fact is that outside of somehow begging my girlfriend into buying me a new computer I'm stuck with what I have. Even IF that happened I would likely be stuck getting another gaming laptop. Desktops are simply unfeasible in Japan for several reasons. Before buying this computer I looked long and hard at my options, most of which were focused on desktops. I was never a gaming laptop fan nor understood the reason for having one. Unfortunately, a desktop just wasn't going to happen. So, here I am.

So now that it's understood gaming laptops suck because of heat, what is there to be done about it?

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Answer
Get help
by pauly1651 / January 3, 2014 10:11 AM PST

Find someone who knows how to take apart your laptop, and have them clean it out. It's probably overheating from dust and hair built up inside it, and all over the heat sink and fan grills. Laptops are know for producing heat, especially a gaming laptop, and if they are not kept clean and the airflow is interrupted, then the internal components, like the CPU will overheat quickly, and it'll shut itself off. Don't wait, you could be damaging the circuitry.

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Heat and Virus
by miyadaman / January 3, 2014 12:52 PM PST
In reply to: Get help

Yes, I am running Windows 7.

I cleaned out the computer in August. It was pretty dusty. I didn't just blow air but I actually opened up the case and gave it a good cleaning.

It's also never hot to the touch. Heck, it rarely gets warm to the touch even after gaming. Someone else said it might be heat issues as well. What could I do to determine better if it is? I will give it another cleaning today just to be safe. It doesn't seem like it should be heat issues but that seems to be the common suggestion.

I ran a full virus scan just the other day. It came back completely clean. I've also had malware bites installed since the day I booted it up. I run Avast anti-virus. I have them both on all the time.

As for heat management I use three methods. First, I put my hand over parts of the computer that tend to build up heat. I know, fancy right? But, it's a good base indicator I guess. I've felt my laptop get hot (very hot). So hot to the touch it's concerned me. Since I gave it that cleaning in August it's been running cool. Second, I have NvidiaInspect. Third, I have MSI Afterburner.

Are these ok to track heat? Are there better programs out there? I've seen Speedfan but have never used it.

How would one go about re-pasting the heat sinks? I live in Japan and contrary to popular belief this country is about 15 years behind the west in the technology department. I can't just go over to the tech store and ask about these things / get all the supplies I need.

I somewhat custom ordered the computer and I purchased the upgraded lower temp paste, figuring heat was going to be an issue at some point.

Alright, I'm off to clean out the inside of the computer.

I will report back. Thanks for the suggestions. Keep them coming please.

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Answer
might be hard drive
by James Denison / January 4, 2014 2:53 AM PST

"mechanical click?"

Attempts to reboot after shutdown can be changed to NOT reboot after shutdown in the BIOS settings. Have a DVD drive on it? Boot some Linux distro's LIVE CD like Mint or Kubuntu or Unbuntu and do some of what would normally cause it to reboot. Even better if you pull the hard drive first to be sure it's out of the loop. If you CAN'T run it without reboots even while booting from DVD or USB flashdrive and doing some things like playing videos on the internet, and the hard drive is out, then you KNOW it's NOT the hard drive, but something else. If however it runs fine all that time, then somehow the hard drive is contributing to the reboots, or some software glitch in the OS on it..

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Me too
by miyadaman / January 4, 2014 9:00 AM PST
In reply to: might be hard drive

I thought about this, too. I've been all over forum after forum looking at what might be wrong. I initially thought it was for sure a HD problem. Lately I've become less and less sure.

However, let's assume it is likely a HD problem. I have a dual HDD setup connected in Raid 0. One HDD sits about under the "numlock" button on the keyboard. The other HDD sits about under the mousepad. I always hear the click from the "numlock" area of the computer. If this were a HDD problem I assume that means only one is going bad?

With your fix of removing the HDD and trying to run it can that be done with just one HDD in Raid 0?

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RAID 0? Can't replace without a meltdown.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2014 9:14 AM PST
In reply to: Me too

I don't know where you are in your computer classes here but RAID 0 means that any drive in the array failure and you replace the bad drive and then reload from backup. Unlike RAID 1.
Bob

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Answer
I see you are in a leaky boat.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2014 5:01 AM PST

Many have warned folk about gaming laptops and here you are. You can try cleaning, fresh compound, reload it to the factory load but most know what they were buying into. Let's hope you were warned off and took the advice to start saving for a replacement in 2 years.
Bob

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Warned
by miyadaman / January 4, 2014 8:48 AM PST

Well, I don't think I was ever warned. My brother has a gaming laptop and it's been solid for about 5 years now.

The biggest problem is that desktops are simply not realistic in Japan for several reasons. I looked long and hard about building a desktop but had to settle on a gaming laptop, which was about 5th on my list of what I wanted. I was not aware they only last 2 years or so.

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I've seen units last longer too.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2014 8:53 AM PST
In reply to: Warned

But here we are. Be sure to try to bring it back but usually I find the long life models to be ones that folk didn't game on and they knew about canned air on a monthly basis. The lowest life spans are from owners that asked what canned air is.
Bob

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What is this about cracked solder joints?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2014 9:09 AM PST

There is no accepted fix for that except a new main board.

Did you get the canned air work done?
Did you replace heatsink compound?
HDDs are cheap. Try a new one.
Bob

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Thank You
by miyadaman / January 11, 2014 7:44 PM PST

I wanted to give an update on this thread.

You guys have been very helpful for me. Even if at times you were a bit critical this has really made me learn a TON about computers and laptops. Thank you.

I did do the canned air stuff. The inside of the computer was completely free of dust from the get go.

I just now got done applying the new thermal paste to the CPU. I held off on the GPU for now as I have never done this before and didn't want to muck two things up at the same time.

The reason it took so long is, again, I'm in Japan. Finding anything you actually need in this country when you need it is difficult. Both the paste and isopropyl alcohol I had to order online and wait for them to get here.

In the meantime I went over again and again tutorials on how to apply thermal paste. I felt like a pro by the time I got started.

It took a while. The old thermal paste was all over the ******* place. It was nuts. I thought it was supposed to be a bit contained to the CPU but it was ALL OVER in there.

So I cleaned and applied a new layer. I did not apply some to the heatsink to "prep" it or whatever. The heatsink was much bigger than the CPU surface and I wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

So I just now have turned my computer back on. I have already noticed some differences. Of course, it's only been 10 minutes so it's far too early to tell anything.

I have 3 webpages open. Previous to the application just running an internet process would generally boost CPU levels to around the upper 40s or low 50s. (I use Open Hardware Monitor. I've used this exclusively to gauge temps. It might not be 100% accurate but at least it should be relative to itself before and after the cleaning).

No, the CPU is staying in the mid to upper 30s. That's about a 10 degree difference 10 minutes in to the test. I feel like that is drastic results. I will test it more from here. Over the past week I had been doing this as a test: Playing a low graphic game in windowed mode (Magic: The Gathering) while running either a youtube video or a football game off the NFL site. Doing this previously without turning my fan on high (computer has a one-button auto-max point) the computer would eventually shot off after an hour or two. Gauging my temperature I noticed the CPU would get to the mid 80s fairly quickly. If I put my fan on max the CPU would stay around low 50s to mid 50s.

So, as it was playoff weekend I will run that test today and tomorrow. I hope the temperature stays down.

On a related side note, since I have been monitoring my temperature the computer has yet to shut down. Basically, any time the CPU gets to 70 I turn my fan on and let it cool down. I have run some games like Skyrim and closed them out anytime the CPU temp gets too hot. It hasn't shut down at all. Therefore, I'm convinced this is not a HDD issue but simply an overheating issue.

I hope, hope, hope this can be considered a closed thread. I think over the next week I will know whether this has fixed my problem.

Again I want to say thank you to everyone. You all helped me so much. I have learned so much over the past few weeks it's incredible. I only wish this had happened to someone else's computer so I could have learned that way.

Thank you all.

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Good to hear things are working better..Thanks for the
by VAPCMD / January 11, 2014 11:23 PM PST
In reply to: Thank You

feedback.

VAPCMD

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Premature
by miyadaman / January 12, 2014 1:22 AM PST

It was all premature.

If there was a heat problem I seem to have fixed that. In fact, I'm going to go out and say there was a heat problem. The CPU was simply running much too hot before.

However, it has not solved the shut down issue. I booted up Civ 5 for a test a little while ago and the computer shut down while still in the menu. So, I ran the game again, stuck it in window mode, and let it sit while I watched the temperature. It took about 10 minutes and the computer shut off again then did the whole self-reboot thing. At the time the CPU temperature was around 47.

So, I've managed to fix an issue that wasn't causing the problem, which is kind of good but ultimately got me nowhere.

Where can we go from here? From everything I've been reading on the forums it's either a virus (unlikely as I've run scans and am clean. But possible), a power supply issue (Would this still happen even with the battery in?), a faulty driver/file somewhere, or according to some on this thread laptop=suck.

What's next on the ol' check list? Why would it do it only during games? I can run my computer for a solid month straight and won't have a single issue. The minute I try to boot up any game that taxes the system at all it is straight to shut downsville. (Although I did run Skyrim for about 25 minutes earlier without a single problem, which led me to believe things had been fixed)

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Usually
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 12, 2014 1:34 AM PST
In reply to: Premature

You reload it to the factory condition then if it fails on that, it's 99.99% sure it's hardware or what you added after the reload.

That overheat issue can cause parts to fail in very odd ways. Only a new tech would think it's OK now.
Bob

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(NT) What are the GPU temps ??
by VAPCMD / January 12, 2014 2:41 AM PST
In reply to: Premature
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GPU Temp
by miyadaman / January 12, 2014 11:03 AM PST

The GPU temps are upper 30s or low 40s last night during the shutdowns. They will get to around 70 if I am playing a heavy game (Witcher 2, Skyrim with many mods, etc.) after a bit of play.

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multiple problems are always difficult
by James Denison / January 12, 2014 2:47 AM PST
In reply to: Premature

You have definitely solved one. The next thing to check is your RAM. Download and run memtest86 on it. Also check it's speed settings in the BIOS or "setup utility" area. Make sure it's NOT overclocked. If the computer allows it, you might could underclock it a wee bit and see improvement. That would be done better by small frequency reduction than by lowering voltage any, but the latter can also be done if necessary. Of course if even that won't keep RAM running, then replacement comes into play. Memtest86 however makes it easier to determine.

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Memtest
by miyadaman / January 12, 2014 11:11 AM PST

Ok. I am going to run Memtest either later today or tomorrow.

One question I do have about the program: I have 16 GB of memory, which I understand could take ages. I also understand I want to let it pass over multiple times just in case. Is this program safe to run say overnight and then the entire next day while I'm at work?

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safe to run that long but
by James Denison / January 12, 2014 11:54 AM PST
In reply to: Memtest

I rarely run it longer than an hour, figure if it's not found something by then, probably nothing wrong.

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Memtest
by miyadaman / January 14, 2014 7:56 PM PST

I ran Memtest and had no issues. It ran for 6 1/2 hours. No errors.

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puts you back at the GPU?
by James Denison / January 14, 2014 10:24 PM PST
In reply to: Memtest

that 70 temp is problematic. Reglue the heatsink on GPU or a cooler to sit the laptop on?

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