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[Solved'ish] Laptop shutting down completely in middle of StarCraft 2 games

joraxjorax Registered User
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I've already posted on the official tech support forum for SC2, but figured I'd throw this out to you folks in case someone has an idea what is going on. I have a gaming laptop (Gateway P-173XL FX) that I loaded SC2 onto. This laptop is a few years old, but has a GeForce 8800M GTS that runs anything else I play flawlessly (Dawn of War 2, Team Fortress 2, other random FPS and RTS games). After 10 to 20 minutes of SC2, even while paused (but not in menus - paused during a stage/level/challenge) my laptop simply shuts completely down without warning. No graphical or audio issues, nothing - just *poof* and its off.

I've tried several workarounds, including messing with some registry settings and configurations recommended to me. A lot of other folks are seeing this same behavior, but there is no common thread of hardware, OS, settings, or anything. My laptop is not overheating, though the fan is in high gear the same as it is for any gaming. I've turned off Windows 7's "auto-reboot" setting with no change in effect. No other games, applications, or situations have ever caused my laptop to just shut down, but this is 100% repro and is very frustrating! Any ideas?

jorax on

Posts

  • TetraNitroCubaneTetraNitroCubane Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    It's hard to say what's really going on with just a spontaneous shutdown. If this were a desktop, I'd suspect PSU problems, but from what you've described, that's probably not the case. Do you have Windows set up to generate minidump files? Are you getting "Windows has recovered from a serious error" messages on reboot? Or are you just seeing your laptop start up as normal?

    Even if other, older games work fine, there's a chance that SC2 is stressing your videocard in ways that the other games don't. I'd recommend trying an extended stress test with Furmark and seeing if you get the same results. Other than that, I'd recommend making sure that all your video card drivers are up to date.

    qwlru.png
  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Thanks for the reply. Drivers are dated 7/6/2010 - that was my first guess too, so I updated them and am having the same results. The computer does reboot into "recovered from error" dialog asking if I want to boot as normal or go into safe mode.

    I'll give the stress testing tool a try and see if that has a similar result. I'm not sure about the minidump, but I spent an hour in the event viewer looking for any hint of what is going on and couldn't find anything. My BIOS also doesn't have any settings for auto-shutdown that I could find (my guess being that if the BIOS was trying to protect from overheating perhaps it doesn't notify windows or create an event log).

  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    How have you determined that it isn't overheating? 'my laptop simply shuts completely down without warning' sounds pretty much cut and dried CPU overheating.

    I managed to fix that exact problem with Alpha Protocol by going into BIOS and setting to reduce voltage to the CPU when the temperature gets too high; you might try looking for that.

  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I know that my Nvidia card kills itself on my 3d games due to overheating. In the control panel under advanced options, they have an option for Fan control. I set it to manual and crank it to 100%. This makes sure it stays cool and doesnt freak out.
    Since this is a laptop, I recommend a cooling pad - I thought they were the dumbest thing ever, but I got one for the wife and it keeps her PC from shutting down from heat. They're still dumb..but they also work...sooo..

    If you think it isnt a heat issue, if you go into your control panel and open Administrative Tools, select Computer Management, and then click on the Event Viewer.

    From there you can see the automated logs that windows spits out...If you look in the application section, it may have an actual error related to your shutdowns. Check the times of the logs against when it last shut down and see if anything stands out.

  • TetraNitroCubaneTetraNitroCubane Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    No problem. I know how freaking frustrating stuff like this can be, particularly after an anticipated release, so you have my sympathies. I think the stress test is a good way to tell if overheating is the issue, but if you want to test further you can try the following:

    If windows is recognizing a problem, then chances are it might be in a position to record minidump files if something is 'triggering' this issue. However, usually minidumps are generated on BSOD errors, so if you're actually out-and-out losing power to the laptop one probably won't be generated. In any case, you can do the following to see if you can get one. Windows need to be configured to generate them first:
    • 1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
    • 2. Double-click System.
    • 3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Settings under Startup and Recovery.
    • 4. In the Write debugging information list, click Small memory dump (64k).
    • To change the folder location for the small memory dump files, type a new path in the Dump File box (or in the Small dump directory box, depending on your version of Windows).

    When the shutdown happens next, after you've set those settings, look in the path you specified for minidump files and see if one was generated. If you can get one, then you can look into that file to see which module/dll is giving you problems. If one doesn't crop up, then chances are your laptop might be experiencing some kind of actual power loss, though what could be triggering it at such a specific and predictable place is beyond me.

    qwlru.png
  • Mr BlondeMr Blonde Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Blizzard confirms SC2 overheating bug
    Not to worry though the fix-up is easy, requiring players to add only a few of the following lines to your “Documents\StarCraft II Beta\variables.txt” “Documents\StarCraft II\variables.txt” file (nice catch, commenter LegolElf):

    frameratecapglue=30
    frameratecap=60

    Might be the issue you're having.

  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Mr.B - I already added those variables with no effect :(. Thanks for the tip though.
    TNC - Thanks again - I'll try the minidumps tonight as well.
    EEP - I'll give the fan control a shot, can't hurt to have it on full. I do have (and use) a cooling pad that keeps the bottom of my lappy pretty well cooled.
    Carn - I'm not sure I want to mess with CPU voltages in a laptop, but we'll see how desparate I get if the other solutions don't help :).

    Thanks all! Now you've made me distracted from work wanting to give these solutions a shot :P.

  • :)NuK:)NuK Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Well Jorax, sounds like you suffer from a rare and dangerous svengali curse: the curse of the busted PC.

    But seriously, I know we can overcome this! I like the idea of undervolting your gpu and cpu...that could help. Just out of curiosity, try it w/out the battery in as well.

    Also, when in doubt, it never hurts to try the memtest built into win7, or a checkdisk. Seeing as you have 4gb of ram, it's possible that you've got a chunk in your higher addresses that is flaking out, and perhaps sc2 is more memory intensive than others, and is freaking that out.

    Also, check out prime95, it's a good tool for doing cpu/memory stress tests if the GPU stress tests turn out fine.

    Also, i think it's funny that i started googling this problem, and found your forum post, considering i was googling for solutions FOR YOU, and i had not previously been a member of this forum (which is bizarre, given how much of a PA superfreak i am :) )

    Good luck buddy, we'll get this crap working by PAX or bust!

  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The BIOS option I was talking about doesn't actually give you control over the voltages, it automatically reduces the voltage when your temp goes up. It's solved oodles of problems I had been having due to the 100+ degree heat wave I've been having.

  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Tried a few things including enabling V-Sync in the game, and I know shut down less often. Only once tonight in fact, and I was able to work my way through all the challenge maps. I have turned on the minidumps but haven't hit the issues since then.

    I looked around in my BIOS but couldn't find any options for voltage settings or heat monitoring at all. There are no BIOS updates available for my model laptop either. Also, my NVIDA control panel doesn't have any options for the fan, and the associated driver is from 7/6/2010.

    We'll see how it all goes, I'm hoping next time it shuts down (which seems inevitable) I can get some more info from the dump. At that point I can try some more in-depth component testing based on the info I get.

  • Synthetic OrangeSynthetic Orange Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I have to clean out my laptop every 12 months or the dust buildup causes it to overheat and shutdown out of nowhere. How long has it been since you blew out the heatsink on your laptop?

    Death to PA.
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Take a large book and place it under the rear edge of your laptop, so that the laptop is angled and there is more air flow near the vents. Also clean the fan if you have a can of compressed air handy.

    If it is overheating, then doing this should make t take longer to shut down, at least.

    Steam
    Africa’s slow growth was unexpected... In the 1960s, most African countries were richer than their Asian counterparts, and their stronger natural resource base led many to believe that Africa’s economic potential was superior to overpopulated Asia’s. This view was shared by renowned economists, from Gunnar Myrdal in his well-known Asian Drama, to Andrew Kamarck, the founding director of the World Bank’s economic analysis complex, who listed seven African countries that he thought could grow at annual rates of 7 percent or more...
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 a.k.a. Nubmonger, 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion Oakland, CARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This laptop pad is always under my laptop. Laptops are always going to have heat issues, so anything you can do to mitigate them is going to help, particularly over the long term.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.
  • ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Whena computer shuts down spontaneously, it's almost always hardware failure. Most likely, it's one of three things:

    Heat: You certainly possible, especially if it's dusty. If you have a gaming laptop, shell out the $20 to get a cooling pad, it's well worth it.

    Power: If your power adapter is shoddy, it might not be outputting enough power to run the laptop at full tilt. If it dies again mid game, unplug it, restart, and check the battery. If it's dead (or close to it) then that's probably it.

    Hardware damage: Always possible that a capacitor (or several) has blown and things are just wonky now. For that, you better have a warranty...

    8R7BtLw.png
  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Thanks for the recommendations all. As previously mentioned I do indeed use a cooling pad. I'm not sure what to do to test the power supply since it is a laptop, and I don't have a second one. If that is the issue it is quite unfortunate that it only manifests during SC2 games! I'm out of warranty now, and due to the specificity of the conditions that cause the failure I'm also hoping it isn't a hardware issue. More investigations to come when I can get some more time to play :).

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 a.k.a. Nubmonger, 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion Oakland, CARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Out of curiosity, are you using a fan-powered pad or a passive one like what I linked?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.
  • WaffenWaffen Ours is the Fury Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    There's a known issue with Starcraft 2 that has your video card running max power during menus. The result for some people is that their video cards end up overheating and shutting down.

    Source

  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Inquisitor - I'm using a fan powered laptop cooling pad.

    Waffen - I've already added the variables that page called, but it has had no effect.

    TNC - minidumps are not being captured by this spontaneous shut-down.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    A cooling pad won't do jack if your machine is clogged with dust and hair. You should open the case up just to be sure its clean.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • joraxjorax Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Didn't feel confident opening my lappy, but did air-can the vents and such. Some dust came out, and it seemed to help a bit, but still had some issues. With the various driver, setting, and registry tweaks my entire system started crashing when doing non-SC2 related activities. I eventually re-installed Win7 (32bit this time instead of 64) and now things seem to be running fine. This was done on a hunch as 15+ of the 20 or so reports of this I saw on Blizzard's forums were from folks with 64bit Vista or Win7. Anyhow, I can't say that was the entire problem but I played 3 hours last night without a crash or shut-down.

    Thanks again for the various tips all!

  • finalflight89finalflight89 Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Just an FYI: if you've got 4GB of ram in your laptop, you won't be able to use all of it using 32-bit Windows.

  • thecyberguythecyberguy Registered User
    edited August 2010
    I am experiencing shutdown as well on my P-6831-fx. I tried downgrading to the recommended 178.24 Nvidia driver recommended by Blizzard and the driver will not recognize my card. I changed the variables, cleaned out all dust, and purchased a Thermaltake laptop cooler and it still does not help. I am using medium settings on SC2 and it lasts about 30 min before system shut down. Any help is greatly appreciated as both my brother an I both have the FX.

  • AurikRainAurikRain Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Hello all,

    I've been experiencing this issue for about 2 weeks now with Starcraft 2 and I've gotten a work around for my system going. I'm using Windows 7, but it might work for others as well. When you fire up the game, immediately go into the options for graphics and change the game to play in Windowed Full Screen instead of Full screen mode. I did this on my system and I don't get crashes anymore.

    Hope it helps someone out!

  • steve00steve00 Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Hi guys. Just spent the past hour reading through all the posts above because I had simlar problem. However, nothing really helpful though because all the posts seem to be going round and round one issue; HEAT.

    As the author mentioned, he is pretty confident its not about HEAT. I second that because I did extensive verification that its not overheating that cause the shutdown.

    I had Speedfan(which display all temperature sensors in GPU, CPU, HDD etc) and logged the temperatures every 3 sec while playing SC2. When SC2 does its "poof" shutdown, I went back and check the log; highest 94C for GPU and 74C for CPU. This is pretty high. However, consider that it is well below max operating temperature (120C for 8400M and 105C for T8100 cores, checked nvidia and intel site for spec). Also, I tested other graphic-intensive games and they net simlar(some even higher) temperatures without any shutdowns even after 5 hours.

    Yes I've done most, if not ALL the proposed solutions (cap framerate, update drivers, register tweaking, BIOS tweaking, raising temp alert threshold etc). I even tested on my desktop's GTX 465. Still "poof" after 30 min of SC2 and at a temperature of only 50C. Even SC2 1.0.3 doesn't solve the problem.

  • nataledeminataledemi Registered User
    edited February 2011
    hi there my name is Michele Natale i write from Venezuela, i buy a getaway p-173 xl FX 2 years ago in EEUU.
    after use my laptop during a year, I begin to give me problems with the blue screen, I have sought all the possible solutions that have idea and nothing has given result, I continue having the same problem. one day i
    remove him one of the RAM memory, to leave it working alone with 2gb and has not given error ever again. Even that i think maybe to be one of the memories that was damaged. but was not that. test both memories in each one of the two slots. and bluescreen appears wen the laptop works with 4gb ram (2gb per slot). how can it's possible?

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Motherboard fault.

    Steam
    Africa’s slow growth was unexpected... In the 1960s, most African countries were richer than their Asian counterparts, and their stronger natural resource base led many to believe that Africa’s economic potential was superior to overpopulated Asia’s. This view was shared by renowned economists, from Gunnar Myrdal in his well-known Asian Drama, to Andrew Kamarck, the founding director of the World Bank’s economic analysis complex, who listed seven African countries that he thought could grow at annual rates of 7 percent or more...
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