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Captain K needs help with frustrating PC errors.

Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
So I built a new PC about a month and a half ago, and I'm having some frustrating problems that I hope you folks can help me with.

First off, here's my components, most with Newegg links:

ASUS Z87-A LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i5-4670K Haswell 3.4GHz LGA 1150 84W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80646I54670K
Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model BLS8G3D1609DS1S00
EVGA SuperClocked 02G-P4-2765-KR GeForce GTX 760 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 SLI Support w/ EVGA ACX Cooler Video Card
Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC 7mm Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Seagate 1.5 TB optical HDD
630 Watt Thermaltake PSU
Windows 8

So, here's the problems I've been experiencing:

-Shockwave Flash invariably crashes when a browser attempts to play video. In Google Chrome, this might happen instantly, after one second, or after several minutes. But it always happens eventually. In Internet Explorer, it generally happens instantly, and in a much messier fashion.
-Steam crashes. This happens more often when I'm viewing Store tabs, and much more often if a game trailer is playing through Steam. It also happens very frequently when the Steam downloader is operating. Steam might stay active for minutes or hours if it's just displaying my Library, or if I'm playing a non-crashing game (more on this below) but eventually it will always crash, usually in a very quiet fashion--I'll click on steam in my taskbar and discover the Steam client bootstrapper isn't running and instead that Steam is starting up from scratch.
-Many games crash to desktop, including Civilization 5 and Final Fantasy XIV. (I bought Civ 5: Brave New World and FFXIV: ARR hoping to put my new machine through its paces, and haven't been able to play either!) Sometimes these games crash within seconds, other times they'll last for a few minutes and then crash. FFXIV:ARR in particular will sometimes run for a few minutes, then I'll hear warping audio playback and then the game will crash to desktop. The error message is never specific--I'll just get a generic Windows box saying "____ has stopped working, Windows is searching for a solution to the problem" and no more info.
-Not every game crashes! For the first few weeks after I built this PC, I was just playing Rome 2: Total War, and it has never crashed for me on this PC. I put in a few 4-6+ hour sessions with R2:TW and had fantastic stability and performance.

other strange things:
-Steam doesn't like to install on this machine. I've reinstalled Windows a few times to try and fix my problems (more on this below) and several times I've had strange problems with installing Steam. After downloading the Steam client from the web and starting it up for the first time, Steam will attempt to download updates and install them. More often than not, Steam's self-update dialog box will claim to have finished downloading an update, display "extracting package" or something like that, and then just close. If this happens, I'll usually be stuck watching it happen indefinitely: every time I start the Steam client, it will download 5 Kb worth of updates, display "extracting package", and then the client will close. Solving this problem requires uninstalling Steam, reinstalling Steam, and hoping the failure loop doesn't happen again.
-Downloads from Nvidia are usually corrupt. When I download drivers from nvidia.com, download drivers through the Geforce Experience client, or download the Geforce experience installer itself, they usually fail to install (90% of attempts, or more). Running a downloaded driver .exe almost always gives a "7-zip error". Installing the Geforce Experience client, or attempting to install drivers through that client (once it's successfully installed) frequently gives "installation could not be completed" errors. Downloading files from nvidia.com has been more successful with IE than with Chrome, but neither is reliable.
-With a fresh install of Windows 8, "SM Bus Controller" shows up as a problem device. Windows diagnostics claim that the driver for the device is not installed. Installing Intel chipset drivers from ASUS seems to satisfy Windows 8 that a driver has been installed.


Things I Have Done:
-installed newest drivers, firmware, BIOS, etc. Most recent Nvidia WHQL drivers for GTX 760 and most recent beta Nvidia drivers (errors are the same with either set of drivers). The most recent every-friggin-thing for my ASUS motherboard and Intel chipset, from ASUS.com. The most recent firmware for my SSD. It's all as up-to-date as I can manage and the problems persist.
-waited for updates through Windows Update, Steam, and Chrome. I did this for a few weeks in the beginning, when my only repeated problems were Flash crashing, Steam crashing, and Nvidia drivers not successfully downloading. This PC was a Rome 2: Total War Game Console for that stretch more than anything else, and I just hoped that there was some weird software incompatibility going on with Windows 8. I religiously fired up Windows Update and crossed my fingers every night. Haven't had any luck with this strategy.
-experimented using the self-contained Shockwave Flash plugin instead of the PepperFlash included in Chrome. This didn't solve my Flash crash issues. Also, Flash crashes in IE too.
-updated to Windows 8.1. I hoped that maybe this would be a magic bullet to solve all my problems. It didn't help.
-reinstalled Windows 8, both on my SSD and my optical HDD. A fresh reinstall didn't fix anything on my SSD. Paranoid that perhaps the SSD was a point of hardware failure, I removed it from the equation entirely (physically uplugged it from motherboard SATA) and tried installing to the optical HDD (which functioned flawlessly for a few years as the system drive on my old Windows 7 machine). No luck. Same errors with every reinstall, regardless of which drive was a system drive.
-mixed and matched SATA cables and which SATA plugs on the motherboard to use. No help, even using SATA cables that functioned flawlessly on my old machine.
-removed graphics card from motherboard, plugging into DVI-I on my motherboard. No luck.
-run stress test-type diagnostics on every component possible. CHKDSK. Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool. ASUS "PC Diagnostics" suite and ASUS "AI Suite 3". SpeedFan. SSDLife. Video Memory Stress Test 1.7.116 (a freeware video RAM tester I found at MajorGeeks). No problems reported in any of these tests. Voltages on every device seem to be good.


Things I Have Not Done:
-whatever you guys can think of?
-contacted any company for technical support. I've never had to RMA any PC components before, and since I haven't nailed down what the heck is actually going wrong in this build, I'm hesitant to contact any one manufacturer, or Microsoft, and say "REPLACE THIS THING". I'm grudgingly starting to accept that I may have to do this, but hopefully only after I figure out exactly which component is faulty (assuming there's a faulty component!).


So, anyone feel like helping me out? I'm out of ideas, basically. There's either some kind of Windows 8 incompatibilty going on here, or some incompatible hardware component interaction going on here, or some component is faulty here. I'll take any actions and run any diagnostic programs you suggest, and I will send you a sappy e-card if you can help me solve this problem!

Captain K on

Posts

  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    It does sound like a hardware issue - I'd almost say memory, or memory controller on the motherboard itself. I see you've tried the Windows memory diagnostic tool - how about memtest for another opinion?

    How are your RAM sticks seated in the motherboard - maybe try them in different slots?
    Have you tried turning it off and on again? =P /IT Crowd

    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    I tried a couple different DIMM slots. I could try the third and fourth slot just to be sure. First I'll try memtest as you suggest.

    You mean this program: http://hcidesign.com/memtest/ right?

  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    edited October 2013
    Oh wow, there's a lot of them called memtest nowadays. I was more thinking:

    http://www.memtest.org/ or http://www.memtest86.com/ actually.

    memtest86 is the classic - not sure about the open source spin off, but I guess it can't do any harm.

    Hey - just to double check - both your RAM sticks are in slots that are the same colour, right?

    Edit: Also, have you tried just running with only one stick of RAM - just in case one of those sticks is bad.

    ecco the dolphin on
    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    I only have one RAM stick, actually. Saying "third and fourth slot" above may have been confusing.

    I'll try memtest86, but before I do, I should add a couple things I forgot in my first post:


    I Have Messed Around With BIOS Settings:
    -The ASUS BIOS has broad settings for "Normal", "Power Saving/Quiet" and "Max Performance", and I tried all three of these. Problems persisted with each. After that, I tried changing other settings, making sure to change one thing at a time, and set each setting back to default before changing anything else.
    -I tried disabling the onboard serial port (which is used for nothing in my physical setup).
    -I tried disabling the onboard HD audio controller. I booted up to no audio playback (obviously), but problems persisted anyway.
    -I tried changing the CPU core settings from "auto" to "sync cores". I did not experiment with any manual settings for the four different cores, because I'm not familiar with how that works and didn't want to risk disaster.


    Also, I noticed this when clicking around for more stuff to update at ASUS' website:

    http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/LGA1150/Z87-A/Z87-A_DRAM_QVL_0730.pdf

    My specific model of RAM isn't on the officially supported list. Is this an obvious problem?




    Since my last post, I tried the other two RAM slots on my motherboard and had the same problems.


    Also since my last post, while I was typing this post out I thought to myself, "why haven't I tried my old RAM sticks in this motherboard yet? Durp!" So I went and grabbed those (2x2GB DDR3 1600), removed my new RAM, plugged the old sticks in, and the computer booted fine and dandy and the BIOS recognized them (as it always has recognized my new RAM) but problems persisted.


    Does that narrow it down in any way? Does it sound more likely to be a motherboard issue? Either way, I'm going to try memtest86 now.

  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    Captain K wrote: »
    Also since my last post, while I was typing this post out I thought to myself, "why haven't I tried my old RAM sticks in this motherboard yet? Durp!" So I went and grabbed those (2x2GB DDR3 1600), removed my new RAM, plugged the old sticks in, and the computer booted fine and dandy and the BIOS recognized them (as it always has recognized my new RAM) but problems persisted.

    Does that narrow it down in any way? Does it sound more likely to be a motherboard issue? Either way, I'm going to try memtest86 now.

    Oh nuts. Sounds like a motherboard issue. =(

    With all your tests you've done, you've pretty much nailed it down to one of:

    1.) CPU
    2.) Motherboard
    3.) OS

    Someone else might have a better idea on how to pinpoint the problem, I'm coming up blank, sorry.

    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    Memtest86 is about 40% complete as I post this from my phone. Assuming it reports no problems (as windows memory checker did) are there any similarly low-level diagnostics I can run on the CPU and/or motherboard?

    Or, as I suspect, is my next move to contact ASUS support? :/

  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    edited October 2013
    Captain K wrote: »
    Memtest86 is about 40% complete as I post this from my phone. Assuming it reports no problems (as windows memory checker did) are there any similarly low-level diagnostics I can run on the CPU and/or motherboard?

    Or, as I suspect, is my next move to contact ASUS support? :/

    When you said your model of ram isn't listed as supported, do you mean the board only says DDR 10666 and you have 1333? or like, it says KINGSTON! and you have Corsair. Cause if you're running unsupported ram then it could be the cause of your grief. But not actually cause an error on a diagnostic because the ram isn't bad. I mean, if it looks like a ram problem and acts like a ram problem it's normally a ram problem. I'd try some of the recommended ram if it's not too big of a deal to do, only because i've seen high end boards go poo poo when using specific types of ram for seemingly no reason what so ever.

    Bendery It Like Beckham on
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    A lot of those problems are near-identical to what happened to me when my video card died on me - Flash didn't crash the system, but I got a lot of playback errors from videos in Flash (youtube etc), and games would outright crash within minutes.

    When I bought a new monitor and moved from 1680x1050 to 1920x1080 resolution it proved to be the proverbial straw and the video card died completely.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    edited October 2013
    Captain K wrote: »
    Memtest86 is about 40% complete as I post this from my phone. Assuming it reports no problems (as windows memory checker did) are there any similarly low-level diagnostics I can run on the CPU and/or motherboard?

    Or, as I suspect, is my next move to contact ASUS support? :/

    The classic CPU test is Prime 95 (64-bit or 32-bit). Usually used by overclockers to make sure that their overclocked settings are stable...

    If it's CPU/overheating related, maybe you can get it to happen less by underclocking your CPU from the BIOS?

    Echo wrote: »
    A lot of those problems are near-identical to what happened to me when my video card died on me - Flash didn't crash the system, but I got a lot of playback errors from videos in Flash (youtube etc), and games would outright crash within minutes.

    When I bought a new monitor and moved from 1680x1050 to 1920x1080 resolution it proved to be the proverbial straw and the video card died completely.

    Yeah, I thought so too, but then he mentioned he'd already tried without the discrete graphics card, only using the onboard graphics, so that narrowed that out.

    ecco the dolphin on
    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    Thanks for all the responses, guys! I filled out an ASUS support ticket, gonna get in touch with them tomorrow hopefully. That's what days off are for, right? Not playing games. But trying to be able to play games.

  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    I ran Prime 95 for about 5 hours with no errors on any of my CPU cores. Sounds more and more like it's something really low level on the motherboard, right?

  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    edited October 2013
    Captain K wrote: »
    I ran Prime 95 for about 5 hours with no errors on any of my CPU cores. Sounds more and more like it's something really low level on the motherboard, right?

    Yeah, sorry dude. =/

    The only other thing that might possibly be worth a try to eliminate the OS is to see if you can install Windows 7, instead of Windows 8, to try and rule out some sort of weird Windows 8 problem.

    Even just starting the 30 day trial for Windows 7 (so you don't need to buy a product key) would probably be more than enough to identify OS vs hardware problem.

    Edit: Actually, I wonder if it's a faulty SATA controller on your motherboard...?

    Don't suppose that you can do something very HDD intensive and see if it reliably crashes?

    ecco the dolphin on
    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    Ooh, I didn't realize there was such a thing as a Windows trial. I lost my Windows 7 install disc in a recent move and had ruled out a Windows 7 install as a troubleshooting option.

    That said... man, I'm tired of reinstalling everything over and over. :P I'll see if I can work myself up to it.

  • ecco the dolphinecco the dolphin Registered User regular
    Captain K wrote: »
    Ooh, I didn't realize there was such a thing as a Windows trial. I lost my Windows 7 install disc in a recent move and had ruled out a Windows 7 install as a troubleshooting option.

    That said... man, I'm tired of reinstalling everything over and over. :P I'll see if I can work myself up to it.

    Yeah, don't do it unless you're keen.

    The trick to the trial is when Windows 7 asks you to enter/activate your code, just cancel/say "I'll do it later", and it'll give you 30 days.

    Penny Arcade Developers at PADev.net.
  • Captain KCaptain K Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    I finally RMAed my motherboard and the problems are persisting. (which is totally disappointing :P )

    I'm assuming I should replace the processor next?

    Captain K on
  • cuularcuular Registered User regular
    I'm still leaning towards memory or PSU. Is your PSU new or reused from your old system? No one asked, but was the old memory that you swapped in, also not on the approved list of memory for the new motherboard?

    And have you tried moving the graphics card around between PCIe slots, or do you have just a single one?

    You mentioned you had downloaded the latest firmware for the motherboard, so that rules that out. I had similar behavior on a recent build, and it was because the firmware didn't know how to handle the new graphics card.

  • GaslightGaslight Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    As long as we're futzing around wondering if this is RAM-related, did you try the "MemOK!" feature on your motherboard? (Any Asus Z87 board ought to have it I would think.) Scratch that, MemOK! is really designed for situations where bad memory is preventing the system from booting, I guess.

    But unless there is something really super weird about all of the RAM you've tried I can't imagine the fact that it isn't on the "officially supported" list would actually matter. It's DDR3 1600 RAM, it's basically all the same.

    Gaslight on
    bowen wrote: »
    The bacteria in your poop exist everywhere.
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