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
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.
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!