Fixable or time to upgrade?

#1 Posted by JohnLocke (255 posts) -

Hey all,

Basically I am having some issues with my current PC system. I am using the following hardware:

Intel Pentium Quad Core Q8300@2.5ghz

ATI HD5770 1 Gig GPU

4 Gigs DDR(2) memory

Usual on board sound etc and OS is Windows 7 64 Bit Edition.

So basically I have been having issues with my PC since around Christmas time. The main issue is there appears to be an issue with the memory where my PC will freeze up playing games or watching DVD's on Media Player, or even yesterday, something as simple as opening a new tab in internet explorer. This varies, yesterday the screen would freeze and the sound and then about 20-30 seconds later the screen would come back on and an error message would pop up saying the ATI hardware has crashed but now it is working again. Previous to this I would get blue screen errors where the PC would just freeze up completley. In January I took what I felt was two deffective sticks of memory out of my PC to see if that would work and it did. So I got two gigs new memory to find I had got the wrong speed (533mhz instead of 800mhz I think) and tried that and when using it the PC would fail to boot (the motherboard would beep three or four times and then nothing when booting up). However, my Dad had a look at this yesterday and took the two working memory modules out (2 gigs, 2 X 1 DDR2 at 800mhz) to put in four other sticks (the two new 1 gig ddr2 sticks at 533mhz, and two 1 gig ddr2 memory sticks at 800mhz that seemed to fail at Christmas). This boots up but whenever I play a game or watch a dvd or use Internet Explorer the PC will crash and state the ATI hardware crashed.

This leads to the PC continuing on but in games it can be 30 seconds or less of gameplay and then lock up, forcing me to use control alt delete to open task manager and with some games (CS GO) I can just continue (which is problematic given its an online game so I am stuck in the same place and usually leads me to being killed whilst this crash happens) or some games fail to allow me to continue (Skryim just locked up totally so I had to end task on that one). In Media Player the dvd I was watching stopped but about 30 seconds later would go again but had skipped to the end of the show I was watching so I had to find the place I was at to start again.

This is not the only issue this PC has had, my DVD drives keep breaking where the PC will fail to boot into Windows after a few weeks/months of use unless I unlplug the DVD drive from the motherboard and disable it in the BIOS. This has been happening for well over a year to the point I am using an external USB DVD drive and not had any issue with it since then.

Basically I am using a PC that won't play any games and may crash doing other basic things and has a none functioning internal disk drive.

So essentially, are there any cures I could look into for this? I was thinking maybe I get 2X 2 Gig DDR2 800MHZ memory modules and take all the memory out and use that, but it would not solve the optical drive issue but at least would leave me with a potentially working machine (assuming it is the memory). The other solution I am looking at would be to buy a whole new rig, but I would like some advise (i.e. which is the best budget gaming PC build to buy, given it would need an OS as I am using an OEM version of Windows 7 thus can not install it to a new system entirely, Intel i5 vs i7 vs AMD CPU's, ATI or nVidia series GPU, get a solid state drive for Windows and a normal hard disk, or two normal hard disk drives, good psu suppliers etc).

TLDR version, PC is broke, do I replace parts on it or make a new system?

So what advise can you give me?

Thank you.

#2 Edited by mellotronrules (1172 posts) -

2 questions to start-

1) can you save something like $600-700 within a reasonable amount of time? less even, if you can reuse your case and/or other parts.

2) do you currently want to play new and upcoming releases (far cry 3, crysis 3, bioshock infinite, etc.)?

if the answer to either of those is yes- i'd consider a new build. you're right on the cusp where your cpu and gpu will age out relatively soon. you could squeeze some more life from them, but not too much more. if you'd like to start looking at new builds, here's a good place to start (and there's more in the comments).

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-overclock-benchmark,3441.html

just my opinion though.

#3 Edited by Devildoll (877 posts) -

The freezes, since you are referring to ati error messages sound more like display driver crashes than something memory related.
But run a round of memtest just to be sure, ask if you dont know how to run it.

Are your graphicscard drivers up to date?
Might be time for a driver uninstall, followed by a clean, and then a reinstall.
Steam means you dont really need an optical drive for games going forward.

You are stuck on socket 775, while you can jam pretty much any state of the art graphics card in the pci-e slots of that thing, the cpu's available are not powerful enough to keep up with them.
You aren't going to find anything that much better than the current quadcore you have anyway, just overclock that thing if you cant switch to 1155.

Since it's been so long since you last upgraded, you might as well hold out for haswell, where you'll be set on a brand new socket with maximum compatibility with future cpus.
It's said to be out by june or so.

#4 Edited by dhelfric (5 posts) -

Try reseating your GPU.

You could also try a different GPU if you have one lying around.

http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/737-27116RadeonSeries-ATIKMDAGhasstoppedrespondingerrormessages.aspx

Is this the error you are getting? Had the nVidia version happening to me. I think reseating the GPU helped but I ended up getting a new GPU anyway and had no problems ever since.

#5 Posted by JohnLocke (255 posts) -

@dhelfric said:

Try reseating your GPU.

You could also try a different GPU if you have one lying around.

http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/737-27116RadeonSeries-ATIKMDAGhasstoppedrespondingerrormessages.aspx

Is this the error you are getting? Had the nVidia version happening to me. I think reseating the GPU helped but I ended up getting a new GPU anyway and had no problems ever since.

That is the exact message I get up. I dont have a similar GPU (I have an 8600GT that used to be my old GPU before this one). Would a new GPU require a new install of Windows? (I have Windows 7 but it is an OEM version so if I get a GPU that would cause me to need a new key wouldn't it?)

The freezes, since you are referring to ati error messages sound more like display driver crashes than something memory related.

But run a round of

memtest

just to be sure, ask if you dont know how to run it.

Are your graphicscard drivers up to date?

Might be time for a driver uninstall, followed by a

clean

, and then a reinstall.

Steam means you dont really need an optical drive for games going forward.

You are stuck on socket 775, while you can jam pretty much any state of the art graphics card in the pci-e slots of that thing, the cpu's available are not powerful enough to keep up with them.

You aren't going to find anything that much better than the current quadcore you have anyway, just overclock that thing if you cant switch to 1155.

Since it's been so long since you last upgraded, you might as well hold out for haswell, where you'll be set on a brand new socket with maximum compatibility with future cpus.

It's said to be out by june or so.

I had a try of the memory test application you linked and it came back as clean with 0 errors. So that suggests the memory is fine or could this application not be testing something else that is faulty with the memory?

@mellotronrules: Thanks for that link. The mid range PC they show is quite interesting, quite a step up in frame rates to what I get currently on Skyrim using medium settings.

Would a new GPU possibly increase my frame rate if the rest of the system remains equal?

#6 Edited by dhelfric (5 posts) -

@johnlocke said:

@dhelfric said:

Try reseating your GPU.

You could also try a different GPU if you have one lying around.

http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/737-27116RadeonSeries-ATIKMDAGhasstoppedrespondingerrormessages.aspx

Is this the error you are getting? Had the nVidia version happening to me. I think reseating the GPU helped but I ended up getting a new GPU anyway and had no problems ever since.

That is the exact message I get up. I dont have a similar GPU (I have an 8600GT that used to be my old GPU before this one). Would a new GPU require a new install of Windows? (I have Windows 7 but it is an OEM version so if I get a GPU that would cause me to need a new key wouldn't it?)


Just try that 8600GT for an hour or two. Don't think switching a GPU would void your W7 copy. No new install required either.

Simply reseating your GPU could also work so try that first I'd say.

#7 Edited by Devildoll (877 posts) -

@JohnLockememtest is pretty rigorous, so if you completed a whole run without it showing any errors, the memory is pretty green alright.

#8 Edited by Corvak (923 posts) -

The only thing swapping a GPU will do to windows, is potentially trigger an activation request.

I'd consider an upgrade anyway - though if you can resolve this easily, and dont need any immediate demanding releases (Crysis 3) I would wait until the fall, or early 2014 if possible, as new CPUs and GPUs are set to be released this year - intel's new line of Haswell chips, and a new generation of GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia.

#9 Posted by JohnLocke (255 posts) -

@corvak: @devildoll: @dhelfric: @mellotronrules:

So just a quick update, my PC decided to start crashing when I put the old memory in (the two sticks which seemed to be broke and two new sticks). This mainly happens when I play games (Counter Strike GO, Skyrim) or watching DVDs it will pause and I will get the ATI driver crash thing. (Some games it does not though such as Botanicula).

However, putting in my old two gigs of memory these games work without crashing (admitedly CS Go seemed to at one point but then started going again so I was not sure if the PC being slower but running at the same graphics settings at it was at 4 gigs may have caused this) and Skryim which closed down after walking forwards 5 steps allowed me to play for a minute before I shut it off.

So I am not sure where I stand as the memory program suggested the memory was fine but games crashed, so using the other memory this did not happen but is not a long term fix given I really need to be at 4 gigs of memory to get my games running fine for the time being.

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