System problem: Computer shuts off unexpectedly/randomly
Overheating which triggers autoshutdown.
Power supply (PSU)
Overheating -> Cleaning the dust } It is important to clean dust because it can conduct electricity, and potentially short your components. Overheating is a problem typically caused by dust. Layers of dust on your heatsinks/spreaders can actually act as insulation, and cause the components to become dangerously hot, becoming temporarily or permanently inoperable. Overheating of components can cause lag, BSODs, and random restarts.
Genes1s wrote:Another way to deter dust is to make sure your computer is in an open space, and if you deem it necessary, covered with a sheet when not in use. Keeping the computer in an open space lets the rear fan exhaust heat faster from the case and helps with cooling as well.
RAM } Memory module has given out. The best thing would be to remove and replace one RAM stick. If you only have one, you should go buy another one to replace it. In order to properly select a new RAM stick, one thing you can do is find out the maximum supported speed and capacity of your motherboard. You can do this by going to the manufacturer website and entering the model number.
Power Supply Unit (PSU) } Power supply has given out? Time to replace it, or fix it at a store. However, you COULD potentially open it up and you COULD try to find the fried components, and you COULD potentially locate and ATTEMPT to replace them. I'd like to note that if this is done improperly, the PSU COULD explode when you turn it back on. I think it's a lot easier to just buy a new one. They aren't that expensive anyway.
Anyways, Before you purchase a new one, figure out exactly what you need as a CP will only use what it needs. Make sure you don't go overboard and buy a 500+ watt power supply when most pre-made CPs run at 300-400 watts just fine.
The general rule is to calculate what your computer needs (drives, lights, fans, video/expansion cards, etc.) and multiply the number of watts by 2. Another thing you should take into consideration is that a PSU is a "you get what you pay" kind of thing. Cheap ones WILL suck, so do yourself a favor and get a decent one that will last you. Don't cheap out.
Genes1s wrote:If you are occupying more than 1 expansion slot on your motherboard, it is recommended that you have a PSU of at least 500 watts just to be safe, maybe even 600 to leave room for upgrading. It's common to overlook the addition of expansions. Fans and Lighting themselves don't take up up TOO much power, but better safe than sorry. Also take into account USB devices that you have attached to the system, they require power as well.
Slightly less usual causes:
Malware } Some malware/trojan trigger a shutdown upon detection. The best way to deal with this is to use AdAware which will kill this process when it initiates. Run this program in short intervals to let it catch around 30 items, stop it to remove the items and run it again until all of the items have been cleared.
Start > Run > Type in 'shutdown -a'
This kills the shutdown process.
System problem: Slow Performance/Speeds
Hard Drive needs to be fragmented
Graphical User Interface (GUI) slows down the performance
Useless files/programs } Clean out programs you don't really need.
Disk Fragment } This is of real advantage if you have a lot of used space on your hard drive and when you have never done it before. It is good to do this once a month.
Start > Run > Type in 'compmgmet.msc' > Disk Defragmenter > Select a Volume > Defragment.
Simplifying the GUI } Visual effects can slow down the performance of your PC.
My Computer > Properties > Advanced Tab > Settings under Performance Section > Visual Effects Tab > Click Adjust for best performance or choose a custom setting for the effects you want to disable.
Recycle Bin } Your Recycle Bin can take up more Hard Drive space than necessary (although it is best to just keep this empty). Simply adjust this by:
Right click the Recycle Bin > Properties > Adjust to 2% > Apply > OK.
Start up programs } Adjust what programs start up when your Operating System starts.
Start > Run > Type in 'msconfig' > Uncheck whatever you want.
Prefetch } You can speed up your PC's boot time by clearing the Prefetch Folder [C:WINDOWS > Prefetch].
http://msdn.microsoft.com wrote:To disable prefetch
Update the EnablePrefetcher registry key in your run-time image:
Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Contro l\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters
The EnablePrefetcher key has the following values:
0 = Disabled
1 = Application launch prefetching enabled
2 = Boot prefetching enabled
3 = Application launch and boot enabled
To disable Prefetch, set the value to 0.
Cooling } Most of the problems were expressed in the dust section. Other ways to keep your case cool are to make sure you have adequate airflow in your case. Use a good CPU heatsink/fan setup, and if you plan on overclocking, it would be a good idea to install a water cooling system. You want cool air to flow in and the hot air to be pulled out. Hot air rises, so the higher fans in your case should be exhausts, and lower ones intakes.
Choose a good TIM (thermal interface material) when replacing/resealing any heatsinks. Silver paste compounds such as Arctic Silver 5 are popular, and are sufficient. When applying, LESS IS MORE. The purpose of the TIM is to fill the tiny gaps and imperfections between the heatsink and component as best as possible. Too much will actually cause temperatures to rise, and if you use a silver based compound you can short components if it leaks out due to over-application.
Preferable CPU temperatures: 40C at idle and below 55C at load.
Overclocking } This is the process of increasing the clock frequency of your CPU, RAM, video card, etc.
I will cover how to specifically overclock a CPU, for information on how to overclock other components, please ask in this thread.
It is important that you make a complete backup of your system/files before you do this. You should also install the latest update of your BIOS found on your computer manufacturer's website.
Also, please note the risks/disadvantages of overclocking:
* Processor life can be reduced by up to 50%.
The lifespan of a processor may be reduced by higher operating frequencies, increased voltages and heat, although processors rapidly become obsolete in performance due to technological progress.
* Increased clock rates and/or voltages result in higher power consumption.
* While overclocked systems may be tested for stability before use, stability problems may surface after prolonged usage due to new workloads or untested portions of the processor core. Aging effects previously discussed may also result in stability problems after a long period of time. Even when a computer appears to be working normally, problems may arise in the future. For example, Windows may appear to work with no problems, but when you re-install or upgrade Windows, you may receive error messages such as a “file copy error" during Windows Setup . Microsoft says this of errors in upgrading to Windows XP: "Your computer [may be] over-clocked. Because over-clocking is very memory-intensive, decoding errors may occur when you extract files from your Windows XP CD-ROM".
* High-performance fans used for extra cooling can be noisy. Older popular models of fans used by overclockers can produce 50 decibels or more. However, nowadays, manufacturers are overcoming this problem by designing fans with aerodynamically optimized blades for smoother airflow and minimal noise (around 20 decibels at approximately 1 metre). The noise is not always acceptable, and overclocked machines are often much noisier than stock machines. Noise can be reduced by utilizing strategically-placed larger fans, which are inherently less noisy than smaller fans; by using alternative cooling methods (such as liquid and phase-change cooling); by lining the chassis with foam insulation; and by installing a fan-controlling bus to adjust fan speed (and, as a result, noise) to suit the task at hand. Now that overclocking is of interest to a larger target audience, this is less of a concern as manufacturers have begun researching and producing high-performance fans that are no longer as loud as their predecessors. Similarly, mid- to high-end PC cases now implement larger fans (to provide better airflow with less noise) as well as being designed with cooling and airflow in mind.
* Even with adequate CPU cooling, the excess heat produced by an overclocked processing unit increases the ambient air temperature of the system case; consequently, other components may be affected. Also, more heat will be expelled from the PC's vents, raising the temperature of the room the PC is in - sometimes to uncomfortable levels.
* Overclocking has the potential to cause component failure ("heat death"). Warranties do not cover damage caused by overclocking. Some motherboards offer safety measures that will stop this from happening (eg. limitations on FSB increase) so that only voltage control alterations can cause such harm.
* Overclocking a PC component may void its warranty (depending on the conditions of sale).
* There is a risk of fire if devices are not properly cooled.
Incorrectly performed overclocking
* Increasing the operation frequency of a component will usually increase its thermal output in a linear fashion, while an increase in voltage usually causes heat to increase as the square of the voltage. Excessive voltages or improper cooling may cause chip temperatures to rise almost instantaneously, causing the chip to be damaged or destroyed.
* More common than hardware failure is functional incorrectness. Although the hardware is not permanently damaged, this is inconvenient and can lead to instability and data loss. In rare, extreme cases entire filesystem failure may occur, causing the loss of all data.
* With poor placement of fans, turbulence and vortices may be created in the computer case, resulting in reduced cooling effectiveness and increased noise. In addition, improper fan mounting may cause rattling or vibration.
* Improper installation of exotic cooling solutions like liquid or phase-change cooling may result in failure of the cooling system, which may result in water damage or damage to the processor due to the sudden loss of cooling.
* Sometimes products claim to be intended specifically for overclocking and may be just decoration. Novice buyers should be aware of the marketing hype surrounding some products. Examples include heat spreaders and heatsinks designed for chips which do not generate enough heat to benefit from these devices. (Memory chips, for example)
The utility of overclocking is limited for a few reasons:
* Personal computers are mostly used for tasks which are not computationally demanding, or which are performance-limited by bottlenecks outside of the local machine. For example, web browsing does not require a high performance computer, and the limiting factor will almost certainly be the bandwidth of the Internet connection of either the user or the server. Overclocking a processor will also do little to help increase application loading times as the limiting factor is reading data off the hard drive. Other general office tasks such as word processing and sending email are more dependent on the efficiency of the user than on the performance of the hardware. In these situations any performance increases through overclocking are unlikely to be noticeable.
* It is generally accepted that, even for computationally-heavy tasks, clock rate increases of less than ten percent are difficult to discern. For example, when playing video games, it is difficult to discern an increase from 60 to 66 frames per second (FPS) without the aid of an on-screen frame counter. Overclocking of a processor will rarely improve gaming performance noticeably, as the frame rates achieved in most modern games are bound almost exclusively by the GPU at resolutions beyond 1024x768.
With all of this in mind, you must first restart your computer and press the appropriate key to go into setup. In the BIOS screen, you should see Advanced Chipset Options. You will see 'Clocks,' "Frequency/Voltage control" or "Voltage options." To increase CPU speeds, you will need to set a Front Side Bus Speed (FSB). This commonly appears in BIOS as 'CPU Bus Frequency' or 'CPU FSB Frequency.' Then, you adjust the clock multiplier to attain the desired CPU speed. Keep in mind that the FSB speed is typically locked to the RAM speed and you will either need to locate the proper option to make them unpaired, or adjust the DRAM frequency properly to avoid instability. Raise VCORE voltage on the CPU only when instability is noticed. Test after every bump. If you are inexperienced in overclocking, this is a trial and error process.. For experienced overclockers, you can get things almost perfect on the first try, and simply fine tune later.
Note that if you do not see any of the above options, you will not be able to overclock through the BIOS.
Good programs for testing stability are OCCT and Prime95.
A CPU temperature reading program SHOULD be used, because when you increase frequencies and voltages, temperatures rise as well. I recommend Core Temp.
Security and Protection } It is common sense to use an anti-virus program. I would suggest Norton Premium because it is the easiest to use by far. Kaspersky is also good. However, if you are a little PC-literate, then the free ones will be fine too.
Note: If you have Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is all you need.
credits wrote:Wealth of Knowledge: My teacher, Michael M. Grele.
If anyone else has something to add, post and I'll add it on. For any questions, please feel free to ask here as well.