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PC crashes with no explanation, happens most frequently when attempting to play PC games.

I have an obscure issue with my desktop PC. Occasionally, the computer will totally freeze - everything stops moving on screen and the computer will cease to respond to user input. It will maintain the same image on the screen. The only way to fix this is to reboot the machine. This happens more frequently when I attempt to play any video games (e.g. Minecraft, pixel piracy, don't starve, half life, etc,) perhaps every 2-10 minutes or so. However it will happen occasionally (though far less often, every few days of normal use) during web browsing, typing, programming, other uses for the computer. I have searched for any crash or error logs on the computer but cannot find any pertinent information in the system logs. I am running Debian 8.

Things I have done:
Ran memtest (came out passed, no errors)
Tried replacing the graphics card (same issue continued to occur)
Checked all system storage media (SMART data indicate status of all drives is "OK")

System specifications:
Intel i7-3820
Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 motherboard
8x4GB DDR3 RAM
1x Crucial M4
2x WD Black 2TB HDDs
600W power supply
EVGA GTX660SC (the other graphics card I tried is a Zotac GTX560SE, no change in this issue)

I would appreciate recommendations on how to proceed with diagnosing this issue. If I have left out any pertinent information, please let me know.

I am beginning to suspect the motherboard (I have experienced an issue where I cannot access the BIOS unless I remove all peripherals but for the keyboard) but I have no test data to support this belief and don't know how to test this.
Reply to meztek
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about crashes explanation frequently attempting play games
  1. Ok, so I am not sure if this is an OS problem but usually playing games puts your computer under load and uses a lot of power. This could be your power supply. I recommend buying a compressed air can and spray into the power supply because dust inside can cause the PSU to short if this problem persists then get a new PSU although they are one of the most important parts in a system they are relatively cheap and but again, all these problems could be caused by your OS so if cleaning out your power supply doesn't work then change to something more mainstream and supported like windows 10. And if that doesn't work then I would recommend replacing your PSU.
    Reply to ZaftigZany
  2. Best answer
    ZaftigZany said:
    Ok, so I am not sure if this is an OS problem but usually playing games puts your computer under load and uses a lot of power. This could be your power supply. I recommend buying a compressed air can and spray into the power supply because dust inside can cause the PSU to short if this problem persists then get a new PSU although they are one of the most important parts in a system they are relatively cheap and but again, all these problems could be caused by your OS so if cleaning out your power supply doesn't work then change to something more mainstream and supported like windows 10. And if that doesn't work then I would recommend replacing your PSU.


    If you can borrow a PSU from someone to test too.

    After you clean out your case and fans, unplug and replug all cables, and while you're doing that re-seat your GPU a couple times.
    Reply to skibo1219
  3. Several years ago I had an issue very much like this. I was perfectly fine surfing the web but when I would get in a game my pc would freeze or shut down. I could play the game for a few seconds or a few minutes. It turned out my .net framework needed to be updated. After I updated everything worked perfectly. I agree with the other posters that it could be over heating but I wouldn't rule out an update.
    Reply to Neublet
  4. Neublet said:
    Several years ago I had an issue very much like this. I was perfectly fine surfing the web but when I would get in a game my pc would freeze or shut down. I could play the game for a few seconds or a few minutes. It turned out my .net framework needed to be updated. After I updated everything worked perfectly. I agree with the other posters that it could be over heating but I wouldn't rule out an update.



    Slim chance with win10, win7 maybe. Steam installs the needed .net frameworks first time you run a game there. GoG does too. Stand alone games will also check but only one time on install.
    Reply to skibo1219
  5. For some reason I never questioned the power supply. The problem started occurring when I upgraded the amount of RAM in the computer so I was going crazy thinking the RAM was a problem. Then I thought I noticed better performance in an older OS image than the current one. It's a bit crazy.

    Anyway, per the suggestions I received, I tried borrowing a friend's power supply. Not only did the problem cease (I was skeptical and left the computer on for a few weeks running a game just to be sure), but my FPS in Minecraft standing in the same place jumped from 20 to 230. I know this is not a typical benchmarking metric, but it works for my needs. Especially considering when I told my friend about this, he mentioned some graphics cards have a hidden "power starvation mode" which allows the graphics card to work even without sufficient power, albeit not at 100% graphics performance.

    Unfortunately he wanted his power supply back (and it didn't fit in my PC case anyway, being much too long), so I ended up getting a much better power supply than I had. I got a Corsair CS750M to replace my Inland D1011 600W power supply. When I built this computer I was lead to believe the Inland power supplies were particularly good for the price - if appropriate, I'd like to hear any comments you may have about this claim made by the salespeople at computer parts stores. I was told it was the least returned power supply in the store and I trusted the guys working there since I had been a regular customer for a few years at that point.

    Given the large number of peripherals in my computer I don't consider the fully modular nature of the CS750M to be of value to me but I do feel more confident with Corsair and now have a 750W, more efficient power supply - should I decide to get a new graphics card in the future, this will be well worth it. Not to mention I can now actually use my computer again without fear of random unexpected crashes.

    skibo1219 said:
    ZaftigZany said:
    Ok, so I am not sure if this is an OS problem but usually playing games puts your computer under load and uses a lot of power. This could be your power supply. I recommend buying a compressed air can and spray into the power supply because dust inside can cause the PSU to short if this problem persists then get a new PSU although they are one of the most important parts in a system they are relatively cheap and but again, all these problems could be caused by your OS so if cleaning out your power supply doesn't work then change to something more mainstream and supported like windows 10. And if that doesn't work then I would recommend replacing your PSU.


    If you can borrow a PSU from someone to test too.

    After you clean out your case and fans, unplug and replug all cables, and while you're doing that re-seat your GPU a couple times.


    skibo1219 said:
    Neublet said:
    Several years ago I had an issue very much like this. I was perfectly fine surfing the web but when I would get in a game my pc would freeze or shut down. I could play the game for a few seconds or a few minutes. It turned out my .net framework needed to be updated. After I updated everything worked perfectly. I agree with the other posters that it could be over heating but I wouldn't rule out an update.



    Slim chance with win10, win7 maybe. Steam installs the needed .net frameworks first time you run a game there. GoG does too. Stand alone games will also check but only one time on install.
    Reply to meztek
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