Some of this may fall on deaf ears, some of it is common knowledge for others. But, I wanted to share some common reasons for random reboots, OS crashes (Blue Screen of Death), and even your PC shutting itself down. These are very specific types of crashes that are commonly associated with hardware failure or poorly coded drivers. Sometimes this can be the OS's fault (I think MS gets unfairly blamed for most things so I will go easy on them). But, these types of crashes are not usually the fault of a game or application, directly. But, in this day and age, the "Internet" age, we have become an impatient lot and are quick to blame anything but our own hardware.
You see, we aren't console gamers. We are PC gamers and we understand that there are millions of different hardware and software configurations out there that game developers have to contend with. Console developers only have to contend with one hardware configuration and one software platform. We, as PC gamers, understand that every new game may require some tinkering and need to have some patience as new games push the envelope, they may need some nursing once they are out there.
Anyway, I'm preaching…on to my issues. My PC has been an evolving machine since 1994. I bought my first and only personal PC then before heading off to college. So, as the years went on, I upgraded as necessary. Graphics card here, processor/motherboard combo there, etc. Today, I have a fairly decent system:
- Core2Duo E8500 Intel processor
- 4gb DDR2 RAM
- Nvidia 8800 GTS 512 GPU
- Creative XtremeGamer sound card
- One terabyte RAID 1 mirrored array
- 500wt Antec Smartpower PSU
- Decent case with various USB connected devices
- 1980x1200 Dell 24" widescreen LCD
- Vista Ultimate x64
So, my system was running most of the newer games with no problem. Dragon Age Origins, Empire TW, etc. I had an occasional crash with Empire, but nothing crazy. Well, I decided that my monitor would be done better justice with a newer graphics card. So, I got an ATI HD4890 card and popped it in. I also happened to upgrade to Windows 7 64bit.
This is when my problems began. I started crashing to desktop about 20 minutes in while playing Dragon Age…every
time. I thought it was drivers. Same issues with Empire. Repeated crashing.
Both worked fine with the Nvidia card! "That damn ATI card", I thought. And, when I say
crashing, I mean system reboots, blue screen of death, etc. And, no, my system temperatures were fine. Nothing to
explain the crashing. Also, not every game caused the errors. Some, like Torchlight or even Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, ran just fine. There goes the old
theory that I often hear "Well if game A works, then game B should too!!!"
Well, after driver changes, game patches and pulling my hair out. I could have blamed the games. I could have blamed the OS. I could have blamed God. But, in the end, it was a twofold problem.
I ran memtest on my system and found one of the RAM chips was bad. Replaced it. That solved the blue screens. So, that means Windows 7 was back in my good graces. The other issue was the system shutting down or rebooting on me. This one got me thinking about my power supply as it is a notorious symptom of power issues.
Here, my 500wt power supply had enough wattage, but, by adding the newer ATI card, the 12 volt rail was underpowered. The solution? A brand spanking new 750 wt TruePower Antec with beefed up 12volt rail amps.
I haven't had a crash or reboot since.
Moral of the story? It isn't always the games, or testing, or OS, or drivers. It isn't always someone else's fault. IF you are having major crashing issues, look more closely at your system and do some troubleshooting before shooting off at the developers. You might also learn something.
Happy gaming and computing!