Archive for March, 2013

Nightmares in PC Building

by on Thursday, March 21st, 2013

You may remember my adventure of building a new pc. I had never put together the entire pc completely solo (I shot first), so it was quite the adventure. Awhile ago (actually quite awhile ago now, I am terrible at writing promptly) I started to have random problems, that took a lot of time to investigate, so I write this hoping to shed some light to others.

What I experienced, I believe, started as a few hard crashes. These did not appear to be blue screens. Or if they were, I did not see any sign of them as such. It was a quick hard break of all operations. The screen did not just freeze, but pixels cascaded from rainbow to black. Sound went all dial-up modem dial tone, briefly. It did not persist from what I remember (I am not positive on this detail, I may have had to shut the computer off myself).

This only happened a couple times, so I did not think much of it. But suddenly, shit got real. Programs would randomly crash. Browser tabs would uh oh and break. I started seeing blue screen after blue screen. At first, it seemed like I needed to be doing something (playing a game, watching videos), and then it just got more and more random. No discernible pattern. This time I could see that they were there, but usually not long enough to actually see the details. The PC would immediately restart. Windows like to place these bluescreens in minidump files. As of Windows 7, afaict, it does not come with a native tool to view these. So I used a program called BlueScreenViewer to take a peek. It looks to be lightweight and portable, and gives as much info as it can (whether or not that information is understandable or useful is another thing).


As you can see, the important thing from here is what the actual error message was, and what the filename that appears ti cause it. Interestingly enough, I am ran the program to grab a screen from a different PC, and this PC shows the filename for every file in the stack, where the affected PC only showed the ones in red that were allegedly the file that had the error. The errors I was receiving were:


And largely caused by ntoskrnl.exe, but sometimes some other system processes. This had all the symptoms of omgwtfbbq. From my research, these errors can be caused by any number of things (in no particular order):

  • Specific drivers could be corrupt
  • Memory could be going bad
  • Something could be overheating (CPU, GPU, etc)
  • Hard drive could be going bad and not reading correctly
  • Power supply not providing consistent power
  • Other hardware failure (CPU, GPU)

So, in other words, pretty much everything that could possibly be a problem, could possibly be a problem. Terrific.