Friday, January 01, 2010

Computer Powers Down When Playing Games - Any Advice?

About a week ago I encountered a very frustrating computer problem. When I try to play Fallout 3, the computer would shut down after a few minutes. This wasn't just a crash to desktop, freeze, or blue screen of death - the computer powered off suddenly. I thought perhaps I was having a heat problem, so I bought some canned air and blew all the dust out of the casing. That seemed to work for a while, but now I'm encountering the same problem when playing Left 4 Dead 2. The computer is less than a year old, and pretty high end - I shouldn't be having these problems.

All other applications work fine.

Google-fu pointed me to the overheating possibility, but now that the dust is gone and I've verified that the fan is working, I'm not sure what to do. Anyone have any ideas?

10 comments:

Brian said...

When you cleaned out your case did you pay close attention to cleaning your video card fan? Don’t forget to clean out that heat sink really well.

Earl J. Woods said...

Thanks, Brian - I'll open it up and try again. I thought I got it all, but the video card fan itself is kinda hard to get to. Can't hurt to give it another shot.

Totty said...

I believe the other problem that this could be, which is less easy to check for, is a power supply issue.

X-Jeff said...

My bet is with Totty, that your power source is too weak to support your graphics card and/or motherboard. Internet and word processing don't tax the graphics the way that 3-D games do, which would explain why you are getting shutdowns mid-game. Also, your system may be overclocked too high - you may want to underclock it.

I've seen this issue on the Flight Simulator forums periodically. If you post your motherboard, graphics card and power source specs, I can pass it on to the FSX gurus who will know more.

Earl J. Woods said...

The trial version of Everest, if I'm reading it right, tells me that I have a Dell 0R849J motherboard, version A00. It also calls it simply "Dell Studio XPS 435 MT." I have an ATI RADEON HD 4850 (512 MB) video card.

Hmmm. Says the temperature of the GPU is 86 degrees C, as opposed to only 43 degrees for the motherboard and 50 degrees for the CPU. Does that sound hot? Hmmm...GPU cooling fan is running at 6099 RPM (39%). Power supply cooling fan running at 9926 RPM, no percentage figure given.

It doesn't say anything about the power supply, unfortunately, Still, all the parts are original...would Dell sell me a computer with a high end graphics card with an insufficient power supply? I hope not. Besides, I've been playing Fallout 3 for over a year, and the problem just started cropping up.

Ah well...it looks like there's a servicing date in my future. Thanks very much for the advice, guys.

Anonymous said...

Did you try grasping your tower with both hands, twisting it, and then dropping it from a height of 10 to 15 centimetres?

That has worked for you in the past.

Earl J. Woods said...

If this were an Atari, I'd definitely give it a try. ;-)

You Only Jeff Twice said...

I believe that Dell would sell your grandmother with an insufficient power supply let alone your computer. Another thought: does your graphics card require two power plug ins? If so, are they both plugged in?

My look at the ATI site suggests no special plug in per se, and at least a 450 Watt power source, which isn't all that huge these days.

One of my guru friends says, "It's either underpowered or overheated". I will pass on your specs, but it may help to know more about your power source.

Earl J. Woods said...

360 watt power supply. So I guess I'm underpowered. But it still seems odd that I've been able to play Fallout 3 for over a year without encountering this problem...

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