Occasional BSODs, never the same code. Vista.

My computer gives me occasional BSODs, but never with the same stop code. (I.e., never the same number with the 0x00000000 format.) It sometimes gives me an all-capped error message (for example IRQ_NOT_LESS_THAN_OR_EQUAL) and sometimes gives me none. When it does, it gives me a variety of them–there is no single error message that seems any more common than any others.

I can manipulate the probability of getting a BSOD. Specifically, certain games do it much more often than any other applications. I can not see a pattern, though, as to which games cause it and which games don’t. I originally suspected a problem with the graphics card or driver, but I am not sure this is what’s going on. For graphically intensive games are no more likely to cause the problem than very old purely 2D games. For example, Oblivion never gives me a BSOD, yet Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom (which is I think more than 10 years old, and which as far as I can tell uses no 3D at all) will give me the BSOD quite often. I have also had a BSOD while playing Civilization IV, but never with Mass Effect. Medieval II gives me the BSOD sometimes.

Each game that can give me the BSOD also will (with complete certainty) crash to desktop after ten or twenty minutes or so if it doesn’t go BSOD on me. Meanwhile the games that don’t give me the BSOD also never crash to desktop.

I have also had BSODs while running Internet Explorer. (Also, when I close a tab in IE, it will sometimes do this thing where every time I close a tab from then on until I reset the computer IE claims to have had to shut down due to some problem or other. Yet it doesn’t shut down.)

But that’s it. No other application has ever given me a BSOD. Just some games, and IE very occasionally. (It’s IE8 btw.)

This has been going on for months, maybe even a year or so.

It began after a move, which made me think it was a hardware problem.

There seems (though I can’t claim to have done a close study here) to be some correlation between the room’s ambient temperature and the frequency of BSODs, which makes me suspect overheating, but I don’t really know if things work that way.

Anyway, what are some plausible diagnoses here? The most striking things to me are the fact that the error codes are different each time, and there are just particular applciations (almost all of which are games, yet not all of which are graphics intensive) that set off the problem.

Sounds like a good dusting may be in order, as well as opening up the case and reseating your ram and video cards (with computer unplugged please).

fire it up with the case cover off and see if the video card fans are spinning. Overheating video cards are a huge PITA.

Seconded, except always leave your computer plugged in with the power supply switched off when you’re working with the internals. You want to keep your case grounded to prevent static discharging on more sensitive components, and keeping it plugged in is the easiest way to do this.

It’s been dusted recently, but I’ll try reseating everything too.

Any idea why it is that only particular applications set off the BSODs?

Quibble…as long as you touch the case before fiddling you are at the same electrical potential as the components minimizing any potential static discharges.

Are there more details on the BSOD in the event log?

Im suspecting RAM. Have you tried replacing it with known good RAM?

I suspect RAM as well. Try a few rounds of Memtest.

What temperatures are you seeing on the CPU and video after, say, half an hour of gaming? If you have no way of reading temps, Google for and install SPEEDFAN.