PC keeps crashing when playing games?

Last year I bought a new PC, 2.6 ghz processer, 3gb RAM, running windows vista with a Geforce 260 graphics card. After about twenty minutes of playing a graphically intensive game the screen would go black and the computer would restart. I solved this problem by downloading Rivatuner and putting the fan up to 100% when playing games.

I recently bought a new graphics card, MSI Geforce 460 Hawk, and the old problem has returned with the PC resetting after approx twenty minutes of play. I use the packaged MSI Afterburner software to put the fan onto 100% before starting a game but it doesn’t seem to help.

I thought the problem was the card overheating but that doesn’t seem to be it.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Have you cleaned all your intake and exhaust fans? It sounds like poor case airflow. Try running the computer with the case cover off and see if it behaves the same.

In conjunction, you should download both CoreTemp and GPU-Z and set them to log all your GPU/CPU temps while you go into a game.

First make sure you have the latest/greatest drivers and not just what shipped with the new card.

Then do a Windows Update and get all the goodies necessary from there including any Service Packs.

Clean all intakes and exhaust areas on the PC. They get gunked up pretty easily. Don’t forget the power supply intakes/exhaust.

If it keeps crashing know that turning your GPU fans on high only helps some. With that card those fans will be pushing hot air from the card mostly into the case of the PC and not exhaust it. As such you could be raising the internal temp of the case dramatically. This can then cause either your video card or CPU to overheat and shutdown the PC.

As a test try running a game that crashes the PC on the lowest graphics settings possible. Hopefully this will not stress the card and cause it to heat up. If the game continues without crashing then it is the case temp that is causing problems. (You can also download tools to monitor CPU/GPU temps and log the results…play for ten minutes or so and see if that temp is marching up.)

If this is the problem you need better case cooling. That may be as simple as some new fans or may require a new case depending on how things are currently setup. Cleaning up a rat’s nest of wires can also help some. Do some cable management and get them neatly bundled and out of the way to aid in clean air flow to the important components. If possible, you may consider moving the video card to a slot further from the CPU.

If the CPU is overheating a new heat sink/fan might be in order. The stock fan shipped with Intel CPUs is rather crappy. Rarely will a store bought PC have a nice heat sink/fan on it (one way they keep prices down). If they did replace the stock heat sink with a nice one the PC will likely be at a premium price and they’ll advertise that they did that. If you look inside the case the stock heat sink looks like this.

Case cooling, especially air cooling, for a powerful gaming rig takes a fair bit of attention. You can end up with a PC that sounds like a jet plane taking off with all the fans. It is possible (I do it currently) with a good case and a good setup to have a relatively silent PC with sufficient air cooling but I had to work at it to get it setup that way. Only occasionally will my GPU ramp up fans speed and even then it is not very noticeable.

ETA: Double check your power supply has sufficient power to run that card and that all power connectors the card needs are connected (often they need more than the slot provides and needs its own connection to the power supply).

I found this info on the power reqs for that card. Again, store bought PCs tend to skimp on the PSU. Make sure you have sufficient power to run the card and everything else and that both power connectors are connected.

Thanks both of you, I’ll give that a try!

A 260 requires more juice than a 460 GTX, so I wouldn’t blame the PSU. That also isn’t consistent with how long it takes to crash (too much load is instant vs 20 minutes).

I don’t like heat either, since the Hawk edition uses the impressive Twin Frozr II heatsink. If ambient case temperature is high enough, that wouldn’t matter, but I dunno.

Does it just turn black and restart immediately or does it blue screen?

Yeah…that’s the problem with those heat sinks.

They are great but they need cool ambient temps to work well.

Look at the setup…most of the heat the video card removes exhausts into the case.

That is fine if you have good case cooling to both exhaust the hot air and pump in new, cool air.

If the case cannot vent the air fast enough then the internal temps start rising. In time that nifty heat sink is trying to cool the card with hot air and it doesn’t work well.

It is possible the CPU is the one overheating though since that video heat sink is pretty nice. Like I said, the stock Intel heat sink pretty much sucks. Better than nothing (a heat sink is a necessity) and fine for your mom who only checks e-mail but not so great for a gaming rig.

I had both problems at various stages in my gaming life. (Not at the same time, though.)

Heat, and video drivers. Both crashed (reboot) the operating system.

I didn’t realise it, but my last (not latest) video card was not fully directx 11 capable. It would crash the OS when (I assume) one of the new functions was attempted by the software. (I was playing Civilization V.) Running that game on Directx 9 made the problem go away. So did upgrading the video card. :smiley:

I have had friends who had heat issues. One solved it by taking off the side of the case and pointing a floor fan at it. Pretty kludgy but it worked (keep that fan a few feet from the open PC…fan motors can put out a fair bit of EM interference).

I really do not suggest it as a final solution but can work in a pinch.

FYI: Just taking off the sides of the case (with no external fan blowing air at it) can actually make things worse (or not…depends but usually the sides should be on to get air flow over the components properly).

I had that exact problem on a computer, and it was because of dust. I just opened up the case and cleared it out, and it was up and running fine again.

I just swapped out my old low-power AMD BE-2350 for a core-unlocked X2-555. My Thermaltake 650 should have been enough to run it, but it would lose power after about 20 minutes of playing any 3D game. I’m temporarily running on a newer (but lower power) 500W PS.

If you can get a spare PS for testing, it could be worth a try.

I installed a new Nvidia card (GTS 450) a few weeks ago. Booted up, all was good, installed latest driver and crash crash crash. Rolled back to previous version of driver and haven’t had any problem since.

These new cards do put out some serious heat when under stress. Try running FurMark for a while. After a few minutes you can feel the heat radiating from the card like a wood stove.

As everybody else has said, it’s almost certainly the PSU or a heat issue. I’ll put drivers as third most likely but that is also a common problem.

My pc came with a fairly lame power supply, after I changed it out with something more manly many small issues went away, including gaming problems.

Opened the computer up and gave it a thorough clean out, tried running it with the side panel off and had no problems since, so looks like it was a heat issue.

Thanks everyone!