If You Need Computer Help PLEASE.....


Try to give us as much information about your system and configuration as possible. This shows both a willingness to work through your problem, and a courtesy to those ready to help you. (It keeps us from spending 40 posts trying to rip the data outta you).

Here’s a list of sample questions that are useful when diagnosing a system.

Please provide:

  • full description of problem
  • THINGS I’VE TRIED SO FAR and to what effect
  • full text of any error messages
  • any other odd behavior in The Application or OS?
  • when did this problem start?
  • does it repeat with any Application files?
  • location of the computer (Next to radiator, on volcano, floating on ocean, etc)
  • Any pets/children with access to the machine?
  • Was the machine recently moved or transported?

Is this a new system or new installation?

If not, provide:

  • list of recent software installations
  • list of recent software upgrades
  • list of recent hardware changes

Pre1: Application Questions
a) What version of the application are you using?
b) What revision of the application are you using? (Ex Max4.2.6, XSI 2.5, Maya XXXI)
c) What Cdilla driver revision are you using? (For Max users)
d) Are you using…Direct3D, Heidi, Maxextreme, or OpenGL?
e) Have you recently upgraded a piece of hardware, installed the application on a second machine, or transferred a license?
f) Have you tried running software heidi by executing max with the 3dsmax.exe -h command line? Does the problem reoccur if you use software heidi?
g) Which 3rd party plugins are installed?
h) Do other programs other then the 3d application lockup/crash/explode/implode in similar fashions?
i) Are you overclocking the…Ram, FSB, CPU, PCI/AGP, or Video card(s) in
any manner, shape, form, or dimension?

1) Operating system plus any service packs installed.
a) Direct X version.
b) Any 3rd party overclocking utilities or video card utilities
[Ex. Windows 2000 Service Pack 2, Latest Via 4 in 1 drivers, AGP patch, Direct x 8.1, ]

2) Ram configuration and Ram Speed (# of dimms, where the dimms are, what speed, how big, branding of the memory)
[Ex. 4 Dimms of Cas 2, Registered, ECC, 512 Meg, Mushkin PC2100 DDR]

  1. Motherboard, chipset information, processor speed, board revision
    (Ex. Asus A7M266-D revision 1.0, AMD760MP, Dual 2000+ MP’s)

4a) Processor cooling, case cooling
4b) Current CPU Temp, Current System Temp (Found in bios, Press DEL upon bootup)
[Ex. Dual Alpha 8045’s, 38C Cpu temp, 27C System Temp, 1 intake fan, 2
exhaust fans]

  1. Video card, drivers being used with the videocard, modifications done
    [Ex. Geforce 4 (NV25), Nvidia 21.83, reference drivers, Rivatuner, Powerstrip]

  2. Bios settings, AGP4x, AGP driving value.
    [Ex. Default bios settings, AGP4X disabled, AGP driving value EA, Ram timings etc…]

  3. Type of periphals in the computer (Soundcard, Scsi card)
    [Ex. Hercules XP gaming theater, 3com 905B Nic]

  4. Wattage of power supply
    [Ex. 550 Watt Entermax Whisper Power supply]

There is also a troubleshooting faq at 3dluvr.com

If your too lazy to go. Here’s a quick synopsis.

  1. Run Memtest (www.memtest86.com)
    a) 2-3 passes

One error indicates a possible ram timing/speed setting wrong. Multiple errors tend to indicate bad ram. Replace ASAP. Depending on the “mem size” of the error location you can sometimes tell which dimm is bad in a multi-dimm configuration without individually testing every single dimm. (Ex. You have 1024 megs of ram[4x256], and an error occured at 675 megs. This would indicate dimm three was damaged. Remove and test dimm 3 individually)

Do note that memtest requires that you actively end it. If you don’t tell it to stop, it’ll keep going until the end of the universe.

  1. Use utilities like Sisoft sandra, 3dmark 2001 SE, and specviewperf to diagnose certain areas.


  1. Check all the cables in the system. Check them again. Check them a third time. Inspect for nicks/cuts/scrapes of electrical cords, especially IDE/SCSI/SATA cords. A .1 mm nick can render drive errors. Make sure all cables are SEATED properly.

  2. Check that all cards are seated properly.

  3. Check the ram seating. Are you using dimm’s 0/1 first? Or did you put the ram in reverse order?

  4. Make sure the processor heatsinks are firmly attached, and that there are no air gaps between the sink and the core of the cpu. Make sure that thermal paste/grease/tape was used between the two mediums.

  5. Clean out dust. All fans, vents, pcb’s, heatsinks. Removing dust not only increases thermal efficency, but quiets down the system as well.

  6. If you have spare parts available, try them. A spare psu and video card can shave hours off of troubleshooting time.

  7. Use the godfather of troubleshooting.

  8. Actually use the microsoft knowledge database.

Remember, for us to help you, you’ve gotta help us. Otherwise simple problems can take days to solve.

Looking for even more troubleshooting information? Check out these other forums!

Also don’t forget www.aceshardware.com, www.ars-technica.com, www.hardforum.com , www.2-cpu.com as excellent forum references.


GregHess, I commend you. That’s an incredible post with lots of important and critical questions that people should know. If you don’t, just ask.

Since this isn’t a computer hardware dedicated site. If you have any workstation or dual processor related questions, please shoot your way over to the 2CPU.com forums. They will gladly answer your questions or provide helpfull links without any ridicule. There is no dumb question - that’s a rule at 2cpu.com.

Because two is better than one!


And for “what’s the best computer” threads provide:

  1. Your main applications + versions + OS.
  2. Your budget in relevant currency.
  3. Your country of residence.
  4. Specific professional requirements (like “rendering on tight deadlines” or “viewport interactivity in complex character animation scenes”).
  5. Your estimated level of experience with computers.

[edit] To add to Greg’s original list:
I would recommend the following benchmarks for viewport performance (graphic card issues that is):

for max: http://www.specbench.org/gpc/apc.static/maxinfo.htm and also the benchmarks in the “benchmarks” folder on the second CD.

for Maya: http://www.specbench.org/gpc/apc.static/maya5.html]




And, not to forget above all else!!!


I can repeat it some more for those of you that missed it.

Here are some good links on choosing parts for your DIY computer building esperience and what to do with them. Saves Greg and I from writing one :slight_smile:


OK, for all sorts of Linux documentatin/How-To’s,





To add in :

For Mac problem do include :

Your Mac system (PowerMac G4, G5?, iMac 2002…etc)

Your OS version ( OS 9 or OSX 10.2.x)

The problem caused…

and the rest… is the same as above :stuck_out_tongue:

For linux :

Add your kernel version… (2.4.16…)

and the rest… is the same as above


Originally posted by Emmortal1
[B]LOL tomshardware.com a bad review site? I don’t get it.

Emmortal [/B]

Toms holds little value to most here at CGTalk


Your computer just started making a strange sound when you turn it on or while it is still running. it sounds like a rapid buzzing. nothing like a hard drive about to die.

other than case fans (doesn’t really matter) standard for most people is 2 fans. and exhaust fan for the PSU and one for the cpu cooler/heatsink.

There is no exact life span for a fan - they usually last for approx 1 year unning 24/7. before they die or the sound described above.

It is best to replace the cpu cooler fan or the entire heatsink if it is cheap. but check that there are no wires catching off the fans.

Try switching your computer off. letting it cool down. pop the case cover off. and have a look. if yor case is covered in dust, what have you been doing? the best thing you can do with your computer is keep it dust free. try having a look on google and see if you can find some photos of what i am talking about.

try and judge where the sound is comming from. if u can’t replace the cpu cooler first. u can get sufficient coolers for 3200+ and under for $10.

if the problem is not solved by this replace the power supply with and brand name such as enermax. do NOT attempt to fix the PSU your self.

If it’s the power supply fan, you’ll need to repalce the entire power supply. is is best not to fiddle with the power supply, as if you touch the wrong capacitator you will get a nasty shock.

If you are experiencing what could be described as a clicking sound it is most likely to be your hard drive.


check your cables : if you have messy case wiring (:scream: ) then you could try:

  • meshing your power supply - sheer joy. basicly wrapping mesh round the cables running from the PSU. can be expensive and difficult to do.

  • using rounded cables. less likely to disrupt airflow or interfeer with other components. cheap.

if u have tidy wiring. watch your fans spinning and see if any cables interfeer.

step 2

  • remove case fans and then listen.

still there?

  • replace cpu cooler or fan if u have for example a thermalright heatsink.

noise still there?

replace the power supply with a name brand. either :

enermax - my choice. always been the best. conform to amd system colling guide. excellent quality.

enermax now has 3yr warranty if u buy after 1.feb.2004.

forgot to add check your videocard this is a common fault.

still there!!!

call mulder and scully. your computer is possesed.