Allright, first of all - wow, Neowin, it's been a while! My last post was in June 2009! I don't really know why I ever left, but at least I know that this was and probably still is one of the best places to come for advice on computers.
So here's the deal; I recently suffered from a broken hard disk and decided it was time to upgrade anyway.. So I went and got myself a nice i5 upgrade while carrying over some of the newer components from my old E8500 rig.
Specifications of my current computer:
Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G43
CPU: Intel i5 3570K
Cooler: CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo
RAM: Corsair Vengeance Low Profile, 2x4GB, 8GB total
GPU: Sapphire Ultimate HD6570 *carryover
SSD: Samsung 830 64GB
HDD: Western Digital 2x500GB
PSU: XFX Core Edition 550W
Whenever I want to play a game, in my case Team Fortress 2 or Armed Assault II/DayZ, the game freezer a couple of minutes into it. In TF2, the image and the sound freezes, whereas in ArmAII/DayZ only the image freezes and I can still hear ambient noises. After about a minute or two the game continues fine, until it freezer again after a couple of minutes... The interesting thing however, is that while the games are frozen, everything else still works snappy and as it should be. I can easily switch to my desktop, open a Chrome browser window, go to YouTube and watch a video without any further issues.
I do also experience some freezing issues with some videos. I usually watch H264 encoded files using the latest Media Player Classic. This is very rare though and has happened to me only 4-5 times, but the idea is the same. The video freezes, everything else still works and after a minute or two playback resumes as if nothing ever happened.
Obviously I have tried several things to at least figure out what the problem is.
First of all, as Neowin taught me, if games don't work, check your GPU. This graphics card is a carryover from my old system and has been playing Team Fortress 2 fine for months now, so I figured it's very possible that it somehow also broke. Luckily, the i5 3750K is equipped with a GPU by itself, the Intel HD4000, and while it's not as powerful it should at least be able to handle Team Fortress 2 at low settings quite well according to some benchmarks. Sadly, with the GPU out of its PCI-E slot and the i5 handling all graphics, the lockups still occur.
Next thing I did was update everything via Windows Update and make sure I had the latest drivers for every piece of hardware - to no avail. So I decided that because it's still a new rig and nothing has been personalised anyway, why not try to reinstall the entire OS and update everything again. This also didn't improve anything.
Because the videos were also freezing I figured it might be a harddisk issue. I ran some diagnostics software and that didn't come up with any issues, but just to make sure I moved all my media files and games to another disk... again, no improvement.
If it's not the GPU or HDDs that leaves the CPU and the RAM; I ran Prime95 and Memtest86+ and the system performed well under the full-load of Prime95 and showed to errors in either the Memtest86+ or the built in Windows 7 memtest. Also all the temperatures looked very nice, around the 30 degrees centigrade level
Googling such a broad issues isn't of much help - most of the hits I come up with a very game-specific or offer no solutions... I hope someone here has at least a remote idea of what I can do next. There's always the possibility of returned all the components, but I'm a bit doubtful that the shop will actually replace any parts; like I said, running diagnostics on the hardware reveals absolutely nothing and I'm not sure that they'll replace hardware after 'some game freezing', which they'd like to wave off as a software issue I suppose...
So, Neowin - after 3 long years I ask for your help again, let's see if we can figure this out