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Chikara
01-03-2017, 03:39 AM
Hello all,

I've posted a few times before about an intermittent freezing problem I've been having (frozen screen, keyboard mouse etc non responsive but no error messages/BSOD - only way to recover is to press and hold power button to force power off).
I was going to take it to a repair shop, but I just had a bit of a success in my own recent troubleshooting...but I need some help with the next steps please...sorry in advance for the long post but I wanted to provide as many exact details as possible.

My setup (will post exact specs at end of this post):
Main drive: SSD (OS and programs)
Additional (regular) HDD 1: data/storage
Additional (regular) HDD 2: programs (but since my last reinstall a few months back, I haven't yet installed any programs to this drive, so it's empty.

Just standard setup - I'm not running RAID.

Last week, I disconnected the two HDD's and left the PC running with light usage during this time. In the 5 days since I did that, I haven't had the freeze again. In the past, the freezes would mostly be anywhere between each day, up to 3 or 4 days apart - very rarely would it go longer than that with no freezes. So, while I'm not 100% certain this is the cause - I think it's a high possibility. So it seems to me it's related either to one or both of the HDD's - hardware or drivers/software/BIOS etc - or the cables - or the MB connections.

So now, I'm reconnecting the HDD's again to try and exactly isolate the problem. I have tried different SATA cables before, so I'm pretty sure it's not that. I've also run diagnostics on the HDD's, so there's no obvious physical problem there, and they are both just 1 year old. As far as I know, drivers/BIOS is quite difficult to screw up, so I think that part is fine (but I will need to double check later to make sure).

So, what I would like to do next is to test the different MB SATA connectors - and this is where I am very out of my depth and don't understand which drives should be plugged into which connectors.
Hoping you can advice me which drives should be plugged into which connectors exactly. I'd like to know about the SSD and the two HD's, as well as the DVD drive.

Here is the manual for the motherboard: http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/LGA1151/MAXIMUS_VIII_HERO/E10343_MAXIMUS_VIII_HERO_UM_WEB.pdf?_ga=1.16382085 5.947140206.1477834344

I am a bit confused about which drives should use the Intel Z170 SATA connector, and which should use the ASMedia SATA connectors.(page 1-7, and 1-32-33 of the manual)
For the Intel connectors, I am further confused because there are 6 different connectors: see the MB manual, set 'A' has 2, and set B has 6 connectors (4 regular 'L' shape and two smaller ones).
For the ASMedia connectors, there are two connectors, both the same.

I should also mention, when I run the 'Intel Rapid Storage Technology' utility, the 'storage system view' shows SATA HDD on Controller 0 Port 0, and SATA SSD on Controller 0 Port 1. The third HDD doesn't show, it shows empty internal ports 2,3,4 and 5.- shouldn't all three drives show here?

Yet, all three drives (plus DVD writer) are visible on File Explorer. Plus, all three drives show in Samsung Magician too.

Which drives should be plugged into which connectors? And how about the DVD drive? Does it even matter? If not, any other thoughts on what might be causing the previous freezes?


Specs:
Windows 10, all updates installed
CPU: i7 6700K
MB: Asus Maximum VIII Hero BIOS v3201
RAM: 16GB
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
SSD: Samsung 850 PRO 512GB
HDD: WDD 6TB Green (data)
HDD: WDD 3TB Black (programs)

autechre
01-03-2017, 08:46 AM
These days it doesn't matter too much which drives are plugged in to which connectors because you can rearrange them either in the BIOS or in Windows.

Ideally though, you should plug everything into the Intel SATA ports first and then, if you run out, the ASMedia ones.
I would connect the drives in order. So your SSD would go in Intel SATA port 1, your other data drives into ports 2 & 3 and your DVD into 4.

The 3rd drive may not show in the Intel Storage tool if its connected to the ASMedia ports. If it is on an Intel port, then I'd try another Intel port and see if that works better. If its still not there, run some disk diagnostics.

1101
01-03-2017, 09:12 AM
" I've also run diagnostics on the HDD's, so there's no obvious physical problem there"

That means nothing, unfortunately.
Ive seen plenty of faulty HD's that pass all the usual tests , incl smart checks .

Plugging all into the Intel sata ports would be a good start. Get all the latest drivers, especially sata drivers. Try disabling the ASMedia sata
I would start from scratch, keep everything AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE, untill you are 100% sure its OK. Add one drive at a time.
Make sure raid is disabled in the bios
Perhaps clone from the SSD to a HD , & try the PC with just that HD only. Repeat with the 3rd HD only

Given how intermittent it is , its going to be very hard to track down the issue .
Ive had PC's with faults so intermittent , I just eventually had to just replace MB & RAM & hope that fixed the issue .
A good place to start would be to just replace the RAM , with a good brand (perhaps Kingston)

1101
01-03-2017, 09:26 AM
Also have a look here. Have a look at the posts regarding freezing issues
https://rog.asus.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?201-Maximus-VIII-Motherboards-(Z170)

Is the mb a bit of a dud ? Google shows quote a few links with people having issues

Speedy Gonzales
01-03-2017, 11:41 AM
Did you unplug the other hdds when you installed windows on the SSD?

Because you can have probs later, if you didnt

dugimodo
01-03-2017, 11:58 AM
I don't use intel rapid storage myself, you don't need it and it adds unnecessary extra complications. Could be part of your problem

Speedy Gonzales
01-03-2017, 01:08 PM
Is the latest firmware on the Samsung?? Looks like it's up to EXM03B6Q now

And if Notifications is on, the CPU and disk usage can go to (or used to ) go to 100%. And stay there. I had to disable these, because everything lagged.

Chikara
02-03-2017, 01:42 AM
Thanks for the suggestions and tips.

To add a few further points to the questions:

@autechre I should have enough to use the Intel ones only, as I only have the SDD, 2xHDD, and the DVD drive - 4 ports in total. Unless I am mis-reading the MB manual and used a wrong connector, the 3rd drive is also plugged into a Intel connector already. I'll double-check it again.

@1101 yep I have all the latest drivers from the Asus site, and yep RIAD is definitely disabled. I have already tested the RAM with stress tests, and also one stick at a time. I think it's less likely to be the RAM. I'm using Corsair.

@Speedy, I wouldn't have unplugged the other HDD's when I last did a windows reinstall. I've been reluctant to do another fresh install again as it's such a nuisance to reinstall everything but if the problem comes back, I will maybe try that again.
If I clone the SDD, reinstall, and then copy the clone back, is that OK? Or will that just copy back any problems that exist already?
And yes, I checked and updated the firmware just a week ago on the SSD. Maybe this is why the freezing hasn't happened the last week, or could just be a coincidence....
And yes, notifications is on, but I have never noticed disk usage go up to 100%...

@dugimodo, the freezing was already there before I installed the Intel Rapid Storage software, I installed it hoping it might be able to do some analysis to help me. Perhaps I will uninstall it again now.

Thanks everyone for your help!

Chikara
02-03-2017, 07:52 PM
OK, so my freezing is back again, happened again overnight.

I think I may need to try a fresh windows install again, this time making sure only the SSD is connected during the install, then I will add the other HHD's later. I don't have a Win 10 disk as originally I got Win 10 via the free WIn 7 upgrade - but last time I did a fresh install I downloaded the Win 10 offline installer, which seemed to work fine and recognised my license etc.

To make sure I do this install properly and 100% correctly this time, can you please let me know exactly what software/drivers etc I should download and install, and in what order?
There are lots of drivers and utilities on the Asus website for my MB, but I am a bit confused about which ones I need and which ones I don't, and in which order I should install them.

Also, I know you have advised me to have only the SSD connected when I do the install, but not the other HDD's. What about the DVD writer, should that also be unplugged when I do the install?

Finally, once I've don the install and I am ready to plug the 2 HDD's back in. Should I do one at a time, reboot, then do the other one? Or can I do both at the same time?
And, should I format both before I re-connect them, or can I do this after I reconnect them?

Sorry for so many questions, I just want to make sure I do it 100% correctly.

dugimodo
02-03-2017, 10:05 PM
DVD Drive is fine, you just disconnect other hard drives to prevent the windows installer from hiding files on them which it is prone to do. Drivers can be installed in any order but network drivers are the best place to start to get you online followed by graphics drivers so things are easier to read. Windows 10 will likely find most drivers it needs anyway and usually that's fine. I usually update the graphics driver and any devices that don't have drivers in device manager but I often just leave everything else unless there is a problem or missing features.

Chikara
02-03-2017, 10:14 PM
Thanks. There's a whole lot of drivers and tools on the Asus page for this MB: https://www.asus.com/sg/Motherboards/MAXIMUS-VIII-HERO/HelpDesk_Download/
(Win 10 64 bit).

So, you suggest I don't need most of them to begin with? Even chipset ones? (Intel management engine updates ,etc? (Chipset, Intel management engine etc...)

dugimodo
02-03-2017, 10:39 PM
You can install them sure, but most common motherboard and system drivers are installed automatically so it's often not necessary.
Get the LAN and chipset drivers and the VGA if you use onboard Video and that'll get you going, then once windows is running you can install the rest if you wish.

Chikara
03-03-2017, 12:23 AM
Microsoft strikes again...downloaded the media creation tool to burn a Win 10 image to DVD, the file size for 64bit version is now larger than will fit on a regular DVD, and my drive doesn't support dual layer. Only option now is to download and make bootable USB drive. Of course, they don't tell you that on the page, you only find out after you're wasted all the time and bandwidth downloading it already.
Just posting that bit of info here in case anyone else is following this thread.

1101
03-03-2017, 09:48 AM
Microsoft strikes again...downloaded the media creation tool to burn a Win 10 image to DVD, the file size for 64bit version is now larger than will fit on a regular DVD, and my drive doesn't support dual layer. Only option now is to download and make bootable USB drive. Of course, they don't tell you that on the page, you only find out after you're wasted all the time and bandwidth downloading it already.
Just posting that bit of info here in case anyone else is following this thread.

Doesnt sound right.
I have burnt plenty of 10 to single layer dvd's

bevy121
03-03-2017, 12:25 PM
From latest MS "download win 10" page

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10?tduid=(ed34548adf3d0bd12b4c9f069e4303e6) (259740)(2542549)(UUwpUdUnU32953)()


A blank USB flash drive with at least 5 GB of space or blank DVD (and DVD burner) if you want to create media. We recommend using a blank USB or blank DVD, because any content on it will be deleted.
When burning a DVD from an ISO file, if you are told the disc image file is too large you will need to use Dual Layer (DL) DVD Media.

and of course, a SL DVD is 4.7 GB

Chikara
03-03-2017, 12:49 PM
From latest MS "download win 10" page

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10?tduid=(ed34548adf3d0bd12b4c9f069e4303e6) (259740)(2542549)(UUwpUdUnU32953)()



and of course, a SL DVD is 4.7 GB

Yep. They must have recently changed the size of the .iso image, because the last time I downloaded it, it did fit on a SL DVD.

1101
03-03-2017, 01:40 PM
and of course, a SL DVD is 4.7 GB

and the ISO is about 4Gb, same as before . :)
Try the single language download

1607 ISO will burn to a single sided DVD

The claimed size needed for a USB might be different, to make it bootable .And will be because there arnt 4.5G USB's , so they said 5G

I suggest, at least try
*** download the iso ***
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO

and dont use a formated RW disk :-)

Speedy Gonzales
03-03-2017, 03:02 PM
Use rufus and a flash drive. Save the dvd's

zqwerty
03-03-2017, 11:28 PM
You could try this to get the .iso:

Microsoft Windows ISO Download Tool 4.20

http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/microsoft_windows_iso_download_tool.html

Chikara
04-03-2017, 01:06 AM
I ended up using the flash drive instead. Now WIndows is re-installed, so far I only have my SSD connected, I'll reinstall some commonly used programs and then try to add the two HDD's too, one by one.
Is it worth doing a full format rather than a quick format on them before I connect them?

dugimodo
04-03-2017, 07:30 AM
Not really.

1101
05-03-2017, 12:31 PM
OK, so my freezing is back again, happened again overnight.

Finally, once I've don the install and I am ready to plug the 2 HDD's back in. Should I do one at a time, reboot, then do the other one? Or can I do both at the same time?

you should now go into fault finding mode.
If you want to trace the cause of the issue , dont plug the other 2 drives in until you are 100% sure the system is stable.
Format the SSD & load win. Install drivers one at a time & move on when sure its stable .
It may even be a vid card issue, some faulty vids cards are file untill you install the driver .

Chikara
11-03-2017, 11:51 PM
I thought I'd give an update on this. After the last freeze I mentioned in my last post, I did a clean install of Win 10. I made sure to do the install with only the SSD connected, made sure that seemed stable for a few days then added the other 2 HDD's later. I used slightly different MB connectors for the drives this time, but still the Intel ones only.
So far, after almost a week, I haven't had the freezing problem yet.
I have had one crash, but it's not the same freezing problem as last time, as this time the PC had already rebooted itself overnight before I realised. (The previous problem was literally a freeze, no rebooting, and only way was hard power off). This crash seemed to trace back to a NVidia driver, and there was just a new update available last week, so I have now installed the latest driver.

So, I'm quietly optimistic that it may be fixed now. I have created a system restore point and will now slowly add back all my other apps.

Question - I thought about using Virtual Box to test some program installations there first - good idea? Or more trouble than it's worth?

CliveM
12-03-2017, 06:48 AM
Make a restore point now before you start reinstalling anything else. I would make an image of the C drive also.
That way you can easily get back to your present stable state If you need to.

Chikara
07-05-2017, 05:04 PM
Hi, I know this thread is a bit old but I wanted to check back in. I am still having problems with the random freezing.
I have got the assistance of a tech, I decided it was getting beyond my own skill levels. He informed me that as there was no BSOD and visible error message, the cause of the freezing would most likely be CPU, RAM or PSU. He said any other hardware problems would give a crash notification/BSOD - and not just a total freeze with no message, like I am having. (And to clarify exactly what I mean by this - when I get freezes, the entire system is unresponsive - keyboard, mouse do nothing, CTRL-ALT-DEL does nothing, no error messages or BSOD are shown, the only fix is to force power off via the case power button. I also have TeamViewer running, and when I check teamviewer from another device, the PC shows offline, so I am reasonably confident it's not just a monitor issue only)
He did a warranty claim on my CPU (which took about 4 weeks from Intel!!), but the freezing is still occurring. I have also put in a different PSU, and still am having freezing. Both him and I have already done RAM testing (one stick at a time, different slots, stress tested it etc) and we believe the RAM is OK.

I'm getting really frustrated and don't know what to try next. Should he look at the motherboard next? Is it worth trying brand new RAM?
I was also thinking graphics card, but he said same thing - if it was a graphics card problem, it wouldn't result in the total freezing like I'm having.
I also don't think it's software conflicts, as since my last full reinstall I have really only installed the minimum software (browsers, MS office, plus a few monitoring programs like CPUID, HWMonitor, etc).
All drivers are up to date and I have latest BIOS etc.

Really hoping you guys have some further suggestions here for this very frustrating problem! I do plan to get the techs help again but I have no past history with him, hence looking for a second opinion here.

Thanks!

PS - Have also installed the latest Win 10 update creators update but still am having the freeze

dugimodo
07-05-2017, 07:17 PM
RAM (or anything else) doesn't always have to be faulty to cause issues - occasionally you can find combinations of hardware that just don't work well together but work fine when tested in other combinations. I had a PC with an occasional issue that I never figured out until I replaced it and discovered it worked fine without the graphics card and the graphics card worked fine in my new PC but when those parts were used together it occasionally rebooted itself. I've also had a motherboard that seemed faulty until I tried a different brand of RAM, there's a reason the manufacturers publish compatibility lists.

None of which means it is the RAM, just that it could be. There are no absolutes with PC's, just because a fault doesn't seem like it could be caused by any particular piece of hardware or software doesn't mean it isn't being. Plugging in a hard drive or some usb devices can prevent you even getting to the BIOS if they are faulty and that wouldn't seem likely if I hadn't experienced it. Plugging in a smartphone to charge it stopped a friends PC from booting. Point is random stuff can cause weird issues and saying it can't be the graphics card or the RAM or the power point it's connected to or whatever else will stop you actually testing to eliminate them, don't assume - test.

One think you could try is reducing down to 8GB and running with that until the freeze happens again then switching to the other 8GB. If it is a tiny fault with one of the chips that should prove it and 8GB is enough to run smoothly for most applications. Also when testing RAM you need to use the long extended tests and run them multiple times to be sure.

Lawrence
07-05-2017, 08:23 PM
See the latest BIOS is 3401 but some are having problems with this Release

https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?92369-MAXIMUS-VIII-HERO-BIOS-3401-Thread

Looks like a couple of earlier BIOS's are more stable

Chikara
07-05-2017, 11:06 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.

@dugimodo I might try further /longer testing with the RAM, nothing to really lose at this point by trying it.
Would you agree with the techs suggestions that this type of freezing is likely to only be RAM, CPU or PSU? If the RAM testing doesn't solve anything, I will take it back to the tech and was thinking to suggest MB replacement...

@ Lawrence, when I got the PC back from the tech, once it froze again, I checked for BIOS updates and have already installed that latest one. So far, no other noticeable problems for me, that weren't already there. Seems like most people who have had some issues with it are overclockers?

1101
08-05-2017, 10:42 AM
Thanks for the suggestions.

@dugimodo I might try further /longer testing with the RAM, nothing to really lose at this point by trying it.
Would you agree with the techs suggestions that this type of freezing is likely to only be RAM, CPU or PSU? If the RAM testing doesn't solve anything, I will take it back to the tech and was thinking to suggest MB replacement...

@ Lawrence, when I got the PC back from the tech, once it froze again, I checked for BIOS updates and have already installed that latest one. So far, no other noticeable problems for me, that weren't already there. Seems like most people who have had some issues with it are overclockers?

Dont expect much from RAM testing
RAM has to be REALLY bad to fail RAM tests. Ive had faulty RAM that could fault , then go months without an issue & just fault again out of the Blue

With intermittent faults ,no point in replacing the m/b unless you replace the RAM.
This type of fault could be anything, not just RAM, CPU or PSU.
Have you tried another hard drive ?

dugimodo
08-05-2017, 10:57 AM
I'd agree that it's likely, but likely is not definitely. Once you've eliminated the Likely it's time to look at the unlikely. I would start with the RAM again but there is only so much testing you can do. I think running with half of it at a time as suggested is a good start, the odds of it all being faulty is slim so if it's RAM related one half or the other should prove stable.

As I said you need to test rather than assume. For example don't eliminate the graphics card as a the culprit based on the assumption that it's unlikely without any actual testing. That sort of thinking is how I put up with a faulty PC for 2 years because I didn't think the graphics card could be causing it (tested fine in other PCs). The downside is with an occasional fault you need to be able to run without something for a long period of time to eliminate it, which is pretty difficult with some essential components.

I did read back through the thread but It didn't all stick, does this freeze happen completely randomly or is it when you are doing something in particular? If for example it's during gaming there's more stress on your components than if it happens watching youtube. Even after all this it's still possible it's a software issue as well, a bad driver or a corrupt windows system file or something could cause the lockup as easily as hardware could.

1101
08-05-2017, 11:01 AM
Dont put all your faith in software tests of RAM, HD etc.
Ive seen plenty of faulty HD's & RAM that would pass every test I threw at it.
The best test is part swapping.

Chikara
09-05-2017, 12:44 AM
@ Dugimodo, yes just to fill you in, this machine is maybe 16 months or so old. The freezing has happened from the beginning, but it's not constant, it might happen a week apart, a day apart, couple of times a day or anywhere in between. The freezing happens randomly, no matter what task - even if I am not using it (left running but away from keyboard, just with browser and Outlook open, next time I come back it could have still frozen). The freeze gives no error messages/BSOD at all. Just totally non-responsive, only way to fix it is forced restart from power button. I have teamviewer on here, when this has happened I've checked the PC status from another device and it shows not online, so it's not just a display problem. I didn't seriously trouble-shoot in the early days because I wrongly assumed it might be because of the 'new' Win 10 that had bugs, or as the MB was new also, maybe a BIOS update would fix it. But as time has gone by I realise it's now unlikely to be that.

So yes even though I have tested RAM, I might try the longer tests a few of you have suggested, one stick at a time. Or maybe even if I can pick up some cheap different RAM to try.

I have got a tech here to assist me as I felt it was getting out of my skill range to fix. He also says that it can be difficult to isolate it and often need to try one component swapped out at a time. In his opinion though, it is almost certainly PSU, CPU, RAM or MB. In his opinion (right or wrong but I trusted what he said as he's a professional!!) He said it it was any other hardware component - even HDD, even the HD that has windows on - there would be a crash message generated. He said the only components needed to generate the crash message are the MB, RAM and CPU, so the fact there is no crash message means it's almost certain to be one of those three causes in his opinion.

And just for further background, as well as the previous RAM tests, I have tried a different PSU, the tech replaced CPU under warranty. In the early days of troubleshooting I also tried a different monitor to eliminate it being just a display issue.

I do think it's unlikely to be a software issue as I have done a few windows clean installs, I'm quite sure I have the correct and updated drivers, and since the last reinstall I have purposely only installed the minimum programs

apsattv
09-05-2017, 07:25 AM
Can you run something like Heavyload to try and trigger the freeze?

https://www.jam-software.com/heavyload/

1101
09-05-2017, 10:10 AM
You wont get a crash message in the logs if its freezing. Win has to be running to write to the logs. If its frozen, then nothing can write to the logs as it freezes .
You will get a log message about unexpected restart etc, but no usefull info (most of the time)

Chikara
09-05-2017, 12:42 PM
Yes, that's what makes it more difficult to isolate the problem, no logs are written. Plus, the freezing is random, I can't replicate it just by doing certain tasks.

@ apsattv, regarding stress testing/burn in tests, yes I have already tried that myself. And after the warranty swap CPU was installed, the tech ran a stress test for 3 days before returning it back to me. I then had a freeze one day later.

Currently, since yesterday I have removed one stick of RAM and will run it on one stick only until I either have another freeze, or have long term success with no freezes.

apsattv
10-05-2017, 04:29 AM
I used these when tracking down my issue. give them a try to target specific components

UBCD

Burnmark 8.1
Cpu Stress
Prime 95
Aida64
Heavyload
Passmark burnin Test
CPUID HWMonitor
Coretemp

Chikara
27-06-2017, 01:44 AM
I thought I would post the resolution to this, in case it helps anyone viewing the thread in the future. Seems like it was one faulty stick of RAM. I tried running just one stick of RAM, still had the freezes. When I switched to the other stick, no freezes. So that meant it must either be a faulty stick or RAM, or - more unlikely - problem with that physical slot on the MB.
So I did a RAM RMA, and so far after about 2.5 weeks, I have had no further crashes. So I am 99% sure it's now solved.
Lesson learnt for the future, as some of you had advised me when troubleshooting - don't rely on the RAM stress tests. All the RAM software tests and stress tests I did, the RAM passed.

Also, I had a good experience with Corsair. They offer an express RAM replacement service, where they will take a credit card hold (but not charge the card) and ship you the new RAM before you need to return the old RAM. I literally had the new RAM in my hands within 2 days of requesting it, was sent from Taiwan. Very impressed with their RMA process.