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PC freezes after overclocking and reverting to defaults - what to do next?

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New Member
Jan 16, 2015
EDIT: If you want to know the end of story, read the UPDATE at the bottom of the post.

G'day all,

I've got a nasty problem with my computer and seek any insight.
I have a 2-year old setup with i5-3570K CPU and ASUS P8Z77-M Pro motherboard. Upon setting it up I overclocked it from its stock 3.4Gh to 4.5Ghz using a fixed 1.25 Voltage. It worked perfectly all those two years. Then a week ago I tried to use Offset Voltage so CPU would switch to a lower frequency when it's idle (to save some energy, they say). I knew that Offset Voltage could introduce more instability and was OK with it as I would always could just revert to Fixed Voltage. After a couple of days of trying I had some success and kept experimenting how much voltage I need for different overclocking multipliers(I tried from 35 to 47). My offsets remained in a safe range I think (+0.200 max).

However soon I noticed that I could not consistently reproduce stable configurations. For example, I would find that x45 multiplier would work fine with +0.100 voltage offset, then I would try to decrease offset to lower, PC would become unstable, so I would return to a previously good value, suddenly it is unstable too. It really confused me, so at the end I gave up and tried to return to a fixed voltage setup. To my surprise my system remained unstable, so as a last resort I cleared CMOS, reverted to default settings, but to my disappointment, but it didn't hep either.

The symptoms are below:

- PC would hang on BIOS screen in 10-15 seconds
- PC would hang during MemTest86 test
- when turned on, it would shut down itself in 10-15 seconds and restart
- when monitor is connected to bult-in HDMI, the screen would freeze and get distorted (snowy picture).
- usually it would not load Windows, but if it does, it quickly freezes anyway

To isolate other components, I disconnected all drives, removed GPU, tried to remove all but one memory module (tried different modules in different sockets). It didn't make any difference.
If I get to BIOS, then before it freezes I can see that CPU temp is OK (+29 Celsius).

My main problem is that I don't have access to other compatible CPU or motherboard, so I cannot isolate neither CPU nor motherboard (that would be too easy, wouldn't it? :) ).
Also a few weeks ago, I installed a new PSU (EVGA Supernova G2 850W), and it was working flawlessly so I doubt it would cause the troubles (it, obviously could), as freezing only started after I began experimenting of Offset Voltage.

So without a using another hardware, what are my options to figure out what it's broken?
And related to that, I also wonder if a mild overclocking like that was likely to damage my hardware. I had impression that you need to try really hard, like increasing your voltage to some crazy values and run it for long time...

As the next step is probably to buy a replacement CPU/motherboard, I would like somehow to know what to buy. I'd feel rather stupid if I buy a CPU and then find out it was the motherboard... :)

UPDATE: Phew, it's all other now, the only damage is one RAM module.
It turned out it was an unlucky mix of several events that confused me so much. The first event was when starting my overclocking I've upgraded to the latest version of Core Temp tool which was auto-loading at startup. The previous version was rock-solid, but the new one would randomly just lock up Windows. However, because I was testing my overclocking I attributed them to OC.
On the top of it, at some point one RAM module became faulty (not sure whether OC caused that) and would randomly hang the computer. When I tried again to try all modules seperately, I immediately could see that a faulty one would freeze the system even in BIOS screen.
It was a good progress, then I just had to find why Windows would freeze at startup. It ddin't take me long to realize that the only application I recently installed was new Core Temp, so after removing it I was back to normal. My overclocking config is working fine and stable too.

I hope my story will help other confused :).

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