why is my laptop crashing?
Mood: frustrated
Posted on 2008-08-19 09:36:00
Tags: worldofwarcraft computer
Words: 569

Executive summary: my laptop is now nigh-unusable for playing WoW.

Background: A while ago, I was having weird crashing problems with WoW where it would just quit to the desktop, no error indication or anything. I tried fixing it by reverting from Mac OS X 10.5.3 to 10.5.0 and that sorta seemed to help. Then, my account got hacked so I figured it was a good time to reinstall the OS and WoW completely, which I did.

Now the problem is somewhat different - when I crash, I get an error message (SFile2-Core.cpp line 1002: Failure to read data). It's mostly the same in that it only ever happens when I'm in the Outlands, and it usually happens after 30 minutes or so of play the first time, and then in rapid succession thereafter. If I quit for a while and come back later, it goes back to 30 minutesish before the first crash. Running in windowed mode as opposed to full screen seemed to help but that is no longer the case, it crashes about as quickly.

This was less of a problem before our alts hit 58 last week, but now that we're trying to quest in Hellfire it's pretty showstopping.

So my first thought, based on a google search and the particular message was that some memory was bad. Remember, this is the same laptop that I spilled a mug of tea on (although it seemed to mostly get better especially after I replaced the keyboard) so anything is potentially suspect.

It came with two sticks of 1GB memory, so first I tried taking stick B out of slot #2. It seemed to work better for a while, then CRASH! So I took stick A out and put stick B in slot #1. About the same CRASH! Then I tried putting stick A in slot #2 for completeness's sake...CRASH!

So, then djedi was suspicious of heat issues, since that would make sense with the diminishing time to extra crashes and my temperature monitor was showing CPU temperatures of 86 Celsius around crashes, which seemed awfully hot. So he rigged up something to cool the bottom of my laptop (involving two cookie sheets, a lot of ice, and a bag of frozen carrots), but that didn't make a whole lot of difference in temperature at the CPU. (although the bottom was much cooler than usual!) Then I remembered the WoW command /console maxFPS 30 which dramatically lowered the CPU temperature to the 50s while playing...and then it CRASHed. So I don't think it's heat.

Now I'm running a memtest on the stick that's in there, but it hasn't turned up anything yet. I really wish it would find just one error...at least then we'd have narrowed down the cause.

I'm getting to the point where I'd like to take it in for repair, but without knowing what needs to be repaired I doubt it would be fixed. And the laptop was quite expensive, and I only bought it a year ago so I really really really don't want to replace it or anything crazy like that. For now I patched WoW on my Linux box so that's at least a possibility.

It's frustrating because yes I'm aware that it's just a game, and a (gasp!) video one at that, but this is something djedi and I like to do together, and play and socialize with friends and such.


Comment from liz_gregory:

apple tends to be really good about fixing the problem... they may decide to give you a new computer while they try to fix that one... warranty, maybe?

Comment from djedi:

He has the whole applecare warranty thing; the problem is just that it's hard to walk into an apple store and say "My WoW crashes when I'm in the Outlands". I'd like to find another program, like a test program or another game (that doesn't have login accounts) where we can get it ot crash, and THEN take it in.

Comment from liz_gregory:

good luck!

Comment from gregstoll:

Another problem is that if this was caused by spilled tea damage, I may be out of luck with the warranty.

Comment from wildrice13:

That sounds very similar in "conditions under which it occurs" to my disappearing floors and walls problem, at which point I was forced to kill WoW and restart the computer lest it happen again. I don't recall how I fixed it at the moment; I think it was, ultimately, a video driver issue. But it really seemed like heat by when it occurred but wasn't (I still have the same case, same card, same # of fans, plus it's summer. Though I have cleaned the dust out since then... but that's not an issue with a laptop, not easily fixably so, anyway).

It's possible, since it's a Mac and will react differently, that it's hitting a similar problem but crashing instead of f'ing up. WoW, and especially Outland, and *especially* HFP are really hard on graphics calculation. Those damn flame spurts and various demonic glowy things are an fps nightmare.

In any case, good luck with it!

Comment from djedi:

Ooo, good point. Perhaps driver updates would make a difference...or driver rollbacks.

Comment from wildrice13:

It was a particularly bad problem for me because they kept saying "it's probably a driver issue" and I kept trying everything else in the world, because updating my driver (and trying a particularly old driver some people with the same problem swore by) never worked for me. Then I discovered that both my card manufacturer and Nvidia itself put out drivers, and they *weren't the same driver*. One fixed the problem, one did nothing or possibly even worsened it. Also, one or two of them caused blue screens of death, which was an entirely new problem.

Bah, computers!

Comment from djedi:

I'm still suspicious that it's something graphics card or memory related.

Comment from flamingophoenix:

Maybe this is a stupid question, but why are you using a laptop to play games anyway? Isn't that what towers are supposed to be good for?

Good luck getting it fixed anyhow! And I don't think games are stupid, especially when you use them to socialize with people you already know and love. So yeah.

Comment from gregstoll:

This is, in fact, a good question.

So the long story is: I've had a linux desktop box since college which has gone through various upgrades and such. I used to play WoW on that through Cedega which, amazingly enough, worked pretty well, but things did occasionally break and I was afraid it would stop working one night before a raid or something. And I've never owned a laptop before and thought it might be handy (or a Mac for that matter), so I guess that's why?

Comment from abstractseaweed:

How frustrating! If carrots can't fix it, hopefully apple can.

Comment from abstractseaweed:

You've probably already found this, but just in case here's a similar sounding issue.

Have you tried other characters or accounts?

Comment from gregstoll:

That is a crazy crazy solution, but I'm not above voodoo and I'll give it a shot at home. (it does happen on both of my characters that can go to the Outlands, though)

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