Ask the Expert: Fixing a broken internet
It's Wednesday here on the PC Gamer blog which means that we're late in posting our PC Gaming helpdesk. Our resident tech doctor, Adam Oxford, is in and ready to dispense diagnostic advice. He'll also answer all your hardware related questions. Except, “where do chips come from, Mummy”? You're far too young to know.
Fixing a broken internet
I use a wireless for my gaming machine, because it’s unfeasible to get a wired connection, mainly because this isn’t my house and thus my PC (Which is in my room) is nowhere near the router. Recently I’ve been getting dropped from the internet, but still being connected to the router. I can still access the router and edit the settings if I need to, but any internet browsing gets me disconnected.
I only get dropped if I open up the internet. Steam chat works fine, Thunderbird works fine, and the last time I this happened (It fixed itself somehow…) I could browse using the in game Steam browser.
PCG:Ah... The mystery of the dropped internet. I have a laptop at home which regularly 'breaks' my WiFi and can only be cured by resetting the router. I've tried blaming interference from neighbours' networks, bad drivers and even Windows 7, but while all are plausible, finding a cure is going to take me a lot longer than the 30 seconds it costs to restart the router. So the wisest use of my time is to leave things as they are.
In your case, though, this sounds like it relates to the specific browser you're using, doesn't it? Have you tried using a different web browser, like Firefox or Opera? Or reinstalling whichever one you're using? It could be a good old fashioned bug, or it could be a piece of malware that has installed itself into your browser and is overloading your net connection with requests when it starts.
Smokin' hot graphics
When you turn a TV on to static, you can see a horizontal line usually crawling it's way down the screen. That's started happening to my PC while I'm playing games. It makes texts and interface flicker, and persists until you either quit the game, or temporarily remedy it with the solution (mentioned below).
Usually the symptom is accompanied with ludicrous amounts of lag. Pausing the game, alt-tabbing, and then going back into the game usually solves temporarily, but the problem likes to persist... a lot. I also attribute it as a primary factor of why I've stopped playing ME2.
PCG:In your forum post, you mentioned that you'd recently moved your PC, which leads me to think this is likely to be one of two things. Either the graphics card has come slightly adrift in its slot, and this is interference caused by bad contacts, or it's an overheating problem. Try taking the card out of your PC and putting it back in firmly, if that doesn't cure it, check the GPU and CPU heatsinks for dust build up. As a last resort, try removing the CPU heatsink to clean it and reapply thermal paste.
I am using a AMD Phenom II X4 965. I was replacing the stock heatsink with an Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 7 Rev. 2, but when I unlatched the stock heatsink and pulled it from the motherboard, the themal paste stayed on the CPU and pulled it out of the socket while the locking lever was down. I removed the CPU from the heatsink without touching the bottom and meticulously checked the pins for any defects and found none with my naked eye. I cleaned the leftover paste off the top of the CPU with rubbing alcohol, dried it, and reapplied new paste (with a pea-sized dab in the middle) and attached the new cooler. Everything seems to be working fine.
Is there anything I can do to see if the CPU was damaged in some way? The CPU is new so I am not too familiar with how it should be acting normally. Any methods I can use in the future to make sure this doesn't happen again?
PCG:As stupid as it sounds, I've had exactly the same problem with AMD chips being torn out of their sockets several times in the past. At first I thought I hadn't fitted it properly, but when it happened a second time I just got more careful. It is possible for pins to break off when this happens, but unless you can one see one sticking out of the socket, then you should be fine. While the hatred I feel towards AMD's overly delicate design is real, the chips themselves are ludicrously tough. I've repaired many bent Athlon and Phenom pins following workshop accidents over the years using nothing more sophisticated than a ball point pen.