After over year year without any issue, my computer started crashing when playing Battlefield 3 when using Origin. The error presents itself in the form of a computer lock and will self restart without loading the BIOS, it is almost as if its in a suspended hibernate mode and will not boot into the O/S. I have to power the system down for a minute before rebooting, occasionally having to disconnect the power supply in order to clear the RAM.
As a test I downloaded the Steam client and installed Americas Army 3, within five minutes of game play it froze up with distorted audio as was also the case with Battlefield 3. The same exact symptoms and diagnosis of having to clear my PC RAM in order to facilitate a clean boot.
I can play Skyrim through the Steam client and Command and Conquer 3 through Origin, for hours (Check my logtime X]) without issue for days, weeks and months on end.
I can run virtual machine environments with multiple servers.
I can run Reason and Audacity simultaneously without issue.
Streaming movie content from Netflix is no issue.
I decided to run a thermal test as well as a voltage test. All of my results are nominal and I have used a variety of the Intel Desktop Control Center software to ensure my results were accurate.
What is going on with Microsoft Windows 7 64-Bit? Is my computer hardware to blame?
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional BUILD NUMBER: 7601
RAM 12GB Kingston 1080MHz DDR3 Bank A:B:C
MOBO: Intel DX58SO Version: AAE29331-703
BIOS VER: SOX5810J.86A.5600 July 29, 2013 10
Processor: i7 email@example.com Unlocked
Video: GeForce GTX 550 Ti
Driver Version: 311.06
DX Support : 11.1
Graphics clock 900MHz
Proc Clock: 1800MGz
RAM data rate: 4008MHz
RAM interface: 192-bit
Memory Bandwidth: 96.19 GB/s
Total Available Video Ram on card: 4095MB
My first guess based on your description of the failure mode and steps to recover, would be a bad power supply. I know you did a voltage test, but if it is something only occurring under specific loads of the video card, and dragging another voltage output too low, it would be hard to catch unless you have a way to log all the voltages right up to the moment of the failure. Do you have another power supply you can swap in, just to eliminate that? Or if you have multiple 12v rails, have you tried rebalancing loads (particularly as regards which 12v rail the 550ti is on)?
Also in regards to the 550ti, and your mention of "garbled sound"... The HD Audio modules on that board sometimes cause conflicts/problems. If you are using the motherboard or a pci card audio, and aren't using the Nvidia HD Audio modules on the 550ti, try disabling them in device manager -- and see if that eliminates the problem.
Also, have you tried a newer Nvidia driver than the 311.06 you have now? You might want to try 314.22. Drivers newer than that (the 326/327/331's) seem to have generated a lot of complaints from 500-series owners, but 314.22 was pretty well-respected.
I have seen crashes with similar symptoms that have proven to be audio driver related. Make sure you are running the latest audio driver - and, as AlanScott1 suggests, it's a good idea to upgrade to the latest graphics driver as well...