Diagnostic Software

I have a Toshiba laptop which gives intermittent Blue-Screens-Of-Death.
They vary, but are usually a STOP x124 error in hal.dll (Hardware Abstraction Layer). By process of elimination, I have determined it MUST be on the motherboard, as I have swapped the memory, processor, & hard disk, removed WiFi card, modem, cd-rom, run it from just the battery or just the A/C adapter, It’s not thermal related, have run memtest, installed clean OS, updated drivers, BIOS, etc.
Ok, so I know it’s on the motherboard, probably something with the main chipset, and probably not economically fixable.
But I have run every freeware and evaluation version of diagnostic utilities I can find with a google search, and NONE of them can tell me just what exactly is wrong. They either pass, or blue-screen. And I can’t get it to blue-screen reliably, I have yet to find anything that consistantly triggers it. Linux also crashes with kernel panics and such.
I consider myself pretty good with computers, and this is really bothering my ego and pride that I can’t put my finger on just what the heck the problem is.

Can anyone suggest some good diagnostic software?

Just by the basics, what does the event viewer give as info??

The computer chips themselves (of the chipset) may have been exposed do extreme conditions (temperature, moisture, little bending of the motherboard, etc). Not really a thing you can do about it, since they are welded in the motherboard.

If you leave the computer on in the bios/setup mode for a couple of hours, does the machine also lockup or spontaneosly reboot?

if you havent try it yet: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html

and SysinternalsSuite. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb842062.aspx

Are you sure it’s a hardware issue, and have you tried any of the solutions at http://www.google.com/#hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=STOP+x124+error+in+hal.dll&oq=STOP+x124+error+in+hal.dll&gs_l=hp.12...5308.5308.1.19990.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=d405e8151f1df83c&biw=1024&bih=635? You might also try the restore disk or a fresh Windows install if other solutions fail.

+1 for Blue Screen View. Set Windoz to do a mini-dump and then open that with BSV, it’ll list the offending processes in order of likely cause.

I see a few references to RAM voltage, CPU voltages, etc when this happens during heavy load.

You may find a memory diagnostic tool while you boot entering bios setup

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I’ve tried all of that. I’ve tried BlueScreenView from Nirsoft (great program, love it), and as mentioned above, the errors are usually, but not always in hal.dll. Occasionally some other dll will be mentioned as well. Have tried fresh clean installs of Vista 32-bit and Win 7 64-bit. I have run memtest for days at a time with no errors. And as mentioned above, I have tried every diagnostic utility I could get my hands on. Some windows based, some dos based, some linux based. I removed or replaced every component (except the motherboard itself) that was replaceable, including the processor, memory, hard disk …

When I first started searching for a replacement motherboard, I could only find 2 used ones, and the sellers wanted almost $200. But upon later searches, I found a bunch of new ones in factory sealed bags for under $70. Apparently, Toshiba released some old stock from a warehouse being as the model was now over 3 years old.

I bought one and put it in, and sure enough the problem went away!

Still, though, this is a matter of geek pride. I consider myself a pretty good tech and I’d like to know what was wrong with the old one, just for the sake of knowing. I realize it’s not fixable. Perhaps I will should just accept the fact that I will never know?

Put this way unless you where there when Toshiba did the OEM repacking and programming you will never know what setup they and most likely they will never tell you because of IP. As for BSOD that is a common Windows sys or dll or registry becoming corrupted or over written with a older file thus leading to the eventual BSOD screen you see and experiences. As for the recovery cd/dvd since you didn’t give any background on make and model of laptop or what version the disc are it’s all speculation as to the nature of what lead to the problem.

I did not use the Toshiba factory restore disc, I used a fresh clean known-good copy of the OEM versions of Windows, including XP SP3, Vista 32 Bit, and Windows 7 64-Bit. (It originally came with Vista 32) It crashes with ALL of them. Likewise, various distros of Linux crash with random kernel panics. It’s DEFINITELY a hardware problem with the motherboard, I’m guessing either in the chipset, or perhaps the L3 cache on the motherboard. The bios does not provide a way to turn off the L3 cache, but I’ve run Memtest for days without any problems. It’s not the processor, I changed it and carefully cleaned the new one and the heatsink and applied fresh thermal paste, the fan runs fine, and the CPU temp generally stays under 60° C or less. And as I said in my original post, all the various diagnostic utils from web searches either crashed themselves, or didn’t report any errors. I’ve tried the latest, and older, versions of the bios, and drivers.

It’s just as likely to crash sitting at the desktop as it is running a program. Another weird thing is that it tends to crash shortly after a cold boot, and the longer it runs, the more reliable it gets. I also booted MS-DOS 6.2 from a flash drive, and sitting at the A:> prompt it never crashes, but running dos based diag utils will eventually make it crash.

I have a new motherboard now for it, and it is working great, so it’s kind of a moot point. But for future reference I would like to know of a decent diagnostic utility, one that tests the various functions of the motherboard chipset (SouthBridge, NorthBridge, London Bridge…). I saved the old motherboard BTW. I’m not a newbie, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I happen to think I’m pretty darn good at it, so that is why I am so very frustrated that I can’t seem to put my finger on this problem. As my father used to say when working on a temperamental piece of machinery, “This has aroused my competitive spirit!”