TLDR: Custom built PC, worked fine for years. USB ports have started becoming intermittently faulty and need unplugging or a reset to sort them out. Causes external USB sound card to underperform and is creating latency/buffer issues. Sometimes sound card will crash and distort. WiFi dongle (frequent disconnects), keyboard dongle (sometimes key strokes slow right down to the point you can't use the keyboard) , and my USB hard drive also causes problems.
Last year I started having problems with my custom build PC. It worked for a good 4-5 years in its current state, and I'm quite adept at both building and solving problems. However, the solution to the problem I am currently having evades me, because I'm struggling to find a way (that I know of... hopefully that will be resolved), to test it and find the component which failed.
I have a Corsair HX520w PSU and a ASRock H87 Pro4 Motherboard (I'll post the full specs at the bottom of the post). The motherboard has rear USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports connected directly to the board, and also I have an external USB 2.0 panel built into the case and connected to the motherboard via the motherboards USB 2.0 header. The external USB 2.0 panel is also connected to the PSU, so it is not powered by the motherboard.
I first started experiencing problems last year when listening to music. I output sound to my speakers via a mid-range Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 Soundcard (with its own power supply, and connected via USB 2.0). The music would play for about 10-60 seconds before suddenly glitching and distorting, somewhat akin to a buffer override. The sound card would then crash and need resetting. I initially thought it was the sound card which was at fault, and tried many different latency/buffer settings (I'd used the same settings for about two years and they were perfect), music players (foobar, vlc), and reinstalling the drivers, changing performance preference settings, etc. I had the sound card plugged into the USB 3.0 ports, and whilst I know this can be problematic given that the sound card is USB 2.0, it worked without error for a number of years.
I had recently purchased a TP-Link PCI-E WiFi adapter and I found that it helped to remove this from the computer and revert a USB WiFi dongle, and also to remove my soundcard, and all other devices, from the USB 3.0 ports on the back of the motherboard, as the ports seemed to stop working one by one. It should be noted that I believe these failures to be quite random and intermittent.
I currently have the soundcard plugged into a USB 2.0 port on the back of my computer, and a mouse plugged into the other USB 2.0 port which is next to it. On the front USB panel I have a WiFi dongle, and my logitech wireless keyboard 'nano reciever'. Occasionally I also attach a USB drive or an external hard drive (which is powered by the USB).
- The rear motherboard USB 3.0 ports seem to be very temperamental and generally problematic.
- The rear motherboard USB 2.0 ports seem to be generally okay (they do not fail, iirc), but the sound card still has issues with latency problems (noticeable when producing music in Ableton Live) and crashing/distorting (very infrequently).
- The front panel USB 2.0/header ports work sometimes, but occasionally crash. For example, the wireless keyboard will sometimes become slow and unresponsive, the WiFi dongle will disconnect/fail and will need to be swapped to another port. Or sometimes a USB drive won't be recognised, stuff like that.
Also, when I connect my external hard drive (which again, does not have its own power supply), it will sometimes take a long time to load and hang. It will also then cause my primary and secondary internal SSD drives to hang, when they do not ordinarily do this. For example, I will try to load up 'my computer', and it will just try to load indefinitely, and freeze. Only a restart resolves this. Also, if I run the very comprehensive and accurate search software 'Everything', it will not recognise/see the vast majority of my hard disk contents, like half the index is missing. However, all of this only ever happens if I have connected my external hard drive. The SSD's are usually absolutely fine, and are indexed fine/do not hang.
I can tell that something is not working properly. All the problems were hugely exasperated when I connected the TPLINK WiFi adapter to the PCI-E slot, until I removed it. Same with anything being in the USB 3.0 ports, or the external hard drive being connected.
But regardless, my USB devices are not functioning correctly. My sound card used to be fine when using Ableton Live, but now I have to set the buffer samples way higher than I ever did, and it can't handle anywhere near as much with regards to latency. It feels like it is not operating at fully capacity, but I don't think it's the soundcard which is faulty.
I am assuming that this is a problem with the PSU or the motherboard. All my drivers are up to date (soundcard, motherboard & all other components), as is my MB bios, and I have tried reinstalling both Windows 7 and Windows 10 on numerous occasions to attempt to solve the issue; I really highly doubt it's software based. I have also tried removing and reinstalling cables on the motherboard and cleaning/dusting, stuff like that.
An interesting thing to note is that when all this started happening I was using the onboard graphics. I have since installed a Geforce GTX 750 Ti which draws an extra 60w of power from the PSU, but there has been no noticeable impact on the issues. Interestingly, I can do things like play games with no performance loss. It just seems to be anything associated with USB with is problematic.
I'm thinking about purchasing a new PSU or new motherboard in an attempt to solve this, and I was just wondering if there is anything I can do to isolate the cause of the problem, or if anybody here can speculate as to what could be causing all of this.
Sorry, I know that's a huge wall of text, but I'm just trying to be as precise as possible.
Thanks for any help.
Edit: When typing this, without having played any music, I went to play a track in foobar and windows said it couldn't recognise the device (sound card). A restart fixed it.
The USB hard drive will cause my entire system to hang, and won't index files properly when once the problems arise (intermittent/temperamental). Happens on rear motherboard USB 2.0 ports which work okay but not to full capacity, and especially on the rear motherboard USB 3.0 ports (which are pretty much a write off). A USB panel connected to the USB header on the MB is also intermittently faulty. A PCI-E WiFi adapter greatly exasperated the sound card latency issues, and was removed. System seems otherwise okay, but problems arise with USB and perhaps PCI-E.
Intel Core i5 4440 @ 3.10GHz
ASRock H87 Pro4 Motherboard | Socket LGA 1150
Corsair HX520w PSU
16GB DDR3 1333 MHz Corsair Ram (2 x 4gb, 1 x 8gb)
Geforce GTX 750 Ti
Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
Samsung SSD 840 EVO 750GB
Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 Soundcard
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.