Elaborate story (and detailed computer specs). Reading the whole thread might help narrow things down.
CPU - Intel i7-3770K (3.5GHz)
GPU - GeForce GTX 670
Mobo - Intel DZ77BH-55K
RAM - Patriot 16GB DDR3
SSD - Crucial M4 128GB SATA III
HDD - Barracuda 1TB SATA 6.0Gb/s
Wifi - TP-Link TL-WN951N
PSU - Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 850W
I've had five fresh Windows 7 installs on a computer I built. The first two were trivial; I changed my mind about how I wanted to set things up so I started fresh.
For the third install, I changed a BIOS profile for my RAM to one that came from the manufacturer and I used an NTSF junction to move the Users dirrectory onto the regular harddrive (as oposed to the SSD, where the rest of the system was). After installing the drivers, I started letting Windows update and I got a BSOD:
"A process or thread crucial to system operation has unexpectedly exited or been terminated."
Error code 0x000000F4
Drivers were all up to date, but the Windows updates were failing and the BSOD kept popping up on occasoin (randomly, not necessarily when updating). I decided to format both drives and start again with the default memory profile and no junction tricks for the Users folder. Again, installed the drivers and started updating. This time, the updates finished but I still got the occasional BSOD. Checked all the drivers and things were up to date.
Tried Memtest86+ and Windows Memory Diagnostics - neither found anything. When I pulled out each chip and let the other run for a while, I still got random BSODs like before. I've had two other BSOD errors appear, but only once each:
Error code 0x00000074
While running ChkDsk (fix)
Error code 0x0000007A
The other BSOD (0xF4) has occurred randomly during boot, installs, updates, logins, and even while idle. Sometimes it comes after a couple minutes - sometimes a couple hours. None of the BSODs create a dump file and all of them require hard restarts (auto restart is diabled now, although it didn't restart when it was enabled anyway).
I thought maybe the SSD was to blame, so I partitioned the HDD and made a fresh Windows 7 instal on the new volume. I installed the wifi and GPU drivers, then let Windows start updating before installing the mobo drivers. While installing the updates, I got the same BSOD as usual (0xF4). I tried continuing the updates after restarting twice, but the system froze and the OS failed both times. That volume has since been formatted and the merged.
Could a fault in the motherboard or processor be to blame? Are there any sorts of tests I can do to check this? Or is there a compatibility issue that I haven't noticed? I really want to isolate the issue so I can RMA if needed.
The issue you are experiencing could be related to either the memory sticks you are using or the memory controller for your Intel i7-3770K. Test with minimum memory installed, swap memory and let us know the exact part number for the memory sticks you are using in order to confirm compatibility.
I talked with the brother of a friend of mine - he manages a local geek squad. He suggested that I remove the SSD and Wifi adapter and told me to do a clean install again on the HDD.
After doing all that, I installed the motherboard drivers and everything was fine. After installed the graphics drivers, though, the problem came back up. I've heard that the 300 series drivers for NVIDIA drivers can be problematic and he told me the same thing. Now I'm confident that it is the graphics drivers causing the BSODs.
To be sure, I put everything back together and I'm now installing all drivers and essential software except for the graphics drivers. If nothing goes wrong, I think it's safe to say that the graphics drivers are to blame.
Only problem is, I don't know which version to fall back on. It's a GTX 670, and the 200 series drivers don't list 600 series GPUs in their comparability lists. Would they be safe to use anyway?
Also, the model for the memory is PGD316G1600ELK.