Why does Half-life Alyx crash to desktop every few minutes?



  • Other games are fine, but Alyx crashes to desktop every 10 minutes or so, or sometimes even restarts.

    At first I couldn't even get past the menu. Googling told me to update the Oculus software on my PC, which worked.

    But the crashes persist.

    This is a not-uncommon problem. Other suggestions online include:

    • Updating drivers for headset/GPU/etc
    • Verifying integriti of game files in Steam
    • Increasing Windows VM max size (or ticking the box to let Windows handle it)

    But none of these worked.

    A lot of people suggested a hardware issue, and replacing my PSU or CPU or GPU might be needed. But I'd at least want to get some confirmation of which part is bad before spending the time and money replacing it



  • It ended up being the CPU overheating, above 90°C. This can cause math/logic errors.

    It stumped me because it was only happening in Half-life Alyx. But it was just that Alyx is a more demanding game than any I've been playing recently (trying to achieve the high framerates needed for decent VR was really working it, even on lowest setting - which still looks amazing, by the way).

    CPU is an AMD Ryzen 3 3300x with the included Wraith Stealth cooler. The thermal paste looked very dry and not spread evenly when I removed it to take a look. Wiped it off with alcohol wipes, applied new paste. It works fine now.

    If Half-life Alyx (or any demanding game) crashes a lot on you, try downloading a benchmark tool that can focus on components one at a time and see which one fails (I used the free trial of passmark's BurnInTest, but others should work too).

    CPU-specific tests in this tool failed for me, and recorded temps above 90c, so that's how I knew to check the CPU cooler and the thermal paste.

    Without this I might have been wasting money on a new PSU or even GPU.




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