Bethesda support was nice enough to exchange at least 11 emails with me, but alas, it led nowhere. Here's their last response (emphasis mine):
The links you have provided are only anecdotal evidence at best. Whilst some of those people may be encountering the same symptoms as you are, ie a hardlock on their system, this does not mean that it has a common cause. For example some of the people in one of the threads you are providing have fixed their issue with hardware changes.
Furthermore, all of the tests you have suggested simply prove that your hardware works fine under the conditions that you are testing them under. Not all applications or tests will stress your system the same way. As an example, I had a similar issue to yours on a system I had been using with a different game. I was encountering random crashes and occasional lockups with one single game, all of the stress tests I did showed passed fine, and there were no temperature issues with the system. However as soon as the overclock on the system was removed, this game stopped crashing.
Whilst this is only anecdotal evidence, I hope that it provides some insight as to why I do not believe this to be a game/software related issue.
Now it may be that the game is simply encountering a crash, but because of the configuration of your system, the operating system is unable to handle the crash normally and so the system locks up and restarts. In this case it is very difficult for us to troubleshoot the problem, as we are unable to get any solid crash reports as your system is completely locking up.
With all that said, this game is still one of the best I've seen. For completeness, here's my response to the above email:
I understand and appreciate your time on this. So far the workaround for me when this does happen (and it's rarer now that I've been more frugal with binding spells and weapons/armor to the favorites) is to restart the system, load the last saved game and then make a few changes, create a new save file and then reload that new save file.
That seems to consistently get me past a crash point. The overclock recommendation does not make a difference with my problem since it occurs with normal clock, overclock or underclock. Believe me when I say that I've spent multiple hours troubleshooting this even before contacting support.
With that said, I'm continuing to enjoy the game (2nd character build now) and am looking forward to the DLC/expansion that's been in the news lately. I've also began to experiment with the mods available on
Steam. They definitely add to the replay value for this game, which despite the technical issues I've encountered, I still consider one of the best games made to date.
I'm assuming there was no progress on the save files I've sent previously? Should I encounter another consistent, repeatable, crash, I'll try sending the save game file (along with my .ini files) in the hopes it will increase game stability. Perhaps if a game debugging mode was made available/known, I could provide those logs to Bethesda
Thanks again for your time.