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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi, I'm running a home built computer that looks like this:

CPU - AMD Athlon (x86 family 6 model 8 stepping authenticAMD 501 Mhz)
RAM - Single stick 512MB crucial
Motherboard - ABIT NF7
Graphics - NVidia GeForce FX5600
Sound - Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS

I've never had any problems with it except that it's prone to overheating... until the other day.

On start up, I got a message saying that I didn't have a Soundcard, and I couldn't get any sound on the speakers (obviously). I tried re-installing my drivers, and things were okay until the same thing happened again, and then nothing worked. So I took it out of PCI slot 1, and put it in a new one, and re-installed the drivers again, and things were fine except that occasionally when I plugged something in, or took something out of the soundcard, the computer would freeze and I would need to restart. At this point I did a virus scan, and couldn't find anything. However, eventually, the computer just froze entirely during start up, and continued to freeze every time I re-started (in whatever mode I chose).

At this point I got frustrated, and dismantled the whole thing, cleaning every part as I did so, then put it back together, and things were *almost* fine again.... however, I still have the following 'symptoms':

-My computer is now pretty slow when performing most tasks.
-Processes that shouldn't cause a problem, are taking up nearly 100% CPU.
-For example, playing video files, the frame rate is slow, and the sound skips.
-Image and video editing (which I do a lot of), operations take far too long, and the computer freezes easily.
-It also doesn't handle running multiple programs at the same time well (as you can imagine given the CPU behaviour).
-Anything I put in PCI slot 1 does not work.
- It no longer overheats, in fact, it's running pretty damn cold (which is particualry strange given that the CPU seems to be overly taxed at the moment).

I'm about 95% sure it's not virus or software related, and I don't want to go to the trouble of backing up all my hardrive and reformatting in order to find out.

I can't figure out what the hardware problem would be though (and neither can a few of my tech savvy friends). I would guess it would be a RAM / CPU / Motherboard problem, but I can't be sure, and don't wnat to waste money finding out I was wrong. Could anyone figure out the problem from what I've described?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, the system's about 2 years old, (except for my soundcard and DVD RW), but the powers supply is only 3 or 4 months old because the old one was incredibly noisy, so I replaced it. It's an FSU 'silent solutions' power supply (came in a set with a new CPU fan and a case fan... all of which have performed nicely)... I'm not sure what you mean by size tho?
 
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