screen blacks out, error message

I’m not exactly sure if this is a graphics card problem or not, but I really think it is.

Ok, I have a pretty outdated system which I purchased from Micron (now Mpc) about 5 years ago. I would like to eventually build my own system, but I am financially unable to. Anyway here are my current specs:

Pentium 3 866 mhz
1 gig ram
ATI Radion 9700pro (bought at about a year ago)
I also have a wacom tablet

So here is my problem:

I've been playing with Blender, a free 3d modeling program, it’s been working great (until recently). After a few hours of use, the monitor goes blank for about a second, and then comes back on, with an error message that mentions a hardware lock has occurred, and it is entering software render mode. I can go back to hardware render if I restart the computer. This also happens when I try playing 3d video games like The Movies.

About a week ago, we had a problem with our water heater. The computer is located right in front of the door where the water heater is. Since I was half asleep, I pulled out the power plug from the back. No, the computer was off when I did this. I hope this didn't hurt anything though....

I also have been annoyed with my mouse. I have already cleaned it, and it still has problems moving correctly. So now, I use the mouse that came with the Wacom Tablet.

The reason I mentioned both was that this blackout problem hasn't occurred since the water heater incident & the beginning use of the wacom mouse. Am I looking at an incompatibility with the wacom mouse & the video card, or has something finally gone on the fritz with just my card?

I'm not really sure where to start. This machine is pretty much my lifeline to the internet & graphics right now. I have no way of upgrading for at least a year. I don't want to screw up anything any more than it already is....Just being really cautious.

Any help or comments would be greatly appreciated....

Mr. S
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  1. I could be wrong on this...but I have seen alot of ATI 9700PRO cards give the "Microsoft Crash Analysis" and reporting "hardware failure". It ends up being the 9700. That is the only card I've seen it with, and I've seen it about four times...most likely it is the video card. First unplug the card then reconnect it firmly, even if it is seated fine to begin with. If problems persist afterward--yup most likely the card is dying.
  2. actually, the message was from the VPU recovery within the card. However, I will try to change up the video card this weekend. I'll tell ya what happens.

    Thank you :)

    Mr. S
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