My system has been rock solid up until the past few days. I've noticed when watching videos like DivX, Xvid, etc that the audio would "pop" and today I noticed a fair bit of visual artifacts, i.e. bright spots would show up in the video and then go away, etc.
The audio popping has been happening for a few days, but the video artifacts just started today, so I'm wondering if the problem is getting worse. I ran the western digital HDD diagnostic program, and checked my temps and voltages and everything seemed okay. The only thing that slightly worried me was my +12V was reading between 11.7V and 11.78V, that seemed kind of low but I'm not an expert on such things.
According to the ASUS PC Probe, my case and CPU temps are both below 100 degrees fahrenheit and the Nvidia control panel reports that my GPU temp is between 48-50 celsius.
My system specs are as follows. Nothing is, or has ever been, overclocked. My system is also on a UPS, so I don't think this could be a power problem.
ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe
Athlon 64 4000+ San Diego
(2) 512MB Crucial Ballistix 2-2-2-6
WD 300GB IDE HDD
eVGA 7900GT Signature Series
Is this happening to all movies you watch?
Because it may be a corrupted/not as good DivX file.
Or maybe you have the wrong codecs installed. Or too many.
I don't think this is hardware related.
Try uninstalling all your codecs, and install something like ACE Mega Codec Pack. I don't know if that's the best codec pack, but it works for me. And I think it has an option to uninstall all other codecs during its install process.
Yes, it happens for everything and it just started suddenly. I haven't added or removed any codecs recently and everything used to play fine. I'm certain it's not the video files because I've watched them before and they never exhibited this problem. The audio popping also happens in games, so I don't think it could be codec related.
Are there any easy to use whole-system stress tests that could help me determine if something is going bad?
I think all you really need to do is uninstall then reinstall your audio and video drivers. It doesn't seem your system is overheating which is the typical cause of graphic artifacts. The audio popping could be due to old speakers or in the case of integrated audio bad interferance from other components.