I built my computer back in summer of '06 and ever since, it's had issues with random freezing-- like every few days it would just freeze and emit a high-pitched beep. A few months ago I discovered the Creative X-Fi Extreme Music had this exact problem, and so I removed my sound card and it worked fine for about a week.
Then the freezes started again, this time without a high-pitched beep. Just random freezes, and it would be very difficult to recover from them. About 1 in 10 times I'd have to completely reinstall Windows because none of the recovery options worked. At one point it wouldn't even get through POST, but after a bios update (it finally got through POST after lots of attempts) that was fixed.
However, as of a few days ago, it will NOT let me do anything with the hard drives. I get to the Windows installation select screen (dual booting with XP and 7) and it says the bootloader is corrupt and can't be fixed. I try to repair with the cd and it just says "it can't". I then try to install with the CD and it freezes when attempting to format. It also sometimes freezes before that point.
So I've narrowed it down to either a power supply issue or a motherboard issue. I don't think it's the hard drives, because I have 5 of them, and changing them around / unplugging them doesn't make any difference-- I don't think all 5 would have died at once.
My question is: is there an easy way to determine what is causing the problem between these 2 possibilities? I do not have a spare motherboard or PSU, so swapping one out isn't really an option. Even an educated guess?
EDIT: I've also tried running DBAN on the drives, and it either gets to 0.04% and says "completed with non-fatal errors" after a few minutes, or else it freezes after about 1 minute with no message.
EDIT 2: Forgot technical details..
Motherboard: Asus M2N32-SLi Deluxe
CPU: Athlon X2 4600+
PSU: 500W modular... can't remember the brand right this second.
Hard drives: 5x Seagate Barracuda SATA2 7200RPM 300GB
Video card: Radeon 4890 HD (switching to my old EVGA 6800XT makes no difference)
Sound: Creative X-FI Extreme Music (removed at the moment, still experiencing problem)
So what hardware have you tested other than the hdd's?
In my experience running a windows repair on Win7 sometimes takes 3 or more tries before it works, not sure why.
What are your cpu temps under load? Have you checked to make sure your cpu fan spins?
Have you tried another power supply?
I have only tried the HDDs and video card because I don't have replacement hardware for anything else. I'm trying to figure out what it might be before guessing and buying a new piece.
CPU temperatures have always been in the 40s, so there's no problems there. And yeah, the fan is spinning fine, my case has a window so I can watch it. Also, I think usually the mobo cuts off power to the CPU when it overheats, as opposed to just stalling.
It's definitely not a problem with the OS either, as it won't even run DBAN or let me reinstall from the setup CD (and I've tried a few CDs).