High hardware and DPC - MB, CPU, or GPU?

Sorry if I'm posting in the wrong area.

I purchased an EVGA NVidia 550ti Fermi earlier this year and got intermittent BSODs, high Hardware (HW) and DPC's, mouse would not work intermittently (connected 2nd PS2 and keep it handy). RMA'd the card and received a refurbished. EVGA tech wanted me to uninstall all AMD drivers via 'driver sweeper', but told them I would not because it would also delete Chipset/CPU drivers. The refurbished card has given me 4 BSODs, but still pointed to drivers - still high HW and DPCs with system lagging and freezing when playing shockwave player games (could not play any Steam games) and cannot watch YouTube videos. Ran Memtest86 on RAM, frequently check MB, CPU, power and temp (all within norms). Physically checked RAM via removal and switch out - all good. EVGA wants me to test the card in another system, but cannot. Told me to test in a clean install too.

I've just done the clean install (which was a nightmare because of MS update ONLY functioning with SP3 level systems on XP and also installing separate, compatible update software you have to hunt down yourself). System was running fine until I installed the Hi-Def Audio portion of the GPU drivers (as far as hw and dpc go), but even the regular nvidia driver didn't seem to work (bad screen lag, etc. - as if there wasn't a GPU installed and it was just running off on-board). I've checked and rechecked seating on all power and into slots on EVERYTHING.

Now, when I uninstall the 550ti and install old card (7600GT), I'm still getting the problems whereas during the 1st RMA period, system was stable. Same driver is required for both now whereas not before.

The MB is older AM2/AM2+, but still new - installed this time last year (used everything else from old system with same specs). I did not have these problems until I installed the 550ti. Is there a way to find out what, exactly, is causing the hw and DPC interrupts on XP PRO MCE2005? I cannot afford to replace very much (if at all) and EVGA is not wanting to RMA this 2nd card unless I can demonstrate that its the card hardware (which seems unlikely now since my old card -or the system - has problems with the driver too). I had the 306.23 driver install on original card and installed the updated 306.81 on refurb after clean install.

Process explorer shows the high hw and dpcs, but I cannot find any utility/tools to show where they are coming from for XP (such a thing can be tested on Vista and W7). I have not installed DPC latency checker because it won't show anything different that I know of.

OS: MCE 2005 (Roll-Up2) - XP SP3 - 32(x86)
CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4400+,
MMX, 3DNow
RAM: 2048MB DDR2 800Mhz x2
PSU: BFG 1000W Modular
GPU: EVGA NV 550 ti Fermi
TV T: Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 250 connected to STB digital
LINKSYS PCI card for wireless to Linksys router via Cox Cable modem
CASE: NZXT 410 Mid-tower (stock 3 x 120m fans)
HDD: WD Green 1TB, Seagate 500G SATA, 2x External WD
My Book 1TB (not continuously connected externals)
DVD: 1 each HP lightscribe and LG

FYI, the CPU driver was installed from Windows Update (had the Mobo cd, but CPU was from older system and couldn't find -- did not realize until re-install). I have not flashed the BIOS (never done that and a little frightened at this time to do and completely fry - is that possible?), and I have not gone to NVidia site to see if I can get a driver for the CPU rather than keep the one MS loaded.

I was running ASUS utilities for heat and voltage, but I can uninstall PSU and check physically (although none of my symptoms point to power issues). I am running CPU with stock sink and fan, but heat has not been an issue that I can identify. I was going to install an after-market AFTER I bought the 550ti, but then all the problems started and have not gone back to do that. I can, if you suggest, re-seat the CPU. I don't want to have to buy a new one and then fight with Microsoft on OS (and I definitely can't afford new OS W7 even though I would love it). If I have to I can get new RAM - although the DDR2 is more $$ than 3 now, so I'm in a pickle.

One more FYI - I gave specs for all PCI slot usage because someone might know of driver issues with those. I waited until after the problems manifested on clean install to install the Hauppage drivers (so I am ruling them out as an issue).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. What is high hardware and dpcs? If you don't mind me asking.
  2. Darkoil: Do you have Process Explorer (a Windows Sysinternals utility/software similar to - and can replace - Task Manager)? Process Explorer shows DLL's and handles that are being opened by which file, etc., etc., and it shows more processes than Task Manager in order to determine how everything is working and what programs/process that shouldn't be there (Task Manager on Steroids). It shows Hardware and DPC (Delayed Procedure Calls) percentages and how the CPU is handling them. The following is from technet regarding multi processors:

    "On a multiprocessor system, interrupt-activity rates on different processors indicate how your system is distributing its workload among the available processors. Similar to context-switching rates, interrupt-activity rates can reveal distribution of work in a way that is inefficient and costly in terms of overall performance.

    Most SMP systems can distribute hardware interrupts for handling on any of the processors. This allows interrupts to be handled by all processors, rather than concentrating the load on a single processor. In general, distributing interrupts provides better throughput. However, this depends greatly on the workload being processed. " - - - There was a better explanation, but I could not find it to give you the reference - DANG IT!

    Basically, when hardware or drivers are malfunctioning (or could be a CPU malfunction too), the rate of CPU power and bogging down can shut down your system because there are too many DPCs for the CPU to work through and portion - - - Hardware can cause interrupts too that the CPU has to portion out. Have you ever had a virus or malware that shot your CPU use to 80% - 100% and your system basically froze up because it didn't have enough processing power left to handle any more? This utility can identify what programs are running (like task manager), but it also shows the DLL's, handles, and other files each process is accessing in addition to percentage of load on the CPU. I was able to see the reported HW and DPCs percentage and double check each scvhost exe and other programs to make sure each was running from a valid file and wasn't accessing dll's in strange areas (in case it was a virus masking itself).

    Unfortunately, this utility does not show where the HW interrupts and DPC's (latency) are coming from - - also doesn't show what is hardware and what are DPCs. They are lumped together. The BSODs I got were all pointing to drivers. My system, after clean install, was good and fast until I installed the Hi-Def Audio drivers (4 of them) for the 550 ti. Now pulling up FireFox or IE8 shoots HW and DPCs to over 50% CPU until after complete load of the page (which is taking a long time to load). They do drop back down until I try to open a new tab or watch a video in either of the browsers, and it even shoots up to over 20% (or more) while playing simple games (Majong, or TexTwist on Shockwave). Reinstalling games from my Steam account is shooting up the HW/DPCs to over 40% and system gets so slow it is agonizing. Watching YouTube videos has rocketed to over 80% and I've had to stop them from playing or risk system freeze.

    I don't understand all of the HW and DPC stuff myself (in specifics - I do in theory), but I'm going by this utility's read (as well as regular old Task Manager) on CPU load and system performance.

    Sorry my reply was so long to such a short question!!!
  3. Did I post in the wrong area after all? Have I given too much 'my opinion' stuff that I've bored everybody? Does anyone have any questions for me to clarify anything? If you think I've gone off the deep end - just tell me. I could be making this too difficult on myself when the answer is a simple 'dump the card,' maybe 'buy a new cpu,' 'go ahead and get new ram.'

    Desperate for help!!!
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