A7V333 nightmare, all help pls wanted - advice pls

Ok, here is the long of it, forgive me but I am trying to cover all bases.
I built, with the assistance of a good friend who is very experienced in the building of PCs a nice little PC for myself.

Its basics were an ASUS A7V333 Motherboard (we updated the BIOS the week after we burned everything in - a week burn in time with no probs). An AMD XP1700 Chip, Win98SE, 512 PC2700 RAM (single chip, made my Corsair) an 80gig Seagate HD (we did have to get a patch from MS as 98 doesnt see HD larger than 80, or so they said, it fooled the OS into allowing this space to be accessable) a floppy, DVD and CD/RW and an older SB512 soundcard he said was nicer than the onboard sound the Mb had, and it was a freebie. The box was made by Enermax, and came with a 350watt powersupply. Windows Office 2000 Pro and a lot of games, I got it mostly for games, the video card was a G-Force 3 the really nice 64MB ones that ran around 300$ back before they started coming out with all the MX and diff kinds. This was to replace my older Dell P3733i.

Well to make a long story short, this AMD PC was the worst machine I have ever had. It would crash regularly, as in 5x-10x, sometimes 20times a day. I tried flash BIOS, I kept up with the MS service packs, there were no conflicts I could find, though Norton ServiceWorks or whatever their software with the virus detector, disk doctor, and the whole suite of software on it kept calling up an error that Symantec said was not critical, it was a windows opmization error they suspected was caused by the patch for the 80gig HD.

Well I got sick of all the crashes and finally took it to a professional this weekend. PLUS I was not impressed by the speed of the AMD XP1700 chip. It was not even slightly faster than the P3 733 (allegedly operating at close to 2x the speed) at 1.5gig or so, and I couldnt STAND it crashing everytime I looked at it sideways - I bought Windows XP OS on the word of a friend that winXP should stablize things out.

Well winXP did a partial install then crashed and bluescreened, I couldnt boot from floopy (XP has moved 'beyond' that) so I was stuck with a PC which kept restarting, welcome to XP and crashing and restarting. 10 hours of this and I decided to take it to a pro.
For 400$ (and I gave him the XP1700 chip) I asked for this: a new XP2600 chip installed, flash and update the BIOS on the ASUS, and install winXP the OS and make sure my Office 2000 Pro software was fine and stable, and make sure my data was intact. He said these things were done and I saw it reboot 2 or 3 times in the shop. I have a brand new power strip at home, 2 of them, by the way, its not them, and the Dell is what Im writting on now its purring away. Well you guessed it...

I got it home and plugged it in, and it crashed. Allegedly all my data is now gone. XP is not stable. Office 2000 Pro, which disks I gave him for install he did not install is not on the PC and not 'stable' (I own non-pirated EXPENSIVE copies of software, and it seems too much to expect it to work? Do I need to believe MS and buy OfficeXP as well? He apparently expected me to do install the Office software and move these folders and data around, , and move the files myself (I do not know how and made this clear, I am 100% helpless at this, he had like 5 different 'users' on the HD and was trying to explain how to move data, I just wanted him to do it, it was part of the contract).

Questions: Is ASUS A7V333 some sort of terrible motherboard?
Is XP a notably more stable OS? Have I been reamed? Should I just spend 2k and get another Dell, which never once glitched on me? Will the AMP XP2600 chip (operating at 333FSB on the ASUS board now) be NOTICE - as in "WOW" Noticably faster? What the heck is going on? Any ideas PLEASE HELP.
***
Thus far the following have all been eliminated except #2,
(the notes after the suggested problems are the reasons why they were eliminated - if you see an error PLS speak up :)

I have been told these might be issues:
1) Power Supply is only 350W Enermax not 450
has nothing to do with the issue at hand since you aren't running a bajillion devices.

2) ASUS A7V333 may have leaking capacitors (www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEB...ncap.html)
i found this myself and it looks like this is what might be causing the issue

3) My RAM might not be optimal for my board (it is DDR2700 512 Corsair RAM, 1 stick, no probs with a memory app checker)
has nothing to do with this issue. aslong as your comp boots past POST (power on self test, basically those beeps you hear at the beginning) with the ram and you don't get a memory error on your bios screan (when you see the black screan at first boot up that shows how much ram you have) you're all good.

4) heat on CPU (Motherboard Moniter 5 shows not running exceptionally hot - 5 fans in case)
nope, not the heat. heat will only be a factor after a few hours of running and if your bios doesn't show alot of heat on boot up than chances are the fans are running.

5) Mb may not be optimalized for 333FSB of new chip - it is
nothing to do with issue

6) Mb Flash BIOS outdated - its not
since you've already flashed it than this is irrelevant.
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More about a7v333 nightmare wanted advice
  1. The final BIG crash with 'total loss' according to the tech who I paid 400$ to make sure this didnt happen, was related to (I try to recall) the fact I tried to install XP the OS by MS, over 98SE my OS at the time. It hung, and began a series of reboot, welcome to XP, reboot, for many hours.
    I saw text saying that the file or disk 00007 or something was being analized (a % at a time) and the tech said that meant the HD completely wiped itself.
    I have no idea why it was doing this stuff. BEFORE the crashes were regular and seemed to be random, sometime stack errors (which I tried to fix according to MS info) others were lots of "fatal exceptions OE something" and were as common as fleas on a dog. Daily, multiple times daily.
    But what upsets me is I bought the XP2600 AMD chip, and MS XP (OS) and brought my Office 2000 Pro pack to the tech, asking him to update my OS, install the chip, flash the BIOS and install the Office software, and to move my data to the new OS in a way I could understand and access, and please not lose anything. I got back a PC that at first boot in my home crashed, apparently reformatted its HD, and lost everything, he hadnt backed up anything, claims it is too late, and never installed the Office suite. This ran me 400$ without parts for the chip which he charged a fair 174$ for, I felt.
    I hope this helps, and tomorrow when I can talk to him I will try to get more technical asnswers for you, with my thanks, to assist me if you have the time.
    Sincerely,
    Jim aka Gileas
  2. Give me 24 hours, and I will report back :) Things are at an interesting stage.
    Thanks so much for the thorough advice.
    Gileas
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