Among the various things I have been looking into while trying to identify the origin of PC crashes I have already been disucssing (I was looking for possible explanations in the possible death of RAM memory), I went and checked the graphics card.
Apparently, there lies the origin of my recent PC problems. It appears that the replacement of the current AGP ATI 9800 pro card with an old AGP ATI 7200 card led to a total disparition of the issues. Of course, I lost a tremendous amount of 3D graphics performance, but it still has the capacity to drive the CRT to high resolutions like 2048*1536 (did you notice that high-resolution is no longer a constraint for graphics cards? It’s only the display that introduces some kind of limitation).
I am a little unsure about the exact reason, but it seems that the cause of the problems is that the small fan cooling the GPU has been ageing and is now longer runnning fast enough to keep it quiet. I suppose that if I would try to run 3D games, it would fail even more quickly. Unfortunately, there is no speed control for the GPU fan on this family of PowerColor ATI cards. So, I can’t check the exact speed but the temperature of the metal heatsink is defintely too high to touch it after a few minutes of operation. I will have to either replace the heatsink and fan or move to a high-power solution.
Knowing that we are discussing the arrival of kick-ass new games like Bioshock, STALKER and Crysis (all these FPS games will have a hard time with only a Athlon2600+ AMD CPU and ATI 9800pro), you can imagine that I won’t jump on a new card, but I am clearly preparing for a shift to a completely new platform. It is already planned, so the only question is “what graphics card will it be receiving?”
Last minute note: I have been able to replace the failing fan with another one (I had to push hard to insert the new ones, but it won’t move now and air is still flowing correctly). This seems to solve the issue. Confirmation of the initial analysis.