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High CPU Utilization every 60-70 seconds

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I have recently purchased a new Alienware Area 51 5500. Right out of the box, I noticed that the system seemed to "hang" for a few seconds every so often. I immediately checked Task manager and found out the SYSTEM process is consuming 50% of the CPU every 60-70 seconds, lasting for about 3 or so seconds. I have the Intel P4 3.4Ghz 2MB Cache HT CPU setting on an ABIT AA8XE 925XE motherboard with 1Gb RAM. I also have two SATA drives at RAID 0. For video, I have the ATI x850 Radeon Platinum Edition PCIExpress 256Mb
When I SAFE BOOT, the CPU still has the problem. When I use MSCONFIG and disable all non-MS processes and reboot, the CPU problem is still there. I have ran virus scan and spyware scans, nothing detected. I booted KNOPPIX, bypassing all Windows stuff, and the CPU showed normal - so, something in Windows XP is doing this I guess? I have done the Windows Memory Test and full hard drive analysis, but all tests came back normal.
Alienware off-shored all their tech support, so working with those folks is a bit slow and tedious. They had me perform a full system restore, and the problem is still there. We updated the BIOS and Chipset drivers - from Alienware's support site, not ABIT's. Still had the problem.

Any hints, ideas or clues? I've sunk a ton of money into this system. Restocking fee is 15%, or over $400! So I'd rather get this fixed. Any help would be appreciated... :tazz:
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let's see if we can narrow it a bit

download process explorer from sysinternals

Unzip, run and go to VIEW in the menu and choose
show process tree
show processes form all users
show unnamed handles
show fractional CPU

you should get a heirarchal view of what's running with a cpu column

when SYSTEM spikes, you should see several processes in this column with numbers--your fractional cpu....what is taking up the cpu time?
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