2GHz Pentium 4
Intel D845EPT2 motherboard (Dell)
1GB PC2700 RAM
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB
SoundBlaster Live Value
16X Lite-On DVD-ROM
NEC 3540A DVD Burner
250W Dell PSU
My computer locks up whenever I try to play a game. When I load a game, such as NHL 2005 or Star Wars Battlefront, I notice a speckling of little dots all over the screen and other graphical distortions. Sometimes I can actually get into the game and play a little before it freezes but lately it's just been freezing during the first few load screens. When the computer crashes, it doesn't just freeze with the game on the screen. The video feed completely dies and my monitor goes into its test mode as if the computer is not turned on or the video cable is not attached.
When this first started a few months ago, a friend suggested that it might be due to overheating since I leave my computer on for extended periods of time and the inside of my case tends to get dusty. We thoroughly cleaned out any dust and even applied new heatsink grease between the graphics chip and cooling fan. The problem seemed to go away for a while but it started again recently and now it's happening all the time, not just occasionally. The computers runs everything perfectly fine except for games.
I've heard of similar problems being caused by weak power supplies. My PSU, motherboard, and CPU are all over 3 years old. They were some of the original components in a Dell Dimension 4500. I'm only playing games that I've had for a while and they always used to work without any problems. Is it possible that the power supply has weakened over time? Or is something else causing this problem?