This question is actually answered, I'm putting it up here since other people might be running into this and it's ultra annoying. Hardware/software involved:
- RME Fireface 400 firewire audio interface
- Dell Vostro 3500 laptop I5 processor 4G ram nvidia geforce 310m graphics
- Firewire 400 Expresscard adapter with VIA chipset
- Cakewalk Sonar 8.5
- Windows 7 pro 64 bit
I used my RME fireface 400 on an older slower XP desktop machine and it worked great at 24bit 96KHz. I bought a new computer recently, and now I'm getting audio dropouts and clicks while playing back sessions that hadn't been a problem on the older machine. Specifically, the audio will play great for a while, then drop out while Sonar's time cursor keeps going. Usually it will start playing again, but not always. Sometimes there are clicks/audio artifacts instead of dropouts.
I can, however, play back 44.1KHz 16 bit files over the laptop's onboard NVidia audio hardware using ASIO-4-ALL without problems.