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This issue seems to have cropped up recently, though I had it before and managed to fix it. I upgrade my video card to an nVidia GeForce 9500 GE, which recommended more power than my stock power supply could produce. I thought I'd ignore it, but I noticed that playing music and doing any sort of work would cause the sound to distort and skip.

I upgraded the power supply to a newer one that was well above the recommended wattage for the video card, and the sound issue went away.

Recently though, it's been happening again and I'm not sure why. It only seems to happen if I'm browsing or playing a game, but just letting the music play causes no problems.

Does anyone have an idea as to what causes this distortion? Is there anything I can do?

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What was the previous video card in the system? What is the voltage of your power supply? – Shinrai Aug 18 '10 at 14:55
Diagnose your hard drive. It might be failing. – user3463 Aug 18 '10 at 15:32
@Shinrai - It was the onboard graphics card for a Dell Dimension E520. Old power supply wattage was 350 (I think), new power supply is 550 (about, can't exactly remember and I'm at work right now). @Randolph Potter - Hmm, I'll check it out – Andrew Burgess Aug 18 '10 at 19:11
up vote 1 down vote accepted

This sounds like a latency problem. Check out your system DPC Latency. If you see any unusual spikes, try disabling devices one at a time to see if you can pin down what's causing it. (You might also try disabling nVidia's apps and services with something like Autoruns; they shouldn't be needed for the drivers to function unless you're doing their spanning or 3D or something.)

That said, it's entirely possible that there's some failing hardware - this might help you pin it down though.

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Updated the nVidia driver and it seems to be better. DPC still spikes, but the sound seems to be less messed up – Andrew Burgess Aug 20 '10 at 4:16
Any improvement is good! Out of curiosity what's the sound in this machine hardware-wise? Using the Dell onboard? – Shinrai Aug 20 '10 at 14:04
Yeah, it's the onboard one – Andrew Burgess Aug 20 '10 at 15:46
Yeah, frankly it might partially just be a lousy audio driver. C'est la vie. – Shinrai Aug 20 '10 at 17:36

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