So....I gave up trying to fix this stutter problem a bit ago, though I keep posting here in case someone has a good idea.
However, I've been playing City of Heroes lately and have noticed something odd. Long story short, if I'm in a full 8 man team and the powers are flying, the game turns into a slideshow. Not for a lack of graphic power or ram mind you. All other times the game runs silky smooth with most settings maxed at 1920x1200. Well, I kept fiddling with the graphics eventually flat out turning the res down and turning every single setting to the minimum trying to weed out whatever made my system crawl. What I found out is that at the VERY minimum for graphics I had the exact same hang in teams as I did with settings maxed. It was pretty apparent that it had nothing to do with my graphics. The only thing I could think of that was related to those instances other than graphics was the heavy amounts of sound effects being flung around. Well, I tried turning the sound down to 0, but it seems that it still processes the sound events just doesnt play the sound so that didn't make any difference.
So, today I decided to try an experement. Earlier in this thread I mentioned that I thought the stutter problem might be related to my Audigy NX PCMCIA sound card, and I ran my pc for several hours with the card out and still had the stutter. After that I dismissed that it could be the sound and moved on. Well, with this CoH problem showing now, I got focused on the sound again. What I did was in hardware disabled the onboard sound and the soundblaster, then turned off the laptop, removed the sound card, turned it back on and ran the pc with no hardware for sound at all. Well, the computer has been running for 6 hours straight, playing a graphics intensive 3d game for 5 of those 6, and there is absolutely no stutter. The sutter is most obvious in games and also when my screen saver is running (just the generic starfield); you can see a very clear stutter every 2-3 seconds for about half a second when it's stuttering, and the stuttering usually starts about 2 hours into the system running to a very minor degree and as time goes on just gets worse and worse. By 6 hours the machine would typically be VERY stuttery. But its fine and dandy.
I'm going to leave it on while I go to class here shortly, by the time I get back from class it will have been on for 10 hours straight with half running heavy CPU and graphic processes. If there's still no stutter I'll know it has to be the Soundblaster. I've tried running it with the onboard sound disabled in hardware before and still stuttered. So, if I get home and it's good I'll enable the onboard sound and still leave the soundblaster off and out and then leave it running all night to see if it is still good.
Normally even if I just turn it on, do nothing, and leave it for a few hours, the stutter is there as much as if I'm playing games the whole time, so that is what lead me to conclude previously that the stutter wasnt related to overheating, the CPU or the Graphics card.
Well, I feel very hopeful about this, I would be so happy if I finally knew what the stutter was and removed it forever. I'd be disappointed that I spent 100 bucks on the sound card, and the fact that the onboard sigmatel audio is pretty lousy, but hey; its better than having everything be a slideshow for no apparent reason.
I'll post here after some more tests.