CPU issues?

Hewlett-packard Compaq nx6325 notebook
October 2, 2009 at 17:58:03
Specs: Windows XP
I've been having some issues over the last few months. It began when my computer would crash often when I was playing a new MMO I found. I usually didn't play anything on it, so it may have been happening earlier, but this is what I noticed:

During gameplay, my computer would run very slow and heat up significantly. I tried to cool it, running it on flat surfaces, buying those lap coolers, etc. I finally did some research and found that the heatsink gets clogged. By this time, after normal gameplay, my CPU was ranging 150-170F in temperature. I cleaned out the heatsink, and it was very clogged. After putting everything back together, it worked for a short time, but after about an hour or so it would heat up again and slow down. I'd restart, but nothing helped, until the system cooled down. Now, it starts to act strangely as quickly as startup, as it takes over 10 minutes to reboot.

I replaced the RAM first, from 512 to 1GB. I bought a new, faster harddrive, figuring it might fix some things, but now I think it is the processor itself. I've read both that heat-damaged CPUs will run slower but not crash, and another site said they'd crash immediately.

I've also cleaned out any unneeded programs, stopped all processes except those necessary for the laptop to turn on, including the modem. I've reinstalled Windows XP, tried Windows 7, even tried Ubuntu, and it still is slow, so I've gotten rid of any software issues.

My question: is this a CPU failure, or could it be motherboard? I don't really want to replace the motherboard, but the processor I wouldn't mind. But don't want to waste the money if it isn't the CPU. Thanks :)

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October 2, 2009 at 18:22:53
CPUs have a temperature sensor built in. When the sensor gets to a predetermined temperature, the CPU will halt. When it cools a little it will resume running. So to the casual observer it will 'appear' to be running slow.
It's not being cooled properly. Which can be due to an inoperative fan, something blocking the air flow, the heatsink is not pulling the heat from the CPU, etc.

Laptops also have circuits to vary the speed of the CPU.

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October 2, 2009 at 19:03:53
I've already cleaned out the heatsink. The back of the laptop is all taken apart, and the temps aren't that high now (around 100F). However, it still acts strangly, and takes forever to boot up. I looked at the CPU and it has something gray colored around the center. I've taken out the heatsink, redone the thermal paste, and put it back, and it still acts the same. No matter how cool, it still runs extremely slow. Could this be results of the previous heat issues I described? Again, I've removed all programs, ended all processes, and also reinstalled Windows bare, so it isn't a software issue. Also, with everything ended, CPU usage is at 70-80%, peaking at 100%. Often, task manager is what is taking up the vast majority of that.

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