I really don't know where exactly to classify my problem, so I guess I will just put it in this thread for the meantime.
These are my current specs:
Win 7 64-bit Home Premium
E8500 C2D 3.16GHz
Maximus II Formula
Sound Blaster X-Fi (not sure on the exact model - it came with the Maximus II)
2 x 4GB Corsair Dominator 1066 DDR2
3 x 500GB Seagate Barracuda 32MB Cache
HX1000 Coolermaster 1000W PSU
I am currently experiencing quite a puzzling problem with my system which is only occurring now after 2 years of gaming. To properly describe it - whenever I play certain games on Steam the screen freezes at the loading screen with no other way of recovering other than doing a hard reboot. A sample of these would be R.U.S.E., Plants vs. Zombies, and King's Bounty. I tried to play games without using Steam such as Starcraft 2, and the same thing happens. The other puzzling thing is, I tried Civ 5, but this did not make the system hang, but when I tried to play it, it leads to slowdowns after a brief period of time. To be honest, I haven't tried it with any other games, but the fact that this is happening with these particular games (when it shouldn't) is most alarming. Currently though, as long as I don't run any games and only surf, use YM, play movies and music
Before I go further - these are the remedies which I have attempted to do to possibly come to a conclusion as to what is the problem:
I used to run my system with Vista 64-bit Home Premium. When the above mentioned problems started happening - I figured to just upgrade to Win 7 and be done with it. I backed up all my games, reformatted my HD and did a fresh install of everything and installed everything with the latest drivers I have. I have just done so and the problem still persists as described. I figured that this might have something to do with the GPU. I attempted to capture the core temps of everything using Speedfan and Catalyst, but all I managed to get were the idle temps as follows:
System - 29C
CPU - 33C
AUX - 30C
Core 0 - 39C
Core 1 - 41C
HD5970 - 44C
The running temps I couldn't get anymore as the system just freezes when I run the programs mentioned. When I alt+tab from Civ 5, it then proceeds to freeze.
I have also tried to make a combination of driver rollbacks for Catalyst - completely uninstalling 10.9 and rolling back to 10.7 and 10.5 - which used to work very well for me before with still the same problems. I have also tried to take out the GPU, cleaned it up, and put it back in (after cooling) and the same thing still happens. I can't take the installation of XP 64 bit route as I don't own a license - only have Vista and Win 7 64 bit.
At this point I am at wit's end as to what to do and I am seeking the forums for some help as to whether this is a compatibility problem (after the latest Win 7 and Vista updates) or if its my GPU.
Thanks for all your time and expertise.