I've learned that long posts are usually unanswered and short posts lack information. I'll try to write in moderate length, but in case I do not succeed, please read through, as this is a very important matter.
My 6-year-old PC has always been prone to heating issues. It came as no surprise that, this morning, after a 20-minute browsing session (a piano lesson and a round of mahjong; if details need be stated), it showed the peak signs of overheating. These being crashing, restarting, crashing again, BSOD, and an inability to boot to desktop.
I had seen minor symptoms of the issue a few days before. The symptoms were that 'Rage' - a game I ran at 60 fps and 1080p before, plunged into frequent fps drops and stuttering. It was only this morning, that the crashing began, and I took up the task of cleaning a computer that has been uncleaned for no more than three months - I dwell in a rather dusty habitat, so this is not too uncommon.
After a quick sweep-through with a clean brush and a vacuum, I started it up again. The results were unpleasant. The computer froze at the windows logo and there were blue bars all over the screen. I realized I must have left something unhinged, as this was not an existing issue prior to my attempt at cleaning.
I opened the lid, took out the video card, gave it another sweep and put it in for a second time.
When I started the PC again, it made a short, low, mechanical clicking/scraping sound, which repeats at seemingly random intervals. There is a chance this is how the DVD-ROM sounds when there is no lid, but the sound seems to be emanating from the upper back portion of the computer, most likely the power supply.
It went along fine until the boot screen showed up, distorted and scrambled all over, safe for the upper left corner. Here's a picture of the ominous scenery.
I did a force-shut down, and noticed that the cable of an external cooler had gotten tangled around the GPU's cooler. The cable was easy to remove and is undamaged, with only the thinnest layer of its isolator being slightly scraped.
Thinking that was the cause for the scrambled startup screen, I powered up the PC again, only to encounter the same results.
The computer boots with no peculiarities (other than the barely noticeable scraping sounds). Once it gets to the startup screen, it is a voyage of scrambled, distorted scenery until the windows logo shows up and, just before the desktop loading screen, a momentary blink occurs, and the computer completely freezes. At this point all I can do is either force-restart or force-shutdown.
(It should be noted that upon crashing, the fans kick in at a greater speed)
Getting into safe-mode (with networking) is possible and it is my headquarter for eliminating any possible software anomalies.
There is only one thing peculiar to how safe mode looks, and that is the black-and-blue bars covering the desktop (not the icons, just the desktop) as shown below.
I have already uninstalled and updated the GPU drivers to no avail; a threat scan with Malwarebytes caught nothing (which reminds me, I might need to scan D:/ as it is not in Malwarebytes' initial course).
I am currently scanning with 'Symantec Endpoint'. File System Autoprotectis malfunctioning - likely due to being in safe-mode. I will post Symantec scan results as soon as complete.
I have tried using different monitors, so the monitor isn't the problem.
Almost forgot. I have removed the battery and put it back in. Does this eliminate any chance of there being a Bios issue?
My main concerns right now are main component failure and the possibility of a powerful virus. I also dislike the notion of a plausible necessity to reinstall Windows.
I'll scan as thoroughly as I can, and try booting with a different graphics card.
Any help, suggestion or advice will be greatly appreciated.
Hoping for a helpful reply soon,
Intel Core 2 Duo E7600
2 x 2GB DDR2 RAM 800 HZ
Nvidia Geforce 9600 GSO 768mb RAM
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit