First off, let me describe the problem and then what I have attempted to resolve and the issues in doing so. Here is a list of my specs for reference:
Intel i5 3570k - MSI GTX 660 - 8GB Kingston 1600mhz RAM - GA Z77 3DH Motherboard - be quiet! 650W Gold PSU - Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200rpm Harddrive - I'm running from a 1920x1200 TV monitor
Very occasionally, and in some games more than others, I'll get a distinct choke moment in-game. The frame-rate, which was otherwise fine, will drop and create both a video and audio stutter for a few seconds. It will usually stutter 3 times, but no more. The really irritating thing is that it's not TOO frequent, maybe twice an hour at it's worse but it's very inconsistent. This makes it hard to test. It's not the end of the world, but it personally really annoys me considering the money I put into the rig. I've had the rig, and the problem, for just over a year now.
One of the primary reason I suspect it may be the processor is because a friend of mine had identical symptoms on an i3 laptop; I always assumed it was to do with Intel HD but the problem occurs with and without a graphics card in. Here is a list of diagnoses and attempts at solving the issue.
I completely uninstalled the intel HD drivers as I am using NVIDIA drivers, however, the problem still occurred. I tested my memory with memtest+ and came back with no errors at all. I ran a full error check on my hard-drive and I had no bad sectors, completely fine. I tried switching from VGA (DVI converted) to a HDMI connection and experienced the same thing. I thought it may have been to do with my CPU getting too hot with the stock cooler, reaching an peak of 73 degrees pushed to 100%, so I purchased an after market cooler. I never go over 60 degrees yet the problem persists.
I finally thought I cracked it today, and brought it down to integrated sound. I know there are links between Realtek HD audio and game stuttering, and it appeared to have an impact when playing muted and with sound. I put a PCI sound card in the system, and all seemed to be going well. Gameplay seemed smoother as did the audio quality. However, after about 3 hours gaming on the Dolphin emulator and an otherwise perfect gaming day, I got the distinctive 3 chokes of with the typical stutter. It wasn't a generic emulation stutter, it was definitely the normal stutter.
My question to you guys is: Is this a typical i3/5/7 processor error, could it really be down to anything else? What course of Action should I take?