Troubleshooting this issue can be difficult with the limited information, despite your effort to be complete.
As you assume, I would also be inclined to consider temperatures as a possible culprit. Check your temperatures with HWMonitor, Speedfan or Realtemp and report what the idle temps are and what they rise to before a crash after long rendering. Also check whether Prime95 can run the torture test for several hours without crashing. And post a screenshot of your voltages.
Follow this link and then proceed to the second link here: Some suggestions...
The second link will give you some hints on how to troubleshoot these kind of issues.
I don't see you mention... are you using the stock CPU cooler?
Your E5500 dual core at 2.5 GHz is very weak for CS4, sse the typical results of PPBM4. You will notice that it would be near the very bottom of the list.
You ask if CS4 would run on Windows 7 XP compatibility mode. Are you talking about Windows 7 64 bit? I doubt if Adobe will support that, but you will have to ask them. It may be supported on Windows 7 32-bit, again ask them.
Alright so i was dinking with it today and switched some settings in CS4 such as Optimizing rendering for memory rather than performance ( i noticed it went from rendering 1 frame a second to 3-5 frames a second and in some cases more reducing my overall time significantly) i also adjusted my virtual memory to 2048mb (not sure if it did much) and now it doesnt crash on me or hasnt yet and i have been rendering and encoding for at least 4 hours now. Ill download Prime95 again and see what happens and ill post pictures of the temps in a bit. I currently have Piriform Speccy and thats how i was delivering those previous temps. not sure how accurate they are but figured as long as you stick with one temp. reader youll know if there is any significant increase or decrease (but do correct me if i am wrong). My CPU temp still runs about 50C when encoding or rendering anything, As far as aftermarket fan on CPU goes i am very limited to height space where my CPU currently sits on the Mobo due to the Case and the OEM fan just barely fits under the frame rail, but i did however buy an aftermarket fan, it looks like the OEM fan but it claims to run at a higher RPM and suppose to be a lot quieter, not sure what RPM it runs at but i have my bios setup for performance mode and it runs the fan at or close too max RPM (bought it about half a year ago and threw the box away) but i did notice it kept the CPU a little bit cooler and alot quieter than the OEM fan did.
I guess my question to everyone was would it be practical and/or would i notice a significant increase in rendering and encoding times by buying a quad core or should i wait about 6 months and upgrade to an i7? Ill check into CS4 as to whether or not it is supported by W7 XP mode too, but assuming it is whats your take?
again thanks for your comments and inputs and ill try and have the temps. posted by tonight...
in regards to Bill -
oh ya, i was talking about upgrading to W7 64bit was trying to get away from thje 32-bit O.S. if at all possible
>wait about 6 months and upgrade to an i7
Well, I skipped CS4 entiirely and went from a Pentium-4 and CS3 to an i7 and CS5 once I had the $$ - http://forums.adobe.com/thread/652694?tstart=0
If you now have everything working, don't put any more $$ into your current computer... save for a new one
Alright ill do that, is there any difference between the student version and the normal version of CS4 or CS5 other than the price (i currently have the student version of CS4 Production Premium)? im curious because i might just also upgrade to CS5 since it takes advantage of hyperthreading etc.
Products are the same except for the license... the retail version may be installed & activated on 2 computers (desktop & laptop) but as far as I know, the Education version is only for one computer
I work for a University and bought the Education version... only have 1 computer so didn't really pay much attention to the EULA about number of installs
Click the link in my last message... has a link to what I built... GTX 470 would be the card to buy now, since the GTX 285 is no longer made