ok first thing i noticed is that u said u have ur primary in one partitoin... thats not rite because windows xp will not give a partition above 30GB (I think arond there somewhere) a fat32 file system... itll be in ntfs... which i believe is slower than fat 32... the next time u clean install ur pc go with the following setup:
Primary (80GB) : 3 partitions
1. 26600 MB
2. 26600 MB
3. Whatever space is left on that hd, but i think itll even out pretyt much the same with these partitions.. all 3 shud be pretty equal
Secondary (40 GB):
just go 2 partitions of 20 Gb each lol pretty straight forward...
also i think the real bottleneck of ur system mite be the intel board.. intel never built their mobos with gaming in mind.. so they dont take to gaming very well.. mostly theyre suited for video editing, heavy apps, etc... so if u got the money u should buy another mobo.. perhaps a soyo, gigabyte, abit, or dfi lanpaty..
also im not sure but the clock and memory speeds for ur 9800 pro seem a little off.. i dunno if u underclocked it but they jsut dont look rite for some reson.. but i wudnt know since ive never really looked at a 9800 pro in detail... perhaps u shud look at the rest of the profiles they hae in taht tool and try chosing one of those... i dont think theyd give u some radical overclocked settings because from wut ive heard those utilities are meant for cards with stock cooling and they shudnt fry ur cards.. but again im not sure ill try to do some research on that and get back to you
and as for ur other concern.. yes it is normal to have that many background processes running.. they dont represent individual applications that windows is running but every single minor component that windows is using
also just incase u should regularly perform adware scans (using Ad-Aware) and spyware scans (using SpyBot Search & Destroy).. u can get these programs from any download site such as http://www.download.com
... just search for both the products and u can download em..
well thats about all i could htink off.. hope i helped
.. and also ill seee if i can find out more about the settings on that 9800 pro if i can.. but follow the rest of the advice and u shud see a great improvement on ur system