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My laptop sometimes slows down unexpectedly on long uses.

I suspect that the laptop temperature is going to high, then the CPU (or the chipset) is slowing down to avoid damaging the hardware. I can even feel the heat through my table.

Is there any way to "detect" if my hypothesis is right?
If true, what can I do to prevent it?

Some information:

  • My computer is a Dell Latitude E6400 (Core 2 Duo, 4Gb RAM, Intel GMA 4500 <low cost low perf low productivity>, SATA 7200 RPM hard drive) running on Windows 7 SP1 x64.
  • I'm heavily using it as a development computer (CPU, disk and memory are always is high load), and, unfortunately, I can't simply reduce
    the number of running apps/services.
  • Using Speccy, I see this average temperatures (Celsius / Fahrenheit):
    • motherboard : 70 ºC / 158 ºF
    • CPU : 60 ºC / 140 ºF
    • hard drive : 45 ºC / 113 ºF
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@nhinkle: just curious, why did you removed the speccy report ? I added it at the end of the question, in a code section to avoid visually lengthy post. I supposed some hardware guru would like to check a specific data in the report. Normal users, then, see the begin of the question, which is the essential part... –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 8:12
it was way more info than necessary, and largely irrelevant. It also slows down the page load for everyone who loads the page. If you want, you could upload it to a pastebin or something like that, and provide a link. –  nhinkle Sep 20 '11 at 8:22
thanks for the explanation. I'll keep the pastebin option if someone requires more details –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 8:24
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think it's a heat-related problem, too.

Normally I would suggest to select a less aggressive power-profile, but you stated that you need the performance at all cost.

Ultimative low-price solution: Try to hoist up the back of the laptop to increase the airflow below the laptop. I often just grab a book or (if available) two rubbers of same thickness. Helps a lot under high CPU-load.

If it helps, but not enough, look for "laptop cooler stands" at your favourite HW-supplier - they are fairly cheap, but do yourself a favour: Buy one with a big fan instead of one with two or more noisy mini-fans.

BTW: Cleaning the air inlets from dust should be a standard maintenance task.

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I've already hoisted a bit the laptop... but it's not magical. Your advises are precious, but do you know if there is a way to check my hypothesis ? Are the temperatures monitored high values ? –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 9:09
The CPU temperature is rather low wheras I'd consider the Mainboard temperature as rather high (maybe it's the chipset temperature - in that case it's ok again). But you also stated that these are average values. If in heavvy use the CPU may peak very fast to higher temperatures. Does this tool you use allow to record the temperatures for a period of time? If so, I'd make a note when the performance decreases and afterwards compare these times with the recorded temperatures. –  ktf Sep 22 '11 at 14:23
average at high charge... +/- 5°C –  Steve B Sep 22 '11 at 18:07
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Download coretemp and monitor your CPU speeds.

Thermal throttling will be visible

Also, use crystaldiskinfo to check if there are any warnings for your HDD (Highly unlikely though)

EDIT: Your temps seem to be in the slightly higher range, depending on ambient temperature.

But, they arent high enough to cause throttling

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Thermal throttling will be visible : can you explain me ? I'm not sure to understand how to see that... in fact, I don't know how to interpret the data –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 10:08
forget it... i misread the answer... you want me to check if the clock speed falls to detect if the temp is to high ? –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 10:16
yes.. IF there is thermal throttling, the clock speed will fall. (Make sure you are in full performance mode though) –  Akash Sep 20 '11 at 11:20
After an hour of running prime95, full defrag (smart defrag 2) and some other high charge job, the system goes into what I call "unresponsive"... the mouse was lagging, nothing respond correctly, etc. However, the temperature never goes over 72° C, and the cpu clock did not fall. Don't know what to check now :( –  Steve B Sep 20 '11 at 13:34
72 under load is quite acceptable. Thats the end of my debugging knowledge though –  Akash Sep 20 '11 at 14:24
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