As the title suggests, the laptop partially freezes randomly. By partially freezes, I mean that some functionality stops or glitches. The glitches I have identified so far are:

  1. audio stops working

  2. most importantly, multiple key-presses do not work. i.e. if I press any key twice, only one of them is registered, the next keypress is ignored. Other keys would respond, but the same key does not.

  3. on trying to shut it down, it goes to the purple shutdown page (the standard ubuntu shutdown screen), and is stuck there indefinitely.

  4. On unplugging my charger, the system stops and powers down immediately. (My battery is very poor, so I have to leave my laptop plugged in always, battery lasts for about 5-10 mins max)

  5. On powering the system up again, the fan runs at max speed with a loud sound for a few seconds, almost like it's clearing off something that's stuck, though there is nothing stuck in my fan.

The system continues working in this glitchy manner until I unplug the charger.

I'm not entirely convinced that this is an OS issue, since I have encountered this on Windows and Ubuntu, and occasionally even on the grub menu on powering on (multiple down arrow to navigate to a different OS does not work sometimes)

Also, completely formatted my hard drive recently, installing only windows. Encountered this problem in the fresh setup as well.

There is no fixed time period after which this glitch occurs, it is completely random, and I cannot really identify any trigger as well.

Is this a fairly common problem, has anyone come across this? Any solutions? Not entirely sure, but it seems to be a hardware issue. But don't know which hardware is causing this issue, if it is a hardware one. How can I diagnose this issue further?

  • Do you have an NVIDIA GPU?
    – harrymc
    Jun 27 at 19:41
  • @harrymc no, just the integrated intel hd 520 Jun 27 at 21:07
  • Have you tried looking at event viewer? I had a Lenovo laptop that used to freeze at random and behave similarly. In event viewer, it would display an error message about the a processor core going into a waiting period or something, along with some additional information.
    – DrZoo
    Jun 27 at 21:42
  • @DrZoo thank you. Could you mention which sections of the event viewer I should look at? I checked the system logs, and did not find anything out of the blue. Jun 28 at 7:08
  • Is it possible in your area that you have a brown-out/power-blip right around when issue happens? If the systems looses AC just briefly maybe the tiny bit of battery doesn't kick in enough causing the glitch. Power out for for a tiny bit longer does cause the shut off. If you're not sure maybe you can test this theory by plugging laptop cord into power stripe & toggling the power stripe switch quickly. Did the issue start after battery got worse or you were warned, maybe it does really just need a battery...complex electronics like a PC probably don't handle power blips easily
    – gregg
    Jul 1 at 15:24

Things to try:

  1. if the laptop is still under warranty I'd call Dell. If you can get it to happen IN the Windows setup do advise that. See if it happens in the BIOS or F12 Diagnostics, if so that's an easy way to prove to them its a HW issue instead of SW
  2. Try a power discharge: while PC off, disconnect battery & power cord, hold power button 10-20sec
  3. Have you run F12 diagnostics and/or specifically a RAM diagnostic? Please do as I agree its a HW issue if it happens IN WINDOWS SETUP
  4. Have you tried resetting or updating BIOS?

Regarding your issues:

  1. audio stops working, I'd think either CPU or RAM is maxed out from my experience
  2. Keys not working, do the problematic keys start working after a bit? Was anything spilled on the KB? Can you plug in a USB keyboard WHILE issue is happening & experience the same problematic keys on USB keyboard?
  3. Not enough experience to speak to that issue
  4. Unplugging charger shuts off immediately, this would be normal/expected if your battery is poor so I don't consider this abnormal, simply indicative of a bad battery
  5. Fan running at max after connecting power to a Dell system that DIDN'T have power before is normal. I don't know why, but I speculate its either confirming the fans work or to disrupt dust before POST so it can beep if there is an issue since you really NEED your CPU fan
  • thank you for your input. I ran the diagnostics, and nothing (apart from my poor battery) showed up. The problem with the F12 diagnostics is that, the system has to be shut down and started again to run it (not even a restart when it's in the faulty mode, since it will not shut down to begin the restart process) and once the system shuts down, the problem doesn't arise again immediately and happens after a while of use. Jun 30 at 14:50
  • Additionally, not sure if it was clear in my initial post, but all the glitches happen simultaneously, which I informally call "the faulty mode", it's not like only the audio stops working or keys stop, all of them happen Jun 30 at 14:52
  • 2. That's a good suggestion, I will try out an external keyboard and get back after a day Jun 30 at 14:52
  • 1
    I understand the F12 diagnostics happen after the 'issue' is done, but odd or sporadic issues can sometimes be HW so those tests are an easy way to confirm that is unlikely to be your issue. If RAM was bad PC could work fine most of the time then just act up randomly, you're just using diags to isolate the problem, call it a step in process-of-elimination. Please do the other suggestions & report back
    – gregg
    Jul 1 at 15:21
  • 1
    Honestly wouldn't have expected it to be your KB, but if it's acting up maybe it's pressing hotkeys triggering things to happen. Holding Shift, right-click, Alt, or Ctrl keys for instance can cause all sorts of mayhem, do it on a working PC then see how things act. You're welcome to wait to accept my answer if you're not sure it's the real cause, an upvote is nice if I helped :) If you list your laptop model & language I can try to provide links HOW to buy & replace internal KB
    – gregg
    Jul 3 at 14:19

A post dedicated to the problem is found at Inspiron 15-7577 keep freezing.

I summarize below the workarounds that worked for some (but perhaps not for others).

  1. Unplugging and replugging the AC adapter

  2. Uninstall the Dell Support Assist software

  3. Start Dell Power Management Lite, under "Battery setting" if you see "Adaptive", switch it to "Primarily AC use". The default "Advanced charge" is left as Off.

  4. Run "Power Options" and click "Change plan settings" for your power plan. Change "Turn off Display" & "Put the Computer to Sleep" to "Never".

  5. Run "Power Options" and click "Change plan settings" for your power plan. Click "Change advanced power settings" and in the dialog under "PCI Express" set "Plugged in" and "Battery" both to "Off" and Apply the changes.

  6. Pull out the battery and restart windows. Later put the battery back and check if everything is now working well.

If nothing works to improve the problem, this might be a hardware problem.

  • @OlorinIstari: Have you advanced with the problem?
    – harrymc
    Jun 30 at 8:33
  • thank you for the suggestions! I have tried them out and unfortunately, the problem still persists. I'm beginning to think this could be a motherboard issue. Thanks Jun 30 at 14:46
  • Since unplugging the charger fixes the problem, this might be an electrical problem. Is it possible that it's caused by the accumulation of static electricity?
    – harrymc
    Jun 30 at 15:45
  • Hmm perhaps. What I suspect is that, something is triggering the fan to stop or not function properly, (since in this state, when I run a stress test, the fan doesn't blow at high speed and the base just becomes hot, but stress testing normally runs fan at high speed), and typically systems would be initiated to poweroff in case of fan failure to prevent heat. But since charger is plugged in, the system seems to be in an intermediary state between poweroff and battery on, causing such anomalies. I may be entirely wrong here, but it does feel like it. Jun 30 at 16:40
  • It looks more and more like a hardware problem.
    – harrymc
    Jun 30 at 17:32

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