Featuring an Intel Core i5 64-bit CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Pro, I expected great things, and in many respects, I got them. Performance was leaps and bounds ahead of my old D800; tasks that my D800 plodded through like building and debugging an ASP.NET / C# website or searching through thousands of files in my local source repository proceeded many times more quickly.
Unfortunately, I was dismayed to discover that the sound provided by the onboard IDT HD92xxx device, utilized by the NVIDIA NVS3100M video hardware, stuttered frequently. Whereas my old D800 never missed a beat, literally, even through the most challenging tasks, this brand-new, supposedly state-of-the-art machine couldn't play MP3 audio without hiccuping many times throughout any given track!
Apparently this is not an isolated issue. One thread on Dell's support forums described many users' similar issues with erratic sound. Various other posts online that I found blamed the IDT hardware, such as the first review listed for this related IDT product, followed by a couple of other reviews for same which immediately reminded me of good old Baghdad Bob...
|"good, and very nice"|
I decided to take a reverse shotgun approach, meaning rather than pump a few satisfying rounds of buckshot into my employer's laptop out of sheer aggravation, I'd run through a short list of steps based on research I'd done into the problem so far.
To visualize the problem, I downloaded and ran the DPC Latency Checker, which represented the stuttering issue in the form of the big, ugly red lines representing relatively huge latency leading to stuttering audio.
|If I were typing the way the audio stutters, it miiiight look liiiike ttttthhhis.|
Dell Latitude E6410 driver download page on Dell's support site was my first stop. I downloaded the latest available drivers and installed them, including those for audio, video, chipset, and even the touchpad. Following the experiences related by others in the Dell support forum, I also updated to the latest BIOS.
Updating the BIOS, as described in the Dell support forum thread, helped things somewhat, but the stutter was still recurring intermittently. I also completely uninstalled Dell ControlPoint System Manager, which I noticed made the stutter markedly worse when active.
I also tried using PowerMizer Manager, a free utility which lets you control and, if desired, prevent your video adapter from downshifting performance based on demand, which can cause undesired latency.
Most recently, though, after installing the latest drivers supporting the NVS 3100M from NVidia's driver download site, I've found that the stutter has improved significantly. Now, the DPC utility shows that latency is overall much improved, but still the stutter occasionally rears its ugly head.
|Definitely better than before.|
In summary, here are some suggestions if audio stutters on your Dell Latitude E6410:
- Visit the Dell Latitude E6410 driver download page and update video, audio, and BIOS.
- Completely uninstall Dell ControlPoint System Manager.
- Install and use PowerMizer Manager to disable the display hardware's power-saving but potentially latency-inducing feature.
- Install the latest drivers from NVidia's driver download site which support the E6410's audio and video hardware.