Friday, November 26, 2010

Dell Latitude E6410 Sound Problems

The time came a few months back at my workplace to replace my venerable Dell Latitude D800 with something newer, better, faster. That replacement arrived in the form of the Dell Latitude E6410.

Dell Latitude E6410

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:


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Resolved the stuttering audio on my E6410 with your suggestions.

Anonymous said...


Bios is A07 now. Either the old Bios or Dell Control Point was killing my latency and pro audio.

Anonymous said...

Wondering where the poster from 12/4/2010 found BIOS revision A07for the E6410...

Latest appears to be A06 as of today's date. Any ideas?

Also, my system does not use any nVidia drivers so I can't update those. I have stuttering problems, but I guess not the pro audio. I also have the i7 processor, which you would think would make child's play of an audio file, but it stutters like everyone else's E6410.

Darth Continent said...

@Anonymous: I'd guess Dell might've withdrawn A07 for some reason.

If you have over 4 GB of memory, that could be part of the problem; one of the users in the Dell forum I'd visited mentioned that the problem occurred with more than 4; if you have 8 currently, you could try removing one of the modules and see whether that helps.

Certainly that's not a "fix" though, you shouldn't have to kneecap your laptop by removing some of it's RAM to work around a problem with the hardware.

Chris said...

Uninstalling the Dell Security Manager did help me a lot with this problem, though it hasn't completely vanished and I can't use my fingerprint reader anymore now. Also it seemd updating the Intel Rapid Storage System helped a little bit. I'm still in contact with Dell Support to see if they can figure it out.

Jeff L. said...

@Chris: Was Dell Support able to resolve the problem? I'm interesting in hearing how your case was handled.

I've tried a number of ways to isolate the cause of high DPC latency but have been unable to do so.

Anonymous said...

Had something similar but my laptop has Intel graphics. In my case the same symptoms were traced to Intel's Matrix Storage Manager. If you arent running raid, and you are OK to switch your disks back to ATA mode in the BIOS you can uninstall MSM safely and fix the issue.