Showing posts with label Dell Latitude E6410. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dell Latitude E6410. Show all posts

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dell Latitude E6410: SpeedStep, or SpeedSTOMP?

Recently on the Dell Latitude E6410 I use at the office, on several occasions Windows 7 would slow down and become completely unusable, necessitating a hard reboot.

Event Viewer revealed the following events in succession for each core of my laptop's quad core Intel i5 CPU:

The speed of processor 0 in group 0 is being limited by system firmware. The processor has been in this reduced performance state for 5 seconds since the last report.

Windows slowed down to the extent that I couldn't even open Task Manager, which normally comes up readily even if the system is otherwise sluggish. Interestingly, in this state it would enter Sleep Mode eventually upon closing the lid, but was otherwise unusable.

Several steps can avoid these slowdowns:
  • In your system BIOS, disable Intel SpeedStep.
  • In Windows 7, ensure your system uses the High Performance setting for Power Plan.
  • Ensure adequate cooling with a utility like SpeedFan to monitor temperatures.

However, based on at least one thread in the Dell support forum and another on a hardware forum, this could turn out to be an indication of a hardware problem.

Intel SpeedStep is triggered to activate, among other things, by heat. If the system is heating up and can't dissipate heat effectively, SpeedStep by default will engage and step down the CPU so that it generates less heat. Whether that heat is generated by the CPU itself as a result of a dead heatsink fan or the heatsink somehow being detached from the CPU surface, or the GPU overheating for whatever reason, or heat simply can't dissipate due to factors like lack of ventilation thanks to dust or covered vents, it will try to compensate by throttling down the CPU speed.

While this seems perfectly reasonable in theory, in practice it seems to not work as intended, at least in the case of my E6410. I've read reports in the very helpful Dell Latitude E6410 Owner's Thread that some have had similar issues which necessitated a mainboard replacement, while others were able to get up and running by just clearing dust out from the vents of their laptop. 

My particular situation, however, doesn't seem that common, which makes me wonder whether my GPU might be on its way out. Yesterday with the laptop on battery and without a lot of ambient noise, I noticed that when I would ALT-TAB from say a mostly white background to a vividly colorful one, a distinct whine would be emitted from my system, and the display wavered just slightly as if some interference were rippling across the video hardware (update on this, according to some info in this thread, this whine is characteristic of systems with Intel Core 2 Duo and newer CPUs).

For now, I've disabled SpeedStep and installed SpeedFan to keep an eye on temperatures, and cleaned out dust. Hopefully this will do the trick, but if not, given this and the sound problems which continue to plague my E6410, a warranty comes in handy. I added a link to my bookmark toolbar to the aforementioned E6410 owner's thread, it seems Firefox sympathizes with my plight based on how it shortened the bookmark title. Ow indeed, Dell!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

LogMeIn Laptop Screen Stays Blank After Remote Session

LogMeIn is an excellent online service which offers a free method of remotely controlling a PC via web browser. 

Recently I encountered a minor glitch, however, and whether LogMeIn or Windows 7 or nVidia are the culprit, I'm not sure.

I had remoted in to my Dell Latitude E6410 laptop using the latest free version of LogMeIn. It is equipped with Windows 7 64-bit and NVIDIA NVS 3100M display adapter, each with the latest updates and drivers available. 

All seemed fine via remote, but when I returned to the office I found that although my secondary monitor activated normally, my laptop display remained seemingly asleep and unresponsive. I tried using the key combination of the Windows key and P then clicked Extend to try to have Windows reinitialize the displays and wake everything up, but no joy.

I then tried just changing one of my Display settings, the Resolution, to a different value in order to have Windows enable the Apply button, and then clicked it. 

After doing this, my laptop screen was no longer blank.

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: