Fixed: My i7 Intel Dell Laptop is Ridiculously Slow

Most of the Google results I found when digging around on this subject pointed to usual boring causes of slowness: too many programs being run on startup (which you can test with ms-config if you’re running Windows), anti-virus software, and other boring stuff of that sort. In my case, I had been running Ubuntu so most of those tips are moot. But to be thorough, I did remove practically any and every resident program that was running on what should have been a zippy Dell Latitude E6520 with a i7-2720QM (2.20GHz, 6M cache) processor.

And yet, running a utility that averaged about 5 seconds on my desktop consistently took 30 seconds on my laptop. Except for every once in awhile, when it would take 6 or 7 seconds.

Before splurging for a new laptop, I decided to take a peek through my BIOS settings and managed to stumble across the culprit: the Intel “Speed Step” feature. On my Dell, this was under the “Performance” settings. I guess that the idea of Speed Step is that the i7 powers itself down when it decides you’d like your system to perform like a 486. Whatever the logic is that determines when to power down was clearly NOT working as intended on my laptop. After disabling Speed Step, I have been running for the entire day at speeds very similar to my desktop.

Hopefully someone else thinks to Google for this problem and find themselves helped by a similar approach. FWIW I suppose that this might mean that the laptop uses more battery, but you can be an informed consumer about whether you want to run fast or power-efficiently.

69 thoughts on “Fixed: My i7 Intel Dell Laptop is Ridiculously Slow

  1. Or alternatively you can use throttlestop, it a free tool and it works fine under windows 10

  2. I can’t thank you enough, For two days I don’t understand why my Server is very slow, I did lots of research, understanding CPU states, Ready time and so on. Just found this and worked like a charm. Thanks millions, I hate this feature or atleast has to be disabled by default. Thanks alot once again.

  3. Thank you.. Thank you.. I suspected everything else… anti virus, start up programs, application code, network cable, etc. but I never thought Dell would *uck me over like this.

    Seriously *uck you Dell and you’re sh*tty speed step feature

  4. Man, you made my day. I was over-frustrated with an 8-core i7 Dell E6540 being very slow for mundane tasks. This solved it. Kudos!!

  5. Kudos for uncovering such a simple solution to fix the Dell performance issue. I’m pretty sure most of us would choose “run fast” over “power-efficiently” (as per your last sentence). I disabled SpeedStep too, and felt my system was tuned up quite a bit. This is a known issue in many Windows PCs and Dell computers too, and Dell seems have noticed that already as I remember I came across a Dell support article. Somehow, the SpeedStep utility is a failed product by Intel. You agree, no? :)

    By the way, having used Dell for years, I also had a blog dedicated to fixing Dell slow issues. In case you want to check out, it’s here:

    Yep, it does contain some “boring” techniques.

  6. Thank you so much.
    I was searching for days what could cause my Dell Precision M4600 to act so slowly since I updated to Ubuntu 16.04.

    After disabling Speedstep® it is MUCH faster, no sluggish scrolling any more, no grayed out windows any more. :)
    I still would prefer Ubuntu working correctly with Speedstep enabled, but this is a first step until I find another solution.
    Again, big Thanks!

  7. Is there any solution to my XPS 15z that runs slower than before? I think it’s also the same issue as any other Dell laptop that runs slower due to a certain power settings. Is there any way I could bring out the speed on it’s normal way?

    And my other question is, how can I update (bypass) my BIOS without battery? I’ve red a lot of blogs, tutorials and tips on google but nothing works.

    Hope someone help me out with this issue.
    Thanks in advance.

  8. Hi. Thank you so much for sharing this tip. Many people search, few do share their results. FYI I read somewhere that it only happens when using a lower watt PSU. I only have a 90W one, so can’t test with the stock 180W adapter.

  9. Thanks!
    I could never understand why my dual-boot Win7/Ubuntu Vivid was so peppy on the Windows side and so slow on the linux side.
    Disabling speedstep on my dual-core Dell Vostro has made a huge difference.

  10. This has bugged me for quite some time, where I’ve noticed at work where I’m flexing and thus using a light 45w powersupply, and the issue of the laptop (Dell XPS15 9550) grinding to a halt for a couple of seconds every couple of minutes.
    But as I also use my laptop as a laptop (!) I need speedstep enabled as I’m screwed otherwise when running around, but still listening to music and getting chopped sound every two minutes is just unacceptable.
    The solution for now has been to enable the high performance battery schema and then unplug the charger and run on battery…
    Still, this powersupply (450-18919 or C2WJH or LA45NM131) is sold as an accessory to this model, so it’s weird that it’s suffering from these issues…

    Sure, it’s stated that the laptop would like a 130w ps, but as this one (45w) is sold for this model you would expect it to work better.

    Another thread talking about the same issue:

  11. Tanx million times man, ey my laptop E6430 i charged it with universal charger now it is not charging anymore with its charger, i saw this today because it was Very slow since then in 2014 but i took it now and tried this its working. Let alone this thing of not charging its getting power directly from the charger nw but m happy something had been fixed, i will try to figure out this charging problem

  12. Yup. That did it!

    I had been trying for months, literally months, to see why the system was so slow. I tried installing, running, then removing all types of Antivirus, Spyware, malware and other ‘system helping’ apps. Killing the “Speed Stop” was the cure.


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