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.

70 Replies to “Fixed: My i7 Intel Dell Laptop is Ridiculously Slow”

  1. THANK YOU! so much Bill.
    This has been frustrating me for ages. My Dell Studio XPS M620 2.66 has been frustratingly so slow. It has finally sped up past its Pentium 1 speed.

    Cheers
    Akash

  2. My Dell M4600 with i7 had the same problem. UI felt very slow. I managed to do all those little tweaks (start up, services, themes…) before I stumbled on the SpeedStep hint. Turned it off and now all is good. Windows exp. index (WEI) went up from 3.7 to 7.4

  3. Thank you!! I got my laptop about four days ago and was frustrated almost to the point of returning it with this problem. It was running like the 300mhz Pentium II laptop my friend had back in junior high. I mean, it was literally taking 30 seconds to open and load all of the icons in Control Panel. Whatever algorithm SpeedStep is using, or maybe it’s the way the operating system communicates… in either case, there is some VERY poor communication somewhere along the line.

  4. thanks alot..it has been almost one year that i m using dell i7.. i had headach of such slow speed.. by disabling speed step it is much better now. thanks again.

  5. I have been dealing with this slow issue since the computer was new. I decided to start using my MacBook Pro a lot more. I am just finding this now and will do what you suggest! Thanks a million! Go Internet!

  6. OMG!
    Magic! Applications start 2-3 times faster now.
    I just googled the same issue and your page was the first in a row!
    Many thanks!

  7. I’ve had this issue on my work laptop, but in my case I know why. If I use a dell charger with enough W, my precision M4600 i7 2.20Ghz run FASTER with speed step enabled, because as well as slowing the cpu when not much is happening, it overclocks it when it needs to.

    However, if I use the incorrect charger, it throttles the CPU down to about 800MHz and is really slow unless you disable speedstep. It also charges much more slowly!

  8. Thank you SO MUCH! Have been frustrated with the speeds on my Dell i7 laptop for ages. I was wondering why it was so slow, when I paid for such a nice processor. Hopefully they get their crap together on that. So irritating. And how many users would think to check their BIOS settings AND know what to look for?

  9. Thanks for the good info. Just had Dell Tech Assist (remote connection) session on Lat E6530 laptop suggest the same thing. Disable SpeedStep. They are still working on a complete fix since my issue is more related to when the laptop is docked and the power supply is plugged in, performance is terrible. The SpeedStep fix helped a lot though!

  10. I was running Linux Mint 14 and found that things go to grind after sometime. It usually happens if I spend time watching some videos/youtube. I suspect it kicks in when the laptop heats up.. or some such. Things become insanely slow. Even restarting doesnt help sometimes. Then, I switch off the Steep Step and things seems fine now. Thanks for the tip! Very useful.

  11. Thanks a million. Precision M4600 running i7 and 8GB RAM on Windows 7 Ent 64-bit – which I have reinstalled twice, installed all drivers in the correct order and STILL had this issue until disabling this crazy feature. Previously there was a general lag that wasn’t terrible but just felt a little sluggish – but keyboard entry would take a few seconds to register. Drove us crazy. Now it runs like an atomic clock.

    Nice one.

  12. would this be true for dell running on i5?
    if so, could you guide me how to get to the ‘performance’ section/menu to change the ‘speed step’ setting?

    thank you

    biren

  13. thank you! i was looking for a solution to this problem and it was beginning to look hopeless. threw a more generic google search out there and found this!

    funny thing was i tried disabling the throttle mechanics listed under the speed step option, and it did nothing. but disabling the speed step worked for me. like another person has said, I never reply to blogs but i wanted you to know i appreciated this post a lot.

  14. Unbelievable — this one switch changed my processor Windows Experience Index from a 2.9 to a 7.1. Thanks for the post!

  15. Attention though if you remove the speedstep setting, and use a power adapter that can’t deliver like the default 130W ones : you may experience power outages as it seem to have happened to me. Yeah the BIOS warns you that the power isn’t as good as what is expected, and I had bypassed the warning… so I shouldn’t complain 😉

  16. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I don’t leave responses either but my Dell XPS laptop with an Intel Core I7 has been OBNOXIOUSLY slow since the day I bought it. I was just about to wipe it clean and take it to the dump! It’s such a pretty laptop but I would waste SO much time waiting for it. Yes, my computer from 1997 was faster! I had a hard time finding the Bios settings but then I YouTubed it. When your computer is booting hit “F2” for setup before Windows starts. In there you can find the Intel Speed Step feature and disable it. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!

  17. I’ve been fighting this for a few years now. Basically – I have resorted to using my Dell E6520 only when needed. I thought it was the hard drive and so I replaced it with a Crucial SSD this week and it got some better but not what I expected so I got online today to see if other people were having the same issue (and the answer was — yes).

    I am going to try this fix tonight so thank you for having this up on your blog.

  18. I too had the same problem, but came across your website in a more backwards fashion than the rest. My brand new Dell Precision M4800 (i7, 16GB RAM, SSD, etc) became a boat anchor after one or both things happened: I installed the Dell Power Manager software (add many more granular power schemes) and updating the BIOS to A08.

    In my previous Dell laptops, the OS and/or bolt-on software did fantastic jobs of managing the SpeedStep feature. It’s a great feature when it works – I got almost 5 hours off my factory-new battery on the most thrifty of settings!

    I uninstalled the DPM software and the laptop ran blindingly fast. Until the next reboot. Googling lead me to either the C-states issue (more related to power sipping when laptop is in Sleep mode), or SpeedStep. Once I disabled SpeedStep, the life of my laptop was spared.

    Because I frequently use the M4800 off the docking station and/or power adapter, I’m now going to see if back-rev’ing the BIOS to A07 and reinstalling the DPM software gives me what I want.

  19. Thanks a ton. I have a DELL XPS with i7, and it perform slower than the slowest speed. Even a chrome browser with few tabs would be enough to make the system dead. After disabling speed step, it works absolutely fine without any lag.

  20. It is a very happy Chinese New Year day indeed. I’ve been suffering with this “slow” laptop since they day we purchased it. It was slow whether docked or not, regardless of power adapter (I have 2) or battery.

    Was driving me crazy to see the Windows Task Manager consistently pegged between 75 and 100% utilization whilst no major application was running. When I loaded Chrome, it usually brought the laptop to it’s knees.

    Turned off Speed-Step without uninstalling any other drivers, and now the laptop is screaming as expected.

    Thank you very much!!!

  21. thanks a lot, i was close to throwing my new e6540 out of the window being sooo damn slow and laggy… i knew it had to be much faster because my old e6530 without ssd was.

    and that small bios setting did the trick! thats great! thanx a lot!!

  22. Precision M4800 with A13 BIOS. Disabling speed step has sped things up nicely but I need to find another issue with WEI failing to update… 🙁

    Thanks!

  23. I never experienced any slowness on my XPS-13 until I started using 2 extra screens hooked up to a docking station. Everything became ridiculously slow for me as well. Turning this ‘feature’ off in the bios solved it. Thanks.

  24. Thank you. You just saved me from buying a large ssd to see if that would speed up my XPS15 9530 with 2.2 i7. It has been the slowest “fast” computer I’ve ever used.

  25. Holy Moly!! This worked. My Dell laptop just went from the worst I’ve ever had to the best and snappiest I’ve ever had. Thank you very much!

  26. Disabling this feature made my Dell lattidue E6530 far better. But it is still such a piece of shit. I can not believe how long it takes to load a web browser or blank power point. We only purchased these because we were required to buy them through a no-bid contract. Presumably Dell is just dumping their unwanted crap onto the tax payer at premium prices.

  27. Thanks for this! I have an E6520 Latitude with an i5 @ 2.60GHz and 8GB or RAM, which is adequate for me, and even with standard updates to the chipset and whatnot, it was still poking along and was doing exactly what you described. Apps would take much longer to run, even longer than my old HP dv6z CTO 1100, with 3GB of RAM, at 2.20GHz.

    This setting was also in my BIOS, and after disabling it, my computer runs just as expected!

    Thank you, Bill!

  28. Dude. You rock! What a stupid feature. My machine was unbearably slow. I can’t believe so many years later and Dell still ships with this feature on.

  29. You ve got the issue I have been needing since 2011. I was one of the first Dell customers to buy the second generation i7 17 inches XPS. Ive been calling Dell technicians and they dont even notice about this speedstep issue in the BIOS. Well done! Greetings from Ibiza!

  30. Amazing. Agreed about a terrible feature. I’ve been resorting to forcing a reboot by holding the power button whenever this happens. It always happened after I unplugged my power supply and other devices to temporarily move to a nearby room. Thank you so much for posting this – still very relevant four years later.

  31. Wow. Thank you! I reloaded the laptop, tired about everything you could think of. Was almost about to throw it out the windows. Thank you! wish I found this last week!

  32. Disabling Speedstep is useless if you use the wrong power connector.
    I use 180W on office and 130W on travel. With 130W the cpu goes to 800Mhz and charging is only with 200mA.

    Downgrading the BIOS to A06 solves my problem. 130W charger works fine and Speedstep is working corrcectly.
    All BIOS higher than A06 will slow down, if 130W charger is connected.
    I can’t understand DELL to bind such useless option in all new BIOS.

  33. 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.

  34. 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

  35. 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!!

  36. 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: https://www.speedupslowdell.com/

    Yep, it does contain some “boring” techniques.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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:
    https://blog.crsw.com/2013/02/08/dell-m4600-performance-improvement/#comment-40687

  42. 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

  43. 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.

    THANK YOU!

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