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Dell Latitude E6400 - Overheating issues with minute tasks such as playing flash videos for extended periods?


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Dell Latitude E6400 - Overheating issues with minute tasks such as playing flash videos for extended periods?

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I'm not sure if this is happening to anyone else, but I've recently been experiencing some serious issues with my Dell Latitude E6400 (with latest BIOS, and all other relevant updates) while surfing, playing flash videos full screen, etc. After extended periods, Windows Vista slows to a halt to the point I can barely minimize a window without severely delayed lag. I've also noticed that the typical games I play have also had its frame rates severely slowed down as well.

I have been trying out Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 and also the latest ESET Smart Security 4 Beta, but I've doubt these are the culprit. Just for good measure, I've uninstalled these but the issue still seems to persist.

As I use this mainly for graphic design (using latest Adobe CS4), it's quite critical to be able to handle most of these tasks. For that matter, as a $2,000+ laptop, I'd at least assume to be able to surf and play flash videos without issues. I've been told my Dell tech support to run Diagnostics, but everything seems to complete successfully. They haven't gotten back to me again yet - but I've purchased a 3 year Complete Cover warranty - what am I to do?

I'm a Canadian consumer and have heard nothing but the best from them - but as I am currently lodged in Hong Kong, I purchased this through Dell Hong Kong and am worried that my warranty (even though purchased), will not be rewarded as well as the Canadian counterpart without a severe delay - which means my work will be compromised.

Any ideas would be great!

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  • Just adding myself to the list of folks who are experiencing this issue.

    As the Australian summer starts to heat up I've seen this issue nearly every day for the past month and it's rendering my e6400 almost useless.  I also have the e-series dock with an external monitor connected.  After reading this I will try undocking to see if I can make it through a day's work tomorrow, however that's an unacceptable solution long term.

    I have found out today that "sleeping" the PC for 10 mins or so seems to bring it back to a workable state, but again it's unacceptable to keep doing this.

    BIOS update A19 has not resolved the issue. 

  • Dell took in my E6400 with Nvidia graphics a couple of months ago to fix the issue. They did. I started experiencing the issue again when I upgraded to the A19 bios. I downgraded to the A17 bios and everything is OK so far. When is A20 coming out?

  • For what it's worth, here's my experience with what I think is the same issue.

    I had a very specific symptom (Kernel CPU usage) that I haven't seen anyone mention on this thread.

    - From a clean cold boot, the computer would be fine and fast, but would get VERY bogged down over a normal work day
    - Task Manager would show very high CPU usage.
    - More interesting, the CPU usage was nearly 100% "Kernel Time".
    - (To see this, open up Task Manager, go to the Performance tab, then choose View | Show Kernel Times.)
    - Further, the process seemingly taking all the CPU time was the Task Manager itself! (which makes no sense)

    - Does anyone else see this high Kernel CPU usage, coming from taskman?

    Current state:
    - I tried A19, but made no obvious improvement
    - Then, on a whim, I decided to use some compressed air to blow out the fan and exhaust areas
    - BINGO - all issues disappeared!

    I'm now running both SpeedFan and RightMark CPU Clock full-time to keep an eye on things, and to see if I can detect any down-clocking. So far, it's fast and stable (including running science tasks via BOINC, etc.) for long periods of time.

    So, as goofy as it sounds, and I read a couple other posts suggesting this, try shooting some air into the cooling system.
  • I'm also having the same issue although not really exposed until i moved over to WIN7.  Had the e6400 for about a year and never noticed this issue so i thought it was a win7 problem but seems to be the overheating issue... hope there's a resolution soon.

  • I've been experiencing this problem since upgrading to Windows 7, but perhaps this is just coincidence. It happens whenever I do something like: have several Flash-embedded webpages open in Firefox (eg. YouTube); use Skype/ooVoo for an extended period; watch a movie streamed from my NAS. The computer slows to a crawl, dropping the majority of frames (maybe displaying one every 5 seconds) with incredibly choppy sound. In fact, it slows to the point where it becomes totally unresponsive so that I cannot even close the offending application. Looking at Task Manager at this point (which takes an age to load) shows CPU usage at 100% but no actual processes using these cycles. The only solution seems to be to turn the laptop off and wait a few minutes for the system to cool down. I am certain that malware is not to blame, having full antivirus and running HiJackThis and rootkit detectors.

    I am currently running version A19 (the latest) of the BIOS, but can say that the problem also occurs with A11 and earlier.

    I have opened the laptop and removed all traces of dust from the fan and grill (to be fair, there was a large amount). This reduced the overall temperature, but in the hot Queensland weather it just delays the onset rather than preventing the problem occuring.

    I have replaced the standard heatpads on CPU and GPU with Arctic Silver to aid cooling further.

    I am running RMClock at maximum CPU to try and prevent throttling, but it seems to still be occurring at some level.

    The problem seems to occur when RMClock reports the CPU temperature at 45-50 degrees (even though I've read these are rated up to 105 degrees?!)

    Speedfan reports that the nVidia GPU is running at about 70 degrees, which it indicates is a bit hot - I wonder if this is a factor?

    Come on Dell, there's clearly a problem with these laptops - how about acknowledging it, giving us some explanations and providing a fix?! It's really not acceptable to have an expensive laptop underperforming so much. No wonder you're rapidly losing market share with customer service like this...! (On top of this, I've been waiting for a spare parts quote for over 3 months)

    My specs, for reference, are: Dell Latitude E6400 P9500 @ 2.53GHz; 4GB; Windows 7 32-bit; nVidia Quadro NVS 160M

  • I am running the T11 bios (google it), and using the clock software

    on Windows 7 and have 0 issues.  I was having tons of issues (even with T11, A18, A19, etc.) particularly while docking, this program seems to have fixed it.  I would also recommend making sure that real temp is NOT running before using this program (it may be based on it??).  Not sure how or why, but I know it works for me.

    That said, Dell fix it.  For real.

  • Just for the record, RealTemp and ThrottleStop should work OK with each other.  There are lots of users on the XPS 1645 thread that are able to run both programs together without any problems.  They are written by the same author and use the same WinRing0 library but other than that they are independent and one shouldn't cause any problem for the other.

    ThrottleStop is working great on the Core i7 mobile chips and has given them a big boost in performance, as long as you have a suitable 130 watt adapter to replace the anemic 90 watt adapter that Dell ships with the Core i7 XPS 16 laptops.

  • Hi,

    I've been suffering from this issue as well.  I logged a support call with Dell before Xmas and they sent out a technician who replaced the motherboard and heat sink.

    I'm not sure if that's fixed the issue, as I have been on leave and not using the laptop too much.

    However unfortunately since this change I've run into another issue.  Basically when the laptop is undocked, it will often start up with a completely blank screen.  I've tried fn-F8 and fn-D but these don't bring it back.    I'm sure it's not a monitor problem because the Dell "Splash Screen" always appears fine.  Additionally the display appears to have power to it (ie. it's not black as in when it's switched off, it has a "glow" to it for want of a better word).

    When I've hooked it back into my docking station it'll start up, but the resolution goes back to 800x600 and the nVidia driver has been disabled.

    Last night I decided that I'd reinstall Windows and see if it made a difference.  I was initially running Windows Vista but not really happy with it, so I took the chance to revert to Windows XP.  Sadly this morning when I rebooted I got the black screen again.

    I switched it off and started it up again and it sat on the Dell splash screen for a long time, with the progress bar barely moving.  But finally it got there and booted up fine.

    So I'm a bit confused as to what's happening.  Any suggestions?  Should I log yet another support call?


  • I have this issue as well, although it seems to be intermittent.

  • Has anyone else noticed that after doing the A19 bios update windows fails to shutdown? I reformatted an E6400 thinking that was issue but in fact more and more E6400 users that have A19 now report this happening to them. They just sit after the logging off screen...

  • Perhaps an aggressive power-management feature is shutting down the HDD before the system has time to shut-down? I seem to recall similar problems in the distant past that required Windows-updates or BIOS fixes to correct. I also seem to recall AMD having something to that effect happen as well? It's been a while, I'll admit.

  • attWiFi

    Perhaps an aggressive power-management feature is shutting down the HDD before the system has time to shut-down? I seem to recall similar problems in the distant past that required Windows-updates or BIOS fixes to correct. I also seem to recall AMD having something to that effect happen as well? It's been a while, I'll admit.

    That's what I suspect. With Dell rushing out all these Bios fixes who knows what they're doing.

  • Thanks to all who have contributed and worked hard to describe this problem, suggest ways to diagnose it, and offer solutions. It is a pity that Dell has not always responded well to everyone's concerns.

    I found this post (and have read 60% of it) because of issues with poor performance of video-intensive applications that developed over the past 2 weeks. I have a E6400 with a T9800 2.93 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, 500 GB HD, NVIDIA graphics, Windows 7 64-bit, often docked and when docked running two 22" LCD monitors. The system is using BIOS A19 and the latest drivers, including the new NVIDIA driver from their web site (they now let you download drivers there for laptops).

    The issues first came up with iTunes - probably because that is one video application that I use most. Video playback would stutter and freeze and CPU usage would go to 100%. When using iTunes and Skype (don't ask me how that came about) the video essentially froze in both applications and the computer froze, requiring a re-boot. Also had some issues with Adobe Premiere Elements 8 but those seemed to resolve with changing the NVIDIA settings and updating the driver as per an Adobe knowledgebase article. At the same time I was trying Office 2010 and had some crashes with it too so I backed everything up and reinstalled (returning to Office 2007). During the reinstallation I noted that heavy disk copy tasks (>100 GB) over eSATA would also bring CPU usage to 100%. After the reinstall, still choppy video with iTunes so stubbornly tried reinstalling again.

    Various web searches on the issue gave some suggestions: the article at Adobe mentioned above, a posting at Apple about adjusting the DirectX settings (no help) and about known problems with SATA drives. Another post noted that the IRRT setting in the BIOS (a RAID 1 setting for SATA)  leads to slight delays with the HD. I set my SATA to AHCI and reinstalled Win 7 (changing from IRRT to AHCI is not trivial if one is not using the original Dell OS installation). iTunes was still a mess.

    The posts above have been very helpful. However for Win7 x64 users i8kfangui (a wonderful utility) and RM CPU Clock will not work as the drivers' digital signature is expired or is not present. I have used Process Explorer, SpeedFan, CPU-Z and Resource Monitor to get some information.

    Also, the links to tinkerdude's 57-page posting seem to no longer work.

    Today with the various sensing utilities the GPU was running hot (>65C) and the CPU was at 45-50C. In these conditions the CPU was running so incredibly slow (~20% maximum freq according to Resource Monitor; 665 MHz according to CPU-Z) that I at first did not believe that they were really measuring those parameters.

    A solution that I stumbled across was to pull the plug on the 65W AC adaptor that I use at the office. Interestingly enough, suddenly the % Maximum Frequency shot up and the CPU-Z reported higher CPU frequencies. The fan also kicked on. iTunes would now play without jitters / pauses / jumps that I noted before. Plugging the AC adaptor back in resulted in a return of the throttling exactly as described above, with the same affect on video playback.

    I will check the system at home with the higher wattage power supply with the dock. It will be interesting to see what happens. Some of the original high CPU usage and crashes noted above were with the computer docked.

    The situation seems tricky; as others have pointed out sometimes one thing is fixed with a BIOS upgrade but other things "break". Is it possible that the throttling is not active with on battery, but is active when on AC?


    R Perry

  • hi, i have the same problem, and i've read all the post (as possible as i can, because i speak spanish), but thanks to all the contributors here, i use the partial solution pointed by them, with rmclock. i load it always manually at windows start-up (with a link to a batch file in startup folder, cause im win7x64). since then, i dont have the throttle problem, actually, when i dont use rmclock, every time i watch flash videos and sometimes with dvds, within 5 first minutes, the cpu load appears.

    the only problem is that the notebook gets too hot, i mean very hot, but you can adjust rmclock to always show cpu temp in system tray to prevent overheating.

    you can get rmclock to work in windows 7 x64 as ankaro posted in here

    hope it helps.

    Jorge Riva Melendez

  • Thanks for all the great info folks.  I have an E-6400 and have noticed the same issue over the past few months.  I wanted to add a little to the conversation in hopes that it might spur a brilliant idea or perhpas help Dell with a fix.

    I installed a fan control utility ( and told it to monitor the temps of the CPU, GPU, memory, system board, HDD as well as the CPU utilization.  The results were very interesting and showed that if you reproduce the symptom by placing the CPU under about a 50% load for an extended period of time (hours) I can watch the temps of all the monitored components stay stable in the (60s or so with the fan forced to high) with the exception of the system board.  The system board goes from 60 degrees up to 96 or 97 degrees and then falls over 10 (+ or -) minutes with workaround 1-3 implameted.  The interesting thing is that as it peaks and then falls, the CPU utilization stays fairly constent util the system board temp gets near its valley and then the CPU maxes out for a few minutes.  After the CPU returns to normal, the whole cycle begins again.  I am happy to share log files if anyone is interested.

    I have worked around this by doing 4 things (in the order I implemented them):

    1. Installing BIOS A18 which helped a little
    2. Raising the laptop about 3/4 an inch off the table to help with air flow
    3. Running the fans at max all the time
    4. Stepping down the CPU ( set to max battery)

    I have not tried all the permutations to see which steps are absolutely necessary but I do know that if you only do items 1-3, it is not enough to eliminate the problem completely.  With all four work arounds implamented I do not get the system board temp roller coaster or CPU utilization spikes I was.  I don't have the laptop we paid for but it is tolerable for the moment.