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Computer Spikes


Laptop computer Forums (Audio, General Hardware, Video)

Computer Spikes

  • I was wondering if anybody can tell me what's up with my computer.
    I have 2 problems:
    Whenever I watch videos it will be fine for a while and then it will start spiking, becoming slow and choppy and then normal again,  The sound is always normal.  I have watched the same videos on other computers and they are fine.  the video is stored on the computer so its not my internet connection.
    Also whenever i play games like Diablo II or World Of Warcraft it basically does the same thing.  The frame rate is down for the while then it goes up to normal for like 20 seconds, then it spikes again and becomes all choppy.  at first I thought it was my wireless card that was causing it, but now I think its deeper than that,  I have recently added a 1GB of RAM (its the right type of ram and everything).  I quit playing World of warcraft about 4 months ago and it was normal back then.
    I have a Dell Inspiron 5160 Laptop
    3.2 GH
    64 MB GeForce
    40 GB Hard Drive
    512 MB + 1 GB RAM sticks
    Also i'm down to 1 GB of free disk space, could that be effecting my performance?
  • The 51xx line has a history of overheating. Blow some air through the vent on the back to release the dust, which is the cause of the overheating problem, it should work after that, but if it doesnt you have to send it in so they can clean your heatsink.
  • Well it does it right when I turn on the computer.  Can overheating be the cause of videos and games becoming choppy and losing framerate?
  • Yes, indeed it can
  • The reason overheating causes choppy frame rates is that the CPU has been throttled right back (to a few hundred MHz) by Windows. When Windows detects overheating, it uses stop-clock throttling to slow the CPU down to levels way below the Speed Step threshold. This reduces heat output. Once the temperature has decreased a little, Windows unthrottles the CPU, so you see an improvement in performance for a few seconds -- until the CPU overheats again and Windows throttles it back once more.

    If you've never cleaned it out before, the heatsink may be so badly clogged with matted layers of dust that simply blasting air through it won't be enough to clean it.  Here's a link to instructions for disassembling and cleaning the heatsink radiator grille on a 5150:

    The 5160 has an identical cooling system.

    You might also want to run a fan (and therefore heat) management utility such as I8kfangui:


    Message Edited by rwm32 on 09-13-200609:37 AM

  • Acctually the 5160 has a bigger heatsink so the disassembling procedure is not the same and is acctually harder. Just look for the manual in dell support page.

    Message Edited by Leo_s84 on 09-13-200609:11 AM

  • My mistake: I can see that for the 5160 you need to take the palmrest off in order to remove the fan assembly and get at the radiator grille...

    Here's a link to the relevant service manual section:

    The 5150 instructions are still worth referring to, however.

  • A can of 3M Dust Remover saved the day.  Everything works just fine now.  I will probably take it apart and clean it throughtfully when I get a chance though.

    Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it.

  • No problem. I went through the same with my old 5160