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Dell Latitude Slowed by Low Power

I recently experienced poor (slow) performance from a brand new Dell Latitude laptop. I googled and googled and couldn’t find the answer, but our IT department knew the problem. I’m writing it up here so maybe some other lonely soul experiencing it can arrive here via google.

I recently got a new Dell Latitude at work. I immediately noticed something was wrong. Whenever I docked it the speed dropped noticeably. Something wrong with the graphics? Any kind of drawing to the screen was choppy. Maybe it’s network related? Any network requests took dramatically longer than normal. It actually seemed like it was slower on every kind of task.

When I undocked it would be back to normal. My docking station is 6 years old; maybe it wasn’t as compatible as advertised.

I found a few promising hits on google that suggested it might be underclocking the CPU when docked. They suggested it was some kind of ventilation and heat problem, and the machine’s way of handling that was dialing back the processor speed. That sounded iffy to me. Furthermore, Task Manager showed my CPU usage was very low.

Defeated, I filed a help desk ticket. In 15 minutes our world class IT department replaced my old 65 watt power supply (which worked fine on my older notebook machines) with a new higher power supply (I think it’s 100 watts). Problem solved.

In summary: if you’re experiencing lagging performance from your Dell notebook, check if your power supply is underpowered.