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.

146 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.


  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 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!

    1. Hi, angel of the internet. I just want to thank you because my laptop gained a lot of speed after I replaced the power supply. I wouldn’t have ever thought it.

  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


  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… 🙁


  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:

    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:

  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.


  44. Mr Harding, you are a superstar! Thanks so much for that post, after weeks of head-scratching, stopping services and uninstalling programs, this post has transformed my tortoise of a Dell into a cheetah.

  45. We have had performance issues with the Dell E6520 at work where I do desktop support. Sometimes this particular model just runs way slower than normal. What we have identified with it is that the 320gb HDD is going bad. Watch the drive activity light, if it stays on almost constantly then that may be your issue. We have been swapping them out for SSD’s when this occurs. It seems to mainly be the 320gb HDD.

  46. I really love You, I passed 5 years searching a solution for my m6600 I7 2720XM, you are the best thank you very much.

  47. We have a Dell E7440 which from the get go had problems with Speedstep, it was taking 30 minutes to boot even.
    Later on an update fixed it (months), but the problem returned so leave it off for this model.

  48. Hi Bill,

    Just wanted to leave a message to say: THANK YOU! I managed to destroy my work mbp laptop and was having serious issues with the backup Dell laptop. I tried everything and sometimes the problem went away, but only until the next boot. Even went on and installed Windows 10 just to find out (after 3hours install wtf?) that it didn’t fix the problem. Disabling intel “whatever-crap-step” (which I don’t care what it is, but it’s totally my arch-enemy because it made my life hell) made the laptop super fast. Amazing! Thank you. You “made my laptop great again”. Now I’ll go and build a firewall…

    Thank you!

    Yours sincerely,
    Juuso Soinio

  49. This is so awesome. Can’t believe i could change one bios parameter and have my laptop running 6 times faster!! Seems like it’s clearly Ubuntu related. Doesn’t seem like this issue affects Windows.


  50. I must say, well done on this find! My Dell M4800 with 16gb memory and SSD drive was so slow after a re-image I was ready to bin it. Now it’s a fast as a fast thing, thanks

  51. Well, how about that. That was easy. And 100 other ‘why didn’t I think of that?” cliches…

    Seriously, I and my M6500 THANK YOU!

  52. I’ve heard that there are some issues with character limits on the PS3 web browser. Has this problem been fixed? Would I be able to type out long blog posts on the PS3 web browser?.

  53. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I suffered slow performance and hang issue of precision 5110 for several weeks and had no clue of how to solve it. After disabling SpeedStep, it’s back to smooth and fast state! Our IT guy has no idea of this problem and we were even thinking there’s any problem with installed softwares or Anti-virus scanner.
    Dell should really pay attention to this issue and fix it in all PCs!

  54. Thanks for jogging my memory and reminding me to check the Speed Step (aka frequency scaling) on a customers laptop. The truly remarkable Ardour DAW alerts the installer during the installation that frequency scaling is enabled. In Ubuntu I use the cpufrequtils to disable scaling when I am recording with Ardour. I don’t know if there is similar utility in the windows world that will allow the user to decide when cpu throttling is appropriate. It would be handy though.

  55. I have been looking around since one month to solve the issue. So thank you very much is small word for you. Thanks a lot! 🙂

  56. You just saved my laptop from becoming a submarine! I have a Dell Precision M6800 laptop. It worked great (until it didn’t) then Dell came out, replaced some core components and then… BAM! My laptop went from blazing fast to snail slow. I did a processor speed test before trying what you suggested above. Reported was .36ghz, suggested was 2.8ghz. After killing speed step the reported was 3.39ghz and suggested 2.8ghz. Thanks a bunch!

  57. Thanks for you post, I had the same problem. Puzzling, given the reasonable specs of this computer.

    Of note, after updating to the intel microcode (via ‘drivers’ app) speed and memory usage also improved.

    Both fixes when put together makes this much more usable.

  58. Thanks, this really helped me when I did the usually tricky “legacy” install of Windows 7 64 bit on my bare refurbed E6510, thought I had screwed up the uefi BIOS before I saw this solution!

  59. Unbelievable. I was about to put my Precision M4800 on craigslist and get another something before I read this. Whoever created this post should be Knighted!!!!

  60. How can I properly thank you!
    Because of other issues I got Win7 reinstalled on my DELL Latitude 6530 and since then it was slooooowwww.
    Either those former issues or the reinstallation must have triggered the SpeedStep to step in and throttle down.
    Now it is spinning like a charm again.

  61. This article is the best article ever written. I was sure I just bought a faulty laptop. I toggled the feature and now my Dell M6800 is running so much faster. Thank you so much for this.

  62. Holy shit man, I just upgraded this piece of shit M6800 dell beast of a notebook with i7 and 16gb ram (which is not standard at our company) to win10 and it was so slow it was not even bearable.

    I’ve been googling for hours now and this saved me. Thank you man, I love you for fixing this junk.

  63. Thanks man. Love you. Great piece of information. I accidentally came across your blog and it helped me awaken the snoozing cheetah in my Core i7. Hope more people find this. And also, I’m not the kind of person who takes pains to leave a comment. I found this content exceptionally amazing and thought “Yeah, why not leave a comment ?!”

  64. I rarely, if ever, leave comments, but I just have to say, WOW!

    I was getting frustrated by the slowness of my newly purchased Certified Refurbished Dell Precision M4800 with i7 4900QM (2.8GHz) and 16GB RAM. It was performing worse than the Dell Venue 11 Pro (15, 8GB RAM) that I replaced it with. I almost reinstalled Windows, and was also seriously considering sending it back. Instead, I disabled Speed Step, and voila! It’s running like the beast of a mobile workstation that it is.

    Many thanks, mate.


  65. Wow. you helped me a lot, thanks!! i have an E6320 that was running slow with an SSD drive!!, that is almost impossible.

    Thanks again

  66. Thank you so much!

    I was excited to get a cheap E6540 and I couldn’t understand how it was running so slow with a 4th Gen quad core i7. I was about to starting throwing more money and hardware at it before I saw your blog.

  67. It seems really Incredible to me that a post from 2013 can still solve issues in 2019 – but IT CAN and IT DID! shame to the Bios-programmers not being able to solve this problem within 6 years…
    I would like anyone outthere to commend if there exists a bios-Version that is able to manage Speedstep correctly – in my old I3-Laptop that worked fine and saved lots of Energy.

  68. I bought an E5530 used on craigs list and got home to find it was taking 30 seconds or more to make basic commands like opening the start menu or adjusting the volume output. I thought maybe there was a virus on it hogging RAM memory, as it was supposed to have been a clean Win10 install. I found this page, went into the bios and disabled the SpeedStep function as you said, and it works perfectly now. Thank you!

  69. Unfortunately I found this site too late, I spent DAYS to try to optimize this, that… . my Dell Precision M7710 was ALWAYS so slow… I had a look in the bios and I did the same, just disabled the SpeedStep, my notebook now seems to be another machine. 10 times faster. This happened 1 week ago, today I tried to search internet something like “Speedstep Dell problem” and I found this page… so I can just confirm that problems come from SpeedStep tecnology. Just switch it to DISABLE.

  70. I am restoring old laptops and this issue has been frustrating me for over a day. Thanks for your easy solution

  71. This has fixed my laptop’s problems in a big way!!! I can’t believe Dell didn’t send out a big recall of this feature to all users to avoid lagging computers. Thanks!

  72. Bill, thank you for this gem of information.
    Got an old dell precision m4800 without the ac adaptor,and an old battery too.
    Used cpuz to check it over:
    Cpu wouldn’t go above 40% capacity on the battery. When plugged into a 90w charger (supposed to use 180w), cpu wouldn’t go above 10%.!
    Your fix worked.

  73. thank you,
    my precision m6800 had the same issue. Defective battery and 10% speed of the i7.
    how is this possible that in so many years, first post from 2012, Dell did not fix this? Ah, no interest in fixing already sold stuff… ok, must be it.

  74. Great, it worked also for me! Latitude E5530 here.
    I always had problems with my laptop in the last years.
    I even decided to format it and it was ok for a while then the problems started again.
    After the last change, I can immediately see how much the performance is improved!
    Thank you so much!

  75. Well done, that problem was bugging me for years! (I gave the laptop to my son) now it has a new lease of live. I am bit of a novice so I had to research how to go into the BIOS settings. Easy when you know how.
    Thank you very much.

  76. Thanks a lot for this little fix that has such a great impact! I was wondering that my Notebooks CPU was only working at 15% max and couldn’t find the reason. Unchecked the Speedstep and the Book is running again. Merry Christmas from Germany!

  77. THANKYOU!!!!!

    omg the i7 laptop i just bought i thought was broken or something – now it works speedy.

    wtf is up with this being a default

  78. Well look at you, helping a Sys admin from the future with a simple, yet quite effective tip. I’ve spent the weekend trying to fix this shit and all it took was to remove a stupid check mark in the BIOS.

    Thank you brother!

  79. I have at my job a number of eg. Dell Latitude 5480 laptops with the same problem the CPU-speed never gets over 0.5 GHz. The computeres seatet on tables and are unmovable due to anti theft steel wires as they are “citizen-computers” at our City Hall and at other public places in our town. I just found out today that the problem is that the battery is completely dead and will not charge anymore. I searched the BIOS in attempt to find something that I could check/uncheck that could have an impact on the CPU-speed. But I cant find anything that makes a difference.
    So in desperacy I pulled the battery out of one of them, and hello! The problem is solved. Now the CPU bangs up at 2.39 GHz almost all the time 🙂

  80. Thank you! This worked for me too. The funny thing is that I only got poor performance when my elevator desk was lowered close to the top of the laptop.

  81. Doh! I had naively thought Speed Step allowed the processor go faster when needed not dawdle when it fancied. Thank you.

  82. Pretty much given up on two Dell Core i7 8th laptops bought a few months ago.

    Ready to drop them. Tried everything reloading Windows scan and defrags. Nothing.

    What an easy fix.

    Thank you

  83. Oh my gosh thank you so much for sharing this! Not quite sure when it happened as the computer was running fine when I first got it but eventually it became unusable. After reinstalling Windows and even trying Linux the thing still just was horrendously slow, I was about to give up assuming there was something wrong with the hardware but alas, disabling SpeedStep fixed it entirely.

  84. Thanks a lot for this fix.
    Here with Dell Latitude 7390 with Intel® Core™ i7-8650U CPU and 16G RAM on Ubuntu 21.10.
    It has been slow to very slow for ages, I blamed it of Firefox, graphic drivers, Gnome shell, and all what can be found on the forums … but this seems to be the issue. I haven’t seen my computer so reactive in a long time 🙂

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