I recently came across a super slow laptop that couldn’t handle simple computing tasks, like browsing and streaming. Video playback was terrible, audio kept on stuttering, and multitasking was next to impossible. The laptop was as good as useless.
Thankfully, I managed to fix the issue after a week of research. This article describes how I troubleshot the problem and restored the laptop to its brilliant working state.
The specific laptop model is HP Notebook 15. It has an Intel Core i5-5200U CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz; integrated HD Graphics 5500; AMD Radeon R5 M330 Graphics Card; 4GB of RAM; and a 15.6-inch display. Installed OS is Windows 10 Build 19041.
When I tried browsing the web, some pages would take years to load, and every mouse scroll was accompanied by a series of annoying cracking sounds and display flickers.
The problem was more frustrating during video playback. When I played a video on VLC or YouTube, both video and audio were interrupted. Constant flickers on the display meant no video time for me. Music was out of the question as well.
The most unnerving pain was meager performance. The laptop hanged a lot during easy tasks, and I had to wait for ‘hours’ to get a response after issuing a command.
A sluggish laptop can be a deathblow to your productivity. Even worse is the fact that the current problem interrupts your peace with audio stutters and random flashes on the screen.
At first, I thought the problem might have been driver-related, so I went ahead and updated my drivers, specifically audio and display drivers. That didn’t solve the problem, unfortunately.
Next, I decided to check the DPC latency. DPC (Deferred Procedural Call) is a built-in feature in Windows that allows the system to decide which drivers should run first and which should run last.
When one or more drivers execute slowly, they can prevent other drivers from executing in time. A high DPC latency usually results in pops, stutters, and audio dropouts.
Since I was experiencing dropouts on the display and speakers, it was safe to presume that I had bad DPC latency. I proceeded to check DPC latency using the free DPC latency checker.
The diagnosis was positive. The software reported that some drivers were misbehaving, and that is precisely why I encountered dropouts in audio and video streams.
After installing, reinstalling, and updating all drivers on a one-by-one basis, the problem persisted. Enabling and disabling specific devices didn’t help either.
I even went ahead and updated Windows with the hope of getting issues fixed, but to no avail.
CPU Throttling Issues
After a long run of checks, I decided to monitor CPU and GPU usage using the Windows task manager and, finally, got to the source of the problem. The system had throttled the CPU to just about 500 MHz, which was insufficient to run primary drivers in real-time.
A serious probe on the web eventually landed me at Throttlestop. This tiny application lets you monitor and solve common CPU throttling issues on your laptop without writing tricky code.
The function that I wanted to tweak is BD PROCHOT (short for Bi-directional Processor Hot. BD-Prochot is a mechanism that laptops use to regulate CPU speeds and avoid damage from high temperatures. It throttles the CPU when a component on the board (e.g., GPU) reaches a certain temperature threshold.
The CPU in question appeared choked in the absence of temperature surges. So, despite stern warnings against disabling BD Prochot, I went ahead and disabled it. CPU speeds shot up immediately, audio stutters disappeared, and videos began to play smoothly.
To make sure that I wasn’t roasting my CPU by disabling BD Prochot, I subjected it to a few stress tests. I continued to monitor the health of the laptop for a week to be fully confident that it wasn’t waiting for doom.
The only drawback with this workaround is that I have to start Throttlestop after every boot to fix the issue. If you want to start the program automatically in Windows 10, drop a shortcut in the startup folder. Be sure to monitor your PC to avoid damage.
Remember, you can only use Throttlestop to bypass throttling at your own risk.