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Strange CPU usage issue

Hello Everyone,

I bought a 1 year old Dell Precision M6300 Laptop off of ebay a few weeks ago. I realize it is not a gaming laptop but the deal was too good to pass up, and the specs are enough to handle most of the games I have.
The specs are as follows:

2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo T7500
4GB Ram
Nvidia Quadro 1600m w/256 Deticated video memory

I believe my issue has to do with windows "throttling" of the CPU when the temp gets too high. Once the CPU temp hits around 60-65C, the fans kick on full blast and the CPU jumps to 100%. Unfortunately, once this switch happens, the CPU continues to use 30-40% at idle, which I assume means it is still under clocked by the software. This issues continues even after I let the PC cool back down to 35-40C. When I received the laptop,  I did a clean install of Windows 7 Pro, installed the drivers from the dell website and then attempted to install Dawn of War 2. The game ran perfectly, for about 10 min. I soon found that any application which pushed the CPU temps past 60C would cause the CPU to throttle. this makes the computer essentially unusable, as the CPU cannot handle even basic tasks such as watching youtube videos.

One other thing to mention is that if I put the system into sleep (standby) and wake it up again. The issue disappears. I can then play games through the night, pushing the CPU temps up to 70C and have no issues whatsoever. The fans do run, but the CPU does not slow down as it did prior to the standby/wakeup. Once I restart the laptop the issues resurfaces.

What is the most likely cause of this issues? I have tried XP, Vista, and 7 with the same exact result each time, so I am thinking it is either a dell driver issues (for which I have all updated) or else it is some glitch with the T7500 and Windows software.
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2 Solutions
look like the game that you play on require higher processor.  tried to close some program that running on back side. it helps much to reduce the heating. before you play game, tried to disable the windows update first because some times, windows update tried to use 60 % of processor used to run and install certain updates from the microsoft.
BVesponeAuthor Commented:
The game is not the issue... Like I said, the issues come up with any demanding application, but the processor is good enough to handle the game. I have proof of this when I can sleep/wake the Pc and it then runs fine.

Any other ideas?
John HurstBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Are you saying you loaded all of XP, Vista and Windows 7 on the same laptop?  

I have XP Pro running on my Desktop and on several laptops which are all retired. I had Vista Business 64-bit running on my current Thinkpad T61p, and I have now converted that to Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. All of these machines and installations run long term at 2% CPU at idle plus or minus a percent. Never 30 or 40% at idle except maybe at startup while indexing and update checks take place. But once started for 5 minutes or so, I am back to 2% CPU or less.  

So I would say the possibilities are:
1. The Dell itself or the dell system drivers.
2. The software you are running (gaming software).
3. Some interaction of the software that cause a problem (corruption) of the OS.
4. Malware? Not likely unless your gaming software is drawing it in.

My T61p has a T8300 Core 2 Duo and runs at a long term CPU temp of about 35 degrees C. It can get higher (40 -45 degrees under a heavy load, but only for a minute or 2). The Video is NVidia FX 570M and runs about 55 degrees C.  

It seems to me that over 60 degrees C is too high, and you need to look at the gaming software to see if it can be throttled back itself instead of allowing the CPU to overheat.

Then again, maybe it is just the wrong machine for what you are trying to do.
... Thinkpads_User
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I think the issue is cooling or lack of it.

Try using the laptop about an inch of the desk.  You would have to put it on blocks of some sort.  This will allow air to get under the machine into any ports that are there.

Try using compressed air to blow out the air inlet and exhaust ports on the side of the laptop in case there is a dust buildup in those regions.

More work would involve opening the laptop up and checking the heat compound between CPU and base but I wouldn't recommend that.

See if you can adjust the fan settings so they kick in earlier and start the cooling earlier.

Have a look at Speedfan http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
BVesponeAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the feedback. I agree that 60C is high, although I was only using a free CPU monitor to test it with, but my issues is in the disappearance of the issue when I complete a standby and then wake up. After that process the game (or any other program, I was just using the game as an example) run perfectly. In my mind, this eliminates a pure hardware issues, because the hardware is working, and so it must be a software conflict. Also, it is not the game nor malware because the did a clean install with no connection to the internet and any CPU intensive program causes identical issues.

Also, XP, Vista, and 7 were all installed separately in an attempt to fix the issue, not at the same time.

What I am looking for is anyone who has had a similar issue, as the root cause must be with either the dell drivers or the BIOS itself.

Thank again to everyone who is replying.
Are both Windows and the BIOS trying to do Thermal Management (or Power Management)?
Having both Enabled can sometimes cause strange issues.
i would open it and clean it from dust.
you can also replace the CPU heat paste
>In my mind, this eliminates a pure hardware issues, because the hardware is working, and so it must be a software conflict.

The distinction between a cold boot and coming out of sleep mode says this is not a software issue.  The sleep mode is tied to the cpu and support circuitry and I suspect there's something wrong with the motherboard or cpu; the reason you may have gotten it cheap on ebay is because the former owner realized he had a problem machine and wanted to get rid of it.  Check if there is a BIOS update that addresses this.
John GriffithCommented:
The Dell driver support page for Dell Precision M6300 XP -> http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/driverslist.aspx?os=WW1&catid=-1&dateid=-1&impid=-1&osl=EN&typeid=-1&formatid=-1&servicetag=&SystemID=PREC_M6300&hidos=WLH&hidlang=en&TabIndex=
I would suggest that you go directly to the hardware product manufacturer's web site and obtain drivers. The Intel chipset drivers from Dell =  September 2007;  NVIDIA June 2008; most other drivers are 2007/8 as well.
Intel driver download --> http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support
NVIDIA --> http://www.nvidia.com/Download/index.aspx?lang=en-us
As for Windows 7 - the Dell site says to use all Vista drivers, which on the Dell Support site are OLD even for Vista.
The only other thing that comes to mind - have you completely wiped the hard drive with a product like KillDisk to ensure all of the other OS remnants are gone?
KillDisk --> http://killdisk.com/
Are you using full retail copies of Windows or OEM version(s)?
Anything in task manager to tell you exactly what app is using the CPU?
Regards. . .
BVesponeAuthor Commented:
thanks for all the support.

There is some additional information I would like to share with everyone. I did not feel it was relevent before but it may bring up a good point.

The reason I got it cheap off ebay was because the LCD would not display on boot up. On POST the laptop gave an LED error message that indicated there was a "display problem". The product had a 3 year warranty on it, but the seller said he had spent too much time on the dell support line and just wanted to get rid of it.

After I received the unit, I called Dell, and they insisted that it was everything from the video card, to the motherboard, all of which were replaced with new parts. In the end it was simply the LCD. Once the LCD was replaced, the laptop booted up fine. From there I formatted the hard drive using the Windows utility and installed XP.

The unit is still under warranty, but I have already spent hours on the phone having them try and decode their own error LED, so this issue is way out of their league. I figured I would try this site first and if I could identify the issue, then go to dell to have them fix it.

For nobus: I saw the internals when the tech dismantled the Laptop during the repair, dust is not the issues.

For Callandor: I suppose it could be a faulty CPU, but the motherboard is "new" as the dell tech left me with the new one when that was the suspect in the original LCD issue.

For jcgriff2: I am using an OEM copy of windows for all versions, and all drivers came from the sites you referenced. I did not try a data killer tool, but that is a good idea. I will let you know if that helps.

well jcgriff - not wanting to contradict you, but i have used killdisk in a similar situation -  and it worked too well -  the disk was effectively killed, and unusable  - only a 512 mb drive..
since then i use dban for erasing a drive...    http://dban.sourceforge.net/      DBAN
imean - i used it on a 80 Gb drive, and now have a fully functional 512 mb drive...lol
John GriffithCommented:
Haven't I seen that post somewhere before?  :)
I have used KillDisk 100's of times personally without incident and recommend it's use on a daily basis.  I am not sure how a low-level format - KillDisk or other - would render a disk useless (512MB - not much to do with that size drive these days).  Was the drive defective?  Were you able to run manufacturer's diagnostics on it after-the-fact?
I will try dban in the future.  Thank you.
no - it was not defective, i was just running some tests, and tried to erase the disk with killdisk...
just sharing my experience..
I've also used Killdisk 100's of times with no issues at all. [I mean 100's of drives LITERALLY too. I turned over somewhere around 125 drives just in 2009 and considering my habit is to run it both before and after the manufacturer's diagnostic I run Killdisk twice on most drives. I've been using Killdisk for at least 5 or 6 years.]
- Nobus I think perhaps that drive was toast before Killdisk got there and had you used DBAN instead the result would have been the same. I understand where you are coming from in switching programs but I think the drive itself was at fault that time.

I agree with updating or at least checking the BIOS version.
If that new mobo was on the shelf a while it might not be the latest greatest version.
well - i meant i was not testing the disk, but different programs.
the disk was shown ok by a diag just before it -  so it effectively killed it - i don't know why, but i stay away from killdisk since then -  
the name alone....
Killdisk is used by many people to wipe disks clean of data, not destroy them ;-)  I think it's safe to use - just a coincidence, as PCBONEZ said.
Thank you much.   : )

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