Dell e6400 laptop speed issue

I have a number of dell e6400 laptops.

Recently units have been coming  in for repair from various offices with the complaint that they are running slow.

These units could take 1min or more to open task manager etc. The boot up time is fine but loading apps is painfully slow. In other words it isn't just 'user expectation but they are slow....

Reimaging the machines to our base image seems to temporarily fix the problem. (IE - it would appear that a user adding software makes it slow)

However roughly a week after being imaged the units are coming back performing with the same slowness with no apparent software changes.

Av scans from multiple tools are clean, windows patches are in, bios is up to date. hd tune utility benchmarks the drives as 'fine' or within the expected values of a new drive.

Machines also have intel speed step which is turned on. (correct 90watt ac adapters are also being used). There is no smart reporting in this particular dell model.

Could the hard drives be performing noticeably slower after three years of use and if so how can i test an existing hard drive against a new warranty hard drive? Baseline/benchmark software?

Thermal issue? Many have 'plugged' fan exhausts. The unit is opened and cleaned and new thermal paste applied. Heat damage before the cleaning?

Any insight into pinpointing or baselining hardware to help determine part replacement is appreciated
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cripplecaptainConnect With a Mentor Commented:
What kind of temperatures are you seeing from the cpu? (for anyone wondering you can use a program like speccy or speedfan to grab temperatures)

Jamesey1Author Commented:
I'll grab one of those programs and find out. Can you give me an idea of what to expect?
Well here is the temp for my cpu

Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo  @ 2.50GHz      29 °C
Penryn 45nm Technology

And I have maybe 25 web pages open, plus outlook, antivirus running etc.

Here are my other temps for you to compare

      Generic PnP Monitor @ 1440x900
      128MB GeForce 8400M GS (Dell)      59 °C

Hard Drives
      313GB Seagate ST9320423AS ATA Device (Unknown Interface)      38 °C

Are there any other wierd symptoms? or is it just general slowness? and is there anything in the windows eventlog that indicates an error or warning in either system or application categories?

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Josef Al-ChacarConnect With a Mentor Systems AdministratorCommented:
"Reimaging the machines to our base image seems to temporarily fix the problem. (IE - it would appear that a user adding software makes it slow)" Quote

When you re image the computer and it temporarily fixes the problem that tells me that hardware is probably not the issue.

Boot in safe mode

Go to start, run, type msconifg and see what services are running and look at the startup tab and see what is starting when the computer is turned on and when users log in. Do this on a newly re imaged computer and a computer that has the problem. Compare the two and try disabling any differences restart and see how that goes.

asiduConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I agree with josefah reckon its a software issue.

If the laptop have links to connect to network drives it could result in such an issue.
Also some programs before launching need to communicate with remote server locally or at a far site before proceeding.

Disconnect the machine from the network and disable network access.
Create a new account on the machine.
Josef Al-ChacarSystems AdministratorCommented:
asidu: I didn't even think of that but now that you mention it my network's workstations sometimes have issues with mapped drives causing performance issues. It's a real pain.

Also you can use sysinternals autoruns.exe which tell you even more than msconfig does as far as the startup goes. Check any programs installed on the slow computer that are not installed on the new image.

Once you get a list together of the differences in programs. Install one program at a time on a newly imaged and see how that program effects performance. Do that until you find one that significantly slows the computer down. This may take some time but may correct this issue. Be sure not to install more than one at a time so you will know for sure what program is causing the issue.

This same technique of process of elimination can be used for services and autoruns as well just enable one at a time until you get the issue.

Here is the link to the download 
Jamesey1Author Commented:
thanks for the insight. I have another one coming in today. I'll play with that and post back.
Josef Al-ChacarSystems AdministratorCommented:
Okay man good luck if you have any questions let me know.
michkoConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Just a quick addition, it may not help much in this case as you are starting with a fresh image, but the link below is the best collection of ways I've seen to optimize performance in XP.

Never know, it may come in handy.

Best of luck.
I was under the impression that these are three year old lattitude laptops with core 2 duo procs I would be blown off my feet if some user added software in a couple weeks is whats bringing these things to there knees.

Can you post specs?
Josef Al-ChacarSystems AdministratorCommented:
Yes they may be old but for all of them to be having the exact same hardware issue is impossibly rare. I have worked with Dell Latitudes before on my ship and they aren't the fastest computer but they have never had this issue.
Josef Al-ChacarSystems AdministratorCommented:
Any luck solving this problem?
Jamesey1Author Commented:

Several things going on adding up to the issue. It came to my attention that games such as farmville and other flash based games are consistently being 'tried out' on these machines so software 'add ons' is a factor.

There also has been a common theme with the original hard drives baselining at an average of 45mb sec ave right speed when they are spec'd for roughly 60mb by the manufacturer. Drives pass all vendor diags. Replacement drives are baselining at their respective 60mb sec. (Used hdtune from an ubcd for baseline.)

Lastly it does appear that there is an element of 'jealousy' between workers with machines that are newer than these e6400 units and workers are trying to find a way to have their unit replaced. Complaining of performance issues appears to have worked for them in the past.

After all of that the only hardware trend I picked up on were the drives appearing to be roughly 20% slower on their ave write time after a few years. This was fairly consistent across six machines although not all had the same slowdown all benefitted from a newer model drive. (Newer drive was spec'd the same with the largest difference being that the new drive dell shipped out had a single platter and 16mb cache vs 8mb and dual platter so take the comparison with a grain of salt.)

many thanks for everyone's input
Jamesey1Author Commented:
many thanks for the input
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