Network performance issue is resolved by connecting any USB device to PC

I was trying to figure out why my client PC, an HP Compaq 6200 Pro with a corporate image of XPP, had such poor performance when accessing a server that's connected to the same switch as the client in our corporate network. After a lot of testing, I observed the following bizarre phenomenon. The network performance issue would disappear when I connected any USB device to the client machine regardless of whether I installed any drivers for the device. I could plug in a USB NIC or a flash drive and get the same increase in performance (without connecting a network cable to the USB NIC). I further discovered that this is true of all of the HP Compaq 6200 Pro's in our environment. The older client PC's do not have this network issue. And the problem client PC's would instantly go back to having a network performance issue once the USB NIC or flash drive was removed. Obviously, I'm looking for a solution to my network issue on these client PC's that doesn't involve connecting a random USB device to each to increase their performance. Secondly, anybody ever heard of such a thing before or understand why this is happening? I'm pretty sure some of you will suggest I am on drugs just as I would if I were not seeing it with my own eyes.
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Have you looked into an updated chipset driver?  Or BIOS update?
Bios/chipset upgrade seems like next step or try to get latest drivers for your chipset/usb controller along with latest drivers for your NIC card.
nobusbiljart fanCommented:
it looks like it tries to access something on the usb - maybe a mapped drive, or device?
I like the above expert comments. I have other ideas, but won't go there until the above comments are checked out.

I have seen where wireless and USB devices conflict with the on board ethernet as if they were bridged. I had to reset the IP stack to get this to work again. But, that cause complete shut down of the ethernet port, not performance issues.

I think nobus is about to take you down a path that will improve performance. Also chipset/BIOS would be an obvious thought.
sharptAuthor Commented:
Unfortunately, the customer wanted immediate results on 10 production line PC's and so purchased 10 USB NICs as an immediate "fix" (workaround). BIOS flash and chipset updates seem like they would have panned out but wasn't given the oppurtunity to try, so I was unable to concretely test the solutions offered here. If I get another crack it, I'll post the results here, but the production lines are pretty much up 24/7 so that's unlikely. Thanks everyone for your input!
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